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Old 04-19-2020, 11:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

This flying boat was designed in the early 1930s to fly non stop between France and the USA, it was flown in 1935, only one prototype was built.

The aircraft was christened Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris in memory o a French Navy pilot holder of several international records.

Originally the aircraft was supposed to receive four 1000 hp engines which clearly would never be available, the design was changed, it received two more engines on the trailing edge, just behind #2 and 3.

At the time, it was a huge aircraft with a designed MTOW of 37 tons, later upgraded to 40 tons.
The structure was entirely metallic, the outer wings being fabric covered.

The fuel tanks were in the stub wings, each containing 11 000 litres with two other feed tanks in the wings, the usable fuel was 23 000 litres.

The aircraft was designed for the North Atlantic crossing, but trans Mediterranean operations between France and North Africa where France had colonies was also considered.

For flights between France and USA, the passengers were limited to 26 on the lower deck, the upper deck being empty.

Two pilots, three flight engineers, one navigator and one wire less operator were the standard crew composition, with one or two flight attendants.

Very quickly, the aircraft established a world record for sea plane when flying direct between Port Liautey, now Kenitra (Morocco) to Maceio Bay, south of Recife (Brazil), 5 700 km.

After this flight, the aircraft was sent across the North Atlantic.
Sadly, it was badly damaged by a hurricane at Pensacola (Florida), brought back to France on a ship, it was repaired, received more powerful engines and a few modifications, the most visible being a reduced number of passenger windows.

In those days, the classic way to cross the Atlantic from East to West was via Lisbon, Azores and Bermuda.
Between these points the aircraft flew a direct route (great circle route), shortest distance between two points on the earth.

Today, things are different, first we fly non stop and with the good knowledge of the winds over the Atlantic, we never fly the great circle route but along tracks which are published every day, they take into account the winds, these tracks maximize the effect of the tail winds when flying to the East and minimize the effect of the head winds when flying West.

During its tests the Latécoère 521 made five North Atlantic crossings.

Historically speaking, the aircraft is interesting but to be honest, it became very quickly obsolete.
Underpowered, it could not compete with the Short Empire, Boeing 314 and the Focke Wulf Condor which, with the help of auxiliary tanks, demonstrated its ability to fly non stop between Berlin and New York in both directions.

To make things worse, the French technical services were unable to make a decision about the best solution for long flights over water.
Traditionally, flights over South Atlantic were made by sea planes, later, land planes took over the job but they did not have the necessary range to fly over North Atlantic.
The Latécoère 521 was an unsatisfactory answer, just to gain some experience.

With the outbreak of WWII, the aircraft was transferred to the French Navy, its mission was flying long-range patrols looking for German submarines.

The Model ...
It is a HBM product, resin, no struts, no propellers, no decals.
I spent many hours searching photos and documents in order to limit as much as possible the guesswork.
Despite the lack of three view drawing HBM could trust in, the mold is quite good.
Propellers are from Martin Beacom, struts are made from brass profile, decals are home made.

Note : the mast supporting the Pitot tube looks huge ... it was.
It was also used as a flagpole to display the national flag.

To make the story short, with all its struts, the model was nothing but easy.

Please excuse me for going on a little too long.

Jean Pierre.
Attached Thumbnails
-f-01.jpg   -f-02.jpg   -f-04.jpg   -f-06.jpg   -f-05.jpg  

-f-07.jpg   -f-08.jpg   -f-09.jpg   -f-12.jpg   -f-13.jpg  

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Old 04-19-2020, 01:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

What a beautiful model you have made Jean Pierre!

The story is just as important to me as the actual airplane, so thank you for sharing that as well.
The great thing about companies like AF, is their rich history. That makes collecting models extra special. AF has flown with several flying boates I believe. Not too many airlines have done so. If I recall correctly there is also a Latécoère 631.

Great comparison with the 707. That plane was big!
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Old 04-19-2020, 02:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

As mentioned above, the story behind the model is equally fascinating. A question though, why are there two windshields?
I wish I had half your talent, you models are always spectacular!
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Old 04-19-2020, 02:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maarlandair View Post
What a beautiful model you have made Jean Pierre!

