LATÉCOÈRE AIRCRAFT

Latécoère built 66 different types of planes and seaplanes which flew from 1919 to 1984.
Many of them are record-breakers in terms of size, speed, distance travelled or outstanding achievements.

LATÉCOÈRE 631

 

LATÉCOÈRE 631

1942 I Flying boat airliner I 11 built

 

High wing monoplane. Hull. All-metal construction I Passengers: 50 I Wingspan: 57.43 m I Load-bearing area: 350.00 m² I Total weight: 72020 kg I Powerplant: 6 x Wright R-2600-C14 14-cylinder double star Powerplant, 1950 hp each I Top speed: 417 km/h I Range: 6800 km

 

Flagship of the Latécoère industry, the Latécoère 631 was a civil transatlantic flying boat, the largest ever built up to its time.

 

Emblematic of French air transport at the end of the war, the Latécoère 631 only had a commercial career from 1945 to 1955.

 

The Laté 631 (4 of the 11 aircraft actually operated) will have to their credit for having been able to fly for a year the longest non-stop commercial link of their time, linking Port-Etienne to Fort-de-France, i.e. 4,700 km non-stop, beating several world records in the process.

 

The Latécoère 631 was the result of a specification issued in 1936 by the Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile for a 40-passenger airliner with a range of 4,000 km. The aircraft was ordered in 1938. Construction of the aircraft was stopped due to the outbreak of World War II and was resumed after the signing of the Franco-German Armistice. The prototype first flew on 11 November 1942. It was subsequently confiscated by the Germans, and passed to the Luftwaffe. It was bombed by the Allies on 17 April 1944.

 

The second aircraft, first flew on 7 March 1945. Four aircraft were purchased by Air France, and entered service on the Biscarrosse-Port-Étienne-Fort de France route in July 1947. The aircraft were withdrawn from service in August 1948. SEMAF operated two aircraft until 1950. The Société France Hydro operated one aircraft unti 10 September 1955.

LATÉCOÈRE 521

 

LATÉCOÈRE 521 "Lieutenant-de-vaisseaux-Paris"

1935 I Six-engined flying boat airliner

High wing monoplane. Finned hull | Passengers: 30 | Wingspan: 49.31 m | Airfoil area: 330.00 m² | Total weight: 37993 kg | Powerplant: 6 x Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs V12, 860 hp each | Top speed: 247 km/h | Ceiling: 6300 m | Range: 3900 km

The Laté 521 is the 11th largest seaplane in history. At the time of its completion, it held the distinction of the largest aircraft to be built in France as well as being one of the first large passenger aircraft to be capable of flying trans-Atlantic routes. It was named “Lieutenant-de-Vaisseau-Paris”, after a highly accomplished French naval officer and record-breaking pilot of the era.

The Laté 521 achieved several world records relating to payload and endurance. It was introduced to passenger service by national operator Air France, who was able to launch several previously-unattainable long distance passenger routes. As a civilian aircraft, the Laté 521 was outfitted as a luxurious airliner, providing a high level of comfort for up to 72 passengers. Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, the Laté 521 were taken over by the French Navy, who typically operated the type as a long distance maritime patrol aircraft. None survived the conflict due to intentional sabotage by the retreating German forces. The Laté 521 was the basis of the single Laté 522 "Ville de Saint Pierre" civil airliner, and the three Laté 523 navalized variants.

In 1939, Henri Guillaumet piloted the only example of the Latécoère 521 on the direct New York - Biscarrosse route. He will have covered 5,875 km at an average speed of 206 km/h, including 2,300 km with the engine stopped, enabling him to win the « Ruban Bleu » for the record for crossing the North Atlantic for seaplanes.

LATÉCOÈRE 300

 

LATÉCOÈRE 300 “Croix-du-Sud”

1931 | Mail carrier flying boat

Monoplane parasol. Finned hull, tandem engines | Crew: 4 | Wingspan: 44.20 m | Wing area: 260.00 m² | Gross weight: 22952 kg | Powerplant: 4 x Hispano-Suiza 12Nbr V12, 650 hp | Top speed: 220 km/h | Ceiling: 4600 m | Range: 4450 km

A single Latécoère 300 was built; it was flown for the first time in 1931 and sank the same year. It was rebuilt and flown again in 1932, being named Croix-du-Sud.

The 300 set an international aviation record for seaplanes on 31 December 1933, by flying 3.697 km non-stop between Berre Lake near Marseille and Saint-Louis, Senegal. The aircraft then entered service for Air France, transporting mail across the Atlantic Ocean from Dakar, Senegal to Natal, Brazil. It completed 23 missions before being lost at sea on December 7, 1936. The pilot was the famous French aviator Jean Mermoz.

At dawn on 7 December 1936, the aircraft in Air France colours took off under the eyes of the base manager, Henri Guillaumet, from Dakar-Ouakam for a South Atlantic crossing with Jean Mermoz at the controls.

Until 10 am, the Dakar-Ouakam radio station receives TVB messages (everything is fine) until the fateful message received from the aircraft at 10:47 am: "shutting down right rear engine". Despite numerous searches undertaken, no trace of the aircraft or its crew was found.

 

Since the radio transmission was abruptly interrupted, the most likely hypothesis was that the right rear engine reduction gearbox had failed, causing the propeller to be released from its shaft. The propeller would then have cut through the fuselage and probably severed the flight controls running through the rear of the aircraft, making the aircraft uncontrollable as it flew about 500 m above the water.

LATÉCOÈRE 28