French light bombers and reconnaissance aircrafts

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by gekho, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #1 gekho, Dec 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012
    Breguet Br.521 Bizerte

    A biplane of all-metal construction, with three engines mounted in nacelles between the upper and lower wings, the aircraft was a development of the Breguet S.8/2 Calcutta, which itself was a militarised licenced version of the British Short S.8 Calcutta. It was built to meet a French Navy specification for a long-range flying boat issued in 1932, with the prototype first flying on 11 September 1933. A series of small orders for production Bizertes were placed, starting with an order for three in 1934, with the last order, for 12 (nine of which were later cancelled) being placed in September 1939. In 1935 a civil version - the Breguet Br.530 Saigon - was produced. After the first flight in September 1933, 34 aircraft were produced, which served with five squadrons of the French Navy from 1935 until 1940. Two squadrons remained in service with the Vichy Navy after the armistice. When Vichy France was occupied by the Germans following the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, several were captured and operated by the Luftwaffe as Air-Sea Rescue aircraft.[4] Following the Allied Invasion of Southern France in August 1944, one of the Luftwaffe Bizertes was discovered by French forces and used for communications duties until spares ran out.
     

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  2. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    A multi-purpose twin-float seaplane, the prototype Late 298.01 first flew on 8 May 1936. Intended missions included torpedo bombing; horizontal or shallow dive bombing (with two bombs of up to 150 kg each); long-range reconnaissance (with extra 535 litre fuel tank); night reconnaissance; and smokescreen laying. A cantilever low-wing monoplane with an all-metal oval-section stressed-skin fuselage, the production Late 298A was powered by a 656kW Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs engine and had a crew of three accommodated under a glazed canopy. The Late 298B version had folding wings for shipboard stowage. Armament comprised two fixed 7.5mm Darne wing guns and a third Darne machine-gun on a flexible mounting at the rear of the crew canopy. The Late 298D had a fourth crew member, and the 'one-off' unsuccessful Late 298E had a ventral observation gondola. Some 110 Late 298 of all versions had been built by 25 June 1940 and a further 20 Late 298F (with MAC instead of Darne weapons and two additional 7.7mm machine-guns for ventral 'under-tail' defence) were built for the French Vichy regime.

    The first naval escadrilles to equip with the type were T2 at Saint-Raphael and T1 at Berre in February and March 1939 respectively. Escadrilles HB1 and HB2 on the seaplane carrier Commandant Teste re-equipped with Late 298B in April and July the same year. From then on the type saw widespread service, flying overland in shallow dive-bombing attacks during the May-June 1940 'Blitzkrieg' on France and subsequently continuing to operate - mainly on reconnaissance missions - with both the Vichy and Free French forces. Several captured aircraft were used for liaison duties by the Germans. A number of Late 298 continued into the post-World War II period with the French Aeronavale.
     

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  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Fascinating pictures and info gekho, as always :)
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I totally agree!
     
  5. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    I agree too!!
     
  6. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Lioré et Olivier LeO 25 was a bomber aircraft produced in France in the late 1920s. It was a development of the LeO 20 and retained much of that aircraft's structure, adding a new tail and liquid-cooled engines. The prototype was delivered to the Aéronautique Militaire amongst a batch of LeO 20s in 1928 for evaluation. This was redesignated LeO 252 in 1929 after an engine change, and a second, generally similar machine was purchased by Romania. In 1931, the LeO 252 remaining in France was fitted with wooden floats and handed over to the Aéronavale, forming the pattern for the majority of LeO 25s which would be produced as seaplanes. The only other members of the family to be built with wheeled undercarriage were three LeO 253s purchased by Brazil in 1931, and which would see service in the Constitutionalist Revolution the following year, and the sole LeO 255 which would later be fitted with floats. This latter machine was equipped with supercharged engines and was used to set a number of height-with-load records for seaplanes.

    The only versions produced in quantity were the LeO H-257bis and LeO H-258, which together represented orders for 86 units from the Aéronavale. Entering service in June 1935, they flew neutrality patrols during the Spanish Civil War and some remained in service at the outbreak of the Second World War. These surviving aircraft flew convoy escort and anti-submarine patrols in September 1939 before being used as tactical bombers against land targets during the Blitzkrieg, suffering heavy losses. Fifty-three remained on strength with Vichy forces in August 1940, and these were used for secondary roles such as training and target towing until 1944.
     

