Review by Jean-Paul Binot
The Jeanne d'Arc is the helicopter carrier that has replaced the traditional cruiser of the same name as the naval training ship of the French Navy in 1964.
The kit is molded in light gray plastic, with 245 parts in 4 sprues. The general appearance is excellent, with no flash and fine detail. Overall length is 452 mm. As in all Heller kits, plastic railing is supplied in a special sprue. It is hopelessly overscale and should be discarded. The kit depicts Jeanne d'Arc in her current state. This is one of the few case in which Heller has corrected a kit. When the kit was first issued, it had a double missile launcher on the deck in front of the bridge, that was never fitted on the real ship. Eventually two triple Exocet missiles were fitted in that location, and Heller has added these in the kit as well.
The hull is made of two full-hull halves, to be joined and reinforced by strips of plastic, as with all Heller kits except the Foch and Clemenceau. The main deck fits the hull reasonably well, but some small gaps will need to be filled. The after deck fits under the main deck, and should be painted in advance since access to it will be restricted when the main deck is in place. There are complex catwalks that will require the fitting of PE railings inside of the hull and in the well of the lift, that can be fitted in the lower position. The hangar is left open, although there should be sliding doors, for which there is an opening in the main deck.
Overall the superstructure is accurate, but some detail is missing (doors, hatches, etc.) The kit includes four 100mm turrets. The MM38 Exocet battery in front of the bridge is rather poorly molded. Detail is heavy and the box-like structure that should cover the missiles has been forgotten. Four Super-Frelon heavy helicopters (two of them with folded rotors) are provided. The detail is rather heavy, but the general shape is accurate, and they should turn into nice little models of their own.
The kit's instructions provide a guide to Heller and Humbrol paints. As for all modern French warships, Jeanne d'Arc should be painted light blue-gray, with all horizontal surfaces dark gray. The decal sheet is nicely done, although the motto plates should be replaced by the Gold Medal Models photoetch equivalent.
The kit of the Jeanne d'Arc is a splendid reproduction of this most graceful ship. As with all Heller kits, this one should receive a considerable amount of super-detailing, including PE accessories and additional parts, but there are no obvious mistakes to be corrected. One can only regret that there is no manufacturer of PE material to have produced a set specifically for French warships in 1/400 yet.
The potential for conversion of the kit is very limited since Jeanne d'Arc has no sister ships, and has not been much altered in her 35 years of service with the French Navy. Nonetheless in conclusion, I very strongly recommend the purchase of this kit, since it provides excellent value for money. For its size, the kit is very simple to build, with large pieces that fit together nicely.