Aigle class destroyer

Aigle class destroyer

The Aigle-class destroyers (contre-torpilleurs) of the French navy were laid down between 1928 and 1929 and commissioned in 1931 and 1932. They were very similar to the previous Guepard class, the only difference being improved machinery with higher pressure boilers, offering an additional 0.5kt of speed and a new model 138mm gun with a sliding breech block giving a higher rate of fire. The ships were named after birds.

Ships

  • Aigle (Eagle; pennant numbers 5, 6 and X13) - built by At & Ch de France Dunkirk, completed 10 October 1932 - Scuttled 27 November 1942
  • Vautour (Vulture; pennant numbers 6, 5, 73, X71) - built by F & Ch de la Méditerranée, Le Harve, completed 2 May 1932 - Scuttled 27 November 1942
  • Albatros (3, 2, 5, 72, X73, F762) - built by At & Ch de la Loire, Nantes, completed 25 December 1931, decommissioned 9 September 1959
  • Gerfaut (Gyrfalcon - 4, 71, X72) - built by At & Ch de Bretagne, Nantes, completed 30 January 1932 - Scuttled 27 November 1942
  • Milan (Kite (bird) - 1, 4, X113) - built by Arsenal de Lorient, completed 20 April 1934 - On 8 November 1942, she suffered a 406 mm hit off Casablanca from the US fleet and had to be beached.
  • Épervier (Eurasian Sparrowhawk - 2, 5, X112)- built by Arsenal de Lorient, completed 1 April 1934 - On 9 November 1942, she was sunk by HMS Aurora off Oran. She was raised, and eventually broken up in 1946.

Three of the ships (Albatros, Épervier and Milan) were stationed in Morocco as part of the Vichy French navy, and engaged Allied forces during Operation Torch. Along with the unfinished battleship Jean Bart, they engaged the Allied 'Covering Group', a taskforce based on the battleship Massachusetts. Milan and Épervier both ran aground after being damaged in the battle; Albatros was damaged but, after her capture, repaired and used as an Allied gunnery training vessel.

Three ships of the class - Aigle, Gerfaut and Vautour - were scuttled in Toulon harbour on 27 November 1942, to prevent them falling into German hands. All were later refloated by the Italians, but none were repaired, and all were eventually sunk by Allied air attack.

References

  • Preston, Anthony: "Destroyers". Bison Books, 1979. ISBN 0-600-32955-0
  • M.H Whitley, Destroyers of World War 2, 1988 Cassell Publishing ISBN 1-85409-521-8

Aigle-class at uboat.net

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