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The Aero MB-200 was a Czechoslovak twin-engine all- metal high-plane bomber

The Aero MB-200 was a Czechoslovak twin-engine all- metal high-plane bomber with fixed landing gear produced in the second half of the 1930s by Aero and Avia . This was a license of the French Bloch MB.200 aircraft from the design office of Marcel Bloch .

Origin and development

In the fall of 1939, the Germans sold 12 MB.200s to Bulgaria, where they were named Buchal. In 1940, they were assigned to the school squadron of the 5th Bombardment Group. Aero MB.200 in the drawing with the high-ranking insignia used from 1941 

Before the Second World War, Czechoslovakia had a relatively advanced fighter , training , observation and combat air force . However, the army suffered from a lack of quality bomber aircraft. This fact reflected the overall concept of the air force, where the involvement of air forces in an offensive war was not expected, but when Germany began to threaten European peace, the Czechoslovak Ministry of National Defense (MNO) decided in 1935 to purchase a license for the French Bloch MB.200 heavy bombers . In July 1934, the company Walter in Jinonice obtained authorization to conclude a contract for licensed production from the company H. Potez , which left this agreement through the MNO to the Aero factory, which negotiated the final license conditions.

In 1935, the Henry Potez company supplied Aero with complete drawing documentation, and in May 1935 Potez factory pilots flew one prototype Bloch MB-200 Bn4 (S 1, OK-IEB)  ordered by MNO from France to Kbel.  Its licensed production then took place in Aero and in sublicense in Avia . The production was “delayed” by constant changes to the documentation from the French, so the first serial airplane Aero MB-200.02 was handed over to VTLÚ in Letňany only on February 18, 1937 . From April 1937, the first MB-200 aircraft began to be taken over by the military administration. Although the aircraft was underpowered (it did not stay in the air when flying on one engine), it was popular among pilots for its robustness and reliability. By the end of the thirties, the Aero MB-200 aircraft had become quite obsolete and were only suitable for training and night bombing

The aircraft was exhibited at the National Air Show in Prague in the summer of 1937. The Aero stand at the show attracted a lot of attention, especially for the massive MB-200 bomber, which visitors could walk around the entire length of. The interest in this experience was huge — people waited patiently in long lines for their turn. Production took place in 1936-1939. Avia delivered 12 aircraft and Aero the rest. A total of 75 aircraft were delivered to MNO, incl. the first purchased, original machine from France, although the last four were already taken over by the occupiers .

Description of the aircraft

The Aero MB-200 was a twin-engine self-supporting high-wing aircraft for a crew of four and was used primarily as a heavy bomber It was a self-supporting all-metal high-wing aircraft with a fixed, sprung undercarriage . Some aircraft had the main landing gear hooded. The rigidity of the covering duralumin sheets was increased by special profiling, which in general did not add much to the elegance of the aircraft, but in the overall appearance of the aircraft, the aesthetics could not be spoiled. The aircraft was powered by Walter K 14-I engines rated at 515 kW/700 (takeoff 800 hp) manufactured by AS Walter under French license Gnome-Rhône 14K Mistral Major. The engines were fitted with NACA ring fairings and driven by 3.55 m diameter Letov Hd 43 three-bladed metal propellers . To ensure the directional stability of the aircraft at take-off, a left-hand engine was mounted on the right side of the aircraft and a right-hand engine on the right side .

The four- to six-seater closed cabin was protected by transparent covers and was equipped as standard with internal communication sets and radio stations vz. 35 and vz. 36. The equipment also included breathing apparatus and sockets for electric heating of overalls during high-altitude flights. 

The fuselage of a rectangular cross-section had a load-bearing cover and consisted of three parts. The front part with space for the bombardier and gun turret, the middle part forming one unit with the center plane and including the cockpit , space for the radio operator and bomb bay and the rear part with the rear gunner’s spaces, tail surfaces and spur wheel. The wing consisted of three parts, the central part formed a centroid with the fuselage and was rectangular in cross-section, the outer parts were trapezoidal in shape . In the central part of the wing there was space for the installation of triangular fuel tanks . The engine nacelles were also firmly connected to the center plane. Dural and quality steel were used for construction . The tail surfaces were all duralumin construction with beams. The rudder and elevator had a swing of 20° to each side. The landing gear consisted of a fixed chassis with a wheel track of 4.87 ms with electronic wheels 1350×300 mm. The wheels could be equipped with drop-shaped covers. The spur was made up of a wheel measuring 420×185 mm. 

Using 

The new machines came to the heavy bomber squadrons of the 5th aviation regiment in Brno (81st, 82nd, 83rd and 84th squadrons) and to the 6th regiment in Prague (85th and 86th squadrons). From the beginning of service in the air force, intensive combat training took place. Three machines were lost in accidents.  The planes were used during the Sudeten crisis, after the Munich agreement the planes were intended for sale. Spain and also China showed interest in the aircraft , but no sale took place because the license agreement mandated use only in the territory of Czechoslovakia .

After 15 March 1939, almost all the machines (67 + 4 unfinished) fell into the hands of Nazi Germany , which used them in the Luftwaffe for training on multi-engine aircraft and for sightless flights. After March 1939, 12 MB-200 machines were purchased from Germany at a discount by Tsarist Bulgaria One aircraft, the MB-200.12, remained with the independent Slovak state and was included in the status of Slovak air weapons .

Many years later, these aircraft were already marked as obsolete at the time of their production. At the same time, their production was introduced at a time when much more modern bombers were flying in France itself ( Amiot 143 , Bloch MB.131 , Farman F.222 , etc.), not to mention other countries. Only then, when it was too late (1938), was license production of the Soviet Tupolev SB-2 ( Avia B-71 ) introduced , and then domestic designs ( Aero A-304 ) were also used .

Specifications

Aero MB-200 heavy bombers from Aviation Regiment No. 5 operated from Brno

Technical data 

  • Crew: 4 to 6
  • Span: 22.45 m
  • Length: 15.80 m
  • Height: 3.92 m
  • Wing area: 67.00 m 2
  • Area load : 106.7 kg/m 2
  • Weight of empty aircraft: 3895 kg
  • Take-off weight: 7150 kg
  • Powerplant: 2 × Walter Mistral K 14-I twin star air-cooled fourteen-cylinder
    • Rated power on the ground : 700 hp (515 kW) at 2400 rpm.
    • Maximum take-off power: 800 hp (588 kW) at 2,520 rpm at take-off
    • Rated power at altitude : 800 hp (588 kW) at 3,850 m

Performances 

  • Maximum speed: 245 km/h
  • Cruising speed : 205 km/h
  • Access: 6000 m
  • Range: 1000 km (without additional tanks)
  • Rate of climb: 4.4 m/s or 15 minutes at 4000 m

Armament 

  • 3x machine gun Zbrojovka Strakonice vz.30 caliber 7.92 mm in three turrets
    • 1× 7.92 mm vz.30 machine gun in the front upper turret, 500 rounds
    • 1× 7.92mm double machine gun vz.30 in rear upper turret, 1000 rounds
    • 1× 7.92 mm double machine gun vz.30 in the lower turret, 1000 rounds
  • 1440 kg of bombs in the hull bomb bay and external hangers
    • under the fuselage: 2× 500 kg puma or 4× 100 kg puma , 4× 200 kg puma or 8× 50 kg puma
    • in the hull: 8× 100 kg puma
    • under the wing: 10x 20 kg puma 
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