Bloch M.B.150-155
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Bloch M.B.150-155

The Bloch 152 C1 cantilever low-wing monoplane was one of the standard Armee de l'Air fighters during the Battle of France in May-June 1940, but was comparatively unsuccessful. The main problem was that the 745.2kWGnome-Rhone 14N-25 radial engine powering most Bloch 152 was insufficiently powerful to give good performance; a number had the improved 14N-49 engine and Chauviere 371 variable-pitch propeller, which rendered them more effective. It was clear, however, that the Bloch fighters (while robustly built and stable in flight) lacked manoeuvrability. Nevertheless Bloch-equipped units were credited with 146 confirmed and 34 probable victories by the time of the June 1940 Armistice.

The Bloch 150.01 in its original form had failed to leave the ground in July and August 1935. Redesign, abandoned for a period, was subsequently re-started and a first flight was successfully completed on 29 September 1937. Continual modifications were made to the aircraft and its complete redesign for mass-production led to pre-series MB-151, the first of which took to the air on 18 August 1938. While testing and further production were taking place, the improved MB-152.01 with a 14N-25 engine, in place of the MB-151's less powerful 14N-35, was tested. The imminence of war led to additional orders, based on optimistic MB-152 performance figures (reached with inaccurate measuring instruments). The first MB-151 delivered was not accepted by the Armee de l'Air until March 1939, and was regarded as unsuitable for combat. Even after modifications, Armee de l'Air MB-151 were utilised only for training.

The first fighter Groupe to equip with the MB-152 was GC I/1 at Etampes-Mondesir in July 1939. The type was subsequently withdrawn for modification and when war broke out no Bloch fighters were in escadrille service. Re-equipment got under way at the end of 1939 and by the time of the German Blitzkrieg on 10 May 1940, 140 MB-151 and 363 MB-152 had been taken on charge by the French. Some of the former were to see service with navy fighter escadrilles. By the time of the Armistice the number of MB-152 accepted had risen to 482, plus one MB-153 (with Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial) and nine MB-155. Nineteen more MB-155 were completed by the Vichy French. They differed from the MB-152 in detail and had increased fuel capacity. Externally the main change was in the adoption of a smooth engine cowling. Final aircraft in the series was the sole MB-157 powered by a 1,267kW Gnome-Rhone 14R-4 radial, which achieved a remarkable 710km/h when tested under German supervision in March 1942. The Vichy regime was allowed to retain six (out of nine) MB-152-equipped Groupes after June 1940, but only 215 MB-152 and MB-155 were on charge when the air arm was dissolved by the Germans in November 1942.

Twenty MB-152 were sent to Romania and others (plus some MB-155) ended their careers as Luftwaffe trainers. Nine MB-151 of a Greek export order were delivered to that country in 1940, but there is no record of their operational use.

Bloch M.B.150-155A three-view drawing (1678 x 1295)

 ENGINE1 x G+R 14N21, 735kW
    Take-off weight2693 kg5937 lb
    Empty weight2103 kg4636 lb
    Wingspan10.5 m34 ft 5 in
    Length9.1 m30 ft 10 in
    Height3.0 m10 ft 10 in
    Wing area17.3 m2186.22 sq ft
    Max. speed482 km/h300 mph
    Cruise speed440 km/h273 mph
    Ceiling10000 m32800 ft
    Range580 km360 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 20mm machine-guns, 2 x 7.5mm machine-guns

Philippe, 07.04.2016

Hei Barry, the French were certainly outmatched and outwitted By the Germans, but there are a few unknown undeniable facts: 50french divisions spread on the frontier, 120 German divisions hitting together through the Belgian neutral frontier. about 1000 French planes facing 3500 German ones. A French government inclined for peace, facing... Hitler. However it is largely unknown that the French fought really bravely and downed over 1000 German planes. It is also largely unknown that at the start of the battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had already lost 20% of it's fighters over France, while the British had (hurtfully but wisely) called their few planes out of France really early to save them from the onslaught. The battle of Britain is often considered the first turning point of the war. The brits fought with incredible valour, but so did the French, and their largely forgotten sacrifice has undeniably set a chain of events which eventually led to the fall of the Nazis.

Barry, 20.02.2013

France had the biggest standing army and air force in the world at the beginning of the war. So why did the Germans walk through them? Simple, they had a battle plan and they had equipment that worked, neither of which the French had a clue about. The Bloch 150-155 is an example of this. The first deliveries to the Aviation Militaire were made without gun sights and some without propellors. So they were really useful weren't they? I often think that the R.A.F. and the USAAF did not always get it right but one has to admit the French were in a class of their own.

steve, 12.05.2011

The Bloch fighters were just too early in their development cycle to have much success. I find them intriguing because the Gnome-Rhone 14N was the same size as the Bristol Hercules, which I think of as a great might-have-been fighter engine. Typical of Continental monoplane fighters, the Blochs seem shy on wing area.

Marcel, 12.03.2011

The drawing represents the prototype mb150, which differed from the main production models mb151and mb152 in mainly details, notably size and shape of vertical fin, engine cowling, wing shape and size, landing gear etc.

Ben Beekman, 08.03.2011

Please allow a correction to the book's title that's stated below. It's: "French Fighters of World War II" by Alain Pelletier, published by Squadron/Signal Publications of Carrollton, Texas.

Ben Beekman, 07.03.2011

According to "Squadron/Signal Publications", by Alain Pelletier (Carrollton, Texas,2002), the cockpit was moved back on the Bloch155 about 1 1/2 feet to accomodate an additional 16 gallon fuel tank. Along with other refinements, the 155 had an 1,150 hp Gnome&Rhone 14 cylinder engine with a maximum speed of 323 mph and range of 652 miles. None of the Bloch155's saw action during the Battle of France.
The three-view shown above differs with that of the Bloch 152 shown by Squadron/Signal Publications. As Old Adam says, Squadron Signal Publications shows near straight leading edges (slightly cranked),straight trailing edges, squarer horizontal stabilizer tips, a longer chord cowling, and a telescopic gunsight. The three-view shown above looks like an earlier version. Bloch 151/152 pilots claimed 146 German aircraft shot down during the Battle of France with 34 probable victories. These included 44 Messerschmitt Bf109's, 25 Bf110's, 33 Dornier Do17's and 28 Heinkel 111's. Nearly 270 Bloch 151's and 152's were lost to combat or abandonment to the German invader. Casualties among Bloch pilots totaled 40 killed and 42 wounded. Just prior to the armistice a new Bloch 157 was in initial stages of design with one prototype built. Captured by the Germans it first flew in March 1942 under German supervision. Having a 1,590 hp Gnome&Rhone engine it had a a top speed of 441 mph at 25,754 ft altitude. Only one was built and it was eventually destroyed in a U.S. air raid on Paris-Orly during the war.

Ian Roberts, 04.06.2010

Cockpit seems too far forward as well

Old Adam, 26.03.2009

The three-view drawing shown is very poor. Photographs show that the Bloch fighters had tapered wings with a straight leading edge and virtually straight trailing edge. The tailplane had squarer tips and all versions a longer chord cowling. Has the wrong drawing been attached to this model by mistake?

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