Some of my readers might have followed the adventures with the 1/1000 scale waterline model of the Bretagne during Spring 2020 on this blog. That model was broken and thrown out to the trash, but the interest remained. The Bretagne-class, just like most dreadnoughts designed before or during WW1 and continuing to serve in WW2, are an interesting topic, and they are probably one of my favourite ships despite their obvious flaws.
So just recently I got back to scale modeling warships, and I'm well on my way of completing the Hasegawa 1/700 waterline Kongo kit. I also purchased the Minihobby/HobbyBoss 1/700 Arizona along with some photoetch details to exercise on, before moving on some major project. I'll build the Arizona in her 1931 bright grey livery. The major project then should either be the full hull 1/700 Takom Derfflinger, or an 1/700 scale full hull scratchbuild of the Bretagne. For this, well detailed and high resolution building plans in .tiff format are available on the internet, if anybody is interested.
I have collected a number of period photos, and also photos of models and other reference material, to complete this build, and I would like to share some of my findings, mostly for myself to keep them in a single place, but also for sharing the knowledge.
Paint scheme per date
This might help IDing photographs of the ship. Source on this information is a booklet published by the Marine Nationale that I dug out from somewhere. It is also useful information when trying to discern which of the sister ships is on the photo, especially knowing that Lorraine was the only one that had the No. 3 turret removed (subsequently, Lorraine is the only one that has her mainmast yards raked).
1916-1921: hull, upper works and stacks grey, no identifications strips, turrets coated with oil (it looks like the colour of tar on B&W photos, but it should sort of be a very dark bronze colour, the results you would get when leaving a piece of carbon steel in used vegetable oil for a while).
1921-26: hull and turret colours remain the same. The superstructure receives a major refit, the two pairs of foremost and rearmost 140mm L/55 secondary guns are removed. The main tripod is coloured black up to the level of the spotting top, this is painted white, the same as the shorter rear mast. A single white identification strip on the rear stack (?).
1926-29: The rear mast is lengthened, in a black colour and the main gun director installed on the tripod is painted black. No ID strip.
1929-39: Same as above except the gun director is painted white again, no ID strip on the stacks.
1939-40: the entire hull, along with the turrets, is repainted a brighter grey, the main tripod stays black up until the gun director platform. Two black bands on the rear funnel (Lorraine received a single black band and Provence had none). There is evidence that just before her sinking, the funnel bands were painted over.
No wooden deck on the ship
All three members of the class were completed with linoleum decking all along, and this did not change during their service time. This is evidenced by the model of the Provence, as built, in the Toulon museum, and also period photographs.