Dewoitine D 520
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Dewoitine D 520

When Emile Dewoitine designed a new fighter to meet the French Air Ministry Programme A23, which in its revised form called for a maximum speed of 520km/h, he was inspired to give it the designation D.520. The prototype flew for the first time on 2 October 1938 with Marcel Doret at the controls. Performance was disappointing and so the second prototype had wing radiators replaced with a ventral unit and introduced a sliding cockpit hood. The third prototype replaced the tailskid with a tailwheel.

The D.520 had no real rival in France and was ordered in quantity. Main production lines were at the SNCAM Toulouse factories. For the first time in France women joined the workforce and sub-contractors previously outside the aircraft industry were employed. Each aircraft required only half the man-hours needed to build the main French fighter at that time, the MS 406.

The first production aircraft flew on 31 October 1939, but many modifications were required. By the time the German Blitzkrieg was launched only 50 D.520s were with front-line units. By 22 June 1940, 220 were in service. They did well in combat, claiming 77 definite victories against only 34 losses. Vichy units included four Groupes de Chasse and two Aeronavale escadrilles in North Africa. Production restarted for a period by Vichy and then resumed under German supervision. The 891st and last aircraft left the factory in August 1944. Vichy D.520s fought in Syria and in North Africa during the Allied landings. Seventy-five went to the Regia Aeronautica and 100 to Bulgaria, where they flew with the 6th Fighter Regiment. Final operations were with the Free French 'Groupe Doret' against German poc kets of resistance in France from November 1944 to May 1945. Post-World War II, a few were converted as D.520 DC two-seat dual-control trainers.

Dewoitine D 520

Powered by a supercharged 678kW Hispano-Suiza 12Y45 engine, the D.520 was armed with an engine-mounted HS-404 20mm cannon and four wing-mounted 7.5mm MAC machine-guns. The wing was a single-spar structure with duralumin skinning. Ailerons were fabric-covered and flaps pneumatically operated. The fuselage was an all-metal monocoque structure and the wide-track undercarriage legs retracted inwards into the wing profile.

Dewoitine D 520A three-view drawing (800 x 605)

    Take-off weight2677 kg5902 lb
    Empty weight2123 kg4680 lb
    Wingspan10.2 m33 ft 6 in
    Length8.6 m28 ft 3 in
    Height2.57 m8 ft 5 in
    Wing area15.97 m2171.90 sq ft
    Max. speed534 km/h332 mph
    Ceiling10500 m34450 ft
    Range1540 km957 miles

Dewoitine D 520

Comments1-20 21-40
Aaron, 13.12.2017

I am going to agree with Daniel. The following are some pilot notes:
"The D.520, used for the first time by confirmed pilots holder of several victories, was seen as fast, maneuverable, allowing easy attacks against the Italian bombers. However, the pilots warned us to avoid any turning maneuver while shooting an aircraft in order to be efficient, because the D.520 skids during turn."
" The Bf 109E-3 had a 32 km/h speed advantage owing to its more powerful engine. However, the D.520 had superior maneuverability, matching its turning circle, although displaying nasty characteristics when departing and spinning out of the turn repeatedly during the tests. The Bf 109, owing to its slats, could easily sustain the turn on the edge of a stall."

Daniel Eyre, 31.01.2016

Regarding some of the comments here...
This was a fine plane by all accounts - except regarding its handling when taxiing according to RN test pilot Eric Brown.
But it was nothing close to any "French Spitfire. It was much more akin to later Soviet aircraft like the Yakovlev's or Lavochkin's. Small, underpowered, underarmourid, not quite quick enough for the Me109's but very nimble. Very well suited for tactical operations at lower altitudes. Although unlike the Soviet aircraft; reasonably well armed for its time.
It may have been developed into something more equivalent too the spitfire had Dewoitine been given access to more powerful engines.

Jim, 21.12.2013

There are few models of this airplane on the market, however the company called has a very nice one available.

Joseph Giraud, 13.08.2013

While the D520 was underpowered using the HS 12Y45 and 49 series motors, the French were planing on upgrading to more powerful motors, but the surrender put and end to that. For pure speed the Spifire had the advantage, as far as manueverability, I believe the D520 could well have held it's own. It proved it against the 109E's which were the best the German's had. Too little too late. That's the bottom line on the story of the D520.

