Sunday, February 20, 2011

Aviation Transport

Commandant Teste was a large seaplane tender of the French Marine National built before World War II. She was designed to be as large as possible without counting against the Washington Treaty limits. During the Spanish Civil War she protected neutral merchant shipping and played a limited role during World War II as she spent the early part of the war in North African waters or acting as an aviation transport between France and North Africa.
Commandant Teste was 167 metres (547 ft 11 in) long overall. She had a maximum beam of 27 metres (88 ft 7 in) and a draught of 6.7 metres (22 ft 0 in). She displaced 10,000 long tons (10,160 t) at standard load, 11,500 tonnes (11,318 long tons) at normal load and 12,134 tonnes (11,940 long tons) at full load.
The ship was originally going to carry a mixture of 138.6-millimetre (5.46 in) or 155-millimetre (6.1 in) anti-surface and 75-millimetre (3.0 in) anti-aircraft (AA) guns, but this was changed before construction began to a homogeneous main battery of twelve M1927 100-millimetre (3.9 in) 45-calibre dual purpose guns on powered single mounts.
Commandant Teste was designed to accommodate the naval version of the Farman F.60 Goliath torpedo bomber, but they were obsolete when she was commissioned in 1932. Biplane Levasseur PL.14 torpedo bomber floatplanes were only briefly used as they proved to be too fragile for landing at sea. They were replaced by improved Levasseur PL.15 biplanes from July–August 1934. The Latécoère 298 monoplane replaced the PL.15 in March–May 1939. The scouting squadron was initially equipped with fixed-wing Gourdou-Leseurre GL-810 floatplanes until the folding wing Gourdou-Leseurre GL-811 arrived in October 1933. They were replaced in turn by the improved Gourdou-Leseurre GL-813 in early 1936. The larger Loire 130 flying boat replaced the GL-813 from April 1938 although the catapults had to be modified to handle their greater weight. No fighter seaplanes were ever embarked on the Commandant Teste, although the Loire 210 floatplane was designed for the role. However it proved to be greatly out-classed by contemporary land-based fighters and only 20 were built in 1939.
She was slightly damaged during the British bombardment of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kébir in July 1940. Commandant Teste was scuttled at Toulon when the Germans invaded Vichy France in November 1942, but was re-floated after the war and considered for conversion to an escort or training carrier. Neither proposal was accepted and she was sold for scrap in 1950.

1 comment:

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