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In Progress: A Fleet of Samples
My potted history of French battleships
This will be quick because I am on the road today. One thing I did manage to get done over Christmas break was fixing up and organizing my model shop. I also made a new seascape base for my French battleships. They are not finished, as I have several fixes to do on them and only one of them has boats just yet. Nevertheless, things are starting to come together. The seascape is tinged in Mediterranean green and covered in a two-factor resin. Once the ships are all finished and glued in place, I will add water effects around them.
These are some of the most aesthetically-hated battleships of all time. Denounced by French sailors as “floating hotels,” they also suffered from a slow and inefficient French naval procurement system. Ironically, French naval architects were very much like a school of art. In fact, the textbooks used to train them at L’École Polytechnique describe ship building as an art. This caused another problem. Since every naval architect was trying to produce original work, every ship was different. The Marine Nationale had almost as many battleships as the British, but their battle line could not fight together as a unit. Thus the derogatory nickname of the French pre-dreadnought battleship fleet, la flotte d’echantillons (“the fleet of samples.”)
My own fleet of samples is expanding through the “semi-dreadnought” classes all the way to the MN Alsace, which I have bought since these photos were taken. (The paper Alsace is a placeholder.) The only class missing now is the Bretagne, which is not currently in production as a kit in 1/700 scale. Sadly, I watched the last one in the world sell for nearly $600 at auction a few months ago. However, the manufacturer recently let me know that their Bretagne kit will be coming back on the market soon, so it sucks to be that guy.