The French Battleship Carnot was named after the popular president of France, Marie François Sadi Carnot, who was assassinated in 1894 in Lyon by an Italian anarchist. This ship was the last battleship built in Toulon , part of a development series of ships of a broadly similar theme; each one being(supposedly ! )  an improvement; the other ships  being Charles Martel, Jaureguiberry and  Bouvet. Laid down in July 1891, she was launched 12th July 1894. Drawn out construction times in this era were the norm…however Carnot holds the record for the longest! After extensive trials, repairs and modifications, Carnot is finally declared operational and fully fitted on 25 June 1897 and deployed with the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant squadron. She remained in the Mediterranean until January 1900 when moved to Brest along with Massena as part of the Northern squadron. She returned to the Mediterranean for summer manoeuvres in June. She spent almost two years from late 1900 – 1902 in the dockyard undergoing repairs and improvements to parts of the underwater structure and was thereafter assigned along with Brennus to the reserve squadron. In August 1905 almost the entire Northern Squadron represented France at the Great International Fleet review of 1905 at Spithead in the Solent in England .  

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I wanted to show Carnot at the  proudest moment of her career. Continuing the ‘Entente cordiale’ France sent over the major units of the Northern Squadron. The ships entered the Solent flying the French "Tri-colouer" on the fore- mast and the very tall stern ensign staff, with the courtesy White Ensign hoisted to the very top of the WT mast at the mainmast. My model of Carnot is seen cleaving the waves off the eastern side of the Isle of Wight . For many of the French sailors its the first time they have seen "Angleterre" and her mighty fleet of battleships at anchor. Carnot's crew are straining at the port-side rails to see the magnificent array of Royal Navy ships for the first time. October of the same year saw Carnot return to the drydock with further extensive bilge keel problems. In January 1906 Carnot along with Massena, Jaureguiberry returned again to the Mediterranean . 1907 through to 1913 saw the ship in and out of the dockyards for continuing repairs and brief periods of commission in both the Mediterranean and the Northern fleets as well as being held in reserve fleets. Unfortunately by this time Carnot was out of date and was decommissioned on 1 April 1914 to be used as floating barracks. At the end of July 1919 she was abandoned and sold for scrapping, being finally broken up in 1922.

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Despite her relatively hapless and uneventful career, in spite of her structural and operational deficiencies she nevertheless represented the French navy well in her periods of commission. My particular attraction to this aggressive and at the same time quirky looking vessel stems from my fascination of the unusual. The asymmetric funnels and vast tumblehome made a model of this vessel a ‘must-have.’ The 1/700  scale kit from the low-volume Japanese resin producer Yumenatu is not without a number of problems. These are caused in the main by there being no (usable) plans in existence. Almost all photographs of the ship throughout her career are low angle views of the exterior of the vessel. I probably spent over half of the long construction time of 3.5 months examining photos and deducing probable deck layouts from the cues presented by the various above-mentioned photos. The one on-deck view I found (on the Madrid Spanish Navy website); whilst giving huge amounts of info was of low resolution. I was fortunate in having e-mail access to experienced studiers of French ships of this era to assist me with the probable ventilation and deck layout. After reshaping the hull virtually everything, including the turrets was scratch built or custom-made. Representing the hatches open with the vessel at speed, based on photos, accentuated the tumblehome more effectively and made her look even more extreme! Given the lack of plans this kit manufactured by Yumenatu, despite the lack of accuracy in details is nevertheless a valiant effort, however,  it is far from being an easy build to obtain a satisfactory result. As a consumer,  I would be happy to pay far more for a kit that had greater casting quality and scale fidelity. That said; if a modeler is determined to own a 1/700 model of Carnot then this kit it is still a usable, albeit expensive stepping stone. 

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Jim Baumann

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