Profile Publications No. 147 The Morane Saulnier 406

The prototype M.S. 405-01 before Jliglit testing. (Photo: Musee de 1'Air) M.S. 406 No. 4, the fourth pre-production aircraft and the true prototype o f the M.S. 406 series. (Photo: E.C.A.) the Brussels Aeronautical Exhibition. The second prototype, the M.S.405-02, first flew in February 1937 and differed considerably from the first aircraft. The wing planform was modified, the engine drove a Levasseur airscrew through a 2:3 reduction gear in place of the 48:51 gear of the M.S.405-01. The aircraft was delivered to the C.E.M.A. in June and was destroyed on 29th July 1937, killing test pilot Ribiere. Shortly before the fatal crash, on 18th July, the M.S.405-02, piloted by RozanofT, was displayed in company with the M.S. 405-01, piloted by Detroyat, at Lethe Bourget Air Meeting. Fifteen pre-production M.S.405's were officially ordered in March 1937 (Order No. 274/7), although the Puteaux factory had been preparing for pro­duction since August 1936. On completion, the aircraft were transferred from Puteaux to Villa- coublay, assembled, and flight tested, mainly by test-pilot Launay. A regular rate of production was maintained No. 1 first flew on 3rd February 1938, No. 2 on 2nd July, No. 3 on 5th May, No. 5 on 16th June, No. 6 on 23rd June, No. 7 on 2nd July, No. 8 on 8th July and the fifteenth, and last, in December. Construction and testing of these machines provided information for the production version, the M.S.406 and also for the various export versions. The first five M.S.405's required an average of 33,000 work hours for completion and cost 965,000 Francs each (1937 value). Normally fitted with an H.S. 12Y crs engine, the M.S.405’s were structurally identical up to No. 11 from No. 12 the number of ribs in the wing was reduced, resulting in a weight saving of 200 lb. the original radio equipment of Thomson manu­facture was replaced by a Radio-Industrie set. The M.S.405 No. 4 (first flight 20th May 1938) was the prototype for the production M.S.406 being fitted with an MS 12Y 31 engine driving a Chauviere airscrew. The machine was delivered to the C.E.M.A. on 23rd May 1938 after four flights. Nos. 3 and 10 respectively served as models for sub-contractors S.N.C.A.O. (Bouguenais) and S.N.C.A.M .(Toulouse). No. 12 (first flight 11th October 1938), when fitted with a non-retractable radiator and a 950 h.p. HS 12Y 45 became the M.S.411 and flew in this form, with a non-retractable radiator, for the first time on 24th January 1939. This was in fact the prototype for the Swiss D-3801. No. 13 was exported to Switzerland after modification to M.S.408 standards. Allocated the Swiss serial J-l it became the prototype for the D-3800 first flight and acceptance trials were conducted at the beginning of October 1938. No. 14 was the first prototype of the M.S.407 L.P. (Lance Parachute) designed for the study of high-speed parachute-dropping modifications included an addi­tional compartment in the fuselage in place of fuel tanks, these being fitted in the wings. M.S.407 L.P. No. I first flew on 7th December 1938 and two more followed during 1939. After attesting the C.E.M.A. at Villacoublay until the beginning of 1940 they were reconverted to M.S.406 standards. Apart from the M.S.405, 406,407,408 and 411 already mentioned, two further derivatives of the basic design deserve mention at this stage. The first, the M.S.409, embodied anew horse-shoe shaped radiator placed directly under the engine in the same style as the Curtiss P-40 (sec Profile No. 35). The second, the M.S.410, appeared later and resulted from modifications made in the light of combat experience obtained in the autumn of 1939. The M.S.410 had a reinforced armament of four MAC 1934 machine- guns with 550 rounds per gun in belts. The cockpit and the wing guns were heated by hot air coming from a heat-exchanger placed on the port-side engine exhausts the guns were heated by the air which had passed through the cockpit. A modified windscreen was also fitted to permit the mounting of anew reflector gunsight, armament control was electro- pneumatic, and provision was made for the carriage of auxiliary fuel tanks under the wings. The first proto­type, No. 1028, had a fixed radiator the second followed in January 1940 (No. 1040). In February 1940, the authorities ordered that 500 M.S.406 aircraft be brought up to M.S.410 standards. The modified wings were to be produced at Bourges (S.N.C.A.C.) and Billancourt and modifications took 15 days because of the great need for modern fighters during the Battle of France, all conversion work was stopped in May. In fact, only five complete aircraft and 150 sets of wings were produced before work was M.S. 405 No. 2 note windmill actuator o f airscrew, and long wheel wells. (Photo: M oranc-Saulnier)
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