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Author Topic: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers  (Read 3953 times)

Offline avion ancien

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #30 on: May 17, 2018, 06:42:15 am »
I suspect that whoever was responsible for constructing whatever this is now is looking down and laughing at the lot of us here who are wrinkling our brows over it! :)

Offline Michel Van

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #31 on: May 17, 2018, 07:47:28 am »

since most French ww2 War planes are low wing design
but this a High wing design, Berguet/SNCAC and Farman build preferred High Wings
were there others companies that build french high wing aircrafts in 1930s?
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Offline Skyblazer

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2018, 07:59:36 am »
The first info about this aircraft appeared in the French magazine 'AeroJournal' issue 19 -2010.
Photo was take at the airfield at Chiévres - Belgium.

This air base was erected by Germany in 1940-41 as a Luftwaffe  depot for aircraft wrecks
brought down in Belgium and Northern France.

I ,personally, am not sure that the construction behind the cockpit is a aircraft gunturret.(gunnersview?)

As soon as I have located the concerning issue I'll try to tell more.

Great info, Paul, thanks a LOT! Reading you, I remember it all now, but at that time I'd only read the Belgian forum's page, not saved it.

I still like my original post in the Flypast thread that this could possibly be in the SNCAO CA-600 family. B)
Those sure look like French Navy markings on the tail.

They definitely do! Actually, my hunch from looking at the picture closely (and I really did, believe me!) was that there were elements in that aircraft which made me think of something naval. I even thought of a flying boat at some point, but there doesn't seem to be a stepped hull underneath. But the sides of the aircraft are definitely reminiscent of some flying boats.

What is certain now is that these were pre-1939 French aircraft confiscated by Germany in occupied France, so that automatically excludes anything built in the southern part of France (see attached map for exact separation). As Belgium and the French Flanders area were administered together, it makes it very likely that the two aircraft were built in the north, which therefore automatically rules out something from the Toulouse or Marseille areas.

Most likely candidate? The Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du Nord (SNCAN), which was created in 1936 as a nationalized conglomerate of military aircraft manufacturers Potez (Méaulte, in the Somme), Amiot (Caudebec-en-Caux) and Bréguet (Le Havre) (all three in eastern Normandy), and also CAMS (Sartrouville) and A.N.F. Les Mureaux (Les Mureaux) (in the western suburbs of Paris). Interestingly, we already commented on how the front end reminds of the Potez 65, and Potez happens to be the most likely candidate, being the closest to the Belgium/Flanders region.

It is worth noting that given the agglomeration of all those companies into state-controlled entities, some level of synergy between them might have led to new aircraft borrowing elements from one another (say, fuselage design a la Potez, fuselage structure a la CAMS), making it more difficult to trace one particular "house style" to the design. However, no aircraft were labeled "SNCAN" as such, and they continued to be called Potez, Bréguet, etc.

Of course, the SNCAO (Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques de l'Ouest) connection cannot be excluded, especially since Loire-Nieuport had facilities both on the seaside at Saint-Nazaire AND at Issy-les-Moulineaux, just outside Paris (while the Bréguet part of it was in Bouguennais, on the seaside too, not far from Saint-Nazaire). By 1941, SNCAO had become part of SNCASO (based in Bordeaux and Rochefort), which also fell under German control. Besides, it is worth noticing that not all CAO designations, used from 1937 on, are accounted for yet. I'm currently investigating this particular lead.

On the question of the gunner's view (IF this was a manned turret) I am still unsure whether there may not be a lot of grime covering what could be glazed parts. But what makes me doubt this is the fact that even with a lot of dirt, you could still see the girders that make up the structure, and there are none here.


Offline Archibald

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2018, 08:53:48 am »
Hey folks ! I have the beginning of an answer about this bizarre thing.

https://forum.keypublishing.com/archive/index.php/t-102619.html

Quote
An interesting suggestion on here (in French) posted by Marc_91:

http://www.39-45.org/viewtopic.php?f=65&p=289275

In English, translated by Google:

If I am not mistaken, this is fuselages AB SAB-80 (Air Bordelaise Company...[which]...was quickly incorporated to SNCASO 1936), captured by the Germans at the Chantiers de Bacalan or in hangars Bordeaux-Merignac ...

When their presence in Belgium, and the construction of a fake nose and fake turret, I think it is a "coup d'brainwashing" of the Luftwaffe, the same type He-100/He-113 or the Bf-209 during the Battle of France, or the Fw-198 on the basis of the De Schelde S.21 during the Battle of Britain.

Finally, the fact that these carcasses were not melted down to be recycled makes me suppose that this photo was taken in 1940, 41 or early 1942 at the latest.

Interesting thought....

https://www.caea.info/fr/?option=com_content&view=article&id=320:sab-ab-80&catid=47:maquettes
(see my signature - the CAEA !)



