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GOT: The Breguet Bre 460 - 462


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#1 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:29 AM

My dear friends of warbirdsforum.com, after a lot of difficulties and other occupations I had, this is now the first real GOT topic for the new list. And it is quite uncommon, even for GOT topic standards. Greg "only" had the Bre 462 on his list, but for this aircraft only little information is available, what would not match the requirements for a GOT topic. A GOT topic is not a historic or Wikipedia article; its intention is to please aircraft enthusiasts rather than information seekers (for this I also refrained from including technical data, you can find them in other sources). Just for a random try, I looked the net for the Bre 462's predecessor, the Bre 460. And I was lucky. So I am sure nobody minds we deviate from the given list and put the emphasize here on the Bre 460.

The "normal" informations here about Bre 460 and Bre 462 are from airwar.ru, my most proven source, although this time it is clear that it contains mistakes. What I found about the Bre 460 are two very nice pictures of best quality, and an article about its final fate. Very uncommon, at least for our, or my, circumstances, is the language of this article. It is written in Catalan. You know? Catalan is a romanic language, spoken by some millions of people in Eastern Spain, in southern direction until Murcia, also on the Balearic Islands. Most people outside Spain don't know about that, it surely is the most unknown big European language.

For translating, I used the Google translation service. The results were:

- for Russian very smooth, as usual, although the word sequence often needs to be changed
- for Catalan very unsatisfying, although one or two sentences could be transferred completey.

Fortunately, Catalan is a very clear and logic language as I never seen one before. And lots of surrounding information about things that were not translated by the Google service (as ist always happens with the really difficult parts, e.g. what the hell is "escalenc"? An inhabitant or something else from the town of L'Escala...) can be found by using the internet.

The article itself is not very informative. The unending repeatings of witness testimonies and newspaper citations may make you tired. But I think, as you consider the bad quality of the Google translation, a good translation needs an appropriate place in the net. This place is within a GOT topic of warbirdsforum.com, I think. If you mean you have to, you can skip it after some parts and continue with the Bre 462. But I think, in all lengthiness it is something worthwile remarking, further we really don't have much Spain or Catalonia here, and if you are not only after aircraft, the local color expressed in the article may also motivate you to read it.

Let's start about the Breguet Bre 460 with its story from airwar.ru:

The idea of creating a multifunctional aircraft, able to solve problems of fighter escort, bomber, reconnaissance and attack aircraft has arisen in the First World War during the years 1916-1918. When the level of aviation substantially grew and designers from different countries had managed to create several successful projects, subsequently they were embodied in the fighting forces and took part in the hostilities. As a rule, they were quite heavy twin-engined aircraft with a crew of 3-6 people and machine-gun defensive weapons. Significant shortcomings of these machines were: lack of speed for a fighter, a little bomb load for a bomber and weak armor for ground attack.

In the 1920's this question has been raised repeatedly over and each time, the result was to receive a strange hybrid, which use as multi-purpose aircraft was simply impossible. Simple logic would dictate that an aircraft as an all-in-one to get is not realistic. In any case, it would have a serious disadvantage, to get rid of that without a redesign would be difficult. Seemed the project to be a bomber - bomber is quite capable.

It is curious that the French Ministry of Aviation, giving specifications for the establishment of an aircraft of any class, within a year has managed to change its priorities, since in 1933 the Air Force became a separate genus of troops and aircraft from companies were required to obtain the most perfect fighting machine. So, in August specifications were issued for the aircraft type "multiplace de combat" - multi-seat fighter plane, that was doomed to failure at the time of its birth. Parameters, as laid down, actually did not allow to improve the resulting plane and make it at least a full bomber, which eventually happened.

When the designers went to work on a new development program of the Air Force on Nov. 17, 1934 (Plan I), priority was given directly to the high-speed bomber: its expected construction on a competitive basis aircraft class B5 has no front turret, but machine guns in the wings and still a high-speed performance. In 1936, the requirements have changed again - now required by Class B4 was a bomber with a maximum speed of 470 km / h and flight range of about 3000 km.

We must applaude to the designers of the company Breguet - they have turned out quite a modern multi-purpose bomber with a clean aerodynamic lines, which distinguishes it from the "suitcases" - angular heavy monoplanes, which entered service in 1932-1934. Layout of defensive arms provided a nearly circular area of defence, while the small frontal turret and the flat belly section increased the chance to reach reach a maximum of flight speed (see yourself if the pictures shown really this kind of outline, RT). From existing engines at that time one of the most powerful was chosen for the prototype, the radial Gnome Rhone 14Kjrs.

