|BOMBER, RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT
|Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Bloch
The Bloch 174/175 was the outstanding French reconnaissance-bomber of 1940. The design originated with the MB-170.01 two-seat fighter, which flew for the first time on 15 February 1938. Unfortunately the undercarriage collapsed on landing a month later. On 30 July the three-seat MB-170-02 was air-tested. Further development led to the Bloch 174.01, which flew on 5 January 1939. It was impressive and series production at three SNCASO factories was ordered the following month. About 60 Bloch 174 A3 reconnaissance aircraft had been completed by the time of the June 1940 capitulation.
The MB-174 was a workmanlike low-wing monoplane with two 850kW Gnome-Rhone 14N-48/49 radial engines in close-fitting cowlings. It had twin fins and rudders of oval form. The nose was extensively glazed, and pilot and dorsal gunner were accommodated under a raised glazed canopy. Defensive armament comprised two fixed forward-firing wing machine-guns, twin guns on a flexible mounting at the rear of the crew canopy and three further guns ventrally mounted to fire to the rear. All machine-guns were of the 7.5mm MAC 1934 type. A number of MB-174 A3 aircraft were used for long-range reconnaissance missions over German-held territory during 1940, and displayed excellent performance characteristics. The MB-174 was developed into the MB-175 B3 bomber, with an enlarged bomb bay capable of carrying a maximum of 600kg of bombs. Only 20 had been accepted when the Germans took over deliveries, using 56 MB-175s as trainers. The French Navy took delivery of a post-war MB-175T torpedo-bomber version, some 80 being built.