Welcome to another suggestion for a French World War 2 fighter. This time we’re looking at the Roussel R.30, a light fighter with an (for France) unusual trick up its sleeve.
The Roussel R.30 was designed as a private initiative by M. Roussel as an answer to the French government’s 1937 request for a new lightweight fighter aircraft. France at the time was unable to provide powerful engines with more than 1000 hp, which is why they put so much emphasis on lightweight fighter aircraft. After all, a small and light fighter would be able to achieve good flight performance with a less powerful engine. In this case the engine was a model that produced around 700 hp. The design for the Roussel R.30 was submitted and immediately liked by officials and a prototype was ordered to be built. As you might notice, the aircraft bears a certain resemblance to Bloch’s MB.151 (which was submitted to the same tender), and that is no Coincidence. M. Roussel was the brother of the designer of the M.B.151, this resulted in the design of the former aircraft being taken as the basis for the R.30. The dimensions of the 151 were downscaled to come to a smaller and lighter aircraft which would be a good fit for the promised engine. The resulting aircraft was about 1.5 times lighter than the M.B.151 that it was derived from. The prototype was built very quickly, being ordered near the end of 1938 and completed in July of 1939, the first flight of the type was on July 17th.
Official military testing started at CEMA near Paris in August of 1939. The performance of the type was admirable and it even outperformed the Caudron C.R.714. In its turn though, it was outperformed by the VG.30 and D.520. To bring the vehicle up to par with the latter two, it was decided that a more powerful engine would be fitted. An 800 hp model was chosen and the aircraft was soon dismantled to have it fitted. Unfortunately, by the time the Germans reached Paris in June of 1940, the aircraft was still dismantled. It was quickly loaded onto a truck and moved to Bordeaux to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. Sadly, after moving the aircraft it was seemingly never reassembled and was eventually lost when its hangar burned down in 1942.
The Roussel R.30 was a single-seat, all-metal, low wing monoplane. It featured two hydraulically retractable landing wheels and a retractable skid in the back. Power was provided by a single Gnome & Rhône 14M-7 which produced 690 hp. This allowed the aircraft to reach a maximum speed of 520 km/h at an altitude of 6000 m. It took the aircraft roughly 1 minute to reach an altitude of 1000 m and 8 minutes to get up to 5000 m.
Armament was originally supposed to be provided by 2 HS.404 20mm autocannons, but because of a shortage, these were replaced by the Oerlikon AS autocannon of the same caliber. These weapons were unsynchronized and were mounted in the wings of the plane. Unusually for a French fighter aircraft of the time, the R.30 also had provisions to carry a bomb. It could carry a single 250 kg bomb centrally under the fuselage.
- Length: 6.10 m
- Width: 7.75 m
- Height: 2.10 m
- Crew: 1
- Engine: 1x Gnome & Rhône 14M-7, providing 690 hp
- Maximum speed: 520 km/h
- Total weight: 1765 kg
- Empty weight: 1030 kg
- Main armament: 2x Oerlikon AS 20 mm autocannons
- Suspended armament: 1x 250 kg bomb
The R.30 would be another excellent domestic French design to add to the tree. This vehicle would be especially useful given that it could carry a 250 kg bomb, something that no other French fighter in-game can do. Combine this with good flight-performance and decent guns, and it makes that for a solid pick in both ground and air battles. I really hope we can get more domestic French designs of this era in-game, and this vehicle would be a really fun option to add to that representation. I’m certain that enthusiasts of French aviation will welcome the vehicle with open arms.