Monday, 14 November 2011

Musée de la Marine

While in Paris recently, my Lad and I visited the French Maritime Museum.  Somewhat lost among the 200 odd other museums in that lovely city, I really enjoyed this site and its treasure trove of goodies which includes some ship models over 200 yrs old.   Naturally I took lots of pics to share with you!
The multifaceted helmet was designed to give better peripheral vision
An 1882 registered patent by the Carmagnolle brothers, this wonderfully Vernesque design weighed in at approx half a tonne.  An articulated design, it was claimed to be effective at depths of up to 150 metres (very speculative - see more here  Nevertheless, its very 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and was one of the highlights of the visit.
Blurry pic aside, you can see that you wouldn't squeeze a big lad in there easily
The Suit in action! from: 
This is the Imperial Barge, built in 1810 for Napoleon, but also used by his successors.

The famous Whitehead torpedo, revolutionary in its design-  not sure what HM Government though of Mr Whitehead selling his patent to foreign powers though...  Note the polished metal finish.
Lad added for scale
There were also these three samples of anti-torpedo netting (to defend against aforementioned torpedoes).  Self-evidently, each design balances protection with weight which would be considerable when deployed underway.  I thought this was interesting as I had only seen WW2 vintage harbour defence netting before.

Then there was the rather wonderful collection of Ironclad/Pre-Dreadnought era models, ripe for some VSF modelling action.  Sadly many of them didn't have very good labels or descriptions (and there were no books available in English) but they say a picture tells a thousand words so here they are (if you can help identify these ships please do!)
An early, pre-turreted ironclad very reminiscent of some US Civil War designs.  Look at that armoured ram!

Edit: 'Captain Bill' advises that this is the USS Dunderburg, built in 1862 and sold to the French after the Civil War in 1867 where she was commissioned as the Rochambeau -

This is L'Amiral Duperré, the first barbette ironclad built by France in 1879 - thanks for the information 'laptot'

An early submersible and an interesting ironclad with one massive turret up forward.  Reminded me of the RN's Nelson class battleships on WW2 actually. Here is a beam view, clearly showing the dual battery layout.

She may be the Fulminant, a Tonnere class turret ship completed in 1882, or perhaps the very similar Tempete class breastwork monitor.
EDIT: 'Latot' has confirmed that this ship is of the Tempete class

I believe this is the Battleship Hoche.  You can see that the torpedo netting would have been difficult to deploy and a massive drag.

This is le Trident, an ironclad of the Colbert class built in the 1870s.

The ironclad Le Ocean

The armoured corvette L' Jeanne de Arc (1867-1883)

A cutaway of the early (1860s) submarine Plongeur

The evolution of the torpedo boat as a sea denial weapon under the Jeune Ecole doctrine, adopted by the French to combat the dominance of the Royal Navy. (

And finally, this may not be very VSF or Ironclad navies, but it is a wonderful piece of modelling!

Overall a great little museum and well worth an hour or two of your time if you are in Paris.  My pictures don't do these wonderful models nearly the justice they deserve!


Der Feldmarschall said...

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing.

Dave S. said...

I think the early pre-turreted ironclad ram pictured it a model of USS Dunderberg, which was sold to the French in 1867 and renamed Comte de Rochambeau. The Wikipedia entry is at:

Rodger said...

Wonderful photos. love the models.

The Angry Lurker said...

Great pictures especially the suit, thanks for sharing those.

Anonymous said...

That Glatton style Monitor might be the Fulminant

Paul of the Man Cave said...

My pleasure, it really was a great museum.

Thanks for those suggestions, post has been updated

Michael Kaintoch said...

There are more pictures of the ship models at

A J said...

Excellent and inspirational photos, thanks for sharing! I also think the casemated ironclad is the former Dundersburg. She was built for the Union as a sea-going vessel rather than the riverine type.

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