World of Warships

[Player Made] French Aircraft Carriers – Introduction + Tier IV

WorldOfWarships2 - [Player Made] French Aircraft Carriers - Introduction + Tier IV


After a bit of a gap in doing anything, I had an urge to get into making another line. I was unsure of what to do, but considering that the Carrier Rework just happened it gave me some inspiration. As you could probably tell by the title, I have decided to make a French Aircraft Carrier line. Taking into consideration the decision to have even tier carriers only (at least for now), this makes future carrier lines much easier to work out. A full French CV line from Tiers IV to X may have possible, but it would have incorporated a lot of extra ships that were not truly French (such as the escort and light carriers loaned to France like Arromanches and Bois Belleau).

With that in mind, I can say that all four ships in the line are entirely of French design. In addition, all of the planes that I have selected are also entirely French in origin. However, I still have a small few gaps to fill and I cannot guarantee they will all end up being purely French. Due to the gap in French aeronautical industry from around 1941 to 1946, the Free French ended up using a lot of American and some British aircraft. However, some of the designs and prototypes from 1939/1940 would have been near top-of-the-line had they been produced in more quantity than 1 or 2 (seriously, the amount of aircraft that were prototypes and then abandoned or were destroyed following the invasion is way too many).

As for the carriers themselves, all of them are entirely real and by no means ever approaching fiction. All of them were also realized in some way physically, although only three had actual construction. The one left out was a serious design that had construction approved but was very quickly abandoned following technological advancements and other complications. Plans, models and full specifications exist for this one, which makes it much easier to use.

And so, let us begin.

Tier IV: Béarn (1927)

  • Historical Design: Béarn aircraft carrier – converted from Normandie-class battleship hull
  • Historical References: Elevation and Plan Views – 1940
  • Historical Status: Launched / Completed / Saw Active Service

Like many of the first generation of carriers, Béarn began life as a different capital ship being built before the end of World War One. Following the Washington Naval Conference, it was decided that all of the Normandie battleships were to be scrapped. France was given the same exclusion that the other large naval powers were, which was to take one of the battleship hulls and convert it into an aircraft carrier. Work began in 1923 and took 5 years to complete. Unlike many of the other converted carriers, Normandie did not match up to the size and tonnage of the likes of Lexington or Kaga. Due to this, Béarn would continually suffer from a lack of hanger and flight deck space.

Due to the creation and expansion of the new French battle fleet, Béarn was deemed unfit to serve in fleet operations and in 1939 it was planned to convert her into a seaplane transport. War broke out and she was linked to the Force de Raid and then later was tasked with sinking Graf Spee. After the fall of France she ended up serving as an aircraft ferry for American aircraft as well as carrying the French gold to the US and Canada. In 1943 she joined up with the Free French and was stationed around Martinique. In 1944 she was sent to the US for a major refit, giving her much more capable anti-air ability as well as effectively turning her into an actual aircraft transport. Her career was far from over after the war, as Béarn served around French Indochina and was later turned into a submarine barracks ship. She was only stricken in 1966, having been in service for over 35 years.

  • Ship Dimensions: 182.6 meters x 27.1 meters (w/l)
  • Speed: 21.5 knots @ 37,500 HP
  • Displacement: ~22,100t standard – 28,400t full load
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Béarn is beefy for Tier IV and will prove to be a big of a sponge if it comes under fire. Even going by the standard tonnage, Béarn would end up with 44,400 HP which is a good ~10,000 more than the other Tier IV carriers. But Béarn is also slower than Hoshou and Hermes (both at 25 knots), although poor Langley is down at 15 knots. However, Béarn could only historically carry 6 more aircraft than Langley (40 against 34), but it doesn't seem as though hanger capacity (at least in terms of the old CV system) has any real bearing on how many planes the new carriers get in reserves. Ultimately, I place Béarn at Tier IV due to there being no other suitable ship that could work as well as Béarn being the first actual carrier in French service.


