Aviation of World War II
Night bomber NC 223.4 by SNCAC (Societe nationale de constructions aeronau-tiques du Center) - Farman plant in Boulogne-Billancourt. NC 223.4 was developed in parallel with the heavy bomber NC 223.3 on a special "transatlantic" mission of the Air France company. A high-speed mail plane was required for lines across the North and South Atlantic. The NC 223.4 used the wing, propulsion and landing gear of a bomber, but had a more perfect aerodynamic shape than its military counterpart. The fuselage had a high height, a graceful rounded semi-glazed nose and a sharper cockpit visor. We ordered three planes.
The first of them took to the skies on March 15, 1939 in Toussoux-le-Noble. It was subsequently registered as F-AQJM and given the name Camille Flammarion.
The entire crew of NC 223.4 was located in the nose of the aircraft. The first was the navigator, followed by the radio operator. Further above, two pilots were positioned side by side, and behind them the flight mechanic. Unlike a bomber, all fuel was contained in the fuselage. Eight tanks under the wing held 4960 liters.
Powerplant had two Hispano-Suiza 12 Y39 liquid-cooled engines installed in tandem, developing 910 hp each. each at an altitude of 3400 m.
Weapons . Three 7.5-mm MAC 1934 machine guns in the nose, one 20-mm HS 404 cannon in the dorsal and semi-retractable ventral turrets. Bomb load up to 4190 kg.
NC 223.4 # 2 was named Jules Verne (F-ARIN) and # 3 was named Le Verrier (F-AROA). In October 1939, Camille Flammarion flew from France to Rio de Janeiro. He participated in the search for the German ships Admiral Graf Spee and Admiral Scheer.
NC 223.4. No. 2 was handed over to the fleet aviation as a naval reconnaissance officer. The 12Y39 motors were replaced by the 12Y37, which developed 970 hp. at an altitude of 1250 m and 1050 hp on takeoff. Eight bomb racks for bombs weighing up to 250 kg were installed under the fuselage. In the entrance door, located in the tail section on the starboard side, one 7.5-mm Darn machine gun was mounted on a pivot mount - more to raise the morale of the crew than for real defense.
After that, aircraft No. 1 and 3 were similarly redesigned in order to form a new part of the naval aviation, the B5 squadron. This unit was actually organized in Orly in May 1940.
A total of 70 aircraft of all modifications were built.
Combat use . The Jules Verne was used sporadically, on May 10, 1940, according to the Diehl plan, units of the French army occupied the Belgian islands so that the Germans did not have time to occupy them. The landing operation went exactly according to plan, but already on May 15 the Germans took retaliatory measures. Air cover was provided by AC1 and AC2 fighter groups (Potez 631 heavy fighters, based in Calais Mark), which were later joined by AB2 bomber squadron (LN.401 dive bombers) and GC II \ 8 fighter group (Bloch 152 fighters). The German landing, not without losses, successfully advanced deep into the island, although neither the German fleet nor aviation dominated this sector of the fighting. Dive bombers and fighters tried to thwart the advance, but by the end of the day the island was still in the hands of the Germans. It was time to think about an evacuation, but time was lost - the only highway connecting the islands was under enemy control, and the Luftwaffe finally took the lead in the air. Bombers from squadrons AB1 and AB2 again tried to support the defense, but active opposition from the Germans prevented them from completing their full combat mission.
In this critical situation for the French, the only combat-ready heavy bomber NC.223.4 was sent into battle - on the afternoon of May 16, he made one sortie to bomb the German columns and although the plane returned safely, it was correctly concluded that the next such sortie may be the last for him. Since that time, "Jules Verne" was transferred only to night work. For some time, the squadron of heavy bombers stood idle, since the army headquarters could not decide on the appointment of worthy targets for them. Finally, in early June, a plan was drawn up for a raid on Berlin, which was rather an act of moral intimidation. It was decided to prepare Jules Verne for the flight - on the night of June 7-8, taking with it about half a ton of bombs (different sources of bomb load vary), the bomber headed for the German capital. The route of his flight ran along a long detour through the North and Baltic Seas.
"Demonstration of force" was successful then, but the situation at the front became so complicated that one had to dream of any coordination of actions with fighters and ground forces. And then there's the "stab in the back" from Italy - on June 10, Mussolini declared war on France and launched an offensive in the French Alps. Fortunately for the latter, their Alpine Army and the air groups attached to it turned out to be much more successful than the northern group of forces and held the border until the signing of an armistice. As a punishment, the Air Force commanders planned a series of air raids on Italian bases using the latest aircraft. It was in the south that the American DB-7 and Martin 167F bombers went into battle. Night aviation was also active enough, and between June 15 and 22, three NC.223s managed to distinguish themselves, successfully bombing the naval bases in Italy, and the same Jules Verne made a successful raid on a petrol storage in Porto Magera.
Several raids before the armistice were made on Italy. The surrender ended the combat operations of NC 223.4. B5 Squadron was renamed 5B on August 1, 1940, and then re-equipped with Martin 167 aircraft. Three NC 223.4s were returned to Air France. The planes were converted back into civilians, returning them to their original designations. Le Verrier was shot down on November 27, 1940 while on a flight to Lebanon. Pilot Gilliame accidentally landed in the very middle of a naval battle between the British and Italians in the Mediterranean. The two remaining NC 223.4s were in southern France when German forces occupied territory formerly controlled by the Vichy government in November 1942. Their further fate is unknown.
26 02 2020.
26 02 2020.