Légion d'honneur or the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur is the highest award of France and made a unique distinction when it was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. Before the Légion d'honneur awards were only available for nobility. In an absolute monarchy, only the nobles counted. Military orders were open only to officers. First Counsel Bonaparte detested the classism of all of the old knightly orders and established the Légion d'honneur as the first order of merit. It was truly egalitarian, open to common soldier as well as officer, open to civilians as well as the military, open to women as well as men, open to foreigners as well as Frenchmen. The sole distinction was the recipient had to have accomplished something of great benefit or merit for France. The Légion d'honneur was originally awarded in three levels, Legionnaire, Officer and Commander, although Legionnaire was subsequently changed to Knight. Two additional levels were created, the Grand Cross, the most elite, and Grand Officer. The President of France is always head of the order, as the Grand Master with the Grand Cross. 

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Légion d'honneur has indeed been flattered in that the United States followed the format of the French order when it created the Legion of Merit in 1942. Unlike, the Légion d'honneur, the Legion of Merit is not the highest decoration of the country, however as a recipient of the Legion of Merit I hasten to add that the US award is not found in a Cracker Jack Box. If you compare the two medals you can see how the US award was patterned after the French. Both share a white enameled five pointed Maltese cross and same color ribbon, except that the US award added a narrow white band at each edge. Moreover, the Legion of Merit was the first US award with multiple levels and open to award to non US nationals, just as originally found with the Légion d'honneur. The levels are Legionnaire for Colonel and below, Officer for General Grade Officers and Commander for Heads of State. Of course by now you have to be asking yourself, "Well, that’s great. Thanks for the history lesson but what does that have to do with the price of Croissants?" 

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Well, since the Légion d'honneur is open to those who bring great distinction to France, I would suggest the it should be awarded to Jacque Druel and Pierre Marchal for the unceasing excellence, which they bring to the products of L’Arsenal. Granted, warships are the smallest arena of the hobby model market and the hobby model market is smaller than the automobile market, but a company does not have to be Hispano-Suiza to bring distinction to France. The products of L’Arsenal are always of the highest quality and equal or better to any in the world. In that regard L’Arsenal does bring great distinction to La Belle France. As a mere Legionnaire of the Legion of Merit, I hereby nominate Jacques Druel and Pierre Marchal for the Légion d'honneur. I feel confident that my nomination and five Euros will be sufficient for Jacques to enjoy a cup of coffee at his nearest Starbucks.

One of the latest in the long line of superior L’Arsenal products is aimed squarely at three 1:400 scale Heller French battleship kits. L’Arsenal AC400-33 provides two catapults for Strasbourg, Dunkerque or Richelieu. Since these battleships only carried one catapult, you’ll have enough for two Heller kits. Also included are two Loire 130 Flying Boats so your French lovelies will have something to fire off to go looking for those pesky Panzerschiffes. As with many L’Arsenal sets, AC400-33 contains both resin and brass photo-etch. Resin parts for the catapult include catapult base and catapult pistons. The catapult roundtables also have additional machinery cast onto the parts. However, most of the resin parts included in this set belong to the two Loire 130 Flying boats. For each aircraft one part is the fuselage, two are wings, one is the engine nacelle and two are small pontoons, which are attached to the hull. The flying boat hull/fuselage includes panel lines for the rudder, observer machine gun positions, and locator holes for the flank small pontoons. 

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There are two brass photo-etched frets included in the set, one for the aircraft and one for the catapults. The brass photo-etch fret includes ten brass parts for each aircraft. These are: two wing supports, two pontoon supports, two horizontal stabilizers, two small vertical stabilizers, one engine support and one propeller. The flaps on the horizontal stabilizers are relief-etched. For the two catapults, each catapult receives the following parts: the catapult, two different types of aircraft cradles, two cradle side supports, four pulleys, two starboard platforms and two port platforms. Relief etching is found throughout this fret. The catapult is one piece that folds together to provide all four surfaces of the structure. Two of the platforms have safety railings, which fold upwards 90 degrees. Oh yes, as for the photographs of AC400-33 seen in this article, the Légion d'honneur seen in the photographs is NOT included in the set.

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Voila! Marveilleuse! L’Arsenal does it again! With AC400-33, French Battleship Catapults, the company from Normandie again proves that accessories from this French company are among the best in the world. President Sarkozy, as Grand Master of the Légion d'honneur, it is time to recognize the excellence of L'Arsenal

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