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SS NORMANDIE

 
 
 



The arrival in New York Harbor of the gigantic ocean liner SS Normandie in 1935 inaugurated a new era in transatlantic travel. Normandie was the first large ship to be built according to the 1929 Convention for Safety of Life at Sea. She was designed so the forward end of the promenade deck served as a breakwater, permitting her to maintain a high speed even in rough weather.

The Normandie would eventually break new ground on many levels, she was to be the fastest, the sleekest, and the most artfully decorated. But her first distinction would be as the premier ship to exceed 1,000 feet in length.

When construction was completed, Normandie was the longest and largest ship afloat—measuring 1,028 feet in length with an initial tonnage of 79,280.

When the ship was launched on October 29, 1932, all of France, and indeed the world, was following the event.  The largest object ever set in motion by man at the time, Normandie was the center of attention. The world's largest bottle of Champainge was used to christen the ship. With dignitaries and VIPs in attendance including Albert Lebrun, President of France.

Her designer Vladimir Yourkevitch had approached the Cunard Line Limited with proposed designs for their hull number 534, soon to be the renowned 'Queen Mary', but was rejected as the plans represented too radical a break from tradition for the British shipping company.

The French Line adopted Yourkevitch's designs and commissioned the new hull, designated "T6", to be built at France's premier shipyard, the Penhoët shipbuilders at St. Nazair. The new ship would draw talent from the finest designers, architects, and artisans of France. Yourkevitch's designs would allow the ship to match the great speed of Britain's 'Queen Mary' with one-fifth less horsepower and substantial fuel savings, and allow the Normandie to be the first French Liner ever to be in competition for the cherished 'Blue Ribbon'.

Normandie claimed the Blue Ribband from the Italian Liner Rex on her maiden crossing in May 1935. Keen on keeping the title “longest, largest, and fastest” ship in the world, it did not escape her owner’s attention that the British had announced the tonnage of their new super-liner Queen Mary that was nearing completion at 81,235. So during the winter refit in 1935, a deckhouse was added to her aft deck increasing her final tonnage to 83,423, allowing her to maintain title the world’s largest ship.

Normandie is a floating monument of Art Deco. She also boasted a large movie theater, a huge open dining hall, and a free and open deck space not cluttered with ventilation ducts. She was famous for her food as well. With flair his staff of waiters and chefs made dining aboard him a once in a lifetime experience. Meals were served around the clock. The ship was a floating temple of cafe society.

Normandie's life turned for the worse at the outbreak of World War II. She was in mid-ocean when her captain received words that the German liner Bremen was following behind. It was feared that the Bremen was armed and would open fire on the Normandie, or she was guiding U-Boats. Normandie's captain ordered her windows blacked out and she continued to New York in the zig-zag pattern to evade U-Boats.  That was her last voyage.

The U.S. Navy seized Normandie on December 7, 1941. Stripped of her luxurious trappings and plush furnishings which had once been the sea-going refuge for the great and near-great, Normandie was renamed U.S.S. Lafayette. In the following two months, nearly all of Normandie's great artwork was removed and placed into storage.

On February 9, 1942, during the continuing conversion work, a fire broke out aboard the ship and the future of the magnificent Normandie would be smothered in suffocating cloud of smoke.

Charles T. Collins, an 18 year old USN ironworker gave an account of the incident: "I was working on a chain gang. We had chains around some pillars and eased them down when they were cut through. Two men were operating an acetylene torch. About 30 or 40 men were working in the room, and there were bales and bales of mattresses. A spark hit one of the bales, and the fire began...
"

This model of the SS Normandie features:

- Plank-on-frame, hollow hull construction (very important), weighing less than 20 lbs  (A solid hull of this model would be over 60 lbs which feels like a heavy toy rather than an art piece and requires 2 people as well as a fortified table to accomodate.)

- Hollow superstructure is comprised of many individual thin pieces of wood glued together, not several solid pieces of wood stacking on top one another.

- Windows are cutouts (not black decals), thanks to the hollow structures.

-  No computer-printed paper deck.

- >95% of parts are wood and metal
.

62" long x 17" tall x 8.5" wide   $5,500    S & H is $220  

Add light feature:  $200         
(Cord can be unplugged from base for displaying without light.  Adjustable brightness level)


For 39" long model, please click here

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"The client is delighted about the large Normandie model.  He spent half a day to open the crate!  Few pieces were unsticked but nothing serious he sticked again himself.  Congratualtions to your modeler.  Regards, Eric from France"
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"Received my model of the Normandie well on schedule as you complied. The model was received in very good condition due to the way it was packed. The model is an excellent copy of the ship itself. I have checked other makers on the internet and could only find one that met your standards, but at a very much higher cost. I am extremely satisfied with my purchase and my dealings with your company. John Earl Coleman."