War Machine, Volume 6

II By May 1940 theMS.406was outcla ted and hopelessly outclassed by the Germans. Nevertheless it equipped some 14 Groupes de Chasse including the famous Cigognes o fle re GC1/2 atNimes. 10.1 in) length 8.17 m (26 ft 9.7 in) height 3.25 m (10 ft 8 in) wing area 16.00 m2 (172.2 sq ft) Armament: one 20-mm HS404 hub- firing cannon and two 7.5-mm (0.295- in) MAC 1934 machine-guns in the wings FRANCE Morane-Saulnier MS.406 Most numerous of French fighters at the time of Germanys attack in the West in 1940 the Morane-Saulnier MS.406 was a curious anomaly having been ordered into production in 1937 when its performance was ably far below that of cu and German fighters Moreover its complicated development within the MS.405-411 family was as wasteful of effort as it was counterproductive. The prototype MS.406 was in fact the fourth development MS.405 and first flew on 20 May 1938 with 642-kW (860-hp) His­ pano-Suiza 12Y31 and 'moteur-canon1 ,typifying the continental practice of us­ing a hub-firing cannon to avoid the need to synchronize its fire. By April 1938 orders totalling 955 MS.406s had been placed for completion by September 1939 but in the event only 572 had been produced by that date, At the outbreak of war these aircraft equipped five groupes de chasse at Chartres and Dijon plus two in Alger­ia 29 aircraft had been shipped to Tunisia and 10 to Indo-China. By 1 0 May 1940 the number of combat-ready MS. 406s had actually dropped from 367 to 278 a situation quickly aggra­vated by the loss of 37 aircraft on the ground at Cambrai Damblain Vitry and Le Quesnoy on the first day. The MS.406 quickly proved to be outclas­sed in the air and during the Battle of France about 150 were lost in combat (plus some 100 on the ground). The aircraft's inferiority was acknow­ledged and by the time of the Armis­tice conversion to other aircraft was already being undertaken by 40610 MS groupes. Specification Morane-Saulnier MS.406 Type: single-seat fighter Powerplant: one 642-kW (860-hp) Hispano-Suiza HS 12Y 31V-1 2 piston engine Performance: maximum speed 490 km/h (304 mph) at 4500 m (14765 ft) climb to 6000 m (19685 ft) in 0 9 minutes service ceiling 10000 m (32810 ft) range 1100 km (684 miles) Weights: empty 1895 kg (4178 lb) normal take-off 2540 kg (5600 lb) Dimensions: span 10.62 m (34 ft ADewoitineD.520 based at Ray akin central Lebanon in June 1941. The prominent striping is to identify the aircraft as Vichy French and so ostensibly neutral. in) MAC 1934 machine-guns in the wings Below: A restored D .520 shows the fine lines of the French fighter of 1940. With a performance similar to the Hurricane it was still outclassed by the Bf 109 but incapable hands, undoubtedly agave good account of itself in battle. Best of all French fighters at the time of the great German attack in the West of May 1940 was the Dewoitine D.S20, although it was probably no better than the RAF's Hurricane Mk I moreover moreno than 36 had been delivered to a single groupe de chasse when the blow fell. Although the need for a fighter to replace the D.510 had been acknowledged as long ago as 1934 the 520's D design was not started until November 1936 the pro­totype was flown by Marcel Doret on 2 October 1938. Such delays were symptoms of the lethargy and procras­tination that pervaded the French air­craft industry immediately before the war. Indeed it was not until 2 Novem­ber 1939 that the first production D.520 was flown. First to receive the new fighter was GC 1/3 and this Groupe first met the Luftwaffe on 13 May, shooting down three Hs 126s and an He 111 without loss. Some 43 other aircraft were quickly delivered to GC II/3 GC II/7 GC III/3 and GC III/6 and as new aircraft were completed A6ronavale Escadrilles AC 123 and 4 were equipped with a further 52 before the armistice was signed. Production of the D.520 continued in the Vichy (un­occupied) zone and indue course a total of 235 D.520s served with Vichy forces in France and 202 in Africa. Highest-scoring French fighter pilot was Adjutant Pierre Le Gloan a pilot of GC III/6 who destroyed 1 8 enemy air­craft (out of his eventual total of 22) while flying D 520s Total production of the aircraft was 775. Weights: empty2125 685 kg(4 lb) normal take-off 2675 kg (5897 lb) Dimensions: span 10.20 m (33 ft 5.5 in) length 8.76 m (28 ft 875 in) height 257 m (8 ft 5.2 in) wing area 15.95 m2 (171.7 sq ft) Armament: one 20-mm HS404 hub- firing cannon and four 7.5-mm (0.295- Specification Dewoitine D.520S (first 558 aircraft) Type: single-seat fighter Powerplant: one 694-kW (930-hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Y45 V-12piston engine Performance: maximum speed 535 km/h (332 mph) at 5500 m (18045 ft) climb to 4000 m (13125 ft) in 582 minutes service ceiling 10250 m (33630 ft) normal range 890 km (553 miles)
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