Aviation of World War II
Liore et Olivie
LeO-45 was designed by Pierre-Ernest Mesière. The aircraft was an all-metal, cantilever monoplane with retractable landing gear. Engines - "Hispano-Suiza" -14Aa (1100 hp at an altitude of 2850 m). Crew: pilot, navigator-bombardier and gunner-radio operator. The pilot has a fixed 7.5-mm MAC-1934 machine gun in the forward fuselage. The navigator could use the same one in a retractable turret in the front, lower part of the fuselage. The shooter served a 20 mm Hispano-404 cannon with 120 rounds to protect the upper-rear hemisphere. The gunner's cannon and canopy could retract into the fuselage flush. LeO had a very good bomb load: the fuselage and two center section compartments could hold up to two tons of bombs with a caliber of up to 500 kg.
Tests of LeO-45-01 began on January 16, 1937. The first flight lasted only five minutes. Immediately, problems with engine cooling and stability at low speeds came to light. The prototype was sent for revision. It determined the nature of all further upgrades - replacement of engines and a constant increase in the area of the end plates of the spaced tail. In subsequent tests, the aircraft developed in a gentle dive speed of 624 km / h at an altitude of 1800 m. Horizontal - reached 480 km / h.
By this time, the Liore et Olivier concern was nationalized and became the National Aviation Industry Association "Sud-Est" (SNCASE). The new association received an order for the production of 40 vehicles, but production was delayed due to engine problems. I had to install a new hood designed by Monsieur and engines "Gnome-Ron" - 14N. As a result, the speed increased to 502 km / h at an altitude of 5100 m.
Official tests were completed in February 1939. The first serial LeO-451, demonstrated in November 1938 at the air show, flew in March 1939.
By the beginning of World War II, 640 LeO-451s were ordered. It was also planned to supply 12 several modernized machines under a contract with the Greek government. With the outbreak of hostilities, the latter were confiscated.
To implement orders, a large number of subcontractors were attracted, the second assembly line was launched, then the third.
With the beginning of the war, orders followed for 600 bombers and 48 special "naval" LeO-451Ms, which would have in the consoles and behind the navigator's cockpit cellular air bags to ensure buoyancy. A new 7.5-mm Dan machine gun was installed on the aircraft. It was planned to produce modernized versions - LeO-454 with Bristol-Herkulss-II engines, LeO-455 with Gnome-Ron - 14Ps and LeO-458 with Wright R-2600-A5B Cyclone. But these plans, including the construction of an underground plant to assemble bombers, were not destined to come true.