Ships of France
Largely spared from the deep military budget cuts brought about by the Treaty of Versailles during the interwar period, the Marine Nationale took part in the Battle of the Atlantic, Operation Weserübung, and Operation Dynamo at the onset of the Second World War. However, the signing of the Armistice of 22 June 1940 with Germany meant that all operations with the Allies had to be suspended under the new Vichy France client state, with the exception of those who were able to join the Free French Naval Forces. While the terms of the Armistice meant that France was officially neutral, the British did not want to risk having the most powerful vessels of the Marine Nationale fall into enemy hands. The Royal Navy was directed to execute Operation Catapult, an attack on the French naval forces docked at Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria, on 3 July 1940, greatly souring relations between two powers. Nevertheless, rather than allow them to be captured by the Germans as part of Case Anton, French sailors scuttled the remainder of their fleet in Toulon on 27 November 1942, retaining their honor till the very end.
French cruisers are very fast, enabling them to fulfill a variety of roles. They are capable of being effective destroyer hunters and cruiser killers. These cruisers are excellent fire-starters, benefitting from a high fire chance. This can be used to great effect against battleships. However, it is important to be careful because with the exception of the Tier II ship, Jurien de la Gravière, French cruisers below Tier VII are not well-armored. At lower tiers, it is important to preserve health and avoid extended gunfights with other cruisers and battleships.
Boasting up to 110 millimeters of armor at Tier VII, Algérie is the first of the French heavy cruisers. With the addition of armor, these higher tier French cruisers are able to take a hit; however, the armor should not be relied on. Proper positioning, evasive maneuvers, and use of cover are tactics that will ensure the survival of French cruisers throughout a match. At Tier X, players can look forward to Henri IV. This cruiser is a formidable opponent. With the Engine Boost consumable active, Henri IV can reach 43.9 knots, which is faster than most destroyers! Henri IV is a heavy hitter, sporting 240 millimeter main guns with a 12.3 second reload time. These guns have good shell arcs and velocities, allowing for long range accuracy up to the maximum range of 19.08 kilometers. If needed, Henri IV is capable of restoring health with access to the Repair Party () consumable.
The only French battleship currently in the game is a premium ship, Dunkerque. With a top speed of 29.5 knots, Dunkerque is very fast for a Tier VI battleship. She also boasts an excellent rudder-shift time of 14 seconds, which can be upgraded. She has an entirely forward facing main armament, comprised of two turrets, each with four (4) 330-millimeter rifles. Dunkerque has a maximum firing range of 18.5 kilometers, which can be extended with the Spotting Aircraft () consumable. Due to the layout of her armament, it is wise to avoid close-quarters engagements with Dunkerque. She has the ability to turn quickly, but her length makes her an easy target for destroyers and aircraft with torpedoes.Dunkerque is an excellent choice for hunting cruisers due to her top speed, maneuverability, and mid-caliber guns. To get the best results in a battle, avoid getting too close to the enemy. Keep the bow pointed towards ships with high caliber guns to avoid extensive damage. Dunkerque's mid-size gun caliber means that well-armored targets may prove hard to penetrate with armor-piercing (AP) shells. If these shells aren't working, don't hesitate to switch to high-explosive (HE) in order to light fires!