The Potez 63 

France
France

Sorry, No ID pictures yet

The Potez 63 was a French warplane originating in 1934. At the time the french Air Ministry issued a requirement for a multi-role warplane that was to be powered by two small-diameter radial engines developed and built by Gnome-Rhône and Hispano-Suiza.
Not only was it to be armed reasonably, but it had to be able to work as a kind of frontline field controller in the air for single-seat fighters. Besides that it should be able to act as a two-seat interceptor and escort fighter, night-fighter and heavy fighter.
Potez offered its Potez 63 design created by a team headed by Louis Coroller with M.Delaruelle, as a cantilever monoplane of basically stressed-skin light alloy construction with a slim, oval-section fuselage built in three sections (semi-monocoque nose and tail sections attached to a four-longeron central section). It carried a raised cockpit of the ‘glasshouse’ type with sliding panels for access and egress, a dihedraled tailplane with endplate vertical surfaces, and a low-set wing with a flat constant-chord center section built integrally with the central part and dihedraled outer panels that were tapered in thickness and chord. Almost the full span of the wing trailing edges was occupied by the standard combination of outboard ailerons and pneumatically operated split-type inboard flaps. The airframe was completed by the tailwheel landing gear including main units that retracted rearward into the undersides of the wing-mounted nacelles for the powerplant of two Hispano-Suiza 14Hbs radial engines.
The Potez 63.01 prototype made its first flight in April 1936 with a temporary wooden tail unit that was designed to allow the easy change of its vertical surfaces so that the right size and shape could be developed experimentally. The second prototype was completed with Gnome-Rhône 14Mars as the Potez 631.01, the first prototype thereupon becoming the Potez 630.01. An intensive development program was launched to prepare the aircraft for competitive evaluation against the Breguet Bre.690, the Hanriot H.220, Loire-Nieuport LN.20 and Romano R-110. Of these the Breguet Bre.690 was considered the best contender.
The french Air Ministry was pleased with this versatile aircraft, and ordered a whole family of aircraft types from Potez, by then absorbed in SNCA Nord (Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Nord, a fusion between Potez, CAMS and A.N.F.-Les Mureaux, and part of Amiot and Breguet companies).

Version list:

Further pictures:

Potez 630.c3 in full flight
Potez 630.c3 in full flight

Potez 630.c3 on an airfield
Potez 630.c3 on an airfield

Potez 630.b2 on an airfield
Potez 630.b2 on an airfield

 

Technical data on the Potez 63.11A.3
Powerplant 2 × Gnome-Rhône 14M-4/5 radial, rated at 700 hp (521.84 kW) each Role during war
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Close Support Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Night-Fighter
  • Light Bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Liaison Aircraft
Length 35 ft 10.5 inch Height 10 ft 1.25 inch
Empty weight 6911 lb Operational weight 9987 lb max
Wing Span 52 ft 6 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.83
Wing Area 351.99 sq ft Service ceiling 27885 ft
Maximum speed 264 mph at 18045 ft Cruising speed 230 mph at 14765 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 9,845 ft in 6 min 0 sec Range 932 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 208 Imp gal (250 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing under the central fuselage, 650 rounds
  • 1 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 fixed rearward-firing in the rear fuselage, 600 rounds
  • 1 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit, 600 rounds
Some aircraft received this revised standard armament as a retrofit:
  • 3 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing, one in the nose, two under the fuselage
  • 4 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing in two optional underwing packs
  • 3 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 M39 fixed rearward-firing under the rear fuselage
  • 2 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing on a SAM AB-68 mounting in the rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 440 lb of disposable stores carried on four underwing hardpoints rated at 110 lb each. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 4 × 110 lb bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 3: pilot, radio operator/gunner, observer/navigator/bombardier Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 25 April 1936 Operational Service May 1939 - 1943
Manufacturer Etablissements Henry Potez Number produced About 1.360 total, about 866 this version
Metric system
Length 10.93 m Height 3.08 m
Empty weight 3135 kg Operational weight 4530 kg max
Wing Span 16 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.83
Wing Area 32.7 m² Service ceiling 8499 m
Maximum speed 425 km/h at 5500 m Cruising speed 370 km/h at 4500 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 3.000 m in 6 min 0 sec Range 1500 km max
Fuel capacity internal 945 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing under the central fuselage, 650 rounds
  • 1 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 fixed rearward-firing in the rear fuselage, 600 rounds
  • 1 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit, 600 rounds
Some aircraft received this revised standard armament as a retrofit:
  • 3 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing, one in the nose, two under the fuselage
  • 4 × 7.5 mm MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing in two optional underwing packs
  • 3 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 M39 fixed rearward-firing under the rear fuselage
  • 2 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing on a SAM AB-68 mounting in the rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 200 kg of disposable stores carried on four underwing hardpoints rated at 50 kg each. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 4 × 50 kg bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -

Technical data on the Potez 631C.3
Powerplant 2 × Gnome-Rhône 14M-4/5 or -6/7 radial, rated at 700 hp (521.84 kW) each Role during war
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Close Support Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Night-Fighter
  • Light Bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Liaison Aircraft
Length 36 ft 4 inch Height 11 ft 10.5 inch
Empty weight 5401 lb Operational weight 8289 lb typical,
9921 lb max
Wing Span 52 ft 6 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.83
Wing Area 351.98 sq ft Service ceiling 29530 ft
Maximum speed 275 mph at 14765 ft Cruising speed 248 mph at 13125 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 13,125 ft in 5 min 56 sec Range 758 miles max
Fuel capacity internal About 208 Imp gal (250 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 4 or 6 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing under the outer wing panels
  • 1 or 2 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934trai rearward-firing in the rear cockpit
Cannons
  • 2 × 20 mm Hispano-Siuza HS-9 or HS-404 fixed forward-firing in the underside of the forward fuselage
Bomb load -Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 3: pilot, navigator/controller, radio operator/gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 25 April 1936 Operational Service May 1939 - 1943
Manufacturer Etablissements Henry Potez Number produced About 1.360 total, 202 this version
Metric system
Length 11.07 m Height 3.62 m
Empty weight 2450 kg Operational weight 3760 kg typical,
4500 kg max
Wing Span 16 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.83
Wing Area 32.7 m² Service ceiling 9001 m
Maximum speed 443 km/h at 4500 m Cruising speed 399 km/h at 4000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 4.000 m in 5 min 56 sec Range 1220 km max
Fuel capacity internal About 945 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 4 or 6 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing under the outer wing panels
  • 1 or 2 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934trai rearward-firing in the rear cockpit
Cannons
  • 2 × 20 mm Hispano-Siuza HS-9 or HS-404 fixed forward-firing in the underside of the forward fuselage
Bomb load -Torpedoes/rockets -

Technical data on the Potez 633B.2
Powerplant 2 × Gnome-Rhône 14M-6/7 radial, rated at 700 hp (521.84 kW) each Role during war
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Close Support Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Night-Fighter
  • Light Bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
  • Liaison Aircraft
Length 36 ft 4 inch Height 11 ft 10.5 inch
Empty weight 5401 lb Operational weight 9436 lb typical,
9921 lb max
Wing Span 52 ft 6 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.83
Wing Area 351.98 sq ft Service ceiling 26250 ft
Maximum speed 273 mph at 13780 ft Cruising speed 248 mph at 13125 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 13,125 ft in 8 min 30 sec Range 808 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 167 Imp gal (201 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing in the upper starboard side of the forward fuselage
  • 1 × 0.295 inch MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 882 lb of disposable stores carried in a lower fuselage weapons bay rated at 882 lb. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 8 × 110 lb bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 2: pilot, radio operator/gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 25 April 1936 Operational Service May 1939 - 1943
Manufacturer Etablissements Henry Potez Number produced About 1.360 total, 6 this version
Metric system
Length 11.07 m Height 3.62 m
Empty weight 2450 kg Operational weight 4280 kg typical,
4500 kg max
Wing Span 16 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.83
Wing Area 32.7 m² Service ceiling 8001 m
Maximum speed 439 km/h at 4200 m Cruising speed 399 km/h at 4000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 4.000 m in 8 min 30 sec Range 1300 km max
Fuel capacity internal 760 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing in the upper starboard side of the forward fuselage
  • 1 × 7,5 mm MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 400 kg of disposable stores carried in a lower fuselage weapons bay rated at 400 kg. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 8 × 50 kg bombs
Torpedoes/rockets -

