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France's flag

France's Béarn aircraft carrier

Photos

Aircraft carrier Béarn:
France's Aircraft carrier Béarn
Imperial War Museum Q-48219
Aircraft carrier Béarn:
France's Aircraft carrier Béarn
Imperial War Museum Q-48221

Design

In 1922 it was decided to convert an uncompleted Normandie class battleship into an aircraft carrier. Plans for the HMS Eagle were used to help design the Béarn.

The hull armor was reduced.

Engines

The geared turbines drove the inner shafts and the reciprocating engines the outer shafts.

The engine exhaust went out through the island.

Flight Deck

There were two 50' x 50' elevators and a single 27' x 40' elevator installed in the flight deck. The flight deck was 51' above the waterline.

There was a crane aft of the starboard island.

hangar

The hangar was 405' / 406' 9" long.

There were workshops and additional storage for aircraft under the hangar deck.

Ships

Béarn

  • Converted from Normandie.
  • Manufacturer: F C de la Méditerranée at La Seyne, F Ch de la Med
  • January 10, 1914: Laid down.
  • April 1920: Launched.
  • August 1923: Conversion started.
  • 1927, May 1927: Commissioned.
  • 1935: Conversion finished. Refit. Additional vents added to island.
  • May 1942: Demilitarized in Martinique.
  • June 30, 1943: Joined Les Forces Navales Françaises Libres (Free French naval forces).
  • Late 1943 - 1944, 1944 - 1945: Converted to aircraft ferry in the United States. French armament removed and replaced. Flight deck shortened.
  • March 1945: Conversion completed.

Specifications

  Béarn
Crew 865, 875
Displacement 22,100 tons, 22,146 tons, 22,150 tons
Displacement - Loaded 28,400 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 599', 599' 1"
182.6 m
Length - Water Line 574' 2"
175 m
Length - Between Perpendiculars 559' 1", 559' 9"
170 m, 170.6 m
Beam 88' 11", 89'
27.1 m, 27.13 m
Draft / Height 30' 6"
9.3 m
Flight Deck 580' x 70', 590' 9"
176.8 m x 21.34 m
Flight Deck - Late 1943 510'
Performance  
Speed 21.5 knots
Range  
Range at 10 knots 6,000 nautical miles, 7,000 nautical miles
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 6" L/55 Mod 21, 6.1": 8
3", 75 mm: 6
37 mm: 8
Machine Guns: 16
Anti-Aircraft - Late 1943 5" L/38: 4
40 mm: 24
20 mm: 26
Anti-Aircraft - March 1945 5" L/38: 4
40 mm quad mounts: 6
20 mm: 26
Torpedoes 21.7": 4
Aircraft 40
Armor  
Casements 2.75"
Deck - Lower 1" - 2.8", 2.75"
Deck - Main 1"
Deck - Upper 2"
Flight Deck 1"
Main Belt 3", 3.2"
Engines  
Boilers Normand du Temple: 6
du Temple: 12
Engines Reciprocating: 2
Shafts 4
Turbines 2, Parsons
HP 40,000
HP - Inner Shafts 22,500
HP - Outer Shafts 15,000
Oil 2,160 tons
Aviation Fuel 26,000 tons

Sources:

  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  2. World War II The Encyclopedia of Facts and Figures, John Ellis, 1993
  3. The World's Aircraft Carriers 1914 - 1945, Roger Chesneau, 1986
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site