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  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I've always felt that plane was beautiful.
     
  8. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Dissatisfied with its strategic reconnaissance aircraft such as the troublesome Bloch MB.131, the Armée de l'air required the development of a derivative of the Potez 631 for this role. The observer was to be housed in a gondola under the fuselage. While particularly uncomfortable, this arrangement resulted in a Potez 637 that retained most of the qualities of the 631. 60 examples were ordered in August 1938 and delivered. At the same time, the Armée de l'Air was desperate to re-equip its army cooperation units which had particularly antiquated equipment, but since the development of the 637, had completely changed its mind about how the observer position should be arranged. Potez was therefore required to develop a variant that, while retaining the wings, engines and tail surfaces of the 631, hosted the observer in a more conventional nose glasshouse.

    Because the pilot needed to be seated above the observer, the Potez 63.11's fuselage was taller, which resulted in degraded top speed and manoeuvrability. As a result the 63.11 proved very vulnerable, despite being protected with some armour and basic self-sealing coating over the fuel tanks. As a secondary light bomber capability was part of the requirements (though it was rarely if ever used), the fuselage accommodated a tiny bomb bay, carrying up to eight 10kg-class bombs. This bomb bay was replaced by an additional fuel tank on late examples. Additionally, two 50kg-class bombs could be carried on hardpoints under the inner wings. Frontal armament was originally one, then three MAC 1934s under the nose, and many 63.11s were equipped with the same additional guns in wing gondolas as the 631s. The first Potez 63.11 No.1 and second No.2 prototypes first flew in December 1938, and no less than 1,365 examples were on order in September 1939, of which 730 were delivered, making the 63.11 the most numerous variant of the family by far.
     

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  9. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Good stuff!
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  11. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  12. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #12 gekho, Jan 20, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
    Built to meet a 1933 requirement of the French navy for an all-purpose shipboard catapult-launched three-seat seaplane, the prototype Loire 130 high-wing monoplane flying-boat flew for the first time on 19 November 1934. Persistent stability problems delayed development and it was not until August 1936 that an initial production order was placed for two versions, the Loire 130M (Metropole) and Loire 130C (Colonie), the latter being strengthened and equipped for use in tropical climates. Power was provided by a Hispano-Suiza engine mounted on struts over the hull. The Loire 130 did not reach French navy escadrilles until 1938. By 1939 it equipped Escadrille 7S2 aboard the seaplane carrier Commandant Teste and 7S3 and 7S4 embarked on various capital ships and cruisers. Overseas the Loire 130 was with 8S2 at Fort-de-France, French Antilles, 8S3 in West Africa, and 8S4 in the Levant (now Lebanon). In 1939-40 the type went on to equip several newly formed shore-based and shipborne units and also equipped Armee de I'Air units, including 1/CBS in French Indo-China (now Vietnam).

    Not all the Loire 130s on order had been completed by the time of the June 1940 armistice with the Germans, but permission was given for 30 more of the type to be built under the auspices of the Vichy regime. It is believed that overall nearly 150 examples of this efficient aircraft were delivered, performing a range of duties which included reconnaissance, observing and ranging for naval guns, coastal patrol and convoy escort, as well as liaison work. In this last capacity the Loire 130 could carry up to three passengers. From November 1942 all catapults were removed from French ships, the Loire 130s thenceforth being shore-based. The last Loire 130 in flying condition, with Escadrille 8.S in Indo-China, was withdrawn and scrapped in late 1949.
     

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  13. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    now that's a big @ss tail!
     
