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Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle

Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2006 Title Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle
Publisher Aerophoto Publishing Product Number RT001
Published 2006 Format DVD Region 0
MSRP (Euro) €15.90
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First Look

Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle
Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle
Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle
Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle
Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle

Here is a new resource (to me) that I will definitely be keeping an eye on in the future. It is Aerophoto Publishing from Italy and they are now publishing a series of the "Real Thing" videos covering a variety of military subjects. The principal behind this effort is aviation photographer Luigino Caliaro who has taken some excellent photography from a variety of cockpits from around the world. You can see some of his photo work and his biography on his website (listed below).

In this DVD entitled 'Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle' the camera takes you aboard France's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for a quick look at the ship and then topside for some good old-fashioned flight ops.

If you have kept up with international naval developments, you'll recall that France opted to replace the carrier Clemenceau with a nuclear-powered type to enjoy the unlimited sailing range experienced by the US CVNs. The de Gaulle is about 250 feet shorter than a Nimitz-class carrier and quite a bit slower.

She's had a number of teething problems from tossing a propeller during early sea trials to having a do-over on the flight deck when engineers realized that it was too narrow for the E-2C Hawkeye to safely maneuver on deck. Nevertheless, most of the bugs have been worked out and the carrier embarks an air group consisting of the Rafale M for air superiority, Super Etendard for strike, Hawkeye for AEW, and several rotary wing types for plane guard, ASW, etc.

The images to the right were captured from the movie and illustrate that this is up-close footage that has everything except the smell salt air and burnt JP-8. Ignore the note in the video frame saying 'Promo - Not For Sale' as this is an artifact of the review sample we received and shouldn't be on your copy.

This video is nicely edited and provides a good feel for air operations and deck handling of the air group aboard de Gaulle. The menus are in English, the interviews with the Captain and key members of his staff are in French (though the arresting gear officer spoke perfect American English).

The videos and image libraries take a look at the operations of each type with a focus on Hawkeye, Super Etendard, and Rafale. Some of the interesting sequences show a target barge being pulled behind the ship and Super Etendards making strafing runs. I love the sound of 20mm gunfire first thing in the morning! The Super Etendard still uses launch bridles to get off the deck while the Rafale and Hawkeye both use launch bars on the nosegear to engage the catapults.

In one of the bonus videos, the Rafale pilot is speaking about operations of his aircraft and several video sequences are provided from the aircraft's heads-up display showing the aircraft in a rather energetic dogfight and the poor victim was an F/A-18 Hornet.

I must say that this video was very well done. The photography was great, the editing was also very well done. I found it interesting to see the similarities on the deck as well as the differences. There is just something about the catapult launch officer waving a little green flag to signal the launch that I can't quite get used to...

You can obtain a copy directly from Aerophoto Publishing and at €15.90 (approximately $20.50 USD), this is a great reference to have in your collection.

My sincere thanks to Aerophoto Publishing ( for this review sample.