|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Bleriot|
Developed from Herbemont's unsuccessful cannon-armed Bleriot-SPAD S.XVIII, the Bleriot-SPAD S.XX was unusual in concept. Classified as a C.1 type (a single-seat fighter), it was intended to fight like a single-seater, being described as a 'monoplace protege' or protected single-seater, the protection taking the form of a second crew member operating a single pivot-mounted Lewis gun in the rear cockpit. Its design bore what was to become the unmistakable stamp of Andre Herbemont: it was an unequal-span biplane, braced on each side by a single faired l-type strut. The upper wing had considerable sweepback, while the lower wing was straight and incorporated the ailerons; and the fuselage was a monocoque structure of wood.
The renowned test pilot Sadi Lecointe flew the prototype for the first time from Buc airfield on 7 August 1918. Service tests were so successful that an order for 300 aircraft a month was placed by the Aeronautique Militaire. The end of World War I led to drastic curtailment of outstanding orders, and only 100 aircraft were built, 95 of them reaching French military units, initially the 2e Regiment d'Aviation at Strasbourg. Three S.XXs were exported to the Japanese Mitsubishi aircraft company and one was bought by the Bolivian government.
Between 1918 and 1922 numerous records and sporting events were carried off by the S.XX, including a world speed record with passenger of 230km/h in 1918, and a world altitude record of 8900m in July of the following year.