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LeO 451

Primary RoleMedium Bomber
Maiden Flight16 January 1937


ww2dbaseDesigned by the firm LiorÈ-et-Olivier starting in 1935 but constructed beginning in 1938 after being nationalized into SociÈtÈ nationale des constructions aÈronautiques du sud-est, the LeO 451 medium bombers were designed as the next generation French bombers. The philosophy of the all-metal design called for a fast bomber that could force interceptors into tail chases, which minimizes the aircraft's profile when being attacked, and also gave maximum effectiveness to LeO 451 bombers' tail gunners. Partially due to production delays from the shortage of engines, only 22 were delivered to the French Air Force out of an order of 749 when the European War began in Sep 1939. When France was invaded by Germany in May 1940, 222 were built by only 54 were fitted for combat. The first combat sortie took place on 11 May 1940, when 10 LeO 451 bombers attacked German positions from a low altitude; one was shot down during the mission and 8 returned with heavy damage. By the end of the short French campaign, they flew 400 combat missions and dropped 320 tons of bombs, but 31 of them were shot down, 40 were damaged beyond repair, and 5 were lost in accidents. LeO 451 bombers remained in service with the Vichy government after the surrender, which fitted them with heavier defensive armaments but their roles quickly shifted to freight and transport roles as the Vichy government was technically no longer at war. Some LeO 451 saw action during the short Vichy resistance against Allied landings in North Africa and then against German and Italian forces on the side of the Allies, but the engagements were limited. A total of 561 were built between 1938 and 1942. When the last of the LeO 451 bombers was retired from active service in Sep 1957, it was the last pre-WW2 French design to retire.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jun 2007


LeO 451
MachineryTwo Gnome-Rhone 14N 48/49 or 38/39 14-cylinder air-cooled two-row radial engines rated at 1,060hp each
Armament1x20mm dorsal Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon, 1x7.5mm forward MAC 1934 machine gun, 1x7.5mm ventral turret MAC 1934 machine gun, up to 1,500kg of bombs
Span22.52 m
Length17.17 m
Height5.24 m
Wing Area66.00 m²
Weight, Empty7,530 kg
Weight, Maximum11,398 kg
Speed, Maximum480 km/h
Speed, Cruising420 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal2,900 km

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