Tag Archives: La Société Hispano-Suiza

10 January 1935

“L’ hydroavion Latécoère 521 Lieutenant-de-Vaisseau-Paris à six moteurs Hispano-Suiza, type 12 Ydrs1, 880 CV.” (Cliché N.Y.T./Revue & Bulletin Technique de la Société Française Hispano-Suiza)

10 January 1935: At Biscarosse, on the Atlantic coast of France, the Latécoère 521 made its first flight. Flight testing was supervised by Capitaine de Corvette Jean Marie Henry Roger Bonnot, who had set a world record for distance in another Latécoère seaplane, Croix-du-Sud, the previous year. The pilots were Pierre Crespy and Jean Gonord.

Designed by aeronautical engineer Marcel Moine, the airplane was constructed in sections at the Société industrielle d’aviation Latécoère factory at Montaudran, Toulouse, then transported overland to the seaplane base at Biscarosse for final assembly and testing. The airplane had been named Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris in honor of a record-setting French pilot, Paulin Louis Gérôme Paris.

The flying boat was designed to carry 72 passengers in trans-Mediterranean service. It had an aircraft commander (capitaine-du-bord), two pilots, a navigator, radio operator, and three mechanics. (The engines could be accessed in flight.) The main deck included the captain’s cabin, a salon for 20; six 2-passenger cabins; and an aft passenger cabin for 22 passengers. The upper deck included flight deck, a galley and bar, and a passenger cabin for 18.

Hull arrangement (N.A.C.A. Aircraft Circular No. 202, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics )

The Latécoère 521 was a six-engine sesquiplane flying boat, primarily of metal construction. The two-step hull was built of duralumin, an age-hardened aluminum alloy; and corrosion-resistant bonded, rolled, aluminum sheet Alclad (known as Verdal in France). The outer wing panels were fabric covered. The hull had two decks, with seven water-tight compartments.

The 521 was 31.62 meters (103.74 feet) long, with a wingspan of 49.30 meters (161.75 feet) and height of 9.07 meters (29.76 feet). The wings were swept aft 5° 20′ and had 5° dihedral. The area was 330 square meters (3,552 square feet). A series of V struts braced the wing to the hull and the stub wings, which had a span of 14.70 meters (48.23 feet) and area of 48 square meters (517 square feet). Each stub wing carried 11,000 liters (2,906 U.S. gallons) of gasoline. At a gross weight of 37,409 kilograms (82,473 pounds), the flying boat had a draft of 1.20 meters (3.94 feet).

L’ hydroavion Latécoère 521. (Revue & Bulletin Technique de la Société Française Hispano-Suiza)

The Latécoère 521 was powered by six liquid-cooled, supercharged, 36.050 liter (2,199.892-cubic-inch-displacement) Hispano-Suiza 12 Ydrs1 single-overhead-camshaft 60° V-12 engines. Four engines were placed on the wings’ leading ages in tractor configuration, with two more as pushers. These left-turning V-12s had a compression ratio of 5.8:1 and drove three-bladed propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. They were rated at 880 cheval vapeur at 2400 r.p.m., and 890 c.v. for takeoff. The 12 Ydrs1 weighed 470 kilograms (1,036 pounds).

At a gross weight of 40 tonnes, the Latécoère 521 reached 256 kilometers per hour (159 miles per hour) at 3,100 meters (10,171 feet). Its cruise speed was 210 kilometers per hour (130 miles per hour), and its ceiling was 5,800 meters (19,029 feet).

L’ hydroavion Latécoère 521 (Cliché Associated Press/Revue & Bulletin Technique de la Société Française Hispano-Suiza)

At Biscarosse, 27 December 1937, the Latécoère 521, flown by Henri Guillaumet with Messieurs LeClaire, Le Duff, Le Morvan and Chapaton, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over 1,000 kilometers (621.37 statute miles) with a 15,000 kilogram (33,069 pounds) payload of 211.00 kilometers per hour (131.109 miles per hour).¹

Two days later, 29 December 1937, Guillaumet and his crew flew the 521 over a 1,000 kilometer closed circuit between Luçon and Aurelihan with a 15,000 kilogram payload, for an average speed of 189.74 kilometers per hour (117.899 miles per hour).²

On 30 December 1937, Guillaumet and his crew set two more FAI world records when they carried an 18,040 kilogram (39,771 pounds) payload to a height of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet);³ and 15,000 kilograms (33,069 pounds) to an altitude of 3,508 meters (11,509 feet).⁴

Latécoère 521 F-NORD (Rudy Arnold Photographic Collection NASM XRA-4725)

The 521, with civil registration F-NORD, made a series of flights across the Atlantic to New York City. On one of these, the flying boat was damaged in a storm. It was disassembled and returned to France aboard ship.

After repairs, the Latécoère 521 continued in airline service. With the beginning of World War II, it was modified to a maritime patrol aircraft. When France surrendered to Germany, the flying boat was stored near Marseilles. When Germany retreated in 1944, they destroyed the record-setting airliner.

¹ FAI Record File Number 11509

² FAI Record File Number 11507

³ FAI Record File Number 11579

⁴ FAI Record File Number 11525

© 2021, Bryan R. Swopes

25 September 1920

Le Marquis Bernard Henri Marie Léonard Barny de Romanet with the SPAD S.20 bis-6, 9 October 1920. (Agence Meurisse 84138, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

25 September 1920: At Villesauvage-La Marmogne, France, Le Marquis Bernard Henri Marie Léonard Barny de Romanet set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over 100 Kilometers with an average speed of 257.50 kilometers per hour (160.00 miles per hour).¹ His airplane was an Avion SPAD S.20 bis-5.

Map from FLIGHT article

The SPAD Type 20 bis (Spad-Herbemont) was a single-seat, single-engine, single-bay biplane racer based on the two-seat S.XX fighter, designed by André Herbemont. The racer was 7.50 meters (24 feet, 7.3 inches) long with a wingspan of 6.48 meters (21 feet, 3.1 inches) and height of 2.50 meters (8 feet, 2.4 inches). The wings had a surface area of 14 square meters (151 square feet). The airplane had an empty weight of 890 kilograms (1,962 pounds), and gross weight of 1,050 kilograms (2,315 pounds). The racer carried 80 kilograms (176 pounds) of fuel.

The S.20s were powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated La Société Hispano-Suiza single-overhead cam 90° V-8 engine rated at 300 horsepower. (Specific variant unknown.)

SPAD S.20 bis-5 (AviaFrance)

Flight commented on de Romanet’s airplane:

The Spad

     As regards the French Spad flown by Bernard de Romanet, this had the standard Spad fuselage of monocoque construction, but an alteration in the wing arrangement was noticeable. Instead of carrying the top plane on centre section struts from the body, the G.B. Spad had its top plane attached direct to the fuselage. Judging by its performance, this innovation did not improve the speed, and the machine was obviously slower than Lecointe’s Nieuport. In the first place, the maximum cross section of the body is much greater than the Nieuport, and the large nose radiator probably does not make matters better, although one would imagine that the two Lamlin radiators fitted to the Nieuport offer quite a lot of resistance. However, these radiators are now very extensively fitted on French machines, so perhaps their resistance is less than one would be inclined to expect.

FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 615 (Vol. XII, No. 41, 7 October 1920, Page 1058, Column 1

SPAD S.20 bis-5 flown by Barny de Romanet, Etampes, 25 September 1920. (Agence Rol 14625, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

¹ FAI Record File Number 15486

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes