Any collection of models of ships that were never built should include Anker’s Joffre, long out of production but occasionally available through the usual second-hand suppliers. Though somewhat short on detail, this is an accurate representation of the design to which the first purpose-built aircraft carriers of the French Navy would have been built. Laid down on 26 November, 1938, at Ateliers et Chantiers de St Nazaire-Penhoet, the 20,000 ton Joffre, with her sister, Painleve, would have given the France a pair of front line carriers with an air capability far surpassing their slow, ill equipped predecessor, the converted battleship, Bearn.
Joffre’s unusual design featured a British-inspired 2-story hangar deck with a 656-foot flight deck offset to port to help counterbalance her massive cruiser-like superstructure to starboard. Her small air group of only 25 twin-engined multi-purpose torpedo bomber / reconnaissance aircraft and 15 fighters (as compared to 60 planes for the contemporary British Ark Royal and Japanese Soryu, and nearly 100 for the U.S. Yorktown) was serviced by a pair of centerline elevators fore and aft. Nine arrestor wires were located amidships between the elevators, which seems to indicate takeoff/landing capabilities at each end of the ship. AA protection featured 8 of the new 5.1 inch/45 DP guns in superfiring twin mounts fore and aft of the superstructure, supplemented by 8 twin 37mm and 28 single 13.2mm machine guns. Armor protection was confined to belt, bulkheads and protective deck, with no flight deck armor. 4 screws powered by 8 LaValle boilers and 2 geared steam turbines generating 125,000hp would have driven the ship at 33 knots.
Anker’s model was originally issued as a kit, with the lower hull in two sections, hangar, flight deck and island pieces, separate gun mounts, boats, handling cranes, deck overhang supports and plastic mast. I bought mine second-hand, already assembled, painted and detailed but with enough inaccuracies to make me take it apart and do it over again. The worst defect was the visible vertical joint on both sides where the hull sections met, which I had to fill with modeling compound and sand smooth. The horizontal seam between the island and the hull is still visible, but not worth filling. For the rows of square windows on the island I used strips of clear preprinted engineering tape. I patterned the transfer-applied flight deck markings on those of Neptun’s Bearn, from which I also matched the flight deck paint color. Pollyscale’s "French Navy Blue" served as a close-enough hull color, at least until a Snyder & Short color chip becomes available.
Construction of Joffre was cancelled in July, 1940, after the fall of France and scrapping was complete by 1943. Her sister Painleve was cancelled shortly after being laid down 1n 1939.