Of the eight companies that participated in the contest, six managed to get a contract to build a prototype, and later three of them had been issued an order for production of aircraft, which resulted in bombers and scouts - they were Potez 540, Bloch MB 130 and Amiot 140 . As can be seen in the number of these "lucky" Bre 460 missed, and for good reasons. As already mentioned, the airplane is out of date at the time of the appearance specifications, 1933, and during its construction, a number of technical difficulties appeared, resulting in the first prototype taking off only in 1935. During test flights it achieved a velocity of 385 km / h and a range of over 3,000 km, but the Air Force command is now focussed on the new bomber which would have been born in 1937. As expected, the "clean" bombers LeO 45 and Amiot 340 showed high performance of speed, but production models of these machines could not appear before1938. In addition, the requirements for attack aircraft had not yet been worked out but in 1938, according to new specification AB2, resulting into serial production of aircraft there was launched a series of Bre .691 / 693.

Due to changes in specifications the bomber Bre 460 bomber belonged to class B4, but it was already clear that for the new projects it is not a rival. And at the end of 1936 there was little hope of life extension for the project.

In this year the French aviation industry was nationalized and many firms were merged into a concern. This was done to accelerate the modernization of the Air Force, but the effect was quite the opposite. Only the company Breguet was able to avoid such merging, even managing to expand at the expense of its production capacity. (This cannot be quite true, although the Wikipedia informations are not very straight. Breguet WAS absorbed by SNCAN and SNCAO, but only in 1939, and after WWII it appeared again with new aircraft under the constructor name "Breguet", RT).

The civil war in Spain allowed to sell to the war-waging parties a lot of old or unneeded equipment, and simultaneously to test new models of aircraft under combat conditions. Needless to explain the Bre 460 matched both categories, and so after some negotiations, the French government agreed to leave the only prototype of the bomber to the Republican Air Force, intending to test its true combat effectiveness. In 1937, the plane arrived in Spain (this happened already in June 1935, about one year before the outbreak of the civil war, according to the article below ans the "good" pictures as well, RT) and became a member of one of the bomber groups. Specific information about the combat work Bre 460 missing, but it is known that most of the time spent bomber on the ground.

Preliminary end of the airwar.ru article. Well, I don't know how much airwar.ru really "knows" in this case, and it is not known how many sorties the Bre 460 performed and how it was judged by the Republican Spanish aviators, but it is known how it ended. Its tragical fate is theme of the article from Catalan which follows after link I give here to show the origin (Scala Hannibalis is the old Roman name of L'Escala, the town Empúries may be better known under its Spanish name Ampurias):


• The case of the Breguet 460 bomber

Because of the constant threat during the Civil War by raids of ships and aircraft against the Girona coast, a squadron headed by the Breguet 460 was founded, based on the airfield of Celrà, in order to make it to the front. This two-engined would end up crashing into the sea near to Empúries surrounded by an aura of mystery that generate all sorts of speculation (one to be exact, if only here, see end, RT).


According to article "The Breguet 460 Vultur's Odyssey in Spain" by David Gesali and Carlos Lazaro, published in the aeronautical magazine SERGI (July-August 2002), the only example of the French built bomber Breguet Vultur 460-01 in June 1935 reached Barajas for the purpose of testing and modernizing the precarious Spanish military air park, at the request of the Minister of War JM Gil Robles. The final purchase of the apparatus was not completed until 24 November 1936,when the poet and journalist Corpus Barga had done the decisive intervention.


This twin-engine monoplane, 14.5 meters long and 4.2 high, was redesigned in 1933 following its commercial failure. It was a plane that brought military novelties and was equipped to defend itself from attacks by fighters. The two engines of 840 hp, which gave it a cruising speed of 300 km / h, and 1076 kg of offensive payload made it a medium bomber. It had a range of 2,500 km and employed a crew of 6 members. It was probably the most well camouflaged aircraft of its time, not wearing any number or anything else distinguishing.


