The Latécoère 522 was an evolution of the Laté 521 with a re designed forward fuselage and more powerful engines.
I published in April a few pictures of the Laté 521 I made.
Just like the 521, the stability on water was provided with stub wings which in fact were fuel tanks.
Wings and flight controls were almost identical, a water rudder was added to improve maneuverability at sea.
Very little is known about this aircraft, only two transatlantic flights were made before it was requisitioned by the French Navy for long range patrols.
In the French Navy it received more powerful engines and a very limited military equipment, it took part to the convoy escorts to Narwik (Norway).
With the Germans progressing very rapidly through France (Blitzkrieg) in May 1940, this aircraft was ferried to Morocco where its missions are unclear.
After the armistice, read surrender of France to Germany, the aircraft returned to France and was based near Marseilles in the part of the country which was not (yet) occupied.
Returned to AIR FRANCE for civil use, it received the specific high visibility markings imposed by the "commission d'armistice" to all civil aircraft.
The activity of the aircraft during these dark years was very limited and not clear.
The Germans showed no interest in this aircraft which was already obsolete, the Latécoère 631 was much more promising and was the subject of much attention.
Some long range flights were made to Djibouti, Dakar and Madagascar but France being controlled by the Germans, these flights were highly suspect.
In 1942 it managed to break the allied blockades of Dakar and Djibouti and flew back to the South of France where it stayed, useless, during the rest of the war.
Meanwhile the "non occupied zone" was occupied by the Germans who destroyed most of the aircraft when retreating in 1944.
The model ...
The Ron Crawford HBM model consists of four resin castings, wings, fuselage and the two stub wings.
No struts, no propellers, no decals.
Some surgery was necessary on the fuselage and the wings to have something more convincing, using there view drawings and photos, I added a few details.
Once finished the model is now made of 63 parts.
Many thanks to Laurent, a DAC member and the French Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace for providing rare photos which were very helpful.
The High visibility orange stripes on the wings were mandatory in the late 30s for all flying boats.
Of course, color pictures were not available in those days and I am afraid that the shade of my orange is a bit too dark.
When printed on the decal the shade of orange was what I wanted it to be, but I used a clear decal paper and when applied on the light gray of the aircraft it became a bit too dark.
Anyway, I enjoyed making a quite unusual model which of course will never be produced and I am very pleased to add it to my AF fleet.
Great addition to your fleet JP. You are of course blessed that AF had such a diverse fleet and rich history. This makes collecting so much more fun.
Always great to read your stories behind the airframe. Interesting to see AF was also obliged to use the colour orange during their operations in the war. KLM used orange for their C-47's painting the whole airframe instead.
Have original parts of the aircraft been kept after the war or has anyone ever tried to rebuild the airframe?
Firstly,taking on this project was clearly huge. Secondly building it with just the shell to work with and making so many parts. Thirdly, the decals must have taken quite some work. The history of this majestic aircraft is quite something special. Thanks my friend for sharing with us. I too am working on a very small model and some times your eyes can play tricks. This is one finely built model JP
wow! This a stunner. A true flying boat from the time that air travel had 'grandeur'. What an impressive machine this was in its days. Imagine the sound it made. It all comes to live in your model. Beautiful details and a clean finishing. I love that loop type antenne on top of the fuselage: is that a so called 'slinger-ring'? Such a typical piece of equipment for those years. To be honest (and I am fairly type-proof) this type and its mysterious history is new to me! So another nice niche added to our knowledge today! Thanks for sharing.