The story is just as important to me as the actual airplane, so thank you for sharing that as well.
The great thing about companies like AF, is their rich history. That makes collecting models extra special. AF has flown with several flying boates I believe. Not too many airlines have done so. If I recall correctly there is also a Latécoère 631.

Great comparison with the 707. That plane was big!
Thank you my friend ...

Before WWII many types of flying boats were used by AF across the Mediterranean sea and over South Atlantic.

After WWII, AF flew the Laté 631 between Metropolitan France and the Caribbean, this aircraft had a big problem with ailerons flutter, it was clearly identified but the engineers were unable to find a solution.
At least two aircraft were lost for this reason.
The Laté 631 was withdrawn from service after the loss of the F-BDRC, my model.

Also, three Catalinas were used on the Caribbean network.

Jean Pierre.
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-lat-631-c.jpg   -lat-631-b.jpg   -lat-631-.jpg  
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Old 04-19-2020, 02:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Burns View Post
As mentioned above, the story behind the model is equally fascinating. A question though, why are there two windshields?
I wish I had half your talent, you models are always spectacular!
Thank you Mr Burns ...

The "classic" cockpit is for the two pilots, the "bow window" ahead of the cockpit at the level of the upper deck is for the navigator.

Jean Pierre.
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Old 04-19-2020, 02:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

I attach a document showing the planned cabin layout for North Atlantic crossings, the drawing still show the initial window configuration before modification.

Jean Pierre.
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Old 04-19-2020, 07:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Thank you for the quick reply JP. The more I learn about these, the more impressed I am, even if they were becoming obsolete. I'll definitely be watching some YouTube videos about them later tonight, and tomorrow, and after that
Those drawings are very interesting indeed, looks almost like a mini ocean liner with the cabins, dining area and staircase. Needless to say this appealed to the well to do of the time.
The last thing I need is a new collecting criteria, fortunately my lack of modelling skills will see to that.
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Old 04-20-2020, 01:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Was this a scratch built model? What scale? And lastly, how many passengers was it designed for?
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Old 04-20-2020, 05:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Congratulations Jean Pierre on another piece of French Aviation History. The decals look great. So do the propellers! The cabin layout looks like it was laid out like a train with private suites or cabins or what you might find in a first class A380's suite today that still flies in 2021.

The swept wing is advanced design for it's day JP. The top deck was reserved for crew only interesting, I bet it made a good crew rest area. The steps on the hull are like The Short Brothers sea planes too. Is that something the Short bros learned from this aircraft? Anyway, love the model, your skills and steady hands serve you well. Thank you for the history JP. Great subject.
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Old 04-20-2020, 05:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Another superb creation JP.

Thanks for the history which only adds to the enjoyment of seeing pics of your latest model.

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Old 04-20-2020, 10:01 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Wow! Jean Pierre, your latest creation is beyond magnificent, thank you for the photos.
Also appreciated is your history of the aircraft, always informative and well written. I especially liked your explanation of the modern flight tracks across the North Atlantic, I had no idea they were issued daily to follow wind patterns.
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Old 04-20-2020, 10:17 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Amazing job, well done! Interesting subject, so much so that I did some research on my own. (And found quite a few photos (and videos) of it, including one when it was damaged in the 1936 hurricane.) Certainly a luxurious cabin, too.
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Old 04-20-2020, 11:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Quote:
Originally Posted by shandaken View Post
Was this a scratch built model? What scale? And lastly, how many passengers was it designed for?
The scale is 1/200.

It is a resin kit with a fuselage, the wings and two stub wings as shown for this Laté 522 on the document I attach, the 522 was a modest evolution of the 521.

With putty you will have to fill and sand most of the unwanted details.

I added the two little sponsons under the extremity of the stub wings, they were there to improve the stability on the water and to take some of the shock on landing.

The rest was a lengthy search of photos and documents to avoid the guess work.
Black and white photos don't tell you about the colors of the objects.
Finally, it became clear that the aircraft was light gray and the hull below the water line was black, just like many Latécoère flying boats.