The Breguet 460 eventually arrived in mid-February 1937 on the airfield of Celrà after a trip to Lleida and Manises. This airfield, the first military one established in our region (others near Figueres and Vilajuïga were built months later), was sectored within the 3rd Air Region in November 1936 because of attacks by aircraft and naval vessels against the Girona coast, citing Artemi Rossell: The airfield of Celrà (1936-1939) (1997). Night Flight Group no. 11, formed by the Breguet and two Marcel Bloch MB 210, was created on this base on 14 February 1937. The Breguet's crew were: first pilot Captain Ramon Torres, second pilot Lieutenant Francesc Cabré, observer Pere Subirà, gunners Roldán Gómez and Manuel Mateu, finally mechanic Josep R. Gener.


Ramon Torres Guasch (1906-1937) had just returned from the front of Madrid, where he commanded a fighter squadron. Torres had previously rendered valuable services to the Aragon front where he achieved the rank of captain. According to delegate for the Barcelona province from the party ERC ("Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya", Republican Left of Catalonia) and director of newspaper "La Humanitat" Mariano Rubió Tudurí (1896-1962), who wrote in: Barcelona 1936-1939 (2002), "The engineer Ramon Torres, son of a powerful Catalan industrial, was a man necessary for the rights of his origin, but away from politics, who died in service of the Republic. His life was a constant adventure. He was a bullfighter and he left the bulls in favour of aircraft."


Ramon Torres, according to Josep Canudas in: Catalan Aviation History (1983), received his pilot's license in the school Progreso de Barcelona and then went to Paris to buy a plane Potez 43 of 110 hp. After several more flights in Catalonia, he flew around the Iberian Peninsula and participated in the Sabata Trophy competition in which he reached the second position. In November 1934 he crossed Africa alone and received glory: this flight triumph earned him the Harmon Trophy in the highest category of the World Aeronautical Federation. This story had to lead the sports sections of newspapers from Barcelona.

Four days after the fascist uprising, Ramon Torres enlisted as a lieutenant in the Republican aviation. On July 22, a GP-2 (Gil-Pazo ~, an indigenous Spanish open two-seat sportsplane type, RT) piloted by Torres, who was the owner, made a reconnaissance flight to the sector Barbastro-Lleida-Huesca. Other civilians who became famous Republican aviator pilots were Josep Canudas (1898-1975), pioneer and champion of aviation in our country, Josep M. Carreras (1906), Pepa Colomer (1913) and Marià Foyé (1904-1937). In the Catalan zone, military aviation was the only formation that kept on generally being loyal to the government of the Republic.


Around 8 pm on 5 March 1937, the Breguet crashed into the sea near the "Armored Beach" of Cagarra between Empúries and Sant Pere Pescador, after somersaulting for a few moments (I don't know if "armoured beach" is a correct translation, this is was the program does and reminds of the sometimes very rocky Catalan coast, probably is that the really meaning is the beach of L'Armentera, what also can mean "armored" in the root, RT). Probably due to the presence of the cruiser "Canarias" (a warship in hands of the fascists, RT), the aircraft got hit and tried to make an emergency landing on the field after returning from an action in the Bay of Roses. By the impact in shallow waters near the beach, the aircraft broke into three pieces. Its errant flight and subsequent decline has been observed by many inhabitants of L'Escala as well as farmers of Empúries and "Armored Beach" people who were on fishing nearby.


The entire crew was killed: Captain Ramon Torres, Navy Lieutenant Daniel Araoz, mechanic Josep R. Gener, and gunners Manuel Mateu and Roldan Gómez. Upon receiving the alarm, Torres and Araoz withdrew from the Girona Hotel Peninsular, where they were staying, and headed to the airfield of Celrà. In the rush, the Breguet took off without the second pilot Cabré and the observer Subirà, which did not arrive in time, the alarm took them by surprise during a nap in a hall of the airfield's canteen where they had lunch.


A source tells Domènec Gamito Font (1928) that day he and his playmates saw from their spot (actually Passeig del Mar) a plane that emitted a loud noise, coming from Punta Montgó and moved to the side of Empúries at little height. Francesc Sala Sastre (1927) was in the company of others looking out from Port d'en Perris when one of them, Salvador Sala nicknamed "Grandfaher Vadoret", shouted out: "crash, crash!".


