Aviation of World War II
The MS 406 from structure LeLv 28, air force of Finland, pilot U.Lehtovara, winter 1940.
The first pre-production aircraft took off for the first time on February 3, 1938, and the fourth MS.405, equipped with a Hispano-Suiza HS 12Y31 860 hp liquid-cooled engine, was flown on May 20. It was the fourth copy of the machine that served as a model for the MS.406C1 large-scale fighter (the last letter and number in the name literally meant "single-seat fighter").
For the first time in France, this fighter was equipped with retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit.
Between the rows of the engine block, one 20-mm Hispano-Suiza HS.9 or HS.404 cannon with a stock of 60 rounds (sometimes replaced by a 7.5-mm MAC1934 machine gun with an ammunition of 300 rounds due to a lack of guns) and two 7.5 -mm machine gun MAC 1934 in the wing planes with a stock of 300 rounds per barrel in drum magazines.
In general, the aircraft was distinguished by a rather conservative, outdated design.
By order of the Ministry of Aviation, the production of MS.406 aircraft was established at the nationalized SNCAO plant in Buzhena, but by the end of 1938 the enterprise had built only 27 fighters of this type. After the construction of the pre-production machines was completed in December 1938, the Moran-Saulnier plant in Puteaux also joined the production of MS.406. In total, both enterprises produced 1,037 MS.406 aircraft for the French Air Force. The last Moran left the assembly shop of the Puteaux plant in June 1940.
The Morans played a rather significant role in the Finnish Air Force. When Finland entered the "winter war" with the USSR in December 1939, the governments of England and France immediately provided her with military assistance. From the hands of the French, the Finns received 30 brand new MS.406 fighters, of which they formed the Hlelv 28 group under the command of Major Yusu. The group began hostilities on February 4, 1940, and before the signing of the armistice had recorded 16 aerial victories. At the same time, one Finnish plane was destroyed, and 10 turned out to be completely incapacitated due to damage received in battles. After the fall of France, 27 more "Morans" (including several MS.410) were delivered to Finland by the Germans, and on the eve of a new war with the USSR, the Finns repaired and thoroughly modernized all French cars, eliminating many of their shortcomings. Improvements included the installation of a German collimator sight and radio equipment, partial replacement of hydraulic and pneumatic systems, as well as the installation of an armored pilot's seat. As a result, the Finnish MS.406 successfully opposed in the air the outdated Soviet I-16 and I-153 fighters, which were used on the Karelian front until 1943. Thanks to the cannon armament, the Morans were also used for attacking ground targets, and also hunted for steam locomotives that supplied the Soviet troops along the Kirov railway. In the winter of 1943, the last batch of MS.406 (30 pieces) from the Germans arrived in Finland, but by that time the new Soviet fighters already completely dominated the skies over Karelia.
In a vain attempt to change the current situation, Finnish specialists radically modernized the Moran, equipping it with a captured Soviet M-105 1100 hp engine. A more powerful engine required a significant increase in the surface of the radiators, so the front of the aircraft fuselage acquired a completely different look. The first advanced fighter, called the "Merko-Moran" ("Moran the Werewolf"), was ready for testing in August 1943 and compared to its predecessor, demonstrated a much better rate of climb and increased ceiling. The aircraft's maximum speed was increased to 525 km / h. As a weapon, a 12.7-mm BS machine gun was mounted in the collapse of the engine block and a 7.5-mm French machine gun in the wing. Serial production of "Merko-Morans" was developed very slowly, since the Finns did not have a developed aircraft industry, and before the surrender of Finland in September 1944, only about a dozen of these machines left the factory floor. After the signing of the armistice, they, along with other "Morans", took part in the battles against the German troops. By the time the war ended in Europe, the Finnish Air Force had 40 Moranes of different variants, and the last of them were used for training purposes until 1952.