|AMBULANCE||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Bloch|
Avions Marcel Bloch was formed in 1930, and its first designs were the Bloch MLB.60 (later M.B.61) and M.B.71 high-wing postal monoplanes, neither of which passed beyond the prototype stage. In 1932 the Bloch M.B.80 was designed for entry in a French air ministry contest for a purpose-built ambulance aircraft. The French authorities placed great stress on the importance of the 'avion sanitaire', following the appearance of an ambulance version of the Breguet 14T biplane in 1918. Bre 14Ts and Hanriot HD.14S biplanes had been used during the 1920s for casualty evacuation work in French colonial territories.
The M.B.80 prototype was an angular cantilever low-wing monoplane, powered by a single 89kW Lorraine 5Pc engine, and with fixed wide-track divided landing gear to facilitate operations from unprepared strips. Its pilot was seated forward in an open cockpit and behind him in the rear fuselage, under easily accessible panels, was accommodation for a single stretcher.
The M.B.80 was followed by the M.B.81.01 coded F.301, which made its initial flight in October 1932, powered by a Salmson 9Nc engine of 101kW. A production order followed, the first of 20 M.B.81 production aircraft being delivered in 1935. The type found considerable employment in Africa and the Middle East, a number surviving to operate during World War II. The fourth example flew with the RAF under serial AX677.