Service Aéronautique

Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 Fighter

The Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 first flew in 1938 and went into service on January 29, 1939. The French Air Force ordered 1,000 M.S. 406s but Morane-Saulnier was unable to produce anywhere near this number at their own factory, so a second line was set up at the nationalized factories of SNCAO. By April 1939 the production lines were delivering six aircraft a day and when the war started on September 3, 1939 production was up to 11 a day with 535 in service. The entire 1,000 planes were finished in March 1940. While the M.S.406 was very maneuverable and could withstand heavy damage it was totally outclassed by the ME-109 and took heavy losses in the Battle Of France with 387 lost from all caused for only 183 kills. After the armistice only one Vichy unit was equipped with the M.S.406. Germany captured a large number of M.S.406s and used some of them for trainers and sold most of them to Finland. The M.S.406 had a successful career with the Finnish Air Force during the Winter War and the Continuation War shooting down 121 Soviet aircraft. The M.S.406 was armed with 1 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon and 2 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machineguns. This model shows a M.S.406 flying with the 6 Escadrille, GC III/1, Armee de l'Air in June 1940.

Morane Saulner MS.406 Fighter

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Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV Bomber

The first civilian Bristol Type 142 civil transport flew in April, 1935 and was intended as a fast civilian transport. The RAF was very interested in the new plane and ordered several. The first Bristol Blenheim light bomber was delivered March 1937. The Blenheim Mk.I was an all metal light bomber with retractable landing gear, a crew of 3, and a glazed nose. A total of 4,422 Blenheims were built of several versions. The Blenheim was used as a bomber, night fighter, reconnaissance plane, naval patrol craft and was the basis for the Beaufort torpedo bomber and the Beaufighter. The Blenheim was used extensively in the early years of WWII, particularly in the Battle Of Britain and the Battle Of France. The Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV was an improved version with more powerful engines and armor. The Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV was armed with 1 .303 cal. Browning machinegun in the port wing, 2 .303 cal. Browning machineguns in rear firing blister under the nose and 2 .303 cal. Browning machineguns in a dorsal turret and could carry 1200 lbs. of bombs. The Blenheim served with the RAF, FAA, Air Ministry, Finland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Romania, RCAF, Free French air force, South African air force, Greece, Luftwaffe and Italy. This model shows a Blenheim Mk.IV flying with the Free French Lorraine Squadron in North Africa in 1942.

Bristol Blenheim IV Light Bomber

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Hawk 75 Fighter

The Curtiss Model 75 was a private venture by the company and first flew on May 6, 1935. In April 1936 the Hawk 75 lost a fly off competition against the P-36, however in June 1936 the USAAC ordered three modified prototypes. The new aircraft performed so well that orders were placed for 210 P-36 As. Even before the P-36 A entered production the French Air Force purchased 300 Hawk 75 aircraft. However due to concerns about production capacity, it took direct intervention from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to give the French test pilot a chance to fly the prototype. The first Hawk 75A-1 arrived in France in December 1938 and entered service in March 1939. A total of 416 Hawk 75s were delivered to France before the German occupation. The Hawk 75 shot down 2 ME-109s on September 8, 1939 which was the first Allied air victory of WWII on the Western front. French pilots claimed 230 confirmed and 80 probable victories in Hawk 75s against 29 aircraft lost in aerial combat. The Hawk 75 equipped squadrons were evacuated to French North Africa before the Armistice to avoid capture by the Germans. While under the Vichy government these units fought with British aircraft and USN F4F Wildcats. The Curtiss Hawks were used by Argentina, Brazil, China, Finland, Norway, Persia, Peru, Portugal, Siam, the UK and USA. There were 32 variants of the Hawk. The Hawk 75 was armed with four 7.5 mm FN-Browning machineguns. This model shows a Curtiss Hawk 75-A3 as flown by Lt. Marin la Meslee of Groupe de Chasse 1/5.  He was credited with 16 kills in a 6 week period. Also see the XP-37 the Curtiss P-36 A and the P-40 B Warhawk, P-40 E Warhawk and the Hawks group.

Curtiss Hawk 75 Fighter

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