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

Different versions of the Potez 63 
Potez 63.01 First prototype, flew on 25 April 1936. Later it was redesignated Potez 630. This aircraft was powered by 2 × Hispano-Suiza radials. The tail was initial made of wood, to ease the tests with other tails.
Number built: 1
Potez 630 Redesignated prototype 63.01.
Redesignated aircraft
Potez 631 Second prototype, this time powered with 2 × Gnome-Rhône radials. This aircraft first flew in March 1937.
Number built: 1
Potez 630.02 This version was the prototype for a two-seat night fighter version.
Number built: 1
Potez 630.03 Third prototype of the 630 series, this was built as a three-seat day fighter.
Number built: 1
Potez pre-production evaluation batch Following initial tests the French Air Ministry ordered 10 aircraft for development/evaluation purposes. these were:
  • 3 × Potez 630 three-seat fighter
  • 1 × Potez 630 three-seat night-fighter
  • 2 × Potez 631 three-seat fighter
  • 1 × Potez 631 two-seat conversion trainer with dual controls
  • 1 × Potez 633 two-seat light bomber
  • 1 × Potez 637 three-seat army-cooperation and reconnaissance
  • 1 × Potez 639 two-seat attack bomber

Number built: 6 (4 already available)
Potez 630C.3 This was a three-seat fighter version, powered by 2 × Hispano-Suiza 14AB-02/03 or -10/11 radial, rated at 650 hp (485 kW) or 700 hp (522 kW). C.3 stands for Chasse Trois, which means Hunter/Fighter, three seat (most propably).
These fighters were armed with 2 × 20 mm fixed forward-firing Cannon, and 1 × 0.295 inch (7,5 mm) MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing gun. At first the produced aircraft were delivered to night fighter groups, but later some aircraft were delivered to single-seat fighter groups as well to act as three-seat avions de commandement for the control of the single-seat fighters in the engagement of large-scale bomber raids.
Number built: 80
Potez 630DC This version is a Dual-Control trainer specifically built for Yugoslavia
Number built: 1
Potez 631C.3 This three-seat fighter was powered by 2 × Gnome-Rhône 14M-4/5 or -6/7 radial.
Number built: 202
Potez 631Ins This version was the dual-control conversion trainer. Ins probably stands for... instruction .

