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France's Morane-Saulnier M.S.406; Morane-Saulnier MS 406 fighter

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Morane-Saulnier M.S.406:
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406:
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406:
France's Morane-Saulnier M.S.406

Morane-Saulnier M.S.406:
France's Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406:
France's Morane-Saulnier M.S.406

Easy Model's M.S.406 model:
Easy Model of France's Morane-Saulnier M.S.406

Design

The Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 was the Armée de l'Air's first modern fighter.4

The MS 406 was descended from the MS 405.3

The M.S.406's frame was all metal with a covering of aluminum, plywood, and fabric.4

Wings

The wing mounted 7.7 mm machine guns were placed outside the propeller disc.1

There was a gun camera in the port wing.5

Tail Wheel

Early models had a tailskid.1,3 This was replaced in later models with a retractable tailwheel.1

Fuselage

The rear fuselage was mostly covered in fabric.1 The front fuselage was covered in Plymax, a plywood skinning bonded to the alloy frame.3

Engine

The radiator for the engine was retractable.3

Prototype

The MS 405's prototype first flew on August 8, 1935.3,4

The prototype of the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 was first flown on May 20, 19382,4 / January 24, 1939.1,2

Production

In 1937 the Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406 was ordered into production.2

By April 1938 there were orders for 955 M.S. 406 to be built by September 1939.2
By March 1938 there were orders for 1,000 MS 406s.3

There was to be 1,000 M.S. 406s constructed but only 572 were completed.1,2 These were built in three factories.1

  • Morane-Saulnier MS 405: 173
  • Morane-Saulnier MS 406: 1,0773
  • Total: 1,0814
    • Manufacturer: SNCAO4
  • D-3800: 843
    • License built by Switzerland.3
  • D-3801: 2243
    • Built by Switzerland from 1941 to 1948.3

Variants

  • Morane-Saulnier MS 405: Prototype.4 Had a Hispano-Suiza 12Y engine.3
  • Morane-Saulnier MS 406:
  • Morane-Saulnier MS 410: 79 modified MS 406s.3 Had stronger wings.3 Carried four machine guns in the wings.3
  • Morane-Saulnier MS 412 / D-3801: Built by Switzerland.3 Had Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51 engine.3
  • D-3800: License built by EKW.3

Usage

The MS 406 was used by Croatia (44), Finland (404 / 87), France, Germany, Italy (52), Switzerland (2), and Turkey (30).3

First Public Appearance

The M.S.406 was first shown at the Brussels Air Show in 1937.4

First Unit

In December 1938 the first operational unit received the M.S.406.4

Start of World War II

By September 1939 there were almost 600 M.S.406s constructed.4 Twelve units were equipped with the M.S.406.4

Invasion of France

37 M.S.406s were lost on the first day of the invasion of France at Cambrai, Damblain, Vitry, and Le Quesnoy.1,2

M.S.406 pilots claimed to have shot down 175 / 1914 enemy aircraft, but they lost over 400 of their own.1,3,4 150 M.S.406s were shot down, 100 destroyed on the ground, and 50 were destroyed by ground crews so they wouldn't be captured.4

There were 14 groupes de chasse equipped with the M.S. 406.2

Successes

On June 8, 1940, a single M.S.406 shot down three Messerschmitt Bf 109s in 15 seconds.4

Finland

Finland replaced the Hispano-Suiza engine in the M.S. 406s that they received with a Morko Moraani and the performance of the fighter was much improved.1

Switzerland

289 EFW D-3800 fighters were produced by the Swiss based on the M.S. 406.1

Vichy France

One unit used the M.S. 406s with the Vichy France air force.1,4

Croatia

Croatia received some of the surrendered M.S.406s.1

Specifications

  Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Morane-Saulnier MS 406
Type Fighter1,2,3,4,5
Crew 11,2,3,4,5
Engine (Type) Hispano-Suiza5
Hispano-Suiza 12 Y4,
Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 piston1,3,
Hispano-Suiza HS 12Y 31 piston2
Cylinders Inline2, V 121,3,4, 125
Cooling Liquid4,5
Net HP 8504, 8601,2,3,5
Propeller blades 31,3
Dimensions  
Span 23' 9"1, 34' 9"4, 34' 9.5"2, 34' 9.75"3, 35'5
10.6 m1, 10.61 m3, 10.62 m2
Length 26' 3"5, 26' 9"1,4, 26' 9.25"3, 26' 9.5"2
8.15 m1, 8.16 m3, 8.17 m2
Height 8' 10"5, 9' 3"1,4, 9' 3.75"3, 10' 8.5"2
2.8 m1, 2.84 m3, 3.25 m2
Wing area 172 ft2 1, 172.2 ft2 2
16 m2 1,2
Weight  
Empty 4,178 lb2, 4,180 lb1, 4,189 lb3
1,895 kg2, 1,900 kg1,3
Loaded 4,900 lb5, 5,364 lb3, 5,434 lb1, 5,600 lb2
2,433 kg3, 2,470 kg1, 2,540 kg2
Maximum load 6,000 lb3,4
2,722 kg3
Performance  
Speed 310 mph5
Speed @ sea level 248 mph3, 250 mph4
399 kph3
Speed @ 13,200' 303 mph4
Speed @ 14,765' /
4,500 m
304 mph2
490 kph2
Speed @ 16,400' 302 mph4
Speed @ 16,405' /
5,000 m
302 mph3
486 kph3
Speed @ 16,500' /
5,000 m
300 mph1
485 kph1
Cruising speed 248 mph3
399 kph3
Climb 2,559'/minute3
780 m/minute3
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
6.5 minutes3
Climb to 19,685' /
6,000 m
9 minutes2
Service ceiling 30,840'3,4, 31,000'1, 32,810'2
9,400 m1,3, 10,000 m2
Range 497 miles4, 680 miles1, 684 miles2, 932 miles3
1,100 km1,2, 1,500 km3
Armament  
Thru propeller 20 mm3,4,5
20 mm Hispano1
20 mm HS 4042
Wings 2: MG4,5
2: 7.5 mm MG1,3
2: 7.5 mm MAC 1934 MG2

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of World War II, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
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