I’m well aware that some of my regular viewers and readers have tastes that run to…the unusual looking, shall we say. One would even say that some of you like their aircraft, quite frankly, on the ugly side.
And I have seen the comments asking, practically begging, for me to cover a very…specific genre.
“Please Ed,” they say, “When are we going to see them?”
Well, your patience and appeals have been heard.
A French Bomber.
In fact, this is the Breguet 410, which actually ran to a whole series of aircraft, though in fact only a handful in total were ever built.
In the late 1920s, French aerial doctrine identified a need for a new type of aircraft – the Multiplace de Combat. This would be a multi positioned aircraft that would be capable of acting as a bomber, reconnaissance aircraft or as a long-range escort for other aircraft.
To this end, the Armee de l’air issued a requirement in 1928 for a new aircraft that would have a four-man crew, be capable of carrying a reasonable bombload and have a heavy (for the time) defensive armament.
It was to try to win this contract that Bréguet designed and built the Br.410. Developed in 1930 and first flying in 1931, the Br.410 was broadly modelled on the company’s previous Br.27 light reconnaissance bomber.
The Br.410 had a sesquiplane wing layout with a somewhat odd, pod-like fuselage that appears to end rather abruptly and leaves the tail almost appearing to be stuck out strut-like.
Despite its unusual looks, the aircraft had a four-man crew, was capable of carrying a bombload of 1,300kgs (c.2,870 lbs) and had twin Lewis light machine guns in nose and rear fuselage turrets. The pilot had an open cockpit right up in the top of the fuselage, from which position he would have had a great view above and around, if drafty.
Construction was of steel tube framing with a duralumin skin and a fixed undercarriage. Powerplant was two Hispano-Suiza 12Nb V12 engines that each produced 650hp. With this the aircraft had a top speed of 305 km/h (c.190mph).
Flight testing by the French Air Force revealed that the Br.410 seemed to be a good aircraft, but the authority’s reception was somewhat cool. All the designs entered for the competition needed improvements, and so in February 1932 Bréguet flew the Br.411. This had some minor improvements, generally internally, but also didn’t meet with any success and the French Air Force would order the Amiot 143 for the role.
Despite this failure, Bréguet evidently had faith in the basic design and so in February 1933, they flew the Br.413.
This aircraft was a reengined version of the Breguet Br.410, the powerplant being changed to two Hispano-Suiza 12Ybr engines, which produced the same horsepower but were lighter. This increased speed marginally and Bréguet’s persistence paid off, kind of, with a production order for four aircraft.
How much use these got with the French Air Force is unknown, but it is recorded that at least one of these aircraft, possibly more, was donated to the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, which raged between 1936 and ’39.
Limited though it was, this order seems to have inspired Bréguet at another attempt for a major order for the type with the French Air Force. In November 1933 Bréguet flew the Br.414. This was competing for a new requirement that was issued in 1932 for a bomber.
The Br.414 had some more significant changes. Immediately noticeable was the increased armament, which saw a ventral position fitted that had an additional two Lewis machine guns fitted to protect the underside of the aircraft.
Powerplant was also improved, with the -414 being fitted with Gnome-Rhone 14K radial engines, which had increased power up to 760hp. Despite this, once again the aircraft showed no real improvement over the prior models and the contract went to Bloch instead.
One final attempt was made by Bréguet to sell the aircraft in 1936. A further version, the Br. 420 (which most probably was the Br.414 rebuilt) was created which saw modifications made to the rear fuselage and tail to improve the aircraft’s longitudinal stability.
But by this time the French were committed to the aircraft they had selected and in fact starting to consider their next generation. And for that the Br.410s were looking rather old fashioned and Bréguet pretty quickly shifted attention to other, more modern aircraft as better sales prospects.
With that the -410s vanished, rather odd-looking aircraft which, for all that, were apparently not too bad, just not really particularly good.