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  • Arsenal VG-33 Fighter Aircraft

    Only about forty or so French Arsenal VG-33 fighters were completed before the Fall of France in 1940.

     Updated: 7/28/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    In the grand scope of World War 2 fighter aircraft there is a little-remembered French design designated the Arsenal "VG-33". The aircraft was born from a rather lengthy line of prototype developments put forth by the company in the years leading up to World War 2 and the VG-33 represented the culmination of this work before the German invasion rendered all further work moot. The VG-33 was one of the more impressive prewar fighter ventures by the French that included the Dewoitine D.520, understood to be on par with the lead German fighter aircraft of the period - the famous Messerschmitt Bf 109.

    The Arsenal de l'Aeronautique concern was formed by the French government in 1936 ahead of World War 2. It began operations with design and development of a fast fighter type until the German conquer of France in 1940 after which the company then focused on engine production after 1945. Then followed a period of design and construction of gliders and missiles before being privatized in 1952 (as SFECMAS). The company then fell under the SNCAN brand label and became "Nord Aviation" in 1955.

    The VG-33 was the production form of the earlier VG-32 prototype and sources state that fewer than 40 of the type were completed by the time of the German incursion. About twelve were said to be in ready condition while a further 160 lay in incomplete along French assembly lines. Twelve examples fell to the Germans.

    Work on a new fast fighter began by Arsenal engineers in 1936 and the line began with the original VG-30 prototype achieving first flight on October 1st, 1938. Testing showcased a sound design with good performance and speed, certainly suitable for progression as a military fighter. Development continued into what became the VG-31 which incorporated smaller wings. The VG-32 then followed which returned to the full-sized wings and installed the American Allison V-1710-C15 inline supercharged engine of 1,054 horsepower. The VG-32 then formed the basis of the VG-33 which reverted to a Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 engine and first flight was in early 1939, months ahead of the German invasion of Poland. Flight testing then spanned into August and serial production of this model was ordered.

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    Arsenal VG-33 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1940
    Type: Fighter Aircraft
    National Origin: France
    Manufacturer(s): Arsenal de l'Aeronautique - France
    Production Total: 48

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 28.05 feet (8.55 meters)
    Width: 35.43 feet (10.80 meters)
    Height: 10.83 feet (3.30 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 4,519 lb (2,050 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 5,853 lb (2,655 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 V-12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 860 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 348 mph (560 kph; 302 knots)
    Maximum Range: 746 miles (1,200 km)
    Service Ceiling: 36,089 feet (11,000 meters; 6.84 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon firing through the propeller hub.
    4 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns in wings

    6 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns in wings

    Global Operators / Customers

    France; Nazi Germany

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    VG-30 - Original prototype; Hispano-Suiza 12Xcrs engine.

    VG-31 - Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 rnginr

    VG-32 - Allison V-1710C-15 engine

    VG-33 - Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 engine; adopted for serial production.

    VG-34 - Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 engine of 935 horsepower.

    VG-35 - VG-33 with uprated engine

    VG-36 - Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51 engine of 1,000 horsepower; revised undercarriage and radiator.

    VG-37 - Long-Range variant; based on VG-36

    VG-38 - Proposed model; Hispano-Suiza 12Y-77 engine.

    VG-39 - Proposed model; Hispano-Suiza 12Z engine of 1,280 horsepower; new three-gun wing.

    VG-39bis - Production model of VG-39; Hispano-Suiza 12Z-17 engine.

    VG-40 - Proposed variant with Rolls-Royce Merlin III engine.

    VG-50 - Proposed variant with Allison V-1710-39 engine.

    VG-60 - Proposed variant with Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51 engine of 1,000 horsepower.