Pere Coll Puig (1917) from Empúries recalls: "I was playing at the vineyard site near the door of the wall when I saw a plane coming from the direction of of Montgó, flying at a height of 50 meters towards the close (where there is now the camping area La Ballena Alegre) and it fell into the sea a few meters from the waterline. Martí Bosch Alsina (1925) was helping his grandfather John Bosch Saguer nicknamed "Puntònico" to irrigate the grass-crested dunes near Riuet when "we heard a terrifying scream that came from an aircraft coming from the south and sank in our near distance."


The fishing boats from L'Escala that were closer to the bay immediately came to provide relief and fishermen who had seen the accident from the harbour came out with cobwebs and sloops. There, they found two of the five completely mutilated bodies, they were Torres and Araoz. First they were moved to the sand and afterwards, as Pere Coll reminds: "It was the horse was called "Quico" by Pepet, nicknamed "El Deveser", the grandfather of Pere Ros, which transported the corpses to the cemetery of Empúries on a cart. That evening the aerodrome of Celrà received a phone call from L'Escala which reported the fatal outcome.


The fishermen spent all night trying in vain to recover the other bodies. At dawn, in the presence of the second pilot Francesc Cabré and the observer Subirà, with the fuselage and rudder still out of the water, the other bodies were recovered, totally disfigured due to the strong impact. Domènec Gamito tells, his father, Manuel Gamito Pujol pulled the last body from the entrance of the bomber, Domènec kept many years a lot of parts from the front cockpit of the aircraft. Josep Clos Blanco (1924) went to see the plane laying there: "I just rode by bike in the morning along the beach and I could see how far the remains of the plane had been pulled out of the water by horses." He took a remainder that he still keeps today, a buckle and a piece of silk fabric of a parachute.


The three bodies were transported by sea to L'Escala and deposited on the ground in front of the cafè "Can Trenta" ("Thirtieth Can"). David Quintana Juli (1893-1978), a member of the network of Pelegrí Artigas Sallés, who was in the company of young Francisco Artigas Sallés, moved some corpses to the port, recalls his daughter Maria Quintana Batalla (1921). Ramon Guillot Salart (1924) explains that his father Batista Guillot Pascual and Ramon Solés Planas had also brought a corpse with his boat. At one o'clock p.m. an ambulance of the Red Cross from Barcelona collected the five bodies and moved them to the Catalan capital and on 7 March they were buried with great solemnity. The remains of the Breguet were loaded into trailers and taken to Celrà.


According to Enric Riera in: L'Armentera, 1936-1975 (1993): "A plane of the red colour (that doesn't mean the varnish, the "Reds" were the Republican side, RT) crashed at the beach of Cagarra. It was doing many laps over the surrounding fields, flying so low that farmers working there could hear the screams and something else that emerged inside. Finally, the aircraft, after somersaulting, fell into the water about six meters from the sand, bounced up and sank about 25 m from the beach. The villagers, with tows, recovered the remains of the plane and the seven (fortunately they were only five, RT) crew members, and some of younger guys like Joan Torrent, still remember that the shirts were made of parachute silk fabric.


The newspaper "L'Autonomista" from Girona published the day after the events: "Nearly eight in the evening an aircraft that went out to the coast to give loyal service and while it was flying over the beach of L'Escala, suffered a serious engine failure, resulting to this it fell into the sea (...). The sailors said people have come out with their boats in search of other bodies of aviators. " This newspaper, the same day, March 6, reported from the 'Military High Command of Defence of the Coast': "On this place there have been the bodies of three killed crew members of the plane that crashed yesterday near L'Armentera."


"La Vanguardia", in its edition of Sunday 7 March, reported under the title 'Tragic accident in aviation on the Costa Brava': "Approximately 8 in the night, a plane staying loyal undertook a reconnaissance flight off the Costa Brava, flying over the town of L'Escala where it somersaulted due to engine breakdown, and fell into the water a few hundred meters from the beach (...)". The newspaper "La Rambla" included the witness of a sheperd who said that Breguet had received an artillery impact of a fascist cruiser after having bombed it and spoke of shrapnel marks on the aircraft fuselage; this newspaper was founded by the Spanish Member of Parliament delegate for the ERC and FC Barcelona president Josep Sunyol Garriga (1898-1936), arrested and executed on 6 August 1936 off Madrid, who had gone to explore the Sierra de Guadarrama controlled by Franco.

