Liore-Olivier LeO 451


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Liore-Olivier LeO 451

The LeO 45.01 B4 - designed by Jean Mercier to Armee de l'Air Programme A21 (1934) - first flew on 16 January 1937. It was an all-metal low-wing monoplane powered by two radial engines. The wings had considerable dihedral and the streamlined elliptical monocoque fuselage had a pointed and fully glazed nose. The landing gear was fully retractable. Accommodation provided for a pilot in an enclosed cockpit, behind which was the radio operator's panel and below the retractable ventral gun turret.

Production LeO 451s had two 849.5kW Gnome-Rhone 14N 48/49 or 38/39 radial engines in specially designed Mercier cowlings. Despite excellent performance, construction of the type was slow. Only five LeO 451s were on first-line strength by 3 September 1939. When France collapsed in June 1940 only 452 of some 1,700 ordered had been delivered. A number of modifications were incorporated during series production, the principal being a totally redesigned fin and rudder assembly. Armament included a fixed 7.5mm MAC 1934 nose machine-gun, another gun of the same type flexibly mounted in the ventral gondola, and a somewhat troublesome 20mm HS-404 on a special mounting in the dorsal position. Maximum bomb load - carried in fuselage and wing bomb bays - was 2,400kg.

The LeO 451s were used initially for long-range reconnaissance missions, then for daylight bombing during the Battle of France and in night raids on Italian targets during June 1940. A further 225 were ordered by the French Vichy regime, the type serving in French overseas territories, later relegated to transport and liaison duties (a number flown in these roles by the Luftwaffe). Twenty-seven LeO 451s were ceded to Italy in 1941 but saw little service.

There were numerous experimental conversions of the basic design. Several examples remained in use in secondary roles for several years following the end of the Second World War.

Liore-Olivier LeO 451

 MODELLe) 451 B.4
 ENGINE2 x Gnome-Rhone 14N 48/49, 850kW
  Take-off weight11400 kg25133 lb
  Loaded weight7815 kg17229 lb
  Wingspan22.5 m74 ft 10 in
  Length17.17 m56 ft 4 in
  Height5.24 m17 ft 2 in
  Wing area68.0 m2731.95 sq ft
  Max. speed495 km/h308 mph
  Ceiling9000 m29550 ft
  Range2300 km1429 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 7.5mm machine-guns, 1 x 20mm cannon, 1500kg of bombs

Liore-Olivier LeO 451

Barry, 24.05.2013 13:50

The French had the world's largest standing army and air force in 1939. It only goes to prove it's not what you've got it's the way that you use it that matters.


Jordan, e-mail, 29.06.2011 04:11

Had it been available in significant number... that was the universal problem with French aircraft, there were just too few of them.

Fighters were needed much more than bombers anyway. Token bombings of Germany wouldn't have done much against the blitz.


bombardier, e-mail, 23.05.2011 14:37

The LeO 453 was the 451 fitted with Wright R-2600 engines of 1.600hp each.Had it been available in 1940 it would have made a difference


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