Barry, 15.08.2012

This aeroplane has been referred to on many occassions as the "French Spitfire". Whilst it was probably the best the French had at the time and without doubt it performed very well against the German opposition, it was nowhere near or ever would be as good a fighter, or aircraft for that matter, as a Spitfire. When the French changed sides for the first time in the war the Germans would probably not have let them keep a plane that they felt was in any way as good or superior to something they had themselves. When they changed back again sure they kept them on but they were only to pleased to be given Spitfires and other hardware by the allies rather than this somewhat, by then, dated machine.

MARIETTE, 10.05.2012

Mon père 1913/2010 qui travaillé à hispano-suiza m'a parlé de cet avion de chasse sous licence des USA.
1940 la France ne possédait qu'un petit nombre de cet avion qui était aussi performant que les avions Allemands et Anglais

WWIIguy, 09.05.2012

Just got an old Heller kit of a D.520. Some nice colour schemes here. Looking forward to building and displaying this little known fighter.

François Tournier, 11.12.2011

Je suis, au sein d'une équipe, en train de reconstituer un Dewoitine 520, le dernier des trois existants en France, cet appareil est visible au Musée de l'Aéronautique Navale à Rochefort sur Mer-17300- (FRANCE, Charente-Maritime), si des amateurs ou des passionnés ont des archives, photos ou conseils veuillez me les faire parvenir.

Merci d'avance à tous.
François Tournier

Bernie Long, 03.09.2011

Saw a nicely restored 520 today at Musee d'Air et Le Espace at Le Bourget. Nifty little fighter that packed a punch with 4 mg and a 20 MM, Too bad it didn't get the upgrades the 109's, 190's, Hurri's, Spits, P-40's and P-51's got.

Ben Beekman, 29.01.2011

In reply to the question about the red and yellow color schemes, the Germans required that Vichy aircraft be identified by alternate longitudinal red and yellow stripes around the engine cowling and also on the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces. This was to take effect during June of 1941. See "French Fighters of World War II" by Alain Pelletier, published by Squadron/Signal Publications. This book contains some excellent illustrations of French fighters (Allied and Vichy) by Richard Hudson showing the red and yellow Vichy colors.

Cliff Sweeting, 07.01.2011

Never really achieved its full potential, once the design and production centres fell into Nazi hands. The Germans were very good at adopting and adapting captured weapons, but they obviously saw nothing to interest them here.

a.casais, 09.12.2010

This plane is not even similar to the spitfire, the cockpic is backwards and the wings and the tailplane are smallers and are not round it, maybe in the capacity of the plane.

mbmarklll, 29.11.2010

Dehwhatin :)

Martin Kesler, 24.10.2010

I would really like to know how to pronounce the name,

chenoir, 16.01.2010

The red and yellow markings are the colors of Vichy, the French Government during WWII.

Tim Haskins, 22.10.2009

I am looking for the story behind the red and yellow colour scheme on many of the D.520's. I really would appreciate it if anyone knows.

Steve, 11.08.2009

Re. the Spitfire: The D520 was actually more nearly analogous to the Me-109. Note the wing area: 172 sq.ft. compared to the 174 sq.ft. for the 109, and contrast that with the Spitfire's 242 sq.ft. Power and performance of the D520 were quite close to the Me-109D.
Continental designers of monoplane fighters seemed obsessed with minimizing the size of the airframe - which in the case of the Me-109 led to the "stretch" being used up by the time of the G-model.

Jeff Fallang, 13.07.2009

Saw a beautifully restored machine at Duxford Flying Legends, definitely a treat. It compared favorably against the YAK fighters from my vantage point, even though it was just an airshow.

Andre L. Garnier, 25.10.2008

I sat in one in 1945 that was part of a group of 12 or 15 D 520 that where used as trainers by the Luftwaffe and marked with the German cross.. in the Cognac Air Field in the south of France....

Sgt.KAR98, 14.10.2008

This one looks like the french Spitfire.I wonder if it´s nice as the best of the RAF.

1-20 21-40

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