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Gloire anchored, 1869
Laid down4 March 1858
Launched24 November 1859
CompletedAugust 1860
FateScrapped, 1883
General characteristics
Class and typeGloire-class ironclad
Displacement5,618 t (5,529 long tons)
Length78.22 m (256 ft 8 in)
Beam17 m (55 ft 9 in)
Draught8.48 m (27 ft 10 in)
Depth of hold10.67 m (35 ft 0 in)
Installed power
Sail planBarquentine rigged
Speed13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Range4,000 km (2,500 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Complement570 officers and enlisted men

The French ironclad Gloire ([ɡlwaʁ], "Glory") was the first ocean-going ironclad, launched in 1859. She was developed after the Crimean War,[1] in response to new developments of naval gun technology, especially the Paixhans guns and rifled guns, which used explosive shells with increased destructive power against wooden ships. Her design was also influenced by the Anglo-French development of ironclad floating batteries to bombard Russian forts during the same war.

Design and description

Gloire was designed by the French naval architect Henri Dupuy de Lôme as a 5,630-ton broadside ironclad with a wooden hull. Her 12 cm-thick (4.7 in) armour plates, backed with 43 cm (17 in) of timber, resisted hits by the experimental shooting of the strongest guns of the time (the French 50-pounder and the British 68-pounder) at full charge, at a distance of 20 metres (65 ft).

Her maximum speed was 13.1 knots but other reports suggested no more than 11.75 knots had been attained and that 11 knots was the practical maximum.[2]

As was common for the era, Gloire was constructed with sails as well as a steam-powered screw. The original rigging was a light barquentine rig providing 1,096 sq. m (11,800 sq. ft) of surface area. This was later increased to a full rig providing 2,508 sq. m (27,000 sq. ft) of surface.[3]


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Gloire was launched at the arsenal of Mourillon, Toulon, on 24 November 1859; and entered service in August 1860. She was eliminated from the French fleet registry in 1879, and scrapped in 1883.

The ship underwent preliminary trials in June 1860 with official trials on 20-21 of August, where she achieved 13.5 knots. In September of that year, she escorted the imperial yacht Aigle [fr] carrying Emperor Napoleon III to Algiers. During a storm on the return voyage, the Gloire was the sole escort able to remain with the Aigle. On 12 November, Gloire began comparative trials with the Algésiras, culminating in a trial report on 30 March 1861.[4]

Importance in naval history

As the first ocean-going ironclad, Gloire rendered obsolete traditional unarmoured wooden ships-of-the-line, and all major navies soon began to build ironclads of their own.



  1. ^ The Battle of Sinop at the start of the war convinced the world's naval powers that wooden warships could not withstand the new weapons.
  2. ^ Wells, John (1987). The immortal Warrior Britain's First and Last battleship. Kenneth Mason. p. 46. ISBN 0-85937-333-9.
  3. ^ Jackson, Robert (2010). Warships Inside Out. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 10–15. ISBN 978-1-60710-109-3.
  4. ^ Roberts, Stephen S. (2021). French warships in the age of steam, 1859-1914: design, construction, careers and fates. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-5267-4533-0.