Sud-Est LeO H-470: Plowshares into swords.

One of the fastest, and prettiest, flying boats of the 1930’s. The H-470 resulted from a 1934 Ministère de l’Air specification for a commercial mail carrier/airliner suitable for use over the South Atlantic, the Dakar-Natal route. Exceptional care was taken in its development in order to obtain the highest possible aerodynamic efficiency and it showed. The prototype maiden flight took place in the summer of 1936 and proved particularly successful. This prototype was lost soon after, but not before it proved the soundness of the design. Five production H-470’s were ordered by Air France. The World situation then interfered and the five were impressed by the French Navy. Armed by the Navy, they turned into long-range maritime recon aircraft. They served in that role until 1943 when problems with spare supplies condemned the survivors to the scrape yard.

They sure were mighty sleek things, even with the addition of military draggy equipment. Of note its characteristic 4 tandem mounted Hispano-Suiza 12Y engines and the cooling radiators placed in nacelles under them.


SIPA S.121: From nose to tail.

The S.10/S.11/S.12 family was the French versions of the Arado Ar 396 advanced trainer. The Société Industrielle Pour l’Aéronautique (SIPA) had been producing under licence the previous Ar 96 for the Luftwaffe during WW2, being it successor, the Ar 396 was the logical next step. At the end of the war it became the French company’s first post-war product.
The S.12 was an all-metal production variant produced after the “composite-built” S.10/S.11’s. The S.121 that followed being a light-weight development of the S.12 in which the steel centre fuselage was supplanted by one of light alloy.

The SIPA’s cried out loud their German (and Arado) heritage. In this photo the garishly painted S.121 (F-BLKH / F-WLKH) operated by the Salis Collection. Regrettably, it crashed in 1978 and only some sad remains still stand in the Deutche Technikmuseum.

Sud Aviation Caravelle III: The rounding of a triangle.

The truly distinctive “rounded off” triangular passenger windows of the iconic Caravelle. The idea behind this peculiar design was that aircraft passengers generally look down most of the time from the cabin windows. So why not give them only what they want? Not a question of stinginess: the reduced area of metal removed from the fuselage to accommodate the window aided in preserving the strength of the pressurised body….., shades of the DH Comet disaster.

A SAS Caravelle from an idem, I guess.

Charpentier C1: Tailess & Flightless..,almost.

Conceived in the early 1930’s, the little-known Charpentier C1 was an experimental flying wing trimotor (3 x 100CV Hispano-Suiza 6Pa). The unique prototype was built by the Société des Avions Caudron under a contract from Jean Charpentier. C1’s first steps in 1933 ended badly when it was damaged during high speed rolling test. Rebuilt later, it tried again in 1935… to be destroyed during its first flight attempt. After that the whole project disolved in the wind.

The top photo gives only a poor idea of the sheer beauty of this aircraft, but gladly model maker Stéphane Guerrero’s recreated it in this wonderful model.

SNCASE SE.2410 Grognard I: The Hunchback of the South East.

The Grognard I was conceived in the late 1940s as a single-seat ground attack aircraft. Its design embodied several novel and quite radical features, specially at the time of its appearance.Two of them took the Grognard I apart, namely its drastic 47˚ swept wing design and its engine configuration: two RR Nene jet engines, staggered one above the other, in the rear of a very bulky fuselage. The Grognard I flew for the first time on April, 1950. The concept was evolved further into a vastly modified second prototype, the Grognard II. Neither of the two had any luck; both had their development stopped due to some technical problems and changes on Armée de l’Air operational policies. After that they served as armament testbeds.

This photo does real justice to this French fantasy. That nose affair with its “birdcage” cockpit does the trick to me.

SNCASE S.E.2010 Armagnac: Orgueil et Rentabilité.

Flown for the first time on January, 1949, the Armagnac was designed for the Air France company as a large long range four-engined airliner. France, like other countries, harbored after WW2  the understandable dream of a French airliner flagship. Sadly, tests soon showed its serious technical shortcomings: disappointing performance, overweight and lack range. In view of those problems, the French national carrier refused to accept them. The first production aircraft was completed in Dec, 1950, but without its prime customer, only 8 (plus the prototype) of the proposed 15 machines were completed. They were operated for a brief time by a pair of second-line French carriers.

The Armagnac’s four American 3,500hp P&W R4360 Wasp Majors engines must have hurt the French pride badly; there were no indigenous engines of that power available. They look also quite tiny here -they sure weren’t- compared with the Armagnac’s generous fuselage size. Its roomy passenger cabin was one the main selling ppints of the design and a prelude of the things to come. Very pretty things they were, in my humble opinion.