The Fantasque ("Capricious one") was a large destroyer ("contre-torpilleur", "torpedo boat destroyer") of the French Navy which served during the Second World War. Her class is the fastest type of destroyer ever built.
The Fantasque was the second destroyer of the Malin class, out of a total of six units built, but in English, her name is most often associated with this class. These ships were designed to outclass the large escorts built by the Italian navy. The design strongly stressed firepower and speed over armour protection, and indeed, the Fantasque is still to this day the fastest type of destroyer ever built.
In the beginning of the Second World War, the Fantasque patrolled the Atlantic, sinking the German cargo ship Halle on 16 October 1939 and capturing its crew. She also took part in the hunt for the Graf Spee. On 25 November, along with her sister ship Terrible and the heavy cruiser Dupleix, she captured the German merchantman Santa Fé.
After the Fall of France, the Fantasque was assigned to the Vichy French 10th DCT (Division de Contre-Torpilleurs, "destroyer division"), with her sister ships Malin and Audacieux, based at Dakar. On 23 September 1940, the Allies attacked Dakar. The Fantasque sailed through the harbour, setting smoke screens and protecting the stronger French units. She took fire from the British ships and aircraft, but was not damaged.
Shortly after Operation Torch, French West Africa and its fleet, including Fantasque, turned to the Allies. In March 1943, she underwent refitting in Boston, repairing damage, adding radars and ASDIC, and reinforcing her anti-aircraft armament. After the refit, she was reclassified as a light cruiser.
On 9 September 1943 she took part in the Salerno landings (Operation Avalanche), providing fire support for the landing force.
On the night of 13-14 September, she landed 250 commandos at Ajaccio, along with ammunition and weapons for the maquis.
On 24 December 1943, she intercepted the German merchant ship Nicoline Maersk, forcing the freighter to run aground near Tortosa, Spain.
In 1944, the 10th DCT was reconstituted to raid deep in the Adriatic, with the aim of isolating Italy from Yugoslavia. On the night of 18-19 March, along with the Terrible, she encountered a German convoy composed of the large ferry F124, the tugboat Titanic, and three escorts (FS270, FS273 and FS274); all enemy ships were sunk except for Titanic, which managed to escape to Kyparissia.
On 17 June, along with Terrible, she sank the tanker Giuliana and damaged the R5 and R14.
On 15 August, the 10th DCT took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied landing in Provence.
Between 1945 and 1946, she served in Indochina