Potez 540: Multipurpose Flying Coffin

Would you like to see this in-game?
  • Yes, don’t care how
  • Yes, as a researchable vehicle
  • Yes, as a premium/event/squadron vehicle
  • No
0 voters

Welcome to another suggestion, this time we will be looking at the Potez 540

The Potez 540 was born out of a 1932 requirement for a multi-crew multipurpose aircraft intended to replace the light bomber biplanes that were in service with the French air force at the time. Potez largely funded the project with private funds and by November 14 1933 the prototype of the new type would make its maiden flight. The design of the aircraft was very typical for a plane of its type in France at the time. It featured a rather flat and boxy tall fuselage with a high wing, accompanied by a smaller lower wing with the engine attached to the end of it. The prototype flew with the Hispano-Suiza 12Xbrs which provided 690 hp, these were fitted with 2 bladed propellers. The nose had a large glazed area and a defensive turret armed with a single 7.5mm machine gun above that section. Two other defensive turrets could be found on the plane, one in the dorsal position and one semi-retractable one in the ventral position. Both these turrets were also fitted with a single 7.5mm machine gun. Suspended armament consisted of either 4x 225kg bombs being mounted on the lower wing stubs, or 10x 55kg bombs. The original prototype also featured a twin tail, but that was soon given up in favor of a conventional single tail as the twin tail was found to cause excessive vibrations. Flight testing lasted from the 23rd of March until May 5th, during which the type proved itself to be fast and maneuverable. The 540 was eventually accepted into service on the 24th of November 1934. Production models didn’t differ in design from the last iteration of the prototype, but the engines had received a welcome upgrade. The plane received the Hispano-Suiza 12Xirs/jrs which produced 790hp each, an increase of 100hp over the previous engines. 185 Planes would eventually be built to this standard, and along with France, Spain and Romania also bought them. It was also in Spain that the plane would first see combat, being flown by the republican forces. Sadly it became obvious very quickly that the Potez 540 was already outdated for its time, becoming easy prey for the modern German and Italian-origin fighters that the nationalist forces were fielding. It is here that the Potez supposedly gained the nickname “flying coffin”, the plane simply was too fragile and its defensive turrets were not up to the task of defending the aircraft properly. Upon seeing the poor performance of their aircraft in the conflict, France quickly decided to relegate the type to service in the colonies or as a transport. By the time of world war 2, about 100 Potez 540s were still in service in the French air force, most of them stationed in North Africa. They did partake in hostilities there, but once again performed deplorably, as a result of their extreme vulnerability, they didn’t even take part in the battle of France. After the surrender of France, the remaining aircraft became the property of the Vichy regime who used it in the same manner as before. Employing it only as a transport or as deterrence in the colonies. By 1943 all aircraft had either been retired or lost in combat.


General characteristics:

Crew: 4 to 7 (dependent on whether functioning as transport or bomber)
Length: 16.2 m
Wingspan: 22.1 m
Height: 3.88 m
Empty weight: 3,785 kg
Gross weight: 5,950 kg
Powerplant: 2 × Hispano-Suiza 12Xirs V-12 liquid-cooled piston engines, 691 hp each
Maximum speed: 310 km/h at 3,962 m
Range: 1,250 km
Service ceiling: 10,000 m


Defensive armament:

  • 1x 7.5mm machine gun in a turret on the nose
  • 1x 7.5mm machine gun in dorsal turret
  • 1x 7.5mm machine gun in a semi-retractable ventral turret

Suspended armament:

  • 10x 55kg bombs
  • 4x 225kg bombs

Function in-game:

While it might not have been a great aircraft in real life, I still believe that this vehicle could be an asset to the French tech tree. I think this aircraft would be a perfect vehicle to start off the French bomber line, preceding the Potez 633. If placed at a battle rating of 1.0 to 1.3, it would be a great aircraft for people to take in their starting lineups. France can definitely profit from a more capable close-air-support vehicle at the lowest BR bracket, as the current 1.0 option offers nothing more than 2x 100kg bombs, the Potez 540 would be a nice upgrade over that. The fact that the vehicle was used by multiple nations and was produced in relatively large numbers should further reinforce the claim for this vehicle to go in the research tree rather than being relegated to a premium or event role, but of course, I’d be happy to see it come in any shape or form.

Sources & Images

Potez 540

Potez 540 Twin-Engine Reconnaissance-Bomber Aircraft

https://www.passionair1940.fr/Armee de l’Air/Appareils/Bombardement/Potez-542/EN-Potez-542.htm

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