|BOMBER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Farman|
The F.220.01 Bn4 was an experimental thick-section high-wing heavy bomber, powered by four Hispano-Suiza in-line engines in tandem pairs mounted on lower stub wings braced to the main wings. This prototype flew for the first time on 26 May 1932. It was followed by the F.221.01 with 596kW Gnome-Rhone L4Kbrs radials and armed with three manually operated gun turrets in nose, dorsal and ventral positions. Ten F.221 Bn5-series bombers (some later converted into F.222) were followed by 11 F.222 with retractable undercarriage. The final bomber version was the F.222.2, 24 of which were built during 1937-38 with redesigned front fuselage sections and dihedral on the outer wing sections. The last 16 machines had 685.6kW engines. Escadre GB 11/15 operated F.221 from November 1936, then F.222 from April 1937. These were the largest bombers to serve in France between the world wars. After the outbreak of World War II the bombers flew leaflet raids over Germany, but night bombing raids during May and June 1940 led to three losses.
The improved F.223 had a more streamlined fuselage, slimmer wings, simplified strutting and twin fins and rudders. Originally fitted with radial engines, eight were re-engined during 1939-40 with 820kW Hispano-Suiza water-cooled 12Y50/51. After June 1940 a number of F.222 and F.223 bombers were used as military transports.
Civil passenger/mailplane versions of the F.220 family included Le Centaure, the converted F.220.01, four F.2200 and a single F.2220 - all with in-line engines and intended for the South Atlantic service. Six radial-engined F.224, with new deep fuselages for 40 passengers, were rejected by Air France and subsequently went to the Armee de l'Air. The F.2231 and F.2232 were civil equivalents of the F.223 bomber; the F.2231 made a spectacular flight to South America in November 1937 piloted by Paul Codos.
Three F.2234 built during 1938-39 had the thin tapering wings of the F.223 and F.2231/2, but featured a new streamlined fuselage with a pointed nose section. All were requisitioned by the French Navy in September 1939. One ("Jules Verne") made the first Allied air raid on Berlin in June 1940. After the French collapse in June 1940 these three machines were returned to Air France. "Le Verrier" was shot down in the Mediterranean on 27 November 1940.