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France's Potez 63 day and night fighter

Photos

  • Potez 63 fighter
  • Potez 63 fighter bomber
  • Potez 63 fighter bomber
  • Potez 63 fighter bomber

Design

The Potez 63 was designed to meet a 1934 requirement for a 2 or 3 seat day and night fighter.

Prototype

On April 25, 1936 the Potez 630-01 / 63.01 prototype first flew.

The Potez 631-0 prototype first flew in March 1937.

The Potez 633 first flew in late 1937.

The Potez 637 first flew in mid 1938.

The Potez 63.11 first flew in December 1938.

Production

In June 1938 207 Potez 631 night fighters were ordered.

  • Potez 630 and Potez 631: ~300
  • Potez 633: 135
  • Potez 637: 61
  • Potez 63.11: ~900
  • Total: ~1,100, ~1,360, 1,395
    • Manufacturer: SNCAN
    • Production: 1938 - ?, ? - June 1940

Variants

  • Potez 63.01: Prototype. Had Hispano-Suiza engine.
  • Potez 630: Day and night fighter. Crew 2-3. Appeared in February 1938.
  • Potez 631: Day and night fighter. Crew 2-3.
  • Potez 633: Light bomber. Attack bomber.
  • Potez 637: Reconnaissance. Crew of 3. Had a ventral observation gondola.
  • Potez 63.11: Army cooperation. Reconnaissance. Nose section was redesigned to be glazed. The cockpit was moved towards the rear.

Usage

France, Germany, Greece, Romania, and Switzerland used the Potez 63 series. Romania and Greece received some of the Potez 633s before the outbreak of World War II.

Units

  • Potez 631, day fighters: Groupes de Chasse de Nuit GC II/8
  • Potez 631, night fighters: Groupes de Chasse de Nuit GCN III/1, Groupes de Chasse de Nuit GCN II/4, Groupes de Chasse de Nuit GCN I/13, Groupes de Chasse de Nuit GCN II/13

Deliveries

88 of the Potez 631 night fighters were delivered by April 1, 1939. By September that had increased to 206.

First Shot Down

On September 8, 1939, a Potez 637 was the first Allied aircraft lost on the Western Front.

Early Fighting

From May 10 - 21, 1940, the Flotille F1C destroyed twelve German aircraft with eight losses of their own. After this the night fighters were moved to daytime ground attacks.

Mistaken Identity

There was a similar resemblance to the German Bf 110, and the Potez 63s were shot at by French and English fighters. Some say as many as 30 were shot down because of mistaken identity.

Large Losses

By June 1940, out of 1,115 delivered to units, only 663 survived. Of these 251 were in North Africa. Over 200 Potez 63.11s were lost in the initial few weeks.

The Potez 631 night fighters shot down only 29 German aircraft while sustaining 93 losses.

German Use

After the Armistice production of the Potez 63.11 continued and these were used for training by the Germans.

Specifications

  Potez 63
Type Fighter-bomber
Engine (Type) 2: Hispano-Suiza
Cylinders Radial
Cooling Air
Net HP 670 each
Dimensions  
Span 52' 6"
Length 36' 3"
Height 9' 10"
Weight  
Loaded 9,700 lb
Performance  
Speed 285 mph
Range 800 miles
Armament  
Under nose 2: 20 mm
Nose Machine Guns
Rear cockpit 1: MG
Bombs 1,000 lb
  Potez 63.11
Type Army cooperation, Reconnaissance
Crew 3
Dimensions  
Span 52' 6"
16 m
Length 35' 10.5"
10.93 m
Height 10' 1.25"
3.08 m
Weight  
Empty 6,912 lb
3,135 kg
Loaded 9,987 lb
4,530 kg
Performance  
Speed at sea level 209 mph
336 kph
Speed at 18,045' / 5,500 m 264 mph
425 kph
Climb 1,640'/minute
500 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' / 6,000 m 12.5 minutes
Service ceiling 27,890'
8,500 m
Range 932 miles
1,500 km
Armament up to 11: 7.5 mm MG
Under wing 4: 110 lb bombs
4: 50 kg bombs
  Potez 630
Type Fighter
Crew 3
Engine (Type) 2: Hispano-Suiza 14 Hbs
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 640 each
Dimensions  
Span 52' 6"
Length 36' 4"
Height 11' 10"
Weight  
Loaded 8,488 lb
Performance  
Speed at 13,120' 280 mph
Service ceiling 32,800'
Range 760 miles
Armament 1: MG
2: 20 mm
  Potez 631
Type Day fighter, Night fighter, Attack bomber, Reconnaissance
Crew 2, 2 - 3
Engine (Type) 2: Gnome-Rhône 14
2: Gnome-Rhône 14M
2: Gnome-Rhône 14 M4/MS piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 700 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 42' 6", 52' 6"
16 m
Length 36' 4"
11.07 m
Height 11' 10.5"
3.62 m
Wing area 351.98 ft2
32.7 m2
Weight  
Empty 5,401 lb
2,450 kg
Loaded 8,289 lb
3,760 kg
Performance  
Speed at 14,765' / 4,500 m 275 mph
442 kph
Climb to 13,125' / 4,000 m 5.9 minutes, 5 minutes 54 seconds
Service ceiling 28,870'
8,800 m
Range 758 miles, 758 miles
1,220 km
Armament  
Forward Firing 2: 20 mm HS404, 20 mm
Rear Cockpit 1: 7.5 mm MAC 1934 MG
Under Wing 4: 7.5 mm MAC 1934 MG, 7.5 mm
Dorsal 1: 7.5 mm MG
  Potez 633
Type Ground attack, Light bomber
Crew 2
Armament  
Bombs 1,323 lb
600 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
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site