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Ariecho

January 10 - Focus: Béarn

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General

 

A busy day for everyone on the team, which explains this late and short article today.  Hopefully, it will still be of interest to you, at least by its subject's originality.

 

Only a few ships had significant events on a January 10.  NGTM_1R was going to speak about the Atlanta-class but got called back by work.  The same happened to JeeWeeJ who was going to cover the same subject I picked today, but was also called back by work.

 

Ships who had a significant event on a January 10:

1898 - IJN Hatsuse - Shikishima-class - Laid down

1905 - SMS München - Bremen-class - Commissioned

1914 - FS Béarn - Béarn-class - Laid down

1942 - USS San Diego - Atlanta-class - Commissioned

1944 - USS Cape Gloucester - Commencement Bay-class - Laid down

1945 - USS Chicago - Baltimore-class - Commissioned

 

Statistics for surface ships:

Allies: 19 ships laid down, 21 launched, 24 commissioned and 1 lost (USS LCT(L)-974)

Germany: 1 ship commissioned (SMS München)

Italy: 1 ship laid down (RM Indomito) and 1 commissioned (RM Fuciliere)

Japan: 1 ship laid down (IJN Hatsuse)

 

1914

 

On January 10, 1914, the hull of what would have become a Normandie-class battleship was laid down near Toulon, a French port in the Mediterranean Sea.  The Normandie-class would have consisted of 5 battleships: Normandie, Flandre, Gascogne, Languedoc and Béarn, all named after French regions.  They would have been an interesting class to follow, with their 12 x 13.5-inch guns, but history was in motion and had other ideas concerning what would become of them.  On August 3, 1914, Germany declared war on France and a day later, Great Britain declared war on Germany. With the Royal Navy now taking over the Atlantic sector, France's immediate need for more naval guns was not as urgent, even though the lag between the two navies was getting wider and wider.  Of the 5 Normandie-class ships laid down, only one was eventually finished: Béarn.

 

Béarn:

On January 10, 1914, Béarn was laid down in Toulon and her construction progressed slowly during World War I as other programs, not necessarily naval, had other priorities.  At the end of World War I, France, who still had plans to build 2 aircraft carriers reduced them to 1, and Béarn was selected for that.

 

2_zps8618beae.jpg

Béarn in 1914

 

Characteristics:

Displacement: 22,501 t (standard) - 28,900 t (full load) - Length: 599 ft 1 in (o/a) - Beam: 35.2 m 115 ft 6 in - Draft: 9.3 m
Installed power:  22,500 shp (turbines) - 15,000 ihp (reciprocating engines)
Propulsion: 2 × Parsons geared steam turbines - 2 × reciprocating steam engines - 4 × shafts
Speed: 21.5 knots - Range: 7,000 nm at 10 knots
Complement:    865
Armament:    Original: 8 × 155 mm (6.1 in)/50 cal guns (8x1) - 6 × 3-inch/50 cal anti-aircraft guns (6 x 1) - 8 × 1.5-inch anti-aircraft guns (added in 1935)
16 × 0.52-inch anti-aircraft machine guns (6 x 1) (added 1935) - 4 × 550 mm (22-inch) torpedo tubes
After 1944 Refit: 4 × 5.0-inch)/38 cal dual-purpose guns - 24 × 40 mm Bofors (6 x 4) and 26 × 20 mm Oerlkons
Armor: Main Belt: 3.1-inch - Flight Deck: 1.0-inch 
Aircraft carried: 35-40 -- 1939: 10 x Dewoitine D.373, 10 x Levasseur PL.7 and 9 x Levasseur PL.10

 

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Béarn's 3-inch guns

 

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Béarn's 1.5-inch guns

 

Béarn would have to wait until 1920 to be launched, and this only happened because the dry-dock where she was needed to be freed.  French Admirals, while thinking that the British had to be interested with aircraft carriers for a reason, didn't consider them true naval weapons.  Later that year, a wooden deck was added to the hull so that some take-offs and landings could be performed.  The first landing happened on October 20, 1920.

 

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Béarn in 1920

 

Other nations didn't wait for the French to catch up.  The Royal Navy was very busy and several projects were started that would turn into the British aircraft carriers Furious, Argus, Eagle and Hermes.  The US Navy, was also busy working on her first project: USS Langley and Japan was investing in Hōshō.

 

It would take the Washington Treaty of 1922 to accelerate things.  In 1923, the real deck takes shape and all the ship's superstructure is put together.  The aircraft starts to take shape and doesn't look anymore like an unarmed battleship.

 

5_zpsef96a1ab.jpg

 

Hangars and elevators are added and the ships starts to be ready for aircraft training, only consisting of touch and goes.  Eventually, arresting cables are installed and the first landing and "capture" of an aircraft by a cable happens on December 9, 1926.  The next step, take-offs and landings on a moving carrier, happens on May 10, 1927, the very same day the ship leaves her port.

