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Side view illustrating the ship's odd silhouette
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Namesake: Henry IV of France
Builder: Cherbourg
Laid down: 15 July 1897
Launched: 23 August 1899
Commissioned: September 1903
Struck: 1921
General characteristics
Class and type: unique
Type: pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 8,807 tonnes
Length: 108 m (354 ft)
Beam: 22.2 m (73 ft)
Draft: 6.98 m (22.9 ft)
Propulsion: 3 shaft vertical triple expansion; 11,500 ihp
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Complement: 464

2 × 1 - 274 mm (10.8 in) Mle 1893/96 guns
7 × 1 - 138 mm (5.4 in) Mle 1893 guns
12 × 1 - 47 mm (1.9 in) Mle 1885 Hotchkiss guns

2 × 450 millimetres (18 in) torpedo tubes
Armor: Belt: 180–280 mm (7.1–11 in)
Decks: 60 mm (2.4 in)
Ammunition shafts: 240 mm (9.4 in)
Turrets: 305 mm (12.0 in)

The Henri IV was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the French Navy built to test some of the ideas of the prominent naval architect Louis-Émile Bertin. She began World War I as guardship at Bizerte. She was sent to reinforce the Allied naval force in the Dardanelles campaign of 1915, although some of her secondary armament had been removed for transfer to Serbia in 1914. Afterwards, she was relegated to second-line roles before being sent to Taranto as a depot ship in 1918. She was struck from the naval list in 1921.



She was designed by the famous French naval architect Louis-Émile Bertin as an experiment to test some of his ideas. She was designed to make her a small target and lacked most of the normal rear supersturcture common to ships of her period, other than that needed to keep her rear turret from being washed out. Her rear hull had only 4 feet (1.2 m) of freeboard, although she was built up to the normal upper deck height amidships and at the bow for better sea-keeping and to provide for her crew. Her superstructure was narrow and recessed from the hull above the main deck.[1]


General characteristics

The Henri IV was smaller than her predecessors, at 108 m (354 ft) overall. She had a beam of 22.2 m (73 ft) and a draft of 6.98 m (22.9 ft). She was significantly lighter than the Charlemagne class battleships and displaced only 8,807 metric tons (8,668 long tons) normally, some 2,300 metric tons (2,300 long tons) less than the earlier ships.[1]


Henri IV used three vertical triple-expansion steam engines, one engine per shaft. The engines were powered by twelve Niclausse boilers. The engines were rated at 11,000 ihp and gave a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph). She carried a maximum of 1,080 tonnes (1,060 LT; 1,190 ST) of coal.[1]


Henri IV carried her main armament of two 274 mm (10.8 in) 40-caliber Canon de 274 mm Modèle 1893/96s in two single-gun turrets, one forward on the upper deck and the other on the main deck at the rear. The guns could probably be depressed to −5° and elevated to 15°. The guns fired 262 kg (580 lb) armor-piercing projectiles at the rate of 1-2 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity of 815 metres per second (2,670 ft/s).[2]

The ship's secondary armament consisted of seven 138.6 mm (5.46 in) 45 caliber Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 guns. Four of there were mounted in individual casemates on the main deck; two more were mounted on the shelter deck with gun shields and the last gun was mounted in a shelter deck turret superfiring over the rear main gun turret. This was the first superfiring turret in naval history and was not very successful in this case because the barrel of the 138 mm gun was too short to clear the sighting hood of the turret below.[1] These guns fired 36.5–31.5 kg (80–69 lb) shells at a muzzle velocity of 825–765 metres per second (2,710–2,510 ft/s) to a maximum range of 15,000 metres (16,000 yd) at 25°.[3]

Twelve 47 mm (1.9 in) 40 caliber Canon de 47 mm Modèle 1885 Hotchkiss guns were mounted as anti-torpedo boat guns. They were mounted in platforms in the foremast and mainmast and on the superstructure. They fired a 1.49-kilogram (3.3 lb) projectile at 610 metres per second (2,000 ft/s) to a maximum range of 4,000 metres (4,400 yd). Their theoretical maximum rate of fire was fifteen rounds per minute, but only seven rounds per minute sustained.[4] Two submerged 450 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes were also carried.[1]


Henri IV had a waterline armor belt of Harvey armor that was 2.5 m (8.2 ft) high and tapered from the maximum thickness of 280 mm (11 in) that to 180 mm (7.1 in) at the ship's ends. The belt ended short of the stern in a 100 mm (3.9 in) traverse bulkhead. The lower edge of this belt tapered as well from 180 to 75 mm (7.1 to 3.0 in) in thickness. The upper armor belt was mostly 100 mm (3.9 in) thick and ran from the bow to 9.1 m (360 in) aft of the mid-section. Its was generally 2 m (6.6 ft) high, but increased to 4 m (13 ft) forward and ended in a 75 mm (3.0 in) traverse bulkhead. The maximum thickness of the armored deck was 60 mm (2.4 in), but tapered to 30 mm (1.2 in) at the ship's ends. Below this was a thinner armored deck that tapered from 20 mm (0.79 in) on the centerline to 35 mm (1.4 in) at the edges. It curved down about 91 cm (36 in) to form a torpedo bulkhead before it met up with the inner bottom. This system was based on experiments conducted in 1894 and was more modern than that used in the Russian battleship Tsesarevich although it was still too close to the side of the ship. The main turret armor was 305 mm (12.0 in) in thickness and the ammunition shafts were protected by 240 mm (9.4 in) of armor. The casemates for the 138 mm guns ranged from 75–115 mm (3.0–4.5 in) in thickness and their ammunition tubes had 164.7 mm (6.48 in) of armor.[1]


Henri IV was laid down at Cherbourg 15 July 1897 and launched on 23 August 1899, but took until September 1903 to enter service.[1]


Henri IV spent the early part of World War I as the guardship at Bizerte, but she was sent to reinforce the French squadron in the Dardanelles campaign during World War I after Allies suffered heavily during their first attempt to force the Dardanelles on 18 March 1915.[5] Her only known action was to bombard Kum Kale, on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles in support of the French diversionary landing on 25 April 1915.[6]

Three of her 138.7 mm guns had been dismounted by November 1914 and sent to reinforce the French naval mission to Serbia, known as Mission D, by rail from Salonica.[7] "In 1916 she joined the Complementary or Reserve Division of the 3rd Battle Squadron. Subsequently she was transferred to the French eastern division in Egypt and then in 1918 to Taranto as a depot ship. In company with almost all other predreadnoughts she went to the scrapyard after the war. At Toulon, Henri IV, an unheeded prophet, was stricken in 1921."[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Conway's, p. 295
  2. ^ "French 274 mm/40 (10.8") Model 1893/1896". 22 July 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  3. ^ "French 138.6 mm/45 (5.46") Models 1884, 1888, 1891 and 1893". 6 April 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  4. ^ Caresse, Philippe (2007). The Iéna Disaster, 1907. Warship 2007. London: Conway. pp. 121–122. ISBN 1-84486-041-8. 
  5. ^ Smith, Gordon. "WORLD WAR 1 at SEA FRENCH NAVY, Part 1 of 2 Battleships, Cruisers, Seaplane Carriers". Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  6. ^ Patton, George S. (1936). "The Defense of Gallipoli: A General Staff Study". Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  7. ^ Halpern, Paul G. (1994). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 265. 
  8. ^ Backer, Steve. "Coast Defense Battleship Henri IV (1897/1902)". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 


  • Robert Gardiner, ed (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905. Greenwhich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 

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