More later

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22S.A.B%22%22AB-80%22&client=firefox-b&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=5uTqn0A7UQocSM%253A%252Ck5HZj75WPI7JxM%252C_&usg=__LwJJEE6CFY2HUo6iDLW5xKXlCIY%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjxtKXojY3bAhWLuBQKHR6LCMYQ9QEIPDAD#imgrc=_

About a possible gun turret: if it is really a S.A.B (Société Aéronautique de Baccalan) then look at what Aviafrance says about its elder brothers, other S.A.B

https://www.aviafrance.com/aviafrance1.php?ID=4970&ID_CONSTRUCTEUR=1127&ANNEE=0&ID_MISSION=0&MOTCLEF=

Quote
Avion quintuplace expérimental équipé d'un canon de 75 tirant latéralement. Premier vol en août 1934. 1 seul exemplaire construit le S.A.B. AB-20 modifié. Les essais de tir en vol eurent lieu en septembre 1934 à Cazaux. Après le départ de cinq obus, le tir dut être interrompu, l'onde de bouche ayant arraché une partie du revêtement de l'intrados de l'aile.

The freakkin' plane had a Canon de 75 !   :o
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_de_75_mod%C3%A8le_1897

"experimental 5-crew aircraft with a 75' gun firing laterally. First flight in august 1934. Only one build a modified AB-20. Gun firings were made in Cazaux (near Bordeaux) in september. After five shot, firing stoped as the gun blast had blown away the wing intrados"

What.the.heck.was.that.aircraft. ??!!!  :o
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 09:47:01 am by Archibald »
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Offline Archibald

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2018, 09:50:35 am »
If that's really a modified AB-80, then from the wooden mockup above, it can be seen that the long, glazed canopy could have been cut, and replaced by the massive turret and the (obviously fake) cockpit.
Maybe it had a touch of myth and legend with it: since the AB-22 got a 1897 gun and actually fired it, maybe this was created as a fake "l'avion canon"
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Offline Skyblazer

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #35 on: May 17, 2018, 11:32:40 am »
Thanks Archibald for advancing the subject further!

I totally agree about the cockpit looking fake. The way that the windows extend above and beyond the sides makes little sense.
Plus if you look at the other aircraft, you can see that it seems to be moving even further from the fuselage, so this makes the aircraft subject to caution.

If these are indeed AB.80 types, then the fuselage was so heavily modified that it seems improbable to have done that just for a propaganda effort... but who knows? Another possibility could be that the AB.80 might have been modified under SAB's new management (as part of Potez-Bloch from 1935) as transports, which could explain the Potez nose and deep fuselage. These aircraft (whether finished or not) would then have been captured by the Germans and given the fake turrets.

After trying to come up with various possible wings/angles/engines for that beast, one thing is for sure: the turret doesn't make much sense. Even if it could only swivel to the sides and front, it would be impossible to shoot with the engines on the wings. You'd have to have engines way below, or way above on pylons... and even then it would be very difficult for the turret to stay clear of the propeller!

Studying the photo still further, I realize that there DOES indeed seem to be some glazing on the turret (something I wasn't quite sure of yet). I'm attaching a revised version of my traced drawing (always provisional of course).

Offline Skyblazer

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #36 on: May 17, 2018, 11:38:44 am »
Maybe it had a touch of myth and legend with it: since the AB-22 got a 1897 gun and actually fired it, maybe this was created as a fake "l'avion canon"

Thanks also for reminding us of the AB-22, which hadn't been mentioned here previously. Here's a passage from a French article I've translated. It's interesting because it combined both a Dyle & Bacalan type and a 75 cannon!

Quote
After returning to Mérignac in April 1932, the first "flying fortress" [the AB-20] was modified into a "cannon aircraft" by the addition of a 75 cannon trunkated by half its length. It was fitted on a pivoting structure using a ball system, emerging through a wide porthole on the port side of the aircraft so as to shoot through the two wing struts.

Who could imagine such a concept, reminiscent of a naval galleon of old?

Thus modified, the aircraft was redesignated the AB-22, and after a few flights at Mérignac, il flew off for more testing at the ordnance test center in Cazaux. On September 19, 1934, Charles Descamps shot five shells, but each time some panels would come off from the wing's intrados. The AB-22 did some more flight testing without shooting the cannon, and was eventually written off in 1935.
Source: http://www.passionpourlaviation.fr/2016/03/17/sab-ab21/

This certainly proves that Dyle & Bacalan (and possibly SAB after it) was trying to explore the fitting of cannons onto aircraft.
Also of interest is the fact that the reinforced panels in the photo, which I believed were for armoring, could also have been reinforcement of the structure to compensate the vibrations caused by the cannon. Well, as I've said (and I think we all agree here), this is only speculation, but all this brainstorming advances the discussion and the exchange enables more ideas to emerge, which is good! :-)

Offline GTX

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #37 on: May 17, 2018, 11:46:31 am »
I'm not sure that there is glazing on the 'turret'.  It is interesting to note that the second copy to the side does not have the 'turret' though.

