Joffre-class aircraft carrier

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Joffre class fleet carrier
Class overview
Builders: AC de St. Nazaire Penhoet
Operators:  French Navy
Preceded by: Béarn
Planned: 2
Cancelled: 2
General characteristics
Class & type: Joffre-class aircraft carrier
Length: 236 m (774 ft 3 in)
Beam: 24.6 m (80 ft 9 in) (waterline)
Draft: 6.6 m (21 ft 8 in)
Installed power: 120,000 shaft horsepower (89,000 kW)
Speed: 33.5 knots (62.0 km/h; 38.6 mph)
Range: 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 1,250
Aircraft carried: 40

The Joffre class was a class of two aircraft carriers planned by France prior to World War II. Only one of the two vessels was begun, and neither was launched before the project was cancelled in 1940.


Joffre was designed to give the French Navy a fleet carrier of greater capability than the existing Béarn. Béarn was hopelessly outclassed by the late 1930s as French aircraft carrier design had not kept pace with developments in other countries, and badly hampered by the fact it was not designed from the keel up as an aircraft carrier, but was instead a converted World War I-era battleship. Joffre was a design aimed at rectifying the deficiencies, but was still of limited capacity.

The lead ship was laid down on 18 November 1938, but the rapid arrival of World War II led to a slow down of construction and the ultimate cessation of work that came in June 1940 as the country capitulated to German invasion. Work on Joffre was not continued by the Germans and the hull was scrapped. The second planned vessel of the class, Painlevé was never laid down.

As the course of the war went, the lack of naval aviation did not become a factor for the French fleet, as France fell to land invasion before its navy could play a major role in the proceedings.


  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Jordan, John (2010). "PA16 Joffre: France's Carrier Project of 1938". In Jordan, John. Warship 2010. London: Conway. pp. 60–76. ISBN 978-1-84486-110-1. 

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