Welcome to another suggestion. In this one we will be looking at a French reconnaissance and light attack aircraft: the ANF Les Mureaux 115.
The Les Mureaux 115 is a further development of the earlier 113, which in turn was the production version of the 110 and 111 prototypes. These earlier aircraft was designed primarily as a reconnaissance aircraft, responding the the R.2 requirement of the French Air Force. This requirement outlined the need for a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft. The aforementioned 110 and 111 were presented to officials and soon after ordered into production. The resulting aircraft was the 113, this one first flew in 1933 and 49 of these aircraft were built. The 115 was the next production model, the Air Force had specifically requested the new machine to be based on the 113 as the latter was inexpensive and already in-service, making the transition to the new model easy. 119 Of these aircraft were eventually built, from the 120th model onwards, production was switched to the Les Mureaux 117 instead. This switch mostly had to do with the armament of the aircraft.
The Les Mureaux 115 had received a significantly improved armament over its predecessor the 113. The earlier version was only equipped with 2 forward firing 7.5mm machine guns, the newer 115 however came with a 20mm Hispano autocannon mounted in the propeller hub and an additional 1x or 2x 7.5mm machine guns that fired through the propeller. The observer in the back also had 2 defensive machine guns at his disposal: 1 firing directly towards the rear and another one firing towards the bottom through a hatch.
From the 115 onwards, the vehicles were also given the ability to function as a light attack aircraft. This meant that they were capable of carrying bombs. The carrying capacity was up to 200 kg. In practice this would be used by up to 4x 50 kg bombs. 2 under the fuselage and another 2 under the wings.
The armaments of the aircraft were good, in fact, too good for the role that the aircraft was supposed to fulfill. This is why the Les Mureaux 117 was conceived, while it retained the capacity to carry bombs, the 20mm autocannon was deemed too much and in this version it was replaced by 4x 7.5mm machine guns.
Despite its powerful armament, the ANF Les Mureaux 115 was still a very vulnerable plane, emphasized by its infamous historical feat of being the first French aircraft to be shot down in World War 2. This had everything to do with the vehicle’s flight performance.
The 115 was powered by an 860 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y, an engine that was rather common at the time as it also powered the M.S.406. This engine was however only capable of propelling the aircraft to a top speed of 327 km/h. This left the vehicle very vulnerable to enemy anti-aircraft fire as well as enemy fighters.
This weakness had not gone unnoticed by the French Air Force before the war, and the type was being replaced by the Potez 63.11, but by the time war broke out, a good amount of 115s were still in service. 6 of these were also assigned to attack squadrons. The aircraft were mostly used in their primary role as reconnaissance aircraft and, by the time the war started, were still the main aircraft of that type in the French Air Force. It is during such a reconnaissance mission over Germany that the unlucky 115 became the first downed French aircraft of the war.
In their attack role they proved to be somewhat successful as their slow nature became an advantage, allowing them to more accurately hit enemy ground targets. The type is credited with a few kills on ground targets, but their success usually only lasted until enemy air cover showed up.
By the fall of France in 1940, only about 20 of the original 200 115s and 117 survived, the remaining airplanes were transferred to Vichy France, where they were disarmed and used as trainers. In 1941 all aircraft were removed from service.
- Length: 10.0 m
- Width: 15.4 m
- Height: 3.81 m
- Empty weight: 1757 kg
- Total weight: 2885 kg
- Crew: 2
- Powerplant: 1x 860 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y providing 860 hp
- Max speed: 327.5 km/h
- 1x 20mm Hispano 404 autocannon
- 1x or 2x 7.5mm MAC 34 machine guns
- 1x 7.5mm MAC 34 machine gun in dorsal position
- 1x 7.5mm MAC 34 machine gun in ventral position
- Up to 4x 50 kg bombs
The ANF Les Mureaux 115 is a great option for a domestic rank 1 or even reserve attacker for the French air tree. Its 20mm cannon would give it quite the punch against both enemy aircraft and ground targets. The bombs would be an extra threat against the latter. However, the mediocre performance of the vehicle would serve as a balancing factor, as it would be relatively easy to shoot down by both aircraft and SPAA that are paying attention. All-in-all I think it would be a fun all-rounder that can bring some more domestic French designs to the tree, which can only be seen as a positive.
ANF-Mureaux 115, 117 - observation
War Machines Drawn: ANF Les Mureaux 115
ANF Les Mureaux 113-117 ::: http://fandavion.free.fr