During the inter-war years, the major naval powers became interested in building extra-large destroyers, to the point that in a sense it became an arms race. Each nation tried to outdo the others or at least match those ships
built by their likely enemies. After World War I, the French Navy took possession of the 2,500 ton German
S 113.This ship, renamed Admiral Sénès, in a way influenced the French “super destroyer” concept, though
there were earlier feasibility studies on a large, heavily armed ship. The 2,126 ton
Jaguar class was technically the first French super destroyer armed with five 130mm guns. Based on their success, building programs
were planned over the next several years to build more ships of this type. The 2,436 ton
Guépard class was next, followed by the 2,441 ton Aigle and Vauquelin classes. These ships had a main armament of five 138mm
guns. By the time the 1930 building program was approved, a total of 18 super destroyers were built.

The six-ship, 2,659 ton
Fantasque was authorized under the 1930 building program and they were the acme of the French super destroyer development. Their appearance was much different than their predecessors in
that instead of three or four funnels, this class had two which gave it a less obvious profile. Also, there was no main mast fitted so the aft funnel was used to carry the radio aerials. They were also armed with five 138mm
guns but with the newer 1929 model. Later in the war, these ships were reclassified as light cruisers because of their tonnage, but in reality they lacked the range and service radius of a true light cruiser.
Le Terrible was
laid down in November 1931 and launched on November 30, 1933.On trials,
Le Terrible was able to reach a speed of 45.029 knots which has not been surpassed since for a ship of her size. After her commissioning on
May 1, 1936,
Le Terrible operated in the 10e Division Légère (DL) along with her sister ships Le Fantasque and L’Audacieux. The other three ships, L’Indomptable, Le Malin and Le Triomphant, were assigned to the
8e DL. Later on, the DL designation was changed to Division de Contre-torpilleurs (DCT). In 1937, the two super destroyer DCTs became part of the 2e Escadre Légère (EL), with light cruiser Emile Bertin as leader.

At the outbreak of World War II, the 2e EL was part of the force created to hunt for German surface raiders in the Atlantic, joining the search for the
Graf Spee. Early in the Norway campaign, L’Indomptable, Le Malin
Le Triomphant undertook a daring raid into the Skagerrak in support of British submarine operations. Their high speed was an important factor in catching the Germans by surprise, inflicting damage on some small
patrol craft and avoiding direct hits by Luftwaffe aircraft during the retreat. When the armistice
between France and German was signed on June 25, 1940, Le Terrible was at Mers-el-Kebir. When the Royal Navy
attacked the French ships there on July 3, 1940,
Le Terrible was part of the force screening the Strasbourg when she made a run for Toulon. When the French African colonies joined the Allies after Operation Torch, Le
went over to the Free French side.

In February 1943,
Le Terrible underwent an extensive refit and modernization at the Boston Navy Yard (her sister ships Le Fantasque and Le Malin also went Boston for the same work). She was fitted with an improved
anti-aircraft armament consisting of six 40mm Bofors (1x4 and 2x2) and eight single 20mm Oerlikons. To accommodate the AA armament, the aft torpedo tubes were removed. Also added in this refit was a small lattice
mast with SA and SF radars, a pair of depth charge guns and storage racks for 4 charges on aft deck, 16 life rafts (8 forward and 8 aft) and an Alpha 128 type sonar. Removed during this refit were the torpedo tube and
secondary armament directors, all boats except one launch and motor launch and both boat cranes. When
Le Terrible reentered service she was painted in a USN Measure 22 scheme with hull number X 101.
After her refit,
Le Terrible and her two sisters were used in the Mediterranean, where their high speeds was useful in raids among the numerous Axis held islands. They carried out a total of 24 raids in the Adriatic and
Aegean seas and they supported the land campaign in Italy in December of 1943. They were very successful in high speed attacks against German coastal convoys. On Christmas day, 1944,
Le Malin collided with Le
at 24 knots during night gunnery practice off Naples, Italy. Le Malin lost her entire bow up to “A” mount (which was later replaced with that of her sister ship L’Indomptable, which had been scuttled in Toulon
in 1942).
Le Terrible was severely rammed by Le Malin’s bow on the port side aft of the second funnel. In total, 69 crewmen were killed. Le Terrible was able to reach Naples, powered by one shaft, to be patched up
by RN engineers with a concrete cofferdam. Afterwards, she sailed to the French Sidi-Abdallah Navy Yard in Bizerte, Tunisia for permanent repairs. At that time, Southern French naval yards were still unable to handle
extensive repairs.
Le Terrible spent the rest of the war undergoing repairs and was not able to participate in the Far East/Pacific Campaign with the British Task Force in 1945.
During these repairs, both midship twin Bofors were removed (one was destroyed in the collision) and replaced with two single Army Bofors with shields. The substitutions were necessary as there were no twin Bofors
available at the yard in Bizerte. One searchlight was removed with the other one relocated on the ship axis forward of rear funnel to improve stability. Both depth charge guns and associated racks were removed and the
internal depth charge openings in the fantail were plated over. Two single 47mm saluting guns were added to the aft corners of the rear roof, but they were soon to be replaced by two single Oerlikons. A single depth
charge rack was fitted at the stern and a chaff launcher was fitted to each torpedo tube mount. Le Terrible re-entered service on April 25th, 1946 and placed in reserve in 1948. She was refitted for service as a carrier
escort from 1952 to 1955. She was then placed in reserve as an engineering training ship until she was condemned on July 19, 1961.

