Here's my effort, complete with deck decal:
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Yes, France had an aircraft carrier
Well, sort of. The Béarn was laid down in 1914 as a Normandie class battleship, but WWI interrupted her construction. By the time work recommenced in 1922, the French Navy had decided to complete her as an aircraft carrier (having first cast a covetous eye on Britain's HMS Argus). Béarn was designed to carry 40 aircraft, but she remained a battleship at heart and had a maximum speed of just 21.5 kts. By the beginning of WWII, she had to strain every sinew to manage 20 kts and 18 was more realistic. From the beginning of the war until the Fall of France, the Béarn aided in the Anglo-French effort to hunt down German commerce raiders in the Atlantic. It was intended that she be equipped with two squadrons of American-built Vought Vindicator dive bombers, but instead, these were committed to the Battle of France and rapidly decimated by German Bf-109s. Béarn then sat idle at Martinique until 1944. Obviously too slow to be a fleet carrier, she served in the Free French Navy as an aircraft transport.