French Aircraft Carriers – Tier VIII

Introduction

I’ll take a moment to give some explanation on something that may be a bit confusing. More and more, with the planes presented at this tier and with all of the planes for Tier X, the names of the “manufacturers” may seem a bit strange. They are a mass of letters, each an acronym for a specific manufacturer. For example, one of the planes I present today is from SNCASE, the Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Sud-Est. All that bundle of French means is that it is a conglomerate of other aircraft manufacturers and designers that have been formed into a new company. French industry was increasingly nationalized following a massive 1936 strike, and these groups are the result of that process. They were assigned names based on geographical regions, with SNCASE being typically known as “Sud-Est,” SNCASO being “Sud-Ouest,” and so on. The groupings were fairly numerous at first but they continued to be bunched up more and more, until by around 1960 only two remained: Sud Aviation and Nord Aviation. Even these were eventually merged into a single entity which became known as Aérospatiale (which itself slowly broke apart and ceased to exist by around 2000). Several individual companies that were nationalized were eventually let go and returned to their former status to continue their own design and production, such as Breguet and Potez.

But now, on to the main event.


Tier VIII: XXX (c. 1941/1942)

  • Historical Design: PA5 Variant A
  • Historical References: No diagrams or plans (as of yet)
  • Historical Status: Designed / Never Built

Remember how when WG said that they had been given boxes and boxes from the French archives about their ships, including several about aircraft carriers? This is where WG steps in. The information I can find on PA-5A is scant, given how I only have one (maybe two) sources that I have found on it. I have one quite definitive source that lists some of the basic information, with direct comparisons to Joffre, while another has a plastic mold of the PA-5B which implies that PA-5A existed (PA-5B was the one with a 305 mm quadruple turret on the aft deck).

Trying to do research for this is also painful, as due to the way search engines work as well as French project naming, searching for anything with “PA” and a single number gives a ton of results for PA2. This was a plan for a future carrier (essentially a Charles de Gaulle successor) which was designed in the latter half of the 2000’s and only officially cancelled in 2013. Nothing at all related to “French world war 2 PA5 carrier project” but I digress. Luckily, in terms of how many strict details you need to create a carrier in game terms, you can make do with a little as the planes make up far more than anything else. All I can hope for is that WG has detailed plans to PA5, and from their wording in the Developer Diaries, it sure does seem like they would.

I date the design to around 1941/1942 as it is noted as being developed after the fall of France. Whether this design was carried out under the guidance of the Germans (under the Vichy government) or the Free French is unknown to me. It may have used elements of Graf Zeppelin, but again this is just speculation. Being as heavy as it was, I would imagine that the armour was also substantial, most likely having a decent armoured deck and even a weighty flight deck.

Possible Names:

  • Foch1 – Named after Ferdinand Foch, it was also the name of the second Clemenceau aircraft carrier so this would work very well
  • Painlevé – Named after Paul Painlevé who served a variety of governmental roles, including Prime Minster, Minister of War and Minister of Finance, and also the name of the second Joffre carrier

There is maybe one or two more names I could come up with readily, although I have omitted them due to how odd they would likely appear as a ship name. Seeing as the typical French naming scheme for carriers is to use names of grand military leaders, there aren’t a lot of names to choose from as they are all already taken (Joffre and Clemenceau come to mind, although there are some more that are less well-known to use). I mean, in theory you could use Pétain, although I doubt that would go over too well with… just about anyone.

  • Ship Dimensions: 238 meters (pp) x 29.4 meters (w/l)
  • Speed: ??? @ 85,000 shp
  • Ship Displacement: 39,000t standard / ~41,500t full load

As I had said, the details are a bit sparse. However, this is a decent amount to have and is good enough to work off of for now. The 41,500t is listed as the “test weight” and it works well for Tier VIII, giving the ship 58,600 HP. I am unsure of a speed for the ship, as it is much heavier than Joffre while only having 85,000 shp. I would say maybe 27-29 knots, which wouldn’t be all that bad but it would be on the slow end of the Tier VIII carriers (Kaga is the current slowest at 28 knots). In terms of physical size, it isn’t all that much larger than Joffre (236 overall x 24.6 meters at waterline).

