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fighting ships of the world

FRENCH NAVY (FRANCE)

AIRCRAFT CARRYING SHIPS

BÉARN aircraft carrier (1927)

Béarn 1939

Béarn 1944

Béarn 1944

Name Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Béarn 1071 F C de la Méditerranée, La Seyne 10/1/1914 15/4/1920 6/1927 FNFL 6/1943, aircraft transport 3/1945, submarine depot ship early 1950s, stricken 11/1966

 

Displacement standard, t

22146

Displacement full, t

28400

Length, m

170.6 pp 182.6 oa

Breadth, m

27.1 wl 31.0 fd

Draught, m

9.30

No of shafts

4

Machinery

2 Parsons steam turbines, 2 VTE, 6 Normand du Temple boilers

Power, h. p.

22500 + 15000 = 37500

Max speed, kts

21.5

Fuel, t

oil 2160

Endurance, nm(kts) 7000(10)

Armour, mm

main belt: 80, flight deck: 24, upper hangar deck: 24, lower hangar deck: 60 - 28, casemates: 70 - 24

Armament

8 x 1 - 155/50 M1920, 6 x 1 - 75/50 M1924, 4 - 550 TT (beam), 16 x 1 - 8/80, 40 aircraft (D.1 fighters, P.L.5 fighters-recon planes, P.L.2 torpedo bombers, E.T.1 recon planes, F.B.A.17 amphibious planes)

Complement

865

Aircraft facilities (fd - 4,860m², ha - 4,182m² / ~20,500m³): Flight deck: 180.0x27.0m. Upper hangar: 124.5x19.5xm, lower hangar: 98x18m. There were 3 lifts, fore and amidships were 15.3x15.7m, aft was 8.2x12.2m. There were no catapults. Aircraft fuel stowage: 328 000l.

     

Year fighters torpedo bombers diving bombers
9/1939 20 D.373 5 P.L.7 ---
early 1940 --- --- 40 LN401 and V-156-F

Ship project history: Laid down as battleship of Normandie class. To execute decisions of Washington Naval Conference she was rebuilt to aircraft carrier. Works were begun in August, 1923. Battle value of the ship was sharply reduced by insufficient area of a flight deck that ensured simultaneous usage of no more than 10-12 aircrafts.

By the end of 1930th Béarn was unique aircraft carrier with torpedo tubes (according to some sources, they were removed only late 1939), and was considered too slow for operations with a fleet. In 1939 decision on her conversion to seaplane depot ship with preservation of possibility of basing of wheeled aircrafts was accepted.

Ship protection: 80mm main belt had 83m length. Also flight, upper hangar and lower hangar decks were protected by 24, 24 and 60-28mm armour respectively. 155mm guns were placed in casemates with 70mm armour.

Modernizations: 1935: - 4 x 1 - 8/80; + 8 x 1 - 37/50 M1925

(autumn 1943 - 3/1945, New Orleans, USA): ship was converted to aircraft transport, flight deck was shortened, its breadth rose to 35.2m, fuel stowage was increased to 4500t, amidships lift was removed. Complement was 651. Radars were installed. Fully new artillery consisted of 4 x 1 - 127/38 Mk 12, 6 x 4 - 40/56 Mk 1/2, 26 x 1 - 20/70 Mk 4

Naval service: In a beginning of war Béarn served as an aircraft transport for transportation of the aircrafts bought in the USA. Her four squadrons of diving bombers were based ashore. In the late 1939 she carried to the USA 250t of gold in payment for deliveries. During the second route (19/5-1/6/1940) Béarn carried to Canadian Halifax 3880 boxes with a part of French gold (194t).

At the moment of armistice signing Béarn was at Fort-de-France (Martinique) and under the agreement was disarmed 1/5/1942.

30/6/1943 Government of Martinique recognised the Algerian Government and Béarn has passed to the USA for repair. Since autumn of 1943 till March, 1945 works on her conversion to aircraft transport proceeded: flight deck was shortened, central elevator was removed, modern electronic equipment was installed. She carried troops and equipment in Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Béarn before war

Béarn late war as aircraft transport

Ivan Gogin, 2008-15