Aviation of World War II
The Breguet had begun life in 1934 as Breguet's response to the same, quite far sighted strategic fighter specification that resulted in the eventual winner, the Potez 630. Both were attractive twin-engined monoplanes with twin tailplanes, powered by Hispano-Suiza 14AB radial engines of modern design and, for the time, good performance.
Although the Breguet lost out in the competition for a strategic fighter, after considerable debate and delay the French Air Staff decided to acquire modern attack aircraft. Engineless for nearly a year, the prototype displayed such promise that 100 two-seat attack bomber versions known as the Breguet 691 AB2 were ordered in mid 1938, an order soon doubled. The production model had a 20 mm cannon and a pair of light machine guns firing forward, could carry eight 50 kg (110 lb) bombs, and also packed two further light machine guns firing rearwards.
Br.693. As with the Potez 630, the Br. 691 was beset with engine difficulties. Hispano-Suiza had decided to concentrate on its V12 liquid cooled engines and the 14AB engine was unreliable. The French authorities decided to order a new version Br. 693 powered by Gnome-Rhone 14M radials. Apart from the changed engines, which were of slightly smaller diameter, the two types were virtually identical. Orders for the Br. 691 were switched to the new type and more than 200 of the latter had been completed by the time of France's defeat.
Late production versions of the Br. 693 introduced a pair of additional light machine guns in the tail of each engine nacelle.
1 x fixed forward-firing 20 mm Hispano-Suiza cannon
2 x fixed forward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns
1 x flexible, rearward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine gun in rear cockpit
1 x fixed, rearward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine gun in ventral position
1 x fixed, rearward-firing 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine gun in each engine nacelle (late models)
400 kg (882 lb) of bombs
Br.695. French engine makers had even greater difficulties than airframe manufacturers in keeping up with the frantic demands from 1938, and in 1939 the French government decided that all combat aircraft had to be adapted for British and US engines! The conversion of the Br. 693, known as the Br. 695 was not particularly successful, the larger, heavier and higher-drag Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Junior reducing visibility and lowering performance. Nonetheless the Br. 695 was ordered into production!