Attackers

  • Aircraft: SNCASE SE.582 / WT Forums
  • Cruising Speed: 167 knots
  • Maximum Speed: 218 knots
  • Armament: 8x Brandt T-10 Type 140
  • Rocket Damage: 1,700
  • Strike Wing Size: 2 planes
  • Squadron Size: 8 planes
  • Plane HP: 1,540

Originating under the SNCAM company in, the plane was then known as the M.580. Intended to be a follow on to the Dewoitine D.520 and subsequent D.551/552, work began in 1940 on the new fighter. Using twin Hispano-Suiza 12Z engines to drive a coaxial contra-rotating propeller it was certainly a rather unusual design. Very soon after work began, SNCAM was absorbed into SNCASE, and not long after that the invasion of France took place. Work progressed very slowly under German occupation, with wind tunnel testing occurring in 1943. It was decided to change the powerplant from two 12-cylinder engines to a single 24-cylinder Hispano-Suiza 24Z which produced a staggering 3,600 HP at 2,800 RPM on takeoff. The French Navy was making their plans for the future fleet and took an interest in the design, and so requested navalized versions be produced for testing in 1945.

That powerful engine was going to be carrying quite a load, as the SE.580 was going to be heavily armed. A 30 mm cannon mounted through the propeller hub, backed up by two 20 mm cannons in each wing with a further four 7.5 mm machine guns per wing (in 1946 this was changed to three 12.7 mm machine guns per wing). Provisions for two 500 kg bombs under the wings were also made. Despite an empty weight of 5,000 kg (~11,000 lbs) and a gross weight of just over 8,000 kg (~18,000 lbs), the SE.580 was projected to achieve 600 km/h (324 knots) at sea level and nearly 750 km/h (~400 knots) at altitude.2 As construction continued, the HS-24Z engine was cancelled due to problems producing them, so the Arsenal 24H engine was used instead (bumping up the power to nearly 4,000 HP). However, this change in engines would prove to be the downfall of the entire project, as the Arsenal engine was far too different compared to the Hispano-Suiza, which forced changes in the propeller design and landing gear. After testing, further changes were required but they were deemed to be inefficient especially in light of the emergence of jet aircraft. The SE.582 naval fighter was dragging behind, and after the cancellation of the main project the SE.582 was left up in the air. No other company would take up the design, as it was by that time essentially outdated by the end of 1947.

You might also have noticed that the rockets are no longer copied over from the Americans. The T-10 rocket was developed by Brandt (which later was purchased by Matra) in the immediate post-war period and was in service in the early 1950s, although by the end of the 1950s it was relegated to training use. The Type 140 was an HE warhead with a diameter of 105 mm, warhead weight of 12.4 kg and a filler weight of 2.52 kg (5 lb 9 oz). There was also the Type 151 warhead, which was a 120 mm HEAT projectile capable of penetrating ~35+ cm. The Type 140 would largely act in a similar manner to the HVARs but perhaps they could have better accuracy in exchange for their lower damage. I would also consider them having lower HE penetration than the HVARs, perhaps 30 mm as opposed to 32 mm.

Torpedo Bombers

  • Aircraft: Bloch (SNCASO) MB.175T / FR
  • Cruising Speed: 135 knots
  • Maximum Speed: 188 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: 2 planes
  • Squadron Size: 6 planes
  • Plane HP: 1,750

The MB.170 began as a reconnaissance bomber that was designed and built just before World War II. It entered active service in March 1940 and replaced the Potez 630 family. The actual model that was first flown in combat was the MB.174, which was piloted by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The design was noted for being exceptionally fast and maneuverable at combat altitudes. However they were never built in sufficient quantities to have a great effect, and so following the fall of France some models had escaped to North Africa while some were captured by the Germans. Less than 100 combat models were ever built during the war, with a fair amount of MB.175s being unarmed training aircraft for the Germans. Following the war and the reorganization of France, the Aeronavale requested that the a large number of MB.175s be built to be torpedo bombers designated MB.175T, and so a total of 80 were completed and put in service by 1947. But by this time, there were already better alternatives available and so they had a relatively short life, serving for a few years and then slowly being phased out. The last flight of an MB.175T was in 1960 at the Rochefort training school.

This torpedo bomber setup doesn’t change much in terms of relative performance as compared to the Tier VI. The speed is slightly lower than the Japanese B7A2 (137 / 192 knots), but it also has a bit more HP than the USN SB2C (1,660). The Tier VIII also retains the same attack squadron parameters as the Tier VI as well as the same torpedo. While the Shokaku does have a total of 4 possible strikes (2 planes per strike with a wing of 8), which is an advantage over this MB.175T, this French strike does still have better damage on the torpedo as well as much better health (1,450 for the B7A2).

Dive Bombers

Diagram of the Breguet 693, the plane that the Br.810 was based on.
  • Aircraft: Breguet Br.810
  • Cruising Speed: 137 knots
  • Maximum Speed: 192 knots
  • Armament: 1x 200 kg (~500 lb) No.1 G.P. H.E.
  • Bomb Damage: 9,400
  • Bomb Fire Chance: 58%
  • Bomb HE Penetration: 62 mm
  • Strike Wing Size: 3 planes
  • Squadron Size: 9 planes
  • Plane HP: 2,020

The Br.810 was a modification of the Breguet Br.693 for use on aircraft carriers. It featured folding wings and a reinforced fuselage for carrier operations. The Br.693 was yet another aircraft that was developed right before the war and saw very little use due to the invasion of France. The concept behind it was interesting, as it was intended for high-speed low-level bombing runs followed by strafing, which is why they were armed with a 20 mm Hispano-Suiza cannon as well as forward-firing 7.5 mm MAC machine guns. Only a few dozen were produced and sent to combat units before fighting broke out, and results were disastrous as the German armoured columns had more massed AA fire than was ever expected. Just as with the MB.175s, there was a plan to call all of the available (and the new, modern) aircraft to North Africa, but the Br.693s were too small and could not travel as far. Thus, there was essentially no further development of the aircraft and the few left under Vichy control were relegated to training purposes.

This sees a step up from the Tier VI as you now have an expanded strike wing. The HP is also considerable with even a sizable advantage over the SB2C (1,780) on Lexington. The B7A2 are a bit faster though at 145 / 203 knots, and the Fairey Spearfish still have the best overall HP 2,150 (excluding Saipan’s BTDs at 2,160). One thing to note however, is that despite the boosted performance of the French 200 kg bomb, the Lexington’s DBs carry two bombs per plane. The French DBs could likely be compensated for this extremely low damage potential with faster aiming, a very tight drop circle, both or just something else entirely different. If needed, you could just give the Br.810 two bombs per plane as they were capable of carrying that much anyway, but I was thinking of something to make them different than other other nations and not just reskins.

  • Secondary Battery: 8×2 130 mm/45 Model 1932
  • Anti-Aircraft Battery: 8×2 130 mm/45 Model 1932 + 16×2 25 mm/60 Hotchkiss CAD Model 1939

The only concrete information I have about the design also stated that it had eight double 115 mm, which appears like an error to me. It all liklihood, it would have been the same 130 mm/45 mounts as Joffre had, which is what I have used instead. The only thing close to a 115 mm twin would be the British 4.5″ twins, which is technically possible if it was designed by French authorities while in exile but this starts to get a bit too far-fetched (and the 4.5″ were 113 mm anyway, not 115 mm). The other part of the AA outfit was 32x 25 mm cannons, which would certainly have been the 25 mm Hotchkiss. Seeing as those came in CAD mounts, I have represented them with the 16×2 CAD Model 1939.


This one took a bit longer to get up, mostly due to a ton of work I had to get done and the fact that I went on break. However, I did end up taking a trip over to the Alabama. It was the first time that I had been on a battleship, let alone anything larger than a submarine, so it was an amazing experience.


1. For those of you unaware of the French pronunciation, no this is not said like a certain four letter word. It is said as “Fosh.”
2. For comparison, the F8F Bearcat, with an empty weight of 7,000 lbs and max takeoff weight of nearly 13,000 lbs, had a maximum speed of 366 knots (678 km/h).The A7M2 Reppū had a maximum speed of of 630 km/h (339 knots) at altitude with a loaded weight of ~4,700 kg (~10,400 lbs).

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