The Dewoitine D.520 

France
France

side viewfront viewunder view

Arguably the best French fighter at the outbreak of World War 2. After a number of prototypes and proposals (including the D.520) were rejected Dewoitine decided that it's fighter would gain official aproval once the military saw their performance. The first prototype D.520.01 flew in October 1938, and featured a Hispano-Suiza 12Y-21 Vee engine cooled with ethylene glycol. It's maximum speed was only a dissapointing 301 Mph (485 km/h), partly because of the two underwing radiators and the fixed-pitch type wooden two-blade propeller. When these were changed to a metal 3-blade propeller, 1 central radiator and a Hispano Suiza 12Y-29 engine, the prototype reached its designed top level speed, and possessed a high diving speed. Two further prototypes followed, the D.520.02 and D.520.03, which differed in armament (a moteur-canon 20mm cannon firing through the propeller, and 4 x 0.295 inch/7,5 mm machineguns in the leading edge of the wings), and the .03 version had a Szydlowski supercharger in stead of the standard Hispano Suiza one.

At the outbreak of the War only these three prototypes had flown, and too much emphasis on development and evaluation as well as a rigorous reorganisation of the French air industries delayed deliveries of much needed aircraft. The first order for 200 D.520C.1 aircraft was placed in april 1939, quickly followed by further orders. The production of the aircraft went woefully slow, and only 36 were delivered to the French Army when Germany invaded them. Initial production figures were 50 aircraft per month, later stepped op to 350 per month, but this was only reached when the War already had begun: 10 aircraft per day were delivered during the months before France had to capitulate. At that time 437 had been completed (of the 2.200 ordered), of which 351 had reached operational status. The rest was still to be finalized, concerning the supercharger and ejector exhaust stubs.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Dewoitine D.520 in full flight.
Dewoitine D.520 in full flight.

 

Technical data on the Dewoitine D.520C.1
Powerplant 1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Y-49 Vee, rated at 910 hp (678 kW), or 1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 Vee, rated at 930 hp (693.31 kW) Role during war
  • Fighter
Length 28 ft 8.75 inch Height 8 ft 5.25 inch with tail down
Empty weight 4612 lb Operational weight 6129 lb max
Wing Span 33 ft 5.5 inch Wing Aspect ratio 6.52
Wing Area 171.69 sq ft Service ceiling 36090 ft
Maximum speed 336 mph at 23030 ft Cruising speed 230 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 13,125 ft in 5 min 45 sec Range 553 miles typical,
957 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 246 Imp gal (296 Us gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns 4 × 0.295 in MAC 1934 M39 fixed forward-firing wing mounted, 675 rounds each Cannons 1 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS 404 nose mounted in a moteur-cannon installation, 60 rounds
Bomb load -Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 2 October 1938 Operational Service December 1939 - September 1953
Manufacturer Les Avions Dewoitine, later Société Nationale de Contructions Aéronautiques du Midi, later Société Nationale de Contructions Aéronautiques du Sud-Est Number produced 916 total
Metric system
Length 8.76 m Height 2.57 m with tail down
Empty weight 2092 kg Operational weight 2780 kg max
Wing Span 10.2 m Wing Aspect ratio 6.52
Wing Area 15.95 m² Service ceiling 11000 m
Maximum speed 541 km/h at 7020 m Cruising speed 370 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 4000 m in 5 min 45 sec Range 890 km typical,
1540 km max
Fuel capacity internal 1120 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns 4 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 M39 fixed forward-firing wing mounted, 675 rounds each Cannons 1 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS 404 nose mounted in a moteur-cannon installation, 60 rounds
Bomb load -Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Dewoitine D.520 
Dewoitine D.520C.1 Initial production model, based on the third prototype. See details above
Number built: 916
Dewoitine D.520DC Conversion of the D.520C.1, DC stands for Double Commande, which means Dual Control
Number converted: 13

Remarks:

After Gemany defeated France, production of the D.520 continued. They saw action at the hands of the Vichy government, and by the Free French. Germany used a number of D.520's for training purposes, and operationaly on the Eastern Front. Bulgaria and Italy also used the D.520, Bulgaria (120 aircraft) first on the German side, then on Allied side. Italy (60 aircraft) used them as home defense fighters.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 2/9/01