|FLYING BOAT||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Loire|
Built to meet a 1933 requirement of the French navy for an all-purpose shipboard catapult-launched three-seat seaplane, the prototype Loire 130 high-wing monoplane flying-boat flew for the first time on 19 November 1934. Persistent stability problems delayed development and it was not until August 1936 that an initial production order was placed for two versions, the Loire 130M (Metropole) and Loire 130C (Colonie), the latter being strengthened and equipped for use in tropical climates. Power was provided by a Hispano-Suiza engine mounted on struts over the hull. The Loire 130 did not reach French navy escadrilles until 1938. By 1939 it equipped Escadrille 7S2 aboard the seaplane carrier Commandant Teste and 7S3 and 7S4 embarked on various capital ships and cruisers. Overseas the Loire 130 was with 8S2 at Fort-de-France, French Antilles, 8S3 in West Africa, and 8S4 in the Levant (now Lebanon). In 1939-40 the type went on to equip several newly formed shore-based and shipborne units and also equipped Armee de I'Air units, including 1/CBS in French Indo-China (now Vietnam).
Not all the Loire 130s on order had been completed by the time of the June 1940 armistice with the Germans, but permission was given for 30 more of the type to be built under the auspices of the Vichy regime. It is believed that overall nearly 150 examples of this efficient aircraft were delivered, performing a range of duties which included reconnaissance, observing and ranging for naval guns, coastal patrol and convoy escort, as well as liaison work. In this last capacity the Loire 130 could carry up to three passengers. From November 1942 all catapults were removed from French ships, the Loire 130s thenceforth being shore-based. The last Loire 130 in flying condition, with Escadrille 8.S in Indo-China, was withdrawn and scrapped in late 1949.