Bloch MB.81: Save yourself in the process.

The MB.80 was designed in answer of a requirement for a flying ambulance to be employed exclusively in the French colonies. Of all metal construction, this rough and ready monoplane was conceived to carry a sick/wounded passenger lying on a stretcher inside a windowed compartment between the pilot and the engine. The prototype made its maiden flight on Jul. 1932. Its positive tests derived in a production order (20) of a re-engined model under the MB.81 name. They were operated all around the French North African and Middle East (Syria) colonies. A few were still in service at the start of WW2.

It saved lives and also the aviation manufacturer career of Marcel (Dassault) Bloch. Pretty neat too.

Dewoitine D.520-01: Arrested Development.

Emile Dewoitine’s D.520 was the best French mass produced fighter of WW2. This racy beauty was roughly equal to both the Spitfire and Bf 109E in 1940. Sadly, that was also the year of France surrender and the end of D.520’s further serious improvement. The design continued to be produced in quantity by Vichy France anyway, with German permission. Captured and new built saw also service with the Germans, Bulgarians and the Italians. The latter two in anger. It was that good.

The sheer prettiness of the first prototype. Photo taken after its Nov. 1938 landing accident: the three-blade variable-pitch prop has replaced the pedestrian two-blade fixed-pitch wooden prop.

Rey R.1: While you’re at it, better be Majestic.

The gorgeous R.1 was an experimental twin-engined aircraft conceived by François Rey to explore gust alleviation techniques. His patent was based on articulated wings, which could flap along the rubber black line outboard of the engines. Powered by two neatly cowled 240hp Renault 6Q-10a, the R.1 was tested successfully during the early 1950s.  Despite that the idea didn’t got further back then. The flexible wings of nowadays latest airliners designs are distant descendants.

This thing of beauty in its original configuration, with cutely spatted wheels and small vertical surfaces. With similar aims and equally beautiful.

Bellanger-Denhaut 22: Impressive so-so.

Produced by the Bellanger automobile company, the obscure BD-22 flying boat was designed by François Denhaut as a recon/bomber military flying boat. Four of the six produced were operated without much fuss by the Marine Nationale for just four years (1924-28). A single civilian transport version was also produced.

It was both clean and handsome, that’s for sure. Specially those closely-situated engine nacelles which housed a pair of 260hp Hispano-Suiza 8Fd.

Salmson D.6 Cri-Cri: Thoroughly French, béret included.

The Cri-Cri monoplane was originally conceived in the early 1930s as a light recreational aircraft. Its qualities soon attired the authorities and the basic design was ordered in quantity for l’Aviation Populaire movement starting in 1936. Three hundred of these cute parasols powered by the household 60hp Salmson 9 ADr were produced. Some of them even became later unlikely warriors with the French AF. Poor things.

A Salmson warming up its Salmson.

Nennig C.3: As fast as it went.

This sharp looking racer was conceived by Edmond Nennig to take part in the classic 1935 Coupé Deutsch de la Meurthe race. Originally designed to be powered by a Salmson 12 engine it ended with a Régnier 6 cylinder. Not completed in time to take part in the competition, the later whereabouts of Nennig C.3 are obscure. It seems it was never flown.

The last design iteration of the C.3 in this lovely model inside the wind tunnel of the University of Lille, Shades of…

Villiers II: Shipborne by itself.

This two-seat fighter was conceived in the early 1920s to be operated from the French aircraft carrier Béarn. The first of the two prototypes made its maiden flight in 1925. Test flights proved conclusive and the French navy acquired thirty production model powered by the charming 450hp Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb 12W-engine. Their operational lives were somehow marred by the decision of the French Navy to employ their Villiers II only from land bases; no one ever saw the Béarn.

The Villiers II was not devoid of a certain elegance, its clumsy sesquiplane wings apart. Specially its boat-shaped waterproof hull which allowed the aircraft to be safely landed on water in emergency cases, after the undercarriage was jettisoned.

Gardan GY80 Horizon: Défense de fumer !!

The Horizon was a pretty touring monoplane designed by Yves Gardan in the late 1950s. First flown with the new decade, the aircraft was produced under licence in fairly decent numbers (circa 270) by Sud-Aviation: first by themselves and later by their SOCATA subsidiary.
Yesterday was John Denver, today is Belgian singer/songwriter, poet, actor/director and through and through aviation lover Jacques Brel. Here with one of the two lovely GY80s he owned. Photo taken from his tenth LP, “Jacques Brel 67”.

Not a good idea to smoke while seating on a high-octane wing tank.