  14. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  15. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The 690 had begun life in 1934 as Breguet's response to the same strategic fighter aircraft specification as the eventual winner, the Potez 630. Both were twin-engine monoplanes with twin tailplanes, powered by Hispano-Suiza 14AB radial engines of contemporary design and performance. Breguet considered the weight limits of the specification - requiring a twin-engine, three-man aircraft to be lighter than 3,000 kg/6,600 lb (later 3,500 kg/7,700 lb) - to be overly restrictive and ignored them. Instead, the design was advertised as particularly versatile, with reconnaissance, ground attack and level bombing derivatives proposed that required no structural changes. Unsurprisingly, Breguet lost out in the competition to Potez, but confident in the 690's potential, nevertheless began building a prototype on its own funds. Although it had kept informed about foreign developments with dive bombers in the early 1930s, the French Air Force did not decide to acquire modern ground-attack aircraft before 1937.[1] Engineless for nearly a year, the 690-01 prototype finally flew on 23 March 1938, and displayed such promise that 100 two-seat attack bomber versions known as the Breguet 691 AB2 were ordered in June 1938, an order which was eventually double. For the ground-attack role, the 691's equipment included a 20 mm cannon and a pair of 7.5 mm (.295 in) machine guns firing forward, as well as an internal bomb rack that could be used in a shallow dive attack and was typically loaded with eight 50 kg (110 lb) bombs. Rear defense was provided by one flexible 7.5 mm (.295 in) machine gun, while a fixed, rearward-firing weapon of the same type was fitted under the fuselage to discourage low-flying fighters or ground fire from behind. A set of armour plates protected the crew, and the fuel tanks had rudimentary self-sealing capability, but this protection proved insufficient in combat.

    Breguet established an assembly line with remarkable speed: the first production aircraft flew less than a year after being ordered, and was in service before the end of 1939. As with the Potez 630, the Bre 691 was beset with engine difficulties. Hispano-Suiza had decided to concentrate on its V12 liquid-cooled engines and the 14AB engine was unreliable. The French authorities decided to order a new version, the Bre 693 powered by Gnome-Rhône 14M radials. Apart from the changed engines, which were of slightly smaller diameter, the two types were virtually identical. Orders for the Bre 691 were switched to the new type and more than 200 of the latter had been completed by the time of France's defeat. Late production versions of the Bre 693 introduced propulsive exhaust pipes that improved top speed by a small margin as well as, according to some sources, a pair of additional machine guns in the tail of each engine nacelle. Belgium ordered 32 licence-built copies but none were completed before the Belgian collapse.

    A small experimental unit had been experimenting with ground-attack tactics since 1937, initially in outdated biplanes such as the Potez 25, then in ANF Les Mureaux 115 monoplanes. Eventually, the Armée de l’Air concluded that low-altitude level-bombing was more suitable than dive-bombing for engaging enemy vehicles and artillery over the battlefield. The chosen tactic consisted in a nap-of-the-earth approach at maximum speed, followed by a strafing run or the delivery of time-delayed bombs directly over the target. French commanders widely considered this tactic as safe for the attackers, as anti-aircraft weapons then in service would be inefficient. The French Army was not using anti-aircraft autocannons at the time (the 25 mm Hotchkiss and 20 mm Oerlikon cannons were only issued later), but only rifle-calibre machine guns and slow-firing 75 mm (2.95 in) cannons.In late 1939, two squadrons staffed with volunteers from level bomber units were gathered in the small airfield near Vinon-sur-Verdon, where they began their operational training. As Breguet 691s were not available yet, the crews flew the Potez 633 light bomber. When they were eventually delivered, the little Breguets were popular with their crews, although the unreliable engines in the Bre 691 caused headaches, and undercarriage failures proved especially troublesome. Only in March 1940 were the first combat-worthy Bre. 693s delivered, and there were now five squadrons to equip: GBA I/51, GBA II/51, GBA I/54, GBA II/54, and GBA II/35 (GBA stands for Groupe de bombardement d'assaut - assault bomber squadron), with a theoretical complement of 13 aircraft each.

