Bloch MB.150

The Bloch MB.150 was a French low-wing, all-metal monoplane fighter aircraft with retractable landing gear and enclosed cockpit developed by Société des Avions Marcel Bloch as a contender in the 1934 French air ministry competition for a new fighter design.


Bloch MB.150
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer SNCASO
Origin France
Country Name Origin Year
France 1937
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
France 1937 View
Germany View
Greece View
Poland View
Romania View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
SNCASO 663 View

Although the competition was won by the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 prototype, development proceeded culminating in the first attempted flight of the MB.150.01 prototype in 1936. Unfortunately, the aircraft proved unable to leave the ground. With modifications consisting of a strengthened wing of greater area, revised landing gear, and installation of a 701 kW (940 hp) Gnome-Rhone 14N-0 radial engine with a three-blade constant speed propeller, the MB.150 finally flew in October 1937.

Handed over to the Centre d'Essais du Materiel Aerien (CEMA) for service trials, its performance proved sufficiently interesting to warrant further development. This brought, at the very beginning of 1938, a small increase in wing span and installation of a 14N-7 engine. When trials were completed in late spring 1938, SNCASO was awarded an order for a pre-production batch of 25 of these aircraft.

No such production of the MB-150.01 occurred, the aircraft being totally unsuitable for mass production. Redesign would lead to the MB.151.01 and MB.152.01 prototypes, developed and produced in parallel. By the outbreak of World War II, some 120 had reached the Armée de l'Air, but few of them were flyable, most missing their gunsights and propellers.

The MB.153 and MB.154 were intended as testbeds for American engines, but only the former flew, and when it crashed, a few days later, damaged beyond repair, pursuit of these alternatives also ceased. Instead, attention shifted to extending the range of the MB.152. This was achieved by moving the cockpit aft in order to make room for a new fuel tank. Other modifications included a slightly broader wing and revised aerodynamics around the cowling. The result, designated MB.155 performed favourably in flight tests and was ordered into production in 1940, however only 10 aircraft had been completed by the Fall of France. Under the terms of the armistice, the remaining 25 on the production line were completed and delivered into Vichy service. From there, some eventually made their way into the Luftwaffe after 1942.

The final member of the family, the MB.157 utilised a far more powerful engine and eventually became a very different aircraft as the design evolved from the MB.152 to accommodate the larger and heavier powerplant. Unfinished at the time of the armistice, it was ordered to be completed and flown under German supervision. Demonstrating superb performance, it was taken to Orly where the powerplant was removed for testing within a wind tunnel. The excellence in the design was confirmed. It was later destroyed in an Allied air raid.

Variants

  • MB.150 : Single MB.150.01 prototype powered by a single Gnome-Rhône 14N-07
  • MB.151 : MB.151.01 prototype and MB.151.C1 initial production versions powered by Gnome-Rhône 14N-35 engines (144 built)
  • MB.152 : MB.152.01 prototype and MB.152.C1 up-rated production versions produced in parallel with 151.C1, powered by 1,050hp Gnome-Rhône 14N-25 engines. (482 built)
  • MB.153 : Single MB.153.01 prototype with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engine
  • MB.154 : Proposed version with Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine. Not built.
  • MB.155 : MB.155.01 prototype converted from a MB.152 and MB.155.C1 production versions powered by Gnome-Rhône 14N-49 engines (35 built)
  • MB.156 : Proposed version with Gnome-Rhône 14R engine. Not built.
  • MB.157 : Single prototype of advanced version, converted from the MB.152 and equipped with a 1,580hp Gnome-Rhône 14R-4 engine.

MB.151s and MB.152s equipped nine Groupes de Chasse (fighter groups) during the Battle of France.

While they were outmatched by the faster Messerschmitt Bf 109E, the pilots of Bloch MB.152s destroyed at least 188 enemy aircraft, for the loss of about 86 Blochs. They proved tough aircraft, able to stand considerable battle damage, and a good gunnery platform, Their problems included poor agility, poor weapons reliability, poor range (600 km, compared to 660 km for the Bf 109E), and being notably underpowered.

Six groupes continued to fly in the Vichy French Air Force until this was disbanded on 1 December 1942, the aircraft being passed over to the Royal Romanian Air Force by the Germans.

Though the Greek government had ordered 25 MB.151s, actually only nine of these were exported to Greece. They flew with the 24th Moira Dioxis (Fighter Squadron) of the Hellenic Royal Air Force in Elefsina against the Italians and Germans, scoring several air-to-air victories until 19 April 1941, when the last MB.151 was shot down.

The Bulgarian government was negotiating the acquisition of MB.152 fighters with the Vichy government. In February 1943 a contract for delivery of 20 aircraft was signed, but vetoed by the German authorities, which by now controlled Vichy French politics. Instead, Bulgaria later received a series of Dewoitine D.520.

In 1944, several surviving MB.152s were liberated at an airfield in mid-southern France. After being flight-tested and evaluated, and painting out the Balkenkreuze, and swastikas, they were fitted with more powerful American engines and went up against the last remnants of the Luftwaffe with the Free French.

Role single seat Interceptor Fighter
Manufacturer SNCASO
Designer Maurice Roussel
First flight October 1937
Primary user Armée de l'Air
Number built ca. 663


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 9.1 m (29 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.54 m (34 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 3.03 m (9 ft 11 in)
  • Wing area: 17.32 m2 (186.4 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 2,158 kg (4,758 lb)
  • Gross weight: 2,693 kg (5,937 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,800 kg (6,173 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Gnome-Rhône 14N-25 14-cyl. two-row air-cooled radial piston engine, 805 kW (1,080 hp)
    or
    1 x Gnome-Rhône 14N-49 engine rated at 820 kW (1,100 hp)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed variable-pitch propeller

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 509 km/h (316 mph; 275 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 450 km/h (280 mph; 243 kn)
  • Range: 600 km (373 mi; 324 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 m (32,808 ft)
  • Time to altitude: 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in 3 minutes 24 seconds
  • Wing loading: 155.4 kg/m2 (31.8 lb/sq ft)

Armament

  • 2 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon with 60-round drum magazines
  • 2× 7.5 mm MAC 1934 M39 7.5 mm (0.295 in) machine guns with 500 rpg
    or
  • 4 × 7.5 mm (0.295 in) MAC 1934 M39 machine guns with 500 rpg

End notes