Number built: 10
Potez 634 Other designation for the Potez 631Ins
Redesignated aircraft
Potez 633B.2 This version was the light bomber. basically similar to the Potez 631C.3, it differed in accomodation and armament. The glazed lower nose of the prototype aircraft was reinstated to create a bombardier position. The fixed forward-firing armament was standadised to 1 × 0.295 inch (7,5 mm) MAC 1934 on the starboard upperpart of the forward fuselage, as was the defensive armament of 1 × 0.295 inch (7,5 mm) MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit. Disposable armament comprised of 8 × 110 lb (50 kg) bombs stored vertically in a weapons bay that replaced the fighter's navigator position.
Although initially 125 aircraft were ordered, political and technolagical changes during the Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) made the French to place greater emphasize on attack bombers than on light bombers. The order was canceled when the first 2 production aircraft were undergoing flight trials.
Number built: 6
Potez 633 Grec The Potez 63 gained interest from other countries, among which greece and Rumania. The Rumanian aircraft would be built under license in Czechoslovakia by Avia, with engines license-built by Walter. Initially Avia was too busy building licensed Tupolev SB-2's (designated B-71), and the country became occupied by Germany before production of the Potez 633 could start.
Greece however order the aac from france, being 24 aircraft with engines that drove hydraulically operated constant-speed propellers. These engines were crank-started. Furthermore the aircraft received a Bronzavia periscopic bomb sight allowing the radio operator/gunner to triple as the bombardier as well. Four GPU racks were installed under the wing center section, each capable of carrying a 110 lb (50 kg) bomb raising the max disposable load to 1,323 lb (600 kg) in the light bomber role. Alternatively the aircraft could carry 2 × 441 lb (200 kg) bombs in the dive-bombing role.
24 aircraft were ordered by the Greek, but because of an embargo by the French government the last 13 were impressed in the French Armée de l'Air.
Number built: 24
Potez 633 Roumain Rumania ordered 20 aircraft in the spring of 1938. These aircraft were fitted with electrically operated Ratier propellers, inertia engine starters, and provision for 1 × Labrely F.30 or F.50 reconnaissance camera in the weapons bay. Armament consisted of 3 × 0.303 inch (7,7 mm) FN-Browning, one fixed forward-firing, one trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit, one train rearward-firing in a new ventral hatch position.
These aircraft were desperately needed by Rumania, which was close to War hith Hungary because of a border dispute.
Number built: 20
Potez 633 Franco-Roumain Rumania ordered another 20 aircraft after the first order. These machines were aircraft that had been (partially) built for the French before the order for 633's was cancelled, and were basically similar to the Potez 633 Roumain aircraft.
In the event only 1 was delivered, the others were embargoed by the French, and impressed into their own air force.
Number built: 20
Potez 637A.3 The Armée Trois-place version was the three-seat reconnaissance and army co-operation version of the family. It was only to be an interim type, pending the arrival of the Potez 63.11.
It was based on the Potez 631, with the central fuselage adapted to carry an extensively glazed observation gondola of 1 ft 7.75 inch (0.50 inch m) deep. It had provision for a Labrely F.20, F.30 or F.50 camera and up to 40 marker flares in the rear furselage. Internal fuel capacity was increased to 275 Imp gal (330 US gal, 1.250 liters). Armament consisted of 2 × 110 lb (50 kg) bombs carried under the outer panels of the wings, 1 × 0.295 inch (7,5 mm) MAC 1934 fixed forward-firing in the starboard upper nose wih 300 rounds, 1 × 0.295 inch (7,5 mm) MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit wih 500 rounds, and 1 × 0.295 inch (7,5 mm) MAC 1934 trainable rearward-firing in the ventral gondola wih 300 rounds. It was understood and confirmed that the gondola had a bad effect on performance, but nevertheless 60 aircraft were ordered.
Number built: 60
Potez 63.11A.3 This version was the definitive army co-operation and reconnaissance version. The need was high, and it was hoped that the 63.11 would be comparable to the 637, resulting in an order of 145 aircraft "off the drawing-board".
The 63.11 (first prototype) was indeed comparable as far as flight handling and more or less good performance, even thought the nose was redesigned as to accomodate an observer/navigator/bombardier position. The new nose was fully glazed, and a lot deeper. This in turn necessitated the cockpit to be moved further aft, shortening the cockpit canopy. The second and third prototypes had a slightly less deep and more angular nose than the first 63.11 prototype.
Number built: about 866

Operational remarks:

The Potez 63 started life as three-seat fighters and light and attack bombers. By the time the War broke out (1939) these aircraft were more or less outdated already. Only the reconnaissance version (63.11A.3) was used in the frontline more than once.
To modern single-engine fighters it didn't stand a chance, and consequently the Potez suffered heavy losses. Inadequately defensively armed they had to rely on fighter cover, which was seldom available in the early War days. Only by adopting hedge-hopping fyling techniques and the fact that it could take a lot of damage ensured that the losses wer not outright catastrofic.
When the War began in earnest in May 1940, production was soo high that the French air force was unable to keep up with accepting them, and a lot of aircraft were in store when France surrendered. These were used by Vichy-France, until in November 1942 the Germans occupied Vichy France as well after the defeat of axis force of North Africa.
Some aircraft were traded as well, with Rumania for oil and other oil products.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/23/01