Breguet Br.690 (Series) Ground Attack / Dive Bomber Aircraft
Like other useful combat aircraft for the French prior to the German invasion of World War 2, the Breguet 690 was primarily limited by low production figures.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The multi-crew, twin-engined heavy fighter / ground attack aircraft truly came into its own during the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945) as there were many targets to be had both in the air and on the ground. Development of key aircraft of the war actually began prior to the conflict in the 1930s and this work produced such classics as the American P-38 "Lightning", the British DH.98 "Mosquito" and the German Messerschmitt Bf 110 (all detailed elsewhere on this site). The French did their part in attempting to acquire useful twin-engined heavy fighter designs and the Breguet 690 series was one product of the period.
The Breguet 690 emerged from a 1934 French Air Ministry requirement calling for a new three-seat, twin-engined, all-modern heavy fighter. Breguet engineers elected for an aircraft that exceeded the weight restrictions put forth by French authorities so the rights to the requirement were fulfilled by the competing Potez 630 series. Breguet persevered with their Bre.690, now as a private venture, and attempted to the French Air Force on the merits of a heavier, robust and multirole attack platform. The prototype was completed in 1937 but sat without its engines until 1938 when it finally flew for the first time on March 23rd, 1938.
The French Air Force liked what they saw in the fast and powerful Model 690 and were also keen on developments and doctrine concerning ground attack platforms elsewhere. The Breguet 690 seemed to fit the bill and the modern design was eventually adopted in June of 1938 through a 100-strong order for a two-seat light attack bomber variant under the "Bre.691 AB2" designation. The order only grew when war with Germany was becoming a certainty and modernization of French forces took precedent.
The finalized Bre.691 offered a streamlined shape and its crew of two was positioned inline. A mid-mounted monoplane planform was relied upon while the tail unit was arranged in a twin-rudder configuration. The undercarriage - of "tail dragger" form - was retractable save for the tail wheel. All positions except the rear dorsal station were enclosed with window panels. The engine nacelles were fitted well-forward in the design along their respective wing leading edges - offering the pilot a clean look at each unit while, at the same time, restricting critical views out-of-the-cockpit. Because of the low operating altitudes expected of the Br.691 attacker, crew sections were protected in armor and fuel tanks were self-sealing compartments.
As an attack platform, the Bre.691 was appropriately armed through 1 x 20mm cannon and 2 x 7.5mm machine guns in the nose (another benefit of mounting the engines in the wings was concentrated firepower from a hollowed-out nose section). A gunner managed a sole 7.5mm machine gun on a flexible mounting at the dorsal (aft-facing) position and another 7.5mm machine gun was mounted ventrally - though this installation fixed in place to fire solely rearward. An internal bomb bay carried between 800 lb and 1,000 lb of conventional drop stores with the intent that the aircraft conduct dive bombing actions against a target.