Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!
Kagero Publishing, from Poland, extends their Top Drawings Series with No. 116, the French Marine Nationale aircraft carrier Clemenceau (le Clem). She was placed into service in 1961, incorporating the latest advances in aircraft carrier technology. She and her sister ship, Foch, were active for more than 40 years, forming the backbone of French military power projection. The TopDrawings series is designed for modelers to have a reference for detailed appearances of individual ships and aircraft. TopDrawings consist of color covers with black & white (B&W) line drawings of the ship, particular features, and equipment, especially armament (including aircraft). But the main attraction is the separate, large foldout of B&W scale drawings – 1/400 in this book, to match existing model kits.
The author, Witold Koszela, has published more than 24 books on warships, with 12 in the Kagero TopDrawing series. Witold also supplies the line and color drawings.
What You Get
The book is a softbound European A4 size (11.7 X 8.3 in & 210 X 297 mm) with both English and Polish languages throughout. The outside covers are in color, but the rest of the book is B&W. The front cover has truncated overhead and starboard side drawings in realistic color, while the rear cover has full overhead and both sides views in color. There is a one-page short history and characteristics, followed by a brief Table of technical data, and then 26 pages of B&W line drawings detailed enough for scratch-builders, accurizers and modifiers for building ‘le Clem’ in any scale in her first appearance, with all eight 100mm gun mounts. The TopDrawings show the overall appearance and then focuses on hull lines, ship sections, superstructure levels, armament, fittings and each aircraft type carried – the entire exterior. Some of the drawings are in 1/400 scale, like the Heller kit, and some are 1/200 or best fit.
The piece de resistance – the large foldout – shows le Clem in 1/400 scale in full length, both waterline and full hull on Sheet A, and four top and hull drawings on Sheet B, also in 1/400 scale. The foldout measures about 26 X 19 inches, with eye-popping details on both sides, down to the tie-down holes locations on the flight deck. Between the foldout and the rest of the book, one can build an accurate depiction of le Clem during her first, as built fit (1960s). Later, she removed the two aft gun mounts, replaced with missile defenses, along with radar and communications changes. This and later refits are not depicted in this TopDrawing book.
For modelers, there are at least two kits available: 1) Revell 05898 1/1750; 2) Heller 81010 1/400 (old); and 3) Heller 81070 1/400 1990, 2014. This TopDrawings is a go-to reference for building or scratchbuilding the Clemenceau as a waterline or full hull model. The cover colors are close to the typical light gray paint used for the Marine Nationale, and the dark gray flight deck also is a close match to photos.
This book is intensely focused on modeler’s needs for building this ship in any scale. As usual, the B&W drawings are clean, simple, detailed and accurate – one would need authentic blueprints to be (maybe) more accurate. This book is a must-have for building the available kits for Clemenceau as well as scratch-building endeavors. Very highly recommended if you want to build the Clemenceau R98 aircraft carrier.