My money is more still on a development of the Potez 65 family based upon the fuselage shape, 'ribbing' on side and even rough cockpit shape.  Possibly a "Battle Plane" variant mockup.  It could also be that the twin tails were necessary to deal with the change in air flow from the turret.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 11:49:20 am by GTX »

Offline GTX

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #38 on: May 17, 2018, 11:48:18 am »
Seems to me the 3 barrels from the machine-guns (if that’s what they are) are off centered from the turret center. That is if they are pointing 90° to left, which seems to be the case looking at the shadows. from above, something like this :

They look small caliber too.

Maybe a flying Maginot line project :D

I suspect the 'off centre' aspect might be accounted for by their being actually at an angle to the viewing point and not actually 90° to the fuselage.

Offline TomcatViP

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #39 on: May 17, 2018, 11:53:48 am »
The goal was to have this thing shooting at bomber formation after closing on them. This defense strategy was tested also in the US and UK. The 75mm caliber was just the sign of the total absence of any modern higher caliber canon with high rate in France. That the German got interested in this shouldn't come as a surprise since this was part of systematic evaluation of all sized material in occupied territories and was also part of the German defenses system against bomber formations.

Remind that all this came BEFORE the flows of UK and US bombers over Germany that would prove that nothing was better at it than fighters.

Offline galgot

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #40 on: May 17, 2018, 12:16:15 pm »
Yes indeed maybe it's just the "guns" are pointing 45 to 60 degrees to the right, not 90°.
Funny thing is that they seems to be pointing up a little bit.

As much as the tailplane/fins/rudders and wing root arrangements matches the AB.80, the fuselage is clearly not the same.
Even the rear part. Same builder, but all new fuselage maybe.

Offline Skyblazer

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #41 on: May 17, 2018, 02:54:17 pm »
Trying to advance further still on the subject, and the usefulness of the offset cannon suddenly hit me, thanks in part to a photo montage I did of the A.B.80's wing onto the derelict airframe, and also galgot's great diagram.

Supposing we fit the wings of the Bordelaise A.B.80, it becomes clear that the only way the cannon will not endanger the propellers is by offsetting it, so that the propeller turns at a distance behind it. The turret in galgot's diagram was swivelled right 90° from the aircraft's main axis. If you swivel it to the left, however, it can't go any further than 70°. This seems to be a perfectly feasible configuration this way. I have attempted to modify galgot's diagram, however crudely. I hope my point is understandable enough this way.

(NOTE: I've introduced some slight dihedral in the photo montage)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 03:58:55 pm by Skyblazer »

Offline sienar

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #42 on: May 17, 2018, 05:49:07 pm »
One thing I havent seen commented on yet is the wing of the second example on the left. The skinning is either absent or its glazed, which is really strange.

I dont think the cockpit is overhanging on the sides. It looks like a bit of an illusion caused by the chipped paint and it doesnt look that way on the second example.

Offline Archibald

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #43 on: May 17, 2018, 10:57:14 pm »
Browsing Google books I've found that the lone AB-80 had been scrapped in 1935, its performance were bad. GTX however of a Potez related aircraft is interesting: Henry Potez and Marcel Bloch were best friends in the world at the time. The third man in the team being François Chirac, the very father of Jacques Chirac, a future president of the French republic (born in 1932). This trio had all kind of dirty deals in the troubled era of the Front populaire and nationalisation of the aircraft industry.
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Offline Hood

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Re: A very puzzling pair of would-be pre-war French bombers
« Reply #44 on: May 18, 2018, 01:46:20 am »
Skyblazer, I mentioned the AB-22 in my post on p.1, for the concept appears to be very similar. Many thanks though for providing the details on how the 75mm gun was fitted, I had not come across that.

Initially I was skeptical about it being the AB-80, but looking at the wind tunnel model its clear there are similarities (the tail planes match almost exactly, the bracing to the fuselage might also be identical, though it looks thinner it might be due to the angle of the photo).

However, the clincher for me is the description of the wing structure from the CANE site (translated): "The wing... consists of four longitudinal members with standard U-shaped soles and a lattice core formed by stretched U-shaped bending secured by the presence of triangulated pairs, themselves same constituted by stretched U or omega marrying the shape of the profile." [my italics for emphasis]
This matches 100% the description of the wing root that we can see in the photo.
The majority of the forward fuselage is different, though the AB-80 did have external ribbing too.

The big snag is that only one AB-80 was built, so these can't be AB-80s.
The Société Aérienne Bordelaise was nationalized in 1935 and in 1936 became part of SNCASO. However, the SAB LH-70 was a joint project with Lorraine-Hanriot, is it possible that this company developed its own spin-off of the older AB-80?
The other mystery is why two were converted, surely one testbed would have been enough?

I wonder which model of 25mm cannon was planned for the 'fighter' version of the AB-80 and whether what we are looking at is a triple 25mm mount?