The Bloch MB.174 was a French reconnaissance bomber designed and built shortly before World War II. It was, by far, the best aircraft of this type available to the Armée de l'Air at the outbreak of the war, with speed and maneuverability that allowed it to evade interception by the German fighters of the time. The Bloch MB.174 flew for the first time in July 1939 and entered in active service in March 1940. It was issued to strategic reconnaissance units where it replaced the Potez 637 that had proved too vulnerable during the Phoney war. Its first operational mission was flown by the famed pilot and writer, Cap. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, of Groupe de Reconnaissance II/33, on 29 March 1940. The Bloch 174 appeared extremely effective in these missions as its speed and maneuverability at altitude allowed it to escape from most modern Luftwaffe fighters. Only 3 examples were lost to enemy fire during the Battle of France. However, like the majority of the modern equipment of the Armée de l'Air during the campaign, they arrived too late and in insufficient numbers. Info: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloch_MB.170 Profile: Fighting Aircraft of World War II Published by Salamander Books.