    Because of this late delivery, crews were still working up their new machines and developing tactics when the Germans attacked. On 12 May, GBAs I/54 and II/54 performed the Breguet's first operational sorties, against German motorized columns in the Maastricht-Tongeren-Bilsen area. German anti-aircraft fire was so devastating that only eight of the 18 Bre.693s returned. The disastrous results of this first engagement forced the French commanders to reconsider their tactics. Until 15 May, GBA crews performed shallow dive attacks from higher altitude, which resulted in reduced losses, but the attacks had clearly been inaccurate, as the Breguets lacked a bombsight, and they increased vulnerability to enemy fighters. On the following missions, the GBAs re-introduced low-level attacks, but with smaller formations. As the battle quickly evolved towards the collapse of the French armies, the assault groups were engaged daily, still enduring losses to the AAA, but also to enemy fighters. In late June, the Armée de l'Air tried to evacuate its modern aircraft to North Africa, out of German reach, from where many hoped to continue the fight. Unfortunately, the short-ranged Breguets were not able to cross the Mediterranean. Unlike other French modern types, the Breguet 690 family saw its combat career end with the Armistice. At this point in time, 119 aircraft had been lost, including 68 to direct enemy action, and a further 14 were written off as too heavily damaged. The five GBAs had therefore endured a matériel loss rate of 63%, while crew casualties accounted for nearly 50%. After the Armistice, the Vichy authorities were allowed to maintain a small air force in mainland France, and its assault bomber pilots flew rare training flights in the Bre.693 and Bre.695. After the Germans occupied all of France in late 1942 some of the survivors were transferred to Italy for use as operational trainers.
     

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  16. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Latécoère 300 series of aircraft were a group of civil and military flying boats. They were manufactured by French aircraft manufacturer Latécoère in the 1930s. A single Latécoère 300 was built; it was flown for the first time in 1931 and sank the same year. It was rebuilt and flown again in 1932, being named Croix du Sud ("Southern Cross"). The 300 was a monoplane of parasol wing construction. It was powered by four engines, each of which produced 650 hp, arranged in two push-pull pairs. The 300 set an international aviation record for seaplanes on 31 December 1933, by flying 3,697 kilometers (2,297 mi) non-stop between Berre Lake near Marseille and Saint-Louis, Senegal. The aircraft then entered service for Air France, transporting mail across the Atlantic Ocean from Dakar, Senegal to Natal, Brazil. It completed 23 missions before being lost at sea on December 7, 1936. The pilot was the famous French aviator Jean Mermoz. The civilian Laté 301, and military Laté 302 were based on the 300, with some design improvements. A total of three aircraft of each type were built between 1935 and 1936. The first of the 301s was lost, the remaining two were used in South Atlantic service until 1939. In 1939 the last remaining 301 was converted to military service, joining the 302s in patrol duties in West Africa.

    Original Laté 302 aircraft had 930-hp engines, bow, beam, and engine nacelle machine gun ports, and a bomb load of 300 kilograms (660 lb). The aircraft supported a crew of four and included sleeping accommodations. Fuel and payload were stored inside the hull. The 302s and converted 301 were in service at the start of World War II, and continued in military service, flying patrols from Dakar until retired due to lack of spare parts, the last aircraft being grounded at the end of 1941.
     

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  17. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The LeO H-246 was designed by the French aircraft manufacturer Lioré-et-Olivier to meet a 1935 specification for a commercial flying boat for use on the Mediterranean routes of Air France. It was a four-engined parasol monoplane of mixed construction and powered by four 720 hp (537 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Xir liquid cooled V12 engines. All four engines were mounted in streamlined nacelles aheaed of the leading edge of the wing. It had a duralumin hull of similar layout to that of Lioré et Olivier's H-47 which accommodated seats for 26 passengers and a crew of four. The prototype H-246.01 (Lioré et Olivier's factories had been nationalised at the end of 1936, so the aircraft was built by Sud-Est) made its maiden flight from the Étang de Berre on 30 September 1937. Air France placed an order for six H-246.1 aircraft in January 1938, with the prototype also being brought up to production standard for commercial service.

