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Subject: Marine Nationale: Vive De Gaulle! Appareillage! rss

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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When Louis XIV set out to make France Europe’s premiere nation, her navy was not neglected, and for a time France was the world's leading naval power. However, the pressures of war and debt made the navy of secondary importance after 1701. In another time it would not have mattered, since French ship designs were superb and her officers and sailors were exploring the world in fabled voyages of discovery. But this was the age of British naval power, and after Trafalgar, the French never again tried to rule the waves.

Record in World War II
France increased its fleet in the 1930s, keeping a wary eye on Italy. As an ally of Britain, it was understood that the Royal Navy would fight the Germans and their u-boats and the French would maintain the Mediterranean, as had been the case in World War I. The French Navy, known as Marine Nationale, was the fourth largest in the world when France declared war on Hitler’s Germany. However, it was built to fight the Italian Navy, and therefore it relied upon speed, with both the submarine and carrier arm taking a backseat to more conventional surface warships. In the opening months the navy did its job well enough. Unfortunately, and at no fault of the fleet, France fell in 1940.

Battleship Richelieu, among the Finest Warships of World War II


The new Vichy French regime led by World War I hero Philippe Pétain, avoided outright support of Nazism, but was nevertheless Fascist, a political ideology that many French admirals subscribed to. The British now viewed their former ally as a potential threat and took actions to destroy her fleet. French ships in Britain and Egypt were seized, usually without the use of force. In North Africa the fleet at Mers-el-Kébir was attacked, leading to the death of over 1,000 French sailors. While portrayed by patriotic Brits as a major victory, the truth is quite the opposite. The nascent Free French movement was dealt a serious blow and Pétain, himself an Anglophobe, rallied Vichy France with cries of “Perfidious Albion.”

The Vichy French Navy now existed as a scattered force occupying a netherworld between the Axis and Allies. The Allies slowly but surely absorbed French colonial possessions, usually with the aid of Free French forces. The first such encounter, at Dakar, ended in a Vichy French victory that discredited the Free French cause. Sadly, in 1940 there were few Free French naval assets. Nevertheless, in 1940 Gabon was seized and Syria fell in 1941, but both were accomplished only through violence. Meanwhile, the Vichy French fleet in Indochina destroyed Thailand’s navy when that nation sought to exploit the fall of France. In the end though, the Vichy regime in Asia was forced to ally itself with Japan.

By 1942 tempers had cooled, and whatever loyalty the Vichy regime commanded was fading. After the Allies seized Madagascar, they attacked Vichy territory in North Africa, defeating their navy and overrunning the colony after brief fighting. Soon the French forces were joining the Allies and Hitler decided to end the Vichy charade with an invasion of Southern France. At Toulon, the lowest point in French naval history was played out. While sailors chanted “Vive De Gaulle! Appareillage!” (Long live De Gaulle! Set sail!) the admirals, complicit in the rise of French Fascism, but still wary of the Nazis, scuttled the fleet rather than hand it over to the Allies. A few submarines escaped, but 3 battleships, 7 cruisers, 15 destroyers, and 12 submarines were lost along with a host of smaller vessels and auxiliary ships. The Free French Navy fought on supporting the landings at both Normandy and on the Riviera, but most of France's fleet had been lost by the most inglorious of means, serving a government that was perhaps the most vile in France’s long history. World War II was the nadir of French military fortunes and her navy suffered just as much as the rest.

Germans Gaze at the Burning Cruiser Colbert in Toulon Harbor


Warships
France was deficient in carrier tactics, having only one old and small carrier and few pilots trained to fly on her. In terms of battleships the French had an odd assortment. The older ships were substandard World War I leftovers, inferior even in their day. The new Dunkerque was modern, but also lightly armored. The real gem was the Richelieu, which was among the finest warship designs of the era and a forerunner to modern ship designs. Only the battleships Iowa and Yamato were substantially superior.

French cruisers, designed to contend with quick Italian designs, were flawed vessels that traded armor for speed. France however did have two of the best destroyer designs of the war in the Fantasque and Mogador, and her destroyer crews were well trained, since France rightfully feared Italy's large destroyer flotilla. As far as submarines went, France was mostly deficient. However, they did experiment with the Surcouf, a massive vessel that even had a gun turret capable of damaging a cruiser.

The Massive Submarine Surcouf


Special Rules in Across Four Oceans
French ships have superior engines on par with the Italians, and her forces can freely mix with the British, representing their admirable coordination during the war’s opening months. Vichy France though is constrained by having a fleet spread out over the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and South China Sea. While the Free French are small until 1943, they do have access to some Allied aircraft. Mostly though, fleet rules are flexible. If a player wishes to have a ship in an area it could not access (like say Algérie in Saigon or Richelieu under the cross of Lorraine) then that player must devise an explanation and convince their opponent. In addition, the Axis can use some French ships after 1942, with the opponent’s permission.

Conclusion
The French can be problematic in operational games, but for tactical fights they are the best beginner fleet, since they have few special rules and are neither too powerful nor too weak. The main fun in using the French is giving their first class fleet the glory that eluded it in a war that shattered France’s once formidable military reputation.

French Sailors Shoot Some Pool
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Robert Wesley
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They could also be playing War at Sea 2 and then RESOLVE any "Battles" through this as well. I have 1:4800 'scale' vessels, and just adopt what Jutland was using, on bringing in others and the "Like"... whistle
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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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GROGnads wrote:
They could also be playing War at Sea 2 and then RESOLVE any "Battles" through this as well. I have 1:4800 'scale' vessels, and just adopt what Jutland was using, on bringing in others and the "Like"... whistle


So you use the Jutland rules with your miniatures? If so, not a bad idea at all.
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Robert Wesley
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Certainly, you can "go that route" for 'simplicity's sake'. I had meant that we used their 'adjacency method' of determining what nearby vessels could then ENTER within the ongoing "Battle" as some Reinforcement(s), that was currently being fought. We also tended to use the boards from North Cape with ours. Having 2 copies of this, it permitted us on being able to place a board wherever someone was about to MOVE off of the initial "playing area" depicted. We would then position everything accordingly and CENTER that once again, to continue along.
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