  • Aircraft: Dewoitine D.373
  • Cruising Speed: 116 knots
  • Maximum Speed: 148 knots
  • Armament: 4x 5-inch FFAR
  • Rocket Damage: 1,900
  • Strike Wing Size: 2 planes
  • Squadron Size: 6 planes
  • Plane HP: 720

The D.373 was the primary fighter of Béarn, as a modification of the D.371. Being a parasol wing monoplane, it was a step above the older bi-planes but by the time of the Spanish Civil War it was outclassed by other fighters such as the I-15 and I-16, and never coming close to the early versions of the Bf-109. It matches up well against the other Tier IV planes, being about the same speed. Although it never carried rockets of any kind, I armed with with the FFAR due to the connection with US aviation after the start of the war as well as the FFAR also being used by the F3F on Langley. A strike wing of 2 and squadron of 6 is standard for Tier IV.

Torpedo Bombers

  • Aircraft: Levasseur PL.7
  • Cruising Speed: 86 knots
  • Maximum Speed: 108 knots
  • Armament: 40 cm (15.75") 26DA Toulon / St. Tropez
  • Torpedo Damage: 8,300
  • Torpedo Range / Speed / Detection Range: 3.00 km / 35 knots / 1.2 km
  • Strike Wing Size: 1 plane
  • Squadron Size: 3 planes
  • Plane HP: 790

The PL.7 was designed in the late 1920s using a few novel features at the time, including a main undercarriage that could be jettisoned and a watertight fuselage in the event of a crash. When the Navy was placing orders, they wanted to make sure the design was fit for use and so ordered a few with varying wing spans (from 18.5 to 16.5 meters). The 16.5 meter wing span was selected for service in 1930, and a few more were built while the rest of the tests were converted. In initial service, two of the planes broke up in flight due to vibration issues, and a few years would go by before they were back in service with reinforced wings and a new propeller. These were still in use on Béarn when war broke out, although they were beyond outdated by that point.

The torpedo I have selected is essentially the only aircraft torpedo in use by the French. It ends up working out fairly well in terms of game statistics, being a bit short on range but the speed works out just fine and having some nice damage. As with the attackers, a strike size of 1 and squadron of 3 is standard for Tier IV.

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Dive Bombers

  • Aircraft: Levasseur PL.7
  • Cruising Speed: 86 knots
  • Maximum Speed: 108 knots
  • Armament: 1x 100 kg (~250 lb) No. 1 G.P. H.E
  • Bomb Damage: 7,500
  • Bomb Fire Chance: 45%
  • Bomb HE Penetration: 48 mm
  • Strike Wing Size: 2 planes
  • Squadron Size: 6 planes
  • Plane HP: 790

It may be a bit cheap, but other aircraft carriers use the same plane for both TBs and DBs, and there isn't exactly much choice when it comes to early French naval aviation. As in other cases where planes are repeated, pretty much every statistic is the same except for the weapons. The 100 kg No. 1 bomb is just about normal for the Tier IV bombs, and I have it with slightly better performance than the Langley 250 lb bomb. Nothing too radical here, as it is only Tier IV.

  • Secondary Battery: 8×1 155 mm/50 Model 1920
  • Anti-Aircraft Battery: 6x 75 mm/50 Model 1924 + 16x 8 mm/80 Hotchkiss MGs

A bit of a meaningful battery when compared to other Tier IV carriers, although with the AI secondary gunners I wouldn't expect you to be able to defend yourself very well either way. The AA battery is probably a bit more than others as well, but again, it isn't going to work any wonders. There is also the refit from the United States, which replaces the armament with 4x 5"/38 mounts and a few dozen 20 mm Oerlikons, which can be made into a B hull.

All in all, Béarn would be interesting to see although it will just end up like the rest of the ships below Tier V/VI. A theme that I am trying to fit into the French carriers is going to be slightly faster planes that are more survivable than others, but with less overall strike power than some of the more jam-packed carriers, like with Midway's twin torpedoes at Tier 10 (and Saipan), Hakuryuu's super fast long-range torpedoes and AP bombs, or the Audacious with carpet bombing and high damage rockets. The planes themselves should be more comfortable to use, but not be oppressive and have high potential damage (but easier to deal the damage they have) The French CVs will also have more unique ship hulls with unusual characteristics that may prove advantageous to someone willing to use them to their full potential.

I am also working on these posts in a different manner than before, so I have decent progress made on the other ones already. It shouldn't be too long until the next one is done and posted.

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