The struts were cut in brass profiles or simply staples for the horizontal stabilizer.
Decals are home made.
The propellers were sanded and the blades twisted as necessary.

The fuselage and the wings were finished, painted and decaled separately because of limited access with a spray can under the wings.
This being done, the main problem was assembling everything.
Things had to be made in a certain order with extra care to avoid any damage to the paint.

The aircraft could carry 26 passengers on the lower deck for trans Atlantic flights, the upper deck being empty.
It was said that as many as 70 could be flown on trans Mediterranean flights using the two decks, it was an estimate, I have never seen any document showing any cabin layout.
In my opinion this number is quite optimistic.

Jean Pierre.
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Old 04-20-2020, 11:03 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Steve, Argosy, Jay and KLM4me, thank you for your kind words, I appreciate.

Jean Pierre.
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Old 04-20-2020, 11:36 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Absolutely impressive job on an absolutely impressive aircraft!! Wow. Almost a flying hotel, of sorts. The real skill is in all the additional work that was done to such a high level of proficiency. Making decals, for example, for near everything is a job in and of itself. I've done enough of it to know. Labour of love for sure!

Super, Jean Pierre!
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Old 04-20-2020, 03:27 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

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Originally Posted by AIR FRANCE 340 View Post
Thank you my friend ...

Before WWII many types of flying boats were used by AF across the Mediterranean sea and over South Atlantic.

After WWII, AF flew the Laté 631 between Metropolitan France and the Caribbean, this aircraft had a big problem with ailerons flutter, it was clearly identified but the engineers were unable to find a solution.
At least two aircraft were lost for this reason.
The Laté 631 was withdrawn from service after the loss of the F-BDRC, my model.

Also, three Catalinas were used on the Caribbean network.

Jean Pierre.
Equally impressive Jean Pierre, including that pitot tube.

Have you made a Catalina as well? If so, what kit or a/c have you used as a basis?
I'm looking for a Catalina, the only flying boat KLM has used in the Pacific
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:53 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Equally impressive Jean Pierre, including that pitot tube.

Have you made a Catalina as well? If so, what kit or a/c have you used as a basis?
I'm looking for a Catalina, the only flying boat KLM has used in the Pacific
I have a Catalina too, it is the model made by Herpa.

Very nice, unfortunately following the AF Museum advice, the model was painted in white, it is wrong, all the aircraft were bare aluminium.

Black and white photos are always misleading.
Under the tropical sun bare aluminium can be so bright that the aircraft seems to be white.

I came across a picture showing a man working on a Catalina, he had a white shirt, clearly, the aircraft was not white, unless the shirt was whiter than white.

Bad quality picture taken with my iPhone.

Jean Pierre.
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:06 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Thanks for the picture. I saw this model Jean Pierre and wondered if you went for it or gave it your own try.
Indeed difficult to establish colors. Probably ending up buying any Herpa Catalina and start sanding. Also the only brand made in 1:200 I believe.
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Old 04-21-2020, 04:12 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: AIR FRANCE Latécoère 521

Some beautiful work and planes. Thanks for sharing. Do you make extras for sale?
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Old 04-22-2020, 05:09 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Some beautiful work and planes. Thanks for sharing. Do you make extras for sale?
Thank you for your interest in my models.

I regret to say that I don't sell them, usually it is a very long process, I take my time without any time constraints.

Sometimes, taking so much time would be difficult to understand.

Jean Pierre.
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Old 04-23-2020, 05:31 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Sorry for my delayed reaction on the long awaited 6 engines aircraft that you promised. Fantastic and very interesting model! A relevant contribution to aviation history. Thanks for sharing. A brief moment back to the days were everyone was proud of aviation and that we simply could fly...

Please take all your time to create such a gems JP! I wish I had more time to finish my 747 flaps down, but I'll show it here as soon as it is finished. Now I have to go back to school. Teaching my children since they are full time at home and I will not fly for at least a month...

stay safe, VJ
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