The largest French bomber to reach operational-level status of the Interwar period became the Farman F.220 by Farman Aviation Works. A prototype recorded a first-flight in May of 1932 and production reached about eighty units from the period spanning 1935 to 1938. The F.220 marked the beginning of a series of related bombers and shared the same "push-pull" engine configuration seen in the earlier F.211 prototype (this form was not adopted by the French Air Force). Farman F-series heavy bombers saw operational service for France during the early stages of World War 2 (1939-1945), principally for lack of better, more modern alternatives.
The French aviation industry of the Interwar period was in constant flux and ownership changes hampered much of the innovation and prosperity witnessed by neighboring powers. The French were still in the habit of adopting ungainly bomber shapes that featured fixed undercarriages, heavy nose glazing, boxy fuselages and open-air crew stations. The F.220 followed suit and relied on many of the techniques proven through the F.211 which debuted in 1932.
A single prototype was used to define the new heavy bomber. Compared to the earlier F.211, the revised form carried an all-new tail unit and Hispano-Suiza 12Lbr series engines. The aircraft was converted to a mailplane form later in its life as the F.220B while production was managed under the "F.220-0" designation which resulted in four aircraft being built.
Another revision produced the "F.221" which now enclosed the gunner stations for improved comfort and communication. This model also carried Gnome-Rhone 14Kdrs engines. The F.221.01 served as the sole prototype and ten bombers followed to this standard.
The definitive F.220 variant became "F.222". Model F.222.1 was finally given a retractable undercarriage, defensive turrets, and Gnome-Rhone 14Kirs engines. It also featured leveled outer wing panels and carried a shorter nose assembly. Eleven of this bomber standard were constructed. F.222.01 was a prototype while F.222.2 carried a redesigned nose section (longer) as well as Gnome-Rhone 14N-11 engines and dihedral at the outer wing panels. Twenty-four aircraft were delivered to this standard. F.2220 became a proposed airliner version that was to carry 4 x Hispano-Suiza 12Xgrs engines - though only one prototype was completed and no serial production was forthcoming.
The F.223 brought along with it an all-new tail featuring twin rudders and the entire design was made more aerodynamically-friendly. Power stemmed from 4 x Hispano-Suiza 14AA-08 or -09 series engines of 1,100 horsepower output. This gave rise to a whole subset of variants based on this design with NC.223.1 serving as the prototype (now branded under the "SNCAC" label). Eight NC.223.3 bombers followed and the NC.223.4 was a mailplane conversion with three built. Fifteen NC-2233 models emerged as bombers and carried 4 x Hispano-Suiza 12Y-29 engines. The NC-2234 became three passenger airliners for Air France and powered by Hispano-Suiza 12Y-37 series engines.
The final F.220-related entry was "F.224" which was a 40-seat passenger airliner intended for Air France. The design was not purchased due to concerns about three-engine running at altitude. These were later used as transports by the French Air Force under the F.224TT designation. The French Navy also eventually relied on the F.220 series for the time.
The definitive F.222 bomber form entered French Air Force service in early 1937. In 1939, they represented the only four-engined bombers available to the French cause at the start of the war and were initially used as traditional bombers and for leaflet-dropping. The F-series claimed some notable actions in the early fighting - it marked the first Allied bomber (an NC.223.3) to pound Berlin and one F.222 was used by French pilot James Denis to ferry twenty comrades to Britain to continue the fight with the Free French Air Force following the loss of France ( June 1940).
From there, the type saw considerably less service of note and some of the stock followed the usual French route of transferring units to North Africa. Before the end, the series eventually fought for both the Free French and Vichy French forces though their obsolescence was becoming ever more apparent - they ended their days as dedicated transports.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
Production 80 Units
Farman Aviation Works / Societe Nationale de Constructions Aeronautiques du Centre (Aerocentre / SNCAC) - France
France; (Free French; Vichy France)
- Ground Attack
70.54 ft (21.5 m)
118.77 ft (36.2 m)
17.06 ft (5.2 m)
23,149 lb (10,500 kg)
41,226 lb (18,700 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Farman F.222.2 production model)
27,756 feet (8,460 m; 5.26 miles)
1,243 miles (2,000 km; 1,080 nm)
1,550 ft/min (472 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Farman F.222.2 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine gun in nose position
1 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine gun in dorsal position
1 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine gun in ventral position
Up to 9,240 pounds of conventional drop ordnance.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Farman F.222.2 production model)
F.220 - Base Series Designation
F.220.01 - Single prototype with Hispano-Suiza 12Lbr engines.
F.220B - Converted F.220 to serve as mailplane
F.220-0 - Production standard F.220B' four examples completed.
F.221 - Revised variant with Gnome-Rhone 14Kdrs engines; 10 examples.
F.221.01 - F.221 prototype model
F.222 - Definitive bomber variant
F.222.1 - Retractable undercarriage; shorter nose section; Gnome-Rhone 14Kirs engines; 11 examples completed.
F.222.01 - Prototype model based on F.221.01
F.222.2 - F.222.1 with Gnome-Rhone 14N-11 engines; revised nose section; 24 examples.
F.2220 - Prototype airliner for Air France; single example.
F.223 - Twin rudder tail; improved flight dynamics; Hispano-Suiza 14AA-08 or 14AA-09 engines of 1,100 horsepower.
SNCAC NC.223.1 - Prototype mailplane; single example
SNCAC NC.223.01 - Prototype bomber with Hispano-Suiza 12Xirs engines; single example.
SNCAC NC.223.2 - Proposed bomber form with Gnome-Rhone 14N engines; not built.
SNCAC NC.223.3 - Bomber variant with Hispano-Suiza 12Y-29 engines of 910 horsepower.
SNCAC NC.223.4 - Mailplane variant; three examples
SNCAC NC-2230 - Mailplane variant; Hispano-Suiza 12Xirs engines; single example.
SNCAC NC-2233 - Bomber variant based on F.223; Hispano-Suiza 12Y-29 engines; 15 examples.
SNCAC NC-2234 - Passenger airliners for Air France; Hispano-Suiza 12Y-37 engines; three examples.
F.224 - Proposed passenger airliner for Air France; Gnome-Rhone 14N-01 engines; six completed but taken on by French Air Force.
F.224TT - French Air Force designation of F.224 passenger airliner; used as dedicated transport.
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