 

19_zpsb134ff6d.jpg

Béarn during speed tests

 

The rest of the period preceding World War II is spend conducting more trials in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a modernization of the arresting gear and the propulsion system.  This period, while it reveals that the aircraft carrier is a successful "first", also shows the ship's major flaws: her speed and her elevators.  Béarn's engines can't generate more than 21 knots, which means that she can't follow the rest of the fleet, but also prevents her from embarking larger aircraft.  Elevators are also very slow and Béarn need more than one hour to accommodate 15 aircraft.  By comparison, USS Saratoga only needed 12 minutes to land 40 aircraft!

 

11_zps7b747113.jpg

Béarn in 1939

 

Because the most modern French ships are in the Mediterranean Sea and Béarn cannot operate with them, she is sent to the Atlantic.  When World War II starts, it is decided to use her as an aircraft transport and she is sent to the United States where she embarks 44 Helldivers, 23 H-75s, 6 B-339s and 33 Stinson 105.  She is racing back to France when she is told that a capitulation is imminent.  As a consequence, she is sent to the French West Indies.

 

Béarn will stay there until 1943, when what is left of the French Navy joins the Allies after the invasion of France's southern part and the scuttle in Toulon, in November 1942.  Béarn is sent to the United States where she is modernized, as she is still seen as useful, but not as an aircraft carrier anymore.  Instead, she will be used (again) as an aviation transport.

 

12_zps9313b5a0.jpg

Béarn after transformation

 

After World War II, Béarn is relegated to the role of floating barracks, a measure that was supposed to be temporary but that didn't change until she was sold for scrap, in 1967.

 

15_zpsc7adefe3.jpg

 Béarn alongside Arromanches (ex-HMS Colossus) and either Foch or Clémenceau

  • Cool 8

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Béarn's aviation:



I usually do not cover aircraft carriers' aviation in too many details, but because of their origin, those onboard Béarn may look exotic to you, so I will make an exception.



 



Fighters:



Gourdou-Leseurre GL-22: 1918-era fighter armed with 2 x 0.303 Vickers machine guns.  Only one served aboard Béarn as a test aircraft.



A1_zps9f624257.jpg



GL.22 landing on Béarn



 



Dewoitine D1.C1: 1920-era fighter also refused by the French Air Force but acquired by the French Navy who acquired 30 of them.



A2_zps06513df0.jpg



Dewoitine D1.C1



 



Levasseur-Biche LB.2: First French fighter specifically built to operate from aircraft carriers.  20 were built, armed with 2 x 0.303 Vickers machine guns.



A3_zpsd2ad723e.jpg



Levasseur-Biche LB.2



 



Wibault 74C1: This aicraft eventually replaced the Dewoitine.  24 were built.



A5_zpsad413657.jpg



Wibault 74C1 taking off



 



Attack aircraft:



Levasseur PL-4: Reconnaissance and bombardment aircraft.  Used between 1927 and 1930.



A7_zps39e562c2.jpg



Levasseur PL-4



 



Levasseur PL-7: Used as a torpedo-bomber or level-bomber aircraft, it served between 1930 and 1940.



A8_zps6f33c336.jpg



Levasseur PL-7



 



Vought V-156F: First modern aircraft to serve onboard Béarn.  French version of the Vought Vindicator, it will be used as a dive bomber.  Most of them were used from land bases against the Germans.



A9_zpse3184f0a.jpg



Vought V-156F



 



Loire Nieuport LN40: Nicknamed the French "Stuka", the LN40, the LN40 were theoretically assigned to the aircraft carrier, but never stayed on her, being more needed on land bases against the Germans.



A10_zpsce88435b.jpg



Loire Nieuport LN40



 



Lioré et Olivier Léo 30: Another aircraft was ordered to serve on Béarn, although it is difficult to assess in what role.  Please let me present to you the Lioré et Olivier Léo 30.



h_zps06d0c5d9.jpg



Lioré et Olivier Léo 30


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Alpha Tester
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wow men...good information for the alpha tester guys...hopefully i'll be one of them soon...anyway.good info...+2

Edited by Blaze_Tanker_Man

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Good stuff!

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Great job as always. Being an autogyro, I would assume the Lioré et Olivier Léo 30 was used for simple local observation.

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I know that the French attempted to acquire a number of Wildcats and Dauntlesses; was the intent to operate them from Béarn? I'm not sure she could...

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I know that the French attempted to acquire a number of Wildcats and Dauntlesses; was the intent to operate them from Béarn? I'm not sure she could...

Yes, they were for Béarn.  The SBD was actually lighter than the SB2U (called the V-156F in the French Navy).  The SBD eventually served in the French Navy with Arromanches, but the F4F didn't, being replaced by the F6F in the French Navy.

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Yes, they were for Béarn.  The SBD was actually lighter than the SB2U (called the V-156F in the French Navy).  The SBD eventually served in the French Navy with Arromanches, but the F4F didn't, being replaced by the F6F in the French Navy.

 

I never knew about that :o 

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