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France's Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 bomber

Photos

Loire-Olivier LeO 45 bomber:
France's Loire-Olivier LeO 45 bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Loire-Olivier LeO 45 bomber:
France's Loire-Olivier LeO 45 bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 bomber:
France's Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 bomber

Design

After the French Air Force became independent on April 1, 1934, many plans were laid down to expand the force. The LeO 45 was to be a fast heavy bomber that could be used day or night from medium altitudes. A requirement was put forth in 1934 for a metal constructed medium bomber that could carry 3,300 lb of bombs. It also had to reach 250 mph and go at least 560 miles.

Landing Gear

The landing gear of the LeO 451 were retractable.

Bomb Bay

The bomb bay could have fuel tanks installed instead of bombs.

Prototype

The LeO 45-01 prototype was first flown on January 16, 1937, with Hispano-Suiza 14 radial engines.
The LeO 45.01 prototype was first flown on January 16, 1937, with Hispano-Suiza 14AA radial engines (1,100 HP).

The engines were a source of constant trouble and were replaced by Gnome-Rhône 14N radial engines in the production models.

The LeO 451 prototype first flew in October 1938.

Production

The first LeO 451 B4 flew in March 1939 / March 24, 1939.

Greece ordered twelve but these were never delivered.

  • By 1939: 600 on order, 749 on order
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 45: 2
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 B4: 677
  • Total: 452
    • Manufacturer: SNCASE
    • Production:
      • 1939: 65
      • 1940: 192

Variants

  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 45: Prototype. Had Hispano-Suiza engines.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 451: Prototype. With Gnome-Rhône engines.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 B4: Main production version.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 451C 12: Transport. Carried 12 passengers. Converted from a LeO 451 B4.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 451T 17: Transport. Carried 15 passengers. Converted from a LeO 451 B4.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 452: Powered by different Gnome-Rhône engines.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 453: Post war conversions. Had Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830 engines installed.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 454: Bristol Hercules engines.
  • Lioré et Olivier LeO 458: Wright R-2600 engines (1,600 HP).

Usage

The LeO 451s were used by France, Germany, and Italy.

Start of War

At the start of the war in 1939, there were only 10 LeO 451s in the Armée de l'Air.
Only five of the LeO 451s were operation by September 1939.

The GB I/31, GB I/12, and GB II/12 were the first units equipped with the LeO 451s. By May 1940 these were still the only units that had the LeO 451.

Heavy Losses

After the Germans invasion they LeO 451s were used for low level ground support. It was a task for which they were ill suited and resulted in heavy losses.

The LeO 451s were also used in bombing missions in Germany and northern Italy.

There were 222 LeO 451s available at the start of the Battle of France. Out of the 373 LeO 451s delivered by June 1940, 150 were lost.

After the Fall of France

Once France fell production still continued in the unoccupied zone. 150 / 225 LeO 451s were completed. They were used in North Africa and Syria with the Vichy forces and some of these were used against the Allies.

Seized by Germans

In November 1942 the Germans took over the unoccupied zone of France and seized ~90 / 94 LeO 451s. These were used as transports. Others were given to the Italian Air Force.

Seized by Allies

Some LeO 451s were used by the USAAF and RAF as transports.

Post War

Surviving aircraft were used by the French well into the 1950s. In September 1957 the last two LeO 453s were withdrawn from service.

Specifications

  Loire-Olivier LeO 45
Type Bomber
Crew  
Engine (Type) 2:Hispano-Suiza
Cylinders Radial
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,100 each
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 73' 9"
Length 55' 1"
Height 14' 7"
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 24,200 lb
Performance  
Speed 300 mph
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 1,600 miles
Armament  
  Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 Lioré et Olivier LeO 451 B4
Type Bomber Bomber
Crew 4 4
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14N
2: Gnome-Rhône 14N 48/49 piston
2: Gnome-Rhône 14N 48/49
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14 Radial 14
Cooling Air  
Net HP 1,060 each, 1,140 each 1,140 each
Propeller blades   3 each
Dimensions    
Span 73' 10", 73' 10.5"
22.52 m
73' 10.5"
22.52 m
Length 56' 4"
17.17 m
56' 4"
17.17 m
Height 17' 2", 17' 2.25"
5.24 m
17' 2"
5.23 m
Wing area 710.4 ft2
66 m2
 
Weight    
Empty 16,600 lb
7,530 kg
17,225 lb
7,813 kg
Loaded 25,132 lb, 25,133 lb
11,400 kg
25,133 lb
11,400 kg
Performance    
Speed @ 15,748' /
4,8000 m
307 mph 307 mph
494 kph
Speed @ 15,750' /
4,800 m
298 mph
480 kph
 
Cruising speed   227 - 261 mph
365 - 420 kph
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
  14 minutes
Service ceiling 29,530'
9,000 m
29,530'
9,000 m
Range 1,430 miles, 1,802 miles
2,900 km
1,802 miles
2,900 km
Range with 1,100 lb / 500 kg load   1,430 miles
2,300 km
Armament    
Nose   1: 7.5 mm MG
Forward firing in gondola 1: 7.5 mm MG
1: 7.5 mm MAC 1934 M39
 
Rear firing 2: 7.5 mm MAC 1934 M39  
Dorsal turret 1: 20 mm
1: 20 mm H5404
1: 20 mm
2: 7.5 mm MG (added later)
Ventral turret 1: 7.5 mm MG 1: 7.5 mm MG
Bombs 3,086 lb, 4,400 lb
1,400 kg
4,409 lb
2,000 kg

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site