The Kit - The Le Terrible kit is the latest joint venture between Box 261 and Combrig. Box 261 produces the masters for the resin parts and designs and produces the photo-etch. Box 261 also creates the assembly
diagrams for the instructions.
Combrig casts all the resin parts, makes the final layout for the instructions and prints them, and packs the kits and distributes them. This is the first kit as far as I know of a French World
War II destroyer in this scale in any medium and it couldn’t have been a better choice. The kit is comprised of resin and photo-etch parts and it is supposed to represent
Le Terrible in her end of war fit, although the box
has an image of the ship in her 1950s fit. This kit is an accurate rendering of this ship after her 1945-46 major reconstruction/ refit but with a couple of minor exceptions. You will have to plate over the depth charge
openings in the fantail and add a depth charge rack to the stern, which is missing from the kit. With a little bit of work, some after-market replacement parts and some minor scratch-building, you could back date the
model to
Le Terrible’s after the 1943 Boston Navy Yard refit.

The model comes as a two-part hull giving you the option of either a waterline or full hull model (a waterline only version is also available).The upper hull casting is overall well done with a fair amount of detail, such as
mooring bitts and cleats, hatches, skylights and portholes. The fantail has the openings for the internal depth charge racks. The lower hull is also well done and has the offset prop shafts that this class had. You will notice
that the decks of the upper hull have recessed outlines for the various deck housings. This is supposed to serve as an aid, showing where the corresponding parts are to be glued to the upper hull. The hull captures the
sleek profile of this class of ship including the sharp raked bow.
The kit is broken down into a lot of individual parts, which makes for easier casting but more work for the modeler. The trade-off is that you do get a lot of detail in the final build and it could simplify painting is some
areas. The next largest parts are the bridge and other main deck structures. These are cast with a lot of detail such as watertight doors and covers, portholes with rigoles (eyebrows) and bridge windows. These are cast
fairly cleanly but will require removing a thin film of resin. The bridge structure has slots to accommodate one of the larger deck sections. The various decks and platforms also have a good amount of detail both on top
and underneath. They are cast well but will require removing them from either casting runners or some resin film. The last of the large parts are the two large funnels with the raked caps.

The 138mm main guns and mounts are a multi-piece affair. The mounts each are comprised of four parts: a base, gun, cradle for the gun and the open turret housing. The 40mm quad and single mounts have a similar
break down but with photo-etch shields and gunner seats. The 20mm Oerlikons are a single resin piece for the gun and pedestal and photo-etch for the shields and supports. Some of the 20mm barrels were broken off
during shipping and need to be replaced with wire. The guns could get some additional detailing with some photo-etch hand wheels and other bits which are not provided. The large array of smaller resin parts include the
running gear, anchors, davits, various styles of vent housings and piping, lockers, searchlights, bridge equipment, gun directors, torpedo tubes, rafts and boats as well as other items. These are all cast nicely and require
little clean-up other than removing them from the casting runners. An interesting detail with the
Fantasque class ships is that each 138mm gun position was ringed with a thick railing cap. These railings are done in resin
and are provided on a casting film. Each piece will have to be carefully removed and cleaned-up to avoid breaking them. Each railing sits on a series of individual photo-etch supports.
The photo-etch provided with the kit contains railings, inclined and vertical ladders, propeller guards, lattice mast and details, radars, searchlight platform supports, parts for the 40mm and 20mm guns, anchor chains,
boat details and other parts. The photo-etch has some relief etching, the parts are identified with numbers and looks good overall. The propeller guards are broken down in a few parts which eliminate the need to bend it
into shape and the anchor chains are one pre-formed piece which is a nice touch. The vertical ladders are provided in pre-measured lengths, which also a time saver. I have noticed that
Box 261 designed kits come with
railings while
Combrig designed kits do not. No decals are provided, so you will have to seek other sources for hull markings and flags.

The assembly instructions are provided on 16 total pages and they are very thorough. The first pages follow the standard
Combrig layout. The cover sheet has a profile and plan view of the ship, some specifications and
a brief history, though the latter is in Cyrillic. The next two have a breakdown of the resin parts, but they are numbered. There is a small image of the photo-etch fret on the third page. The following pages have
numerous clear and detail assembly diagrams with resin part numbers within circles and photo-etch part numbers within squares. The effort made in the assembly diagrams should be commended and will facilitate model
construction. There are no painting instructions, but as mentioned above,
Le Terrible wore a USN Measure 22 scheme.
This looks like a real gem of a kit with lots of detail. It is great to have a model of this handsome ship in 1/350 scale and hopefully we will see some more French World War II ships in this scale. The kit out of the box
is a pretty close representation of
Le Terrible in a post-war fit, building her in a 1943 fit would not be too difficult. The model appears to be a somewhat complex build, so I would recommend it to modelers with some
experience. My thanks to Bruno Gire for providing the information about
Le Terrible’s refits.
Felix Bustelo