French battleship Brennus (1891): Wikis


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Brennus-Marius Bar-img 3134.jpg
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Namesake: Brennus
Ordered: 25 November 1881[1]
Builder: Lorient
Laid down: 7 December 1882[1]
Launched: 17 October 1891[1]
In service: 16 December 1893[1]
Out of service: 30 October 1919[1]
Fate: Broken up in 1922
General characteristics
Class and type: Battleship
Displacement: 11400 tonnes
Length: 114.09 metres [2]
Beam: 20.18 metres [2]
Draught: 9.896 metres[2]
Propulsion: 32 boilers, 2 triple-expension steam engines, 2 shafts, 13 900 shp
Speed: 18 knots
Complement: 675

1 x 2, 1 x 1 - 340mm/42 Modèle 1887 guns
10 x 1 - 164 mm Mle 1893 guns

4 x 460 millimetres (18 in) torpedo tubes

Belt: 460 mm
Deck: 60 mm
Bridge: 150 mm

Barbette: 460 mm [3]

The Brennus was an ironclad battleship of the French Navy.

She was built after the Jeune École trend of thought fell out of favour. She pioneered the armoured masts fitted with electrical elevators to the tops which became a trademark of French battleships.



"In 1884 work had begun on two improved ships of... [the Marceau] type, the Brennus and Charles Martel, but [the Minster of Marine] Aube had cancelled them before much progress had been made. Aube's successor, Barbey, revived the Brennus and had the Conseil des Travaux prepare entirely new plans for her to respond to the new developments in naval architecture. She emerged with a number of features that were revolutionary for French battleships: a main armament on the centerline [sic] in two turrets, a new type of boiler (the Belleville water-tube type), abandonment of the ram, and the addition of a belt of armour 4.7 inches (120 mm) this above the main belt."[4] The decision to fit Brennus with water-tube boilers was made in 1887, and she was the first large ship so equipped.[5] The new Brennus was ordered in 1888.[6]

Figurehead of Brennus (from 1900)

"The original vessel under the name of "Brennus" was laid down at L'Orient in 1885, but work on her and the sister ship the Charles Martel, was suspended at an early stage of construction. In the building of the Brennus, as much as possible of the material on hand for the original ship is to be utilised; she is to be built at the same yard on designs that allow for protection against melinite and other high explosive shell."[7][8]

"As first completed in 1893 she was 38 cm (15 in) over designed draught without her ammunition on board, and was seriously deficient in initial stability, so that the superstructure had to be reduced and the military mainmast removed."[9]


Compared with the Brennus cancelled by Aube, the new ship was larger, faster and more heavily armed.

old Brennus new Brennus
Ship displacement 10,600 tons [10] 11,190 tons [9]
Ship length 344 ft 6 in (105.00 m) [10] 361 ft 10 in (110.29 m) [9]
Ship beam 64 ft 0 in (19.51 m) [10] 66 ft 11 in (20.40 m) [9]
Ship draught 26 ft 9 in (8.15 m) [10] 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m) pp [9]
Propulsion 5,500 ihp natural draught, triple screws [10] 13,900 ihp forced draught, twin screws [9]
Speed 15 knots (27.8 km/h) [10] 17.5-18 knots (32.4-33.3 km/h) [9]
Armament 4 x 34 cm, 8 x 14 cm, 7 x machineguns [10] 3 x 34 cm, 10 x 16.3 cm,
4 x 65 mm, 14 x 47 mm,
8 x 37 mm, 6 x 37 mm revolving cannon,
4 x 18-in torpedo tubes [9]
Belt Armour Incomplete Belt: 438 mm (17.25 in) [10] Complete Belt: 450-250 mm (18-10 in) [9]
Armour protecting main armament Barbettes: 438 mm (17.25 in) [10] Fore turret: 450 mm (18 in) [11]
Aft turret: 400 mm (16 in) [11]
Armour protecting secondary armament None [10] Turrets: 120 mm (5 in) [11]
Battery: 100 mm (4 in) [11]

