The first French post-World War II submarines were
the 1,630 ton Narval class, the design
of which was based on captured Type XXI
German U-Boats. These large
submarines were followed by the much smaller 400 ton Arethusa
class, which were designed to by sub hunter-killers.
In 1952, a request for a 700-750 ton submarine design was sent to the
Service Technique des Constructions Navales (STCAN).
Other requirements included low radiated noise levels, good
maneuverability, small crew, ease of maintenance and a deep diving capability.
There were to be at least six torpedo tubes (of which two had to be stern tubes
for anti-submarine torpedoes). The
Daphne class was the end result of
this design request and construction of the first three (Daphne,
Diane & Doris)
commenced in 1958.
In total, 11 Daphne
class subs entered service between June 1964 and March 1970.
They were fitted with DUUA-1B active/passive sonar housed in the original
humped bow. They had eight internal
torpedo tubes in the bow arranged in two vertical rows of four, plus four
external stern tubes. Due to the compact design torpedo reloads were eliminated
to economize on space.
In 1968, the Minerve was lost with
all hands off of Cape Sicié and in 1970 Eurydice was lost with all hands off of St. Tropez.
The losses were deemed accidental and though the exact causes were never
determined it is believed that a faulty snorkel design was to blame.
In late 60s/early 70s the remaining submarines in
service went through majors refits and the sonar was upgraded the new DUUA-2B
which was housed in a prominent dome. As
a result of the new “igloo”, the silhouette was distinctively changed.
A later electronics upgrade added a hump to the bow stem.
All of the remaining 9 submarines in French service
were eventually decommissioned beginning with Diane
in 1987 and ending with Sirene in 1997.
The submarines were either sunk as targets or scrapped with the exception
of Flore which is currently at a
submarine base in Lorient with plans to transform her into a museum.
class has also been highly successful as an export design.
Ten were built in French yards with four sold to Portugal, three sold to
Pakistan and three to South Africa. Spain
built four in the Spanish yards with French technical assistance. Portugal sold
one of its subs to Pakistan. The
Pakistani Hangor was the only Daphne class sub to actually participate in
combat, sinking the Indian frigate Khukri during
the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Only
the Portuguese submarine Barracuda
remains in active service. The
Spanish Delfín is a museum in
189.6 ft / 57.8 m
22.3 ft / 6.8 m
15.1 ft / 4.6 m
Displacement surfaced /
984.3 ft / 300 m
16 knots / 13.5 knots
Range / Endurance
4,500 nm / 30 days
Torpedoes: 12 – 21.7 in
(550 mm) 8 bow, 4 external stern tubes
Surface Search Radar
Thomson-CSF DRUA 31
Thomson-Sintra DSUV 2
-I am not going to cover the kit parts and box
contents as this was already done by Falk Pletschser (http://www.steelnavy.com/L'ArsenalDaphneFPletscher.htm).
I would like to add that Heller once produced a 1/400 scale kit of this
class of submarine but it has been long out of production and quite hard to
find. This kit is definitely not a
resin copy of the old Heller offering but a new kit with much better detail.
One similarity is that the Heller kit did also provide the option for the
as fitted or first refit bows but not the final refit version.
I chose to build the model as the Venus as she appeared in the early 1970s after her first major
refit. I wanted to build the model
using the second nose section with the “igloo” and also use the pennant
number and ship name decals to add a little bit of color to the overall black
It isn’t that clear in the images of the hull and
nose parts in Falk’s inbox review but the hull has a tab protrusion that fits
into a slot of the nose you decide to use. This
helps line the two parts up and provides some stability when you glue them
together. There was a little bit of
a seam that I was able to fill in using Tamiya putty and some sanding.
I used a micro-drill to open up the holes in the nose for the forward
dive plains. The aft fixed planes
fit neatly into their slots.
The trickiest part with this build is the
integrated aft diving plane and prop shaft assembly.
This requires sandwiching a propeller between an aft diving plane and a
v-strut. Then you attach the
v-shaped brace connecting the plane to the strut.
Next you attach this assembly to the hull.
The last piece of the puzzle is the shaft.
You cut a piece of the brass rod provided down to size and glue into
place between the v-strut and the fixed plane.
Repeat this process for the other side.
Since most of the parts for this subassembly are delicately cast small
resin pieces, careful handling is required.
The kit comes with resin antennas, snorkel and
periscopes which are also delicate and require care when removing them from the
I used Tamiya NATO Black which is a very dark gray
that is more like an off-black for the overall hull color.
I used Testors Model Masters Brass for the propellers and WEM Colourcoats
French Navy Gray for the antennas, snorkel and periscopes.
The decals went on great and responded well to Microscale Micro-Set solvent.
I first brushed on Tamiya Clear Gloss to the sail and let that dry before
I applied the decals.
class subs had some simple rigging for which I used .005 inch steel wire dipped
in Blacken-It. Some of the rigging
had insulators which I simulated using drops of white glue.
The last touch was a French flag from the Gold Medal Models decal set on
a wire flagstaff.
This model makes a nice addition to my fleet of
1/400 scale French warships. It is a
relatively simple build though not as simple as the Agosta
class kit thanks to the more complex propeller/plane configuration and attaching
the bow nose of your choice. I
hope that more post WW2 Marine Nationale subs will be offered by L’Arsenal in