After Italy announced it was building 35,000 ton battleships on May 26, 1934, the French decided to study the feasibility of building competing battleships despite not having the infrastructure to build such large ships. It was felt that the Richelieu class ships would be primarily used in the Mediterranean.
On July 24, 1934, the requirements for a 35,000 ton battleship with 15" or 16" guns and could go 29.5 to 32 knots. A design that had two 15" quad turrets in front was accepted.
In 1935 the Richelieu and Jean Bart were authorized for construction followed in 1938 by the Clémenceau and Gascogne.
When the Richelieu was being constructed it was too long for the dry dock so the bow and stern sections were added after being moved out of the dry dock.
There were three aircraft carried and could be launched from two compressed air catapults.
The 15" (38 cm) L/45 M1935 could fire a 1,938 lb / 1,949 lb armor piercing shell out to 45,600 / 50,000 yards at 35°. The turrets weighed 2,430 tons.
The 154.2 mm (6") L/55 M1930 dual purpose guns could fir a 38.1 lb shell out to 28,952 yards at 45°. Maximum elevation was 90°. However, it was very hard to load the guns if the elevation was over 45°.