|FLYING BOAT||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Latecoere|
The Latecoere 300 flew for the first time in 1931 and then had to be rebuilt after sinking. It was flown again in 1932 as the Croix du Sud parasol-wing monoplane flying-boat with four 484.4kW Hispano-Suiza 12NBr water-cooled engines in tandem pairs. On 31 December 1933 it achieved an international record by covering 3,679km non-stop.
Thereafter it operated the Air France South Atlantic mail service between Dakar and Natal, until it was lost at sea with pilot Jean Mermoz on the 24th crossing on 7 December 1936.
Three civil Late 301 and three military Late 302 were built during 1935-6, incorporating changes made to the Late 300 in 1935, including increased wing dihedral and enlarged tail surfaces. Late 302 had 693kW Hispano-Suiza 12Ydrs engines. The first Late 301 was lost but the remaining two maintained a South Atlantic service until World War II.
The all-metal two-step hull accommodated a four-man crew with sleeping accommodation, mail load and most of the fuel. Naval Late 302 had machine-gun posts in bow and two beam positions, as well as two in the engine nacelles. Bomb load was 300kg. Late 302 equipped Escadrille E4 at Berre, joined by the last civil but militarised Late 301 in August 1939. These were used during the early part of World War II to patrol from Dakar (West Africa) and continued to do so after the German Armistice, until prevented by lack of spares.