    The refurbished prototype and the first production aircraft were being readied for commercial service when the Second World War broke out in September 1939. The French Navy drew up plans to requisition the H-246s as maritime patrol aircraft, but Air France still needed them, and the Navy agreed to only take over four of the aircraft. This allowed Air France to commence operations with the prototype on the Marseilles–Algiers route on 14 October 1939. The third production aircraft was completed for the Navy in June 1940, with a glazed position being fitted in the nose for a Bombardier/navigator, bomb racks fitted below the wings and four 7.5 mm Darne machine guns fitted as defensive armament. It entered service with Escadrille 9E on 25 August 1940, the only aircraft actually to be operated by the French Navy, with the remaining aircraft going to Air France. In November 1942, the Allies landed in French North Africa, and as a response, German forces occupied Vichy France. They seized the single French Navy H-246, along with three Air France aircraft. Two more Air France aircraft were at Algeirs at the time and so escaped seizure by the Germans. (The prototype H.246 had been withdrawn from use in 1941). The German Luftwaffe took over the three seized ex-Air France aircraft, fitting them with five MG 15 machine guns as a defensive armament and carrying up to 21 soldiers or 14 stretchers. The aircraft were used for various tasks, including transports in Finland. The ex-French Navy H-246 was destroyed at Lyon by Allied attacks in the spring of 1944. After the war, the two surviving H-264s were used by Air France to restart the Marseilles–Algiers service, continuing in use until September 1946.
     

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  18. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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  20. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Between 1932 and 1936, Loire-Nieuport had been developing a two-seat dive bomber, the Nieuport 140, for the Aéronautique Navale, the aviation arm of the French Navy. It was renamed Loire-Nieuport LN.140 after the Nieuport company was absorbed into Loire-Nieuport, in 1933. In 1936, the development of the LN.140 was abandoned after two fatal accidents. Development efforts were then concentrated on the LN.40 project, which benefited from experience acquired with the LN.140, but was a new, and aerodynamically much more refined, design. In the second half of 1937 the LN.40 received government backing in the form of an order for a prototype, followed by orders for seven production aircraft destined for the aircraft carrier Béarn and three more for operational evaluation by the air force. The French Air Force had expressed interest in a land-based derivative of the LN.40, called LN.41. Initially it wanted to acquire 184 of these, enough to equip six dive bomber squadrons of 18 aircraft each, plus a reserve. The prototype made its first flight on 6 July 1938, flown by Pierre Nadot. A second prototype followed in January 1939, and a third in May. Four of the pre-series LN.40 dive bombers were delivered in July, and the aircraft was declared fit for carrier operations following successful tests aboard the Béarn. Nevertheless, the flight tests were not entirely successful. The original dive brake was found ineffective and was removed in favour of extending the landing gear to act as an aerodynamic brake. It was found that the LN.40 could not fly dive bombing missions with full fuel tanks. The chief of staff of the air force, general Joseph Vuillemin, declared that the aircraft was too slow, and requested the development of a fast dive bomber for the air force, which became the Loire-Nieuport LN.42.

    In July 1939, Loire-Nieuport had received orders for 36 LN.401 production dive bombers for the Navy, and 36 LN.411 aircraft for the Army. The LN.411 was almost identical to the LN.401, except for the deletion of the arrestor hook, the wing folding mechanism and the emergency floatation devices. The first LN.411s were delivered in September, in which month the air force ordered 270 more. But in October general Vuillemin refused to accept these aircraft, and the small number of LN.411 were sent to the Navy. Loire-Nieuport also attempted to develop a faster version, by substituting a 860 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y31 for the 690 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Xcrs engine of the LN.401. This LN.402 made its first flight on 18 November 1939. Further development of the LN.402 was prevented by the French defeat in May 1940 and the following armistice.

    Two escadrilles of the Aéronautique Navale, designated as AB2 and AB4, converted to the LN.401/411 between late 1939 and early 1940. AB2 received its first LN.401 dive bombers in November 1939, while AB4 received the LN.411 dive bombers rejected by the air force from February 1940 onwards. The dive bombers rejected by the Army were a welcome reinforcement to the Navy, as production of the LN.401 was very slow. Both used the type in combat during the Battle of France in ground attacks against German motorized columns and troop concentrations. Losses were heavy. One attack on 19 May resulted in the loss of 10 out of 20 dive bombers committed, while seven of the survivors were sufficiently damaged to be no longer airworthy. The production rate of the LN.401 and LN.411 was insufficient to replace losses, and in about a month of fighting the two squadrons lost two-thirds of their strength. After the armistice with Germany, Loire-Nieuport dive bombers were retired from service and the two escadrilles were re-equipped with the Glenn-Martin 167-F level bomber.
     

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