"In the Brennus, begun in 1889 and completed for trials in 1894, a five degree-heel completely submerged the armor [sic] belt and disabled the hydraulic mechanisms that worked the heavy guns. Her superstructures were drastically reduced before she was accepted into service. The overloading of French ships, their low belts, and their great superstructures that seemed designed to catch enemy shells made them as vulnerable as the British and Italian ships though for different reasons.[12]

From 1900, the Brennus featured a figurehead. It is now on display at the Musée national de la Marine in Paris.[13]



Trials 1895-96

4 hours natural draught 1,142 ihp 8.2 knots (15.2 km/h) 8 boilers [11]
6 hours natural draught 6,229 ihp 14.4 knots (26.7 km/h) 24 boilers [11]
24 hours natural draught 8,370 ihp 16 knots (29.6 km/h) 32 boilers [11]
4 hours forced draught 13,950 ihp 17.1 knots (31.7 km/h) 32 boilers [11]

Mid-Life Update

"Brennus underwent a major rebuild in 1903, in which her superstructure was pared down significantly, her main mast was replaced with a steel pole mast and her upperworks were simplified to save weight and improve stability."[14]

Service career

In 1897, Brennus, together with Neptune and Marceau got 26% hits at a range of 3,000 to 4,000 metres (3,000-4,000 yards) in trials of a new method of fire control. In February 1898, this new method became the standard method for the French Navy.[15]

In July 1900, she collided with the Framée, which sank with the loss of 48 lives.

From November 1908, she was used as a school ship to train mechanics, and from June 1914, for storage[1].


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dictionnaire des bâtiments de la flotte de guerre française, Jean-Michel Roche
  2. ^ a b c Plans of the Brennus at Atlas du génie maritime
  3. ^ Le Fantasque
  4. ^ Pages 222-223, Ropp, Theodore, The Development of a Modern Navy, French Naval Policy 1871-1904, pub US Naval Institute, 1987, ISBN 0-87021-141-2
  5. ^ Page 230, Ropp, The Development of a Modern Navy, French Naval Policy 1871-1904
  6. ^ Page 230, Ropp, The Development of a Modern Navy, French Naval Policy 1871-1904
  7. ^ Page 65-66, Brassey, Lord, The Naval Annual 1888-9, pub Griffin, 1888.
  8. ^ See also page 324, Parkes, Oscar British Battleships, first published Seeley Service & Co, 1957, published United States Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 1-55750-075-4.
    This states that Brennus and Charles Martel were both of 10.600 tons, and were laid down in 1884, and then goes on to say: "The French programme was afterwards mulcted of the Brennus and Charles Martel , which were to have been armoured on the British system; their construction was abandoned and two other ships with the same names commenced some years later."
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pages 292-3, Chesnau, Roger and Kolesnik, Eugene (Ed.) Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905. Conway Maritime Press, 1979. ISBN 0-83170-302-4
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Page 224, Brassey, Lord, The Naval Annual 1886, pub Griffin, 1886.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Page 137, Jane, Fred T. All the World's Fighting Ships, 1900, pub Sampson Low Marston & Co, 1900.
  12. ^ Page 221, Ropp, The Development of a Modern Navy, French Naval Policy 1871-1904
  13. ^ Buste de Brennus
  14. ^ French Battleship Brennus (1889/96)
  15. ^ Pages 300-1, Ropp, The Development of a Modern Navy, French Naval Policy 1871-1904
    In the previous method of fire control, guns on board ship had been operated independently. The new method worked as follows:
    *First an observer in the mast used a range-finder to estimate the distance to the target.
    *Then the medium guns would fire a shot short of the target, and then in rapid succession increase the range in steps until two successive shots straddled the enemy.
    *Then all applicable ship's guns could open fire. Gunners were required to use the range indicated on the dials of an automatic range transmitter. Only if this device failed were they allowed to fire independently. The range direction and speed of the enemy were sent by observers to a central post, and then transmitted to the guns. There were duplicate observing posts and lines in case the first set were shot away.
    *Continuous observation of the fall of shot was then used to make subsequent adjustments to the range.
    The guns did not fire together in salvoes, as they did in later systems.


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