This is the third book in the French Wings series and it continues to provide an interesting and informative look at some of the less famous French aircraft of the pre-WWII and WWII period. All three aircraft in this book were used in the observation and reconnaissance role by the French military. The book gives you information about both the process by which they were acquired and their actual operational use. In addition to the aircraft used by France, their use by China, Peru and Venezuela are also discussed.
The book starts off with the Breguet 27, which is covered in the first 24 pages. I have always wondered why this aircraft was designed and looked the way it did. The authors clarify this early on! The reason for the rear fuselage’s unique look was that the specification it was designed to meet called for exceptional rearward view for the observer. Thus the design team made the rear fuselage as small as possible. To accomplish this goal, the aircraft was made of all-metal construction with steel used in place of aluminum for strength and as a cost savings!
The book is filled with many pictures, including some very nice interior detail shots, many of which have not been published before. The use of these aircraft by the forces of France is well told by the author. In addition, there are beautiful color profiles of the Venezuelan and Chinese aircraft, which would certainly be unique on a contest table or in a model collection.
The next 26 pages detail the Potez 39/390. This aircraft had a long development period. First flying in December of 1929, a production order was not placed until mid 1932 and then only for 100 aircraft. These aircraft were still serving at the start of WWII and after May-June 1940. 41 still survived, but were scrapped shortly afterwards. Again, there are many previously unpublished photos, including interior detail shots. The final part of this section covers the use of this aircraft by Peru, treating us to some nice color profiles.
The last section covers the Mureaux 115/117. This aircraft saw widespread service in the period between September 1939 and the German occupation. With a top speed at ground level of 168MPH and 150MPH at altitude, these planes suffered horrible attrition in combat. Both the 115 and the 117 were fitted with the inline Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs 860hp engine, with some being refitted with the 12cyr engine that increased the top speed to 203MPH. Though designed as a reconnaissance aircraft, both the 115 and the 117 were reconfigured for use as a night fighter and also as a bomber due to desperate times. These aircraft only served with the French forces, and they are well documented in both photographs and color profiles.
I really liked this book. It gives you a look at some of the lesser know and less glamorous aircraft used in WWII! The color profiles and interior details will be of great benefit to the modeler, especially those covering subjects off the beaten path, such as a Venezuelan marked Breguet 27. A quick search on the Internet shows that Azur has the Breguet 27 in 1/72 scale, but nothing in 1/48 (that I could find). There are no kits of the Potez 39 unless someone did a small run vacuform kit. The Mureaux 115/117 is better represented! POMK and WSW Versand have done 1/48 resin kits, and in 1/72 there are kits by Heller and Aerofile. I can recommend this book to modelers and historians alike as I feel that both will find the contents very appealing.
Our thanks to Mushroom Model Publications for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the review opportunity!