|PASSENGER FLYING BOAT||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Latecoere|
The Late 521 was an outsized flying-boat with strut-braced high wings and short stub sponsons. Named Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris, it was powered by six 641kW Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs engines (inboard engines mounted as tandem pairs) and flew for the first time on 17 January 1935. A total of 76 passengers could be accommodated on the two decks of the two-step hull. Unfortunately it sank in a storm on its inaugural flight to the USA, but was salvaged and rebuilt with 484.4kW Hispano-Suiza 12Nbr engines. It subsequently established seaplane load-over-distance and load-to-height records in 1937.
The Late 522 (powered by six 671kW Hispano-Suiza 12Y37 engines) appeared in April 1937 but World War II prevented a regular transatlantic service. Both the Late 521 and 522 were impressed into French Navy service on 1 September 1939, three naval Late 523 having already been delivered between January and October 1938. These were armed with five 7.5mm Darne machine-guns and carried up to 1,200kg of bombs. Maximum endurance was an excellent 33 hours.
The Late 522 returned to passenger service in March 1940. The remaining aircraft of the series performed Atlantic patrols with Escadrilles E6 and E12. One Late 523 had been lost in September 1939, a second was scuttled in June 1940; and the Late 521 was demobilised in August of that year. The surviving Late 523 was grounded in August 1942, having flown with Escadrille 4E out of Dakar since June 1941. The Late 521 and 522 were destroyed at Berre by retreating Germans in August 1944.