In a joint venture, the French firms of L’Arsenal and Navires & Histoire will be releasing a multimedia kit of the Béarn, the first aircraft carrier for the Marine Nationale.

They expect deliveries by August of this year and the release date is confirmed as being September 1, 2002. The kit in 1:400 scale, will be comprised of injection plastic, resin and brass.

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At the conclusion of the First World War, the leading naval powers started developing aircraft carriers. Four of these nations, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States, built carriers on the existing hulls of incomplete battleships or battlecruisers, that would not be completed as such, under the terms of the Washington Treaty. France built the Béarn from a Normandie Class Battleship. Great Britain built the Eagle from the sistership of the Battleship, HMS Canada. Japan built the Kaga from a battleship hull and Akagi from a battlecruiser hull. The United States built the Lexington & Saratoga from battlecruiser hulls. As it turned out, the carriers built upon battlecruiser hulls proved to be much more effective than those built on battleship hulls, because of their higher speed and larger hull space. The Kaga was an exception. The Japanese had built their battleships to have a significant speed advantage over British and American battleships, requiring a longer hull to achieve this speed. Accordingly, she was an effective carrier, even though built upon a battleship hull.

Béarn at the Musée de la Marine
The Musée de la Marine in Paris has a 1:100 model of the Béarn. These photographs were taken by Jean-Paul Binot, who has the good fortune to live next to the museum. We in turn, have the good fortune of having Jean-Paul contribute these photographs. The other models of the Musée de la Marine will appear soon in an article by Jean-Paul.
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The Béarn was strongly influenced by the plans for HMS Eagle. The Royal Navy fully cooperated with the Marine Nationale. Full plans for the Eagle, as well as other technical assistance, was provided by the British, who had a greater degree of experience in naval aircraft operations than any other country in the early 1920s.

This kit will be a limited production plastic kit, produced in a much smaller quantity than kits produced by Tamiya, Revell, Heller or the other major injection plastic companies.

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Some of the features of this kit will be: Pre-drilled Port Holes- Port Holes will be completely drilled out; Easy Conversion to Waterline- The kit will be full hull but there will be a pre-cut line inside the hull to facilitate a waterline conversion; Multiple Elevator Positions- It will be possible to build the elevator in the raised position that is so typical of the Béarn. (optional) The photographs show the pre-production plastic parts for the kit. Many of the smaller parts will be resin or included in the two Photo-Etched brass frets, that are part of the Béarn kit.

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The kit will come with Dewoitine D.373 parasol fighters, Pierre-Levasseur P.L.7 bombers and Pierre-Levasseur P.L.101 bombers. Also, the first 300 kits sold will come with bonus resin aircraft of the Vought 156 F (Vindicator) and a Loire Nieuport LN-401.

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Bonus Aircraft
The first 300 kits sold will also come with resin and brass photo-etched aircraft for the Vought 156F, Vindicator & Loire Nieuport LN-401
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A decal sheet will also be included that consists of two different options for the deck markings, depending on the time period envisioned by the modeler. French roundels and airplane tail markings will be included.