The previous post comparing Cunard Line’s Queens Mary and Elizabeth with the French Line’s Normandie brought me to add more about Normandie which was unquestionably one of the jewels of the Art Deco era.
The designers of the new French superliner intended to construct their new ship similar to French Line ships of the past, but they were approached by Vladimir Yourkevitch, a former ship architect for the Imperial Russian Navy, who had emigrated to France after the revolution. His ideas included a slanting clipper-like bow and a bulbous forebow beneath the waterline, in combination with a slim hydrodynamic hull. Yourkevitch’s concepts worked wonderfully in scale models which supported his design’s performance advantages. The French engineers were impressed and asked Yourkevitch to join their project. Reportedly, he also approached the Cunard Line with his ideas but was rejected because the bow was deemed too radical. Interestingly, most modern ships, including Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 use the bulbous forebow first used on Normandie.
The Captain of Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 standing on the forebow, a concept first used on Normandie to reduce drag, increase speed and save fuel, a concept rejected by Cunard in the 1930s as being “too radical.”
Normandie met a sad end. Caught in New York harbor when the Nazis overran France, the U.S. government seized her, renamed her U.S.S. Lafayette and began converting her into a troop ship. She caught fire, capsized and sank in the harbor. She was salvaged and scrapped. Sad end aside, let’s take a look at her in her splendor.
Entry into main lounge
First class dining room
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I’ve always felt her smoke stacks were needlessly large and distracted from the otherwise graceful lines of the ship.
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The sad end of the Normandie: burned and capsized in New York harbor.
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