Another theory says it could have been due to a dispute that made the plane get lost of control because Lieutenant Araoz tried to force Torres and the rest to desert. In the article "Aircraft losses in the war in Spain", published in magazine "Historia y Vida" no. 323 (1995), Carlos Engel writes: “(…) The navy lieutenant Daniel Araoz Vergara and the NCO Ramon Torres saw their plans of escape frustrated. So, they apparently tried to kidnap the airplane, (…) around L'Escala, with the corpses of the five crew men pitted with shots, consequence of the fight that took place.”

Francesc Cabré, the second pilot of the Breguet, always believed that the plane was injured and saw no credibility in the theory of a rebellion by Araoz, according to Gesali and Lázaro in their article. The version according to which it perhaps had been hit by the "Canarias" is feasible, after this they sought refuge on the coast of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, but were repelled by the Sant Elm battery for not identifying their aggravating condition; then Ramon Torres, knowing about the beaches of Empúries for having once landed a plane there and by the occasion of being hosted at Hotel Empúries, so he looked for the perfect location for an emergency landing

End of the scalatunel article. I have cut the last two sentences of airwar.ru about the Bre 460 to lead to the Bre 462. See after the Bre 460 pictures.

Now let's go into pictures. The first three ones I have since a longer time and don't know the sources any more, they may be from forums.fr.ubi.com, in any case you can retrieve them by googling. The first two show the aircraft in French colours, on the third one, where it is attractively towed, the French tricolor on the tail has changed to the one of the Spanish Republic.




#2 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:33 AM

The following two pictures are the especially good ones, their source is urbanity.es. But don't go there for trying to find more pictures of rare aircraft, I tried and failed. According to the original labels and the scalatunel article, which shows the first picture in less size, the scene happens on the airfield of Barajas on 10 June 1935 (still in French markings). Note the enthusiastic engagement of the many civilians:



This picture, improved a bit using XnView (like the others), is from the scalatunel article and wants to demonstrate the last moves of the aircraft on the original site. For me, the loops look a bit narrow.

Finishing section of the airwar.ru topic about the Bre 460:

History of the Bre 460 ended quite ordinary (what is not true, as seen above, RT). Work on it in the same year 1936 turned into favor of a more perfect version, the Bre 462, startig with test flights in October 1936.

And let's continue with (another airwar.ru topic as stated above) the


Breguet Br 462 Vultur - bomber-attack aircraft, designed by French firm Breguet Aviation.
The aircraft is a modernized version of the bomber Breguet 460. Both bombers were similar, but the new model has some differences - the contours of engine cowlings and forward fuselage have been changed, which reduced the area of the glazed cabin, a new tail section was installed, also new engines and reinforced arms (as required by Air Force bombers were obliged to have at least one 23 mm gun).
First flight took place in October 1936. After several problems the aircraft was sent back for revision. As the Br.462 had new engines of type Gnome Rhone 14NO, delivering a power 940 hp, it was able to develop a speed of 402 km / h at an altitude of 6400 meters. Nevertheless, all these steps have not been successful. The French Air Force ordered a total of only three aircraft, because the concept was considered insufficient. Three Aircraft Bre.462 B4 were built in 1937, according to the signed contract, but they were officially not commissioned and did not share in the campaign of 1939-1940. Subsequently, the two surviving aircraft in flying condition were transferred to the Vichy Air Force, where they were used for various minor purposes, and in 1942 sent for scrapping.

Picture from airwar.ru also:


Let me end this uncommon GOT topic also in an uncommon, OFF topic way. Googling for additional information, I remembered how amazing it is how people living in times far away from the computer or internet age, find their way to the net. My own grandfather (maternal side) was one of the creators of Czechoslovak social legislation, what I didn't know before. His Catalan contemporary, "Avi (Grandfather) Vadoret", who is mentioned in the scalatunel article above (I had to google what "Vadoret" means, it is the familiar Catalan form of "Salvador"!), was a shipwright, and his grandson still is. Asked about how he sees the future of his ages-old craft, the grandson states: "As long as there is a sea and men to travel it, there always will be shipwrights." I hope this sentence is also valid for other things we today must fear to disappear.

Regards, RT

Edited by Romantic Technofreak, 07 August 2013 - 04:24 PM.

#3 flying kiwi

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 11:26 AM

What has always amazed me is how the French managed to make some of the ugliest aeroplanes ever seen. It also seems that the ugly ones were never much good at fulfilling their intended missions.

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