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Potez 25

Reconnaissance Bomber Biplane

Around 4,000 Potez 25 reconnaissance bombers were built and saw service with a plethora of operators worldwide.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 5/25/2016
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1925
Manufacturer(s): Potez - France
Production: 4,000
Capabilities: Ground Attack; Reconnaissance (RECCE);
Crew: 2
Length: 30.18 ft (9.2 m)
Width: 46.42 ft (14.15 m)
Height: 11.81 ft (3.6 m)
Weight (Empty): 3,307 lb (1,500 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 5,644 lb (2,560 kg)
Power: 1 x Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb W12 water-cooled inline piston engine developing 478 horsepower.
Speed: 134 mph (215 kph; 116 kts)
Ceiling: 18,045 feet (5,500 m; 3.42 miles)
Range: 373 miles (600 km; 324 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 690 ft/min (210 m/min)
Operators: Afghanistan; Belgium; Brazil; China; Croatia; Ethiopia; Estonia; Finland (trialled); France (Free French); Greece; Guatemala; Imperial Japan; Paraguay; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Spain; Switzerland; Soviet Union (trialled); Turkey; United States; Uruguay; Yugoslavia
Potez began making aeroplanes after the close of World War 1 in 1919. Its first work involved repurposing SEA IV twin-seat military fighter aircraft into the SEA VII civilian guise. From this came a far-reaching history that would see the company producing aircraft during the Second World War (1939-1945) and into the Cold War (1947-1991) before closing its doors for good in 1967. Back in 1925, the concern introduced a new modern biplane design as the "Potez 25" and this went on to have a healthy service life with around 4,000 examples produced.

Taking the earlier Potez 15 biplane as a starting point, company engineers looked to developing a larger, heavier version with stronger performance characteristics suited for a variety of over-battlefield roles. The revised aircraft emerged with a Hispano-Suiza 12Ga W-12 series engine of 451 horsepower through a single prototype known as the "1925 Experimental". The aircraft carried a crew of two seated in tandem in a pair of open-air cockpits behind the upper wing element. The wing mainplanes were of uneven span (sesquiplane) with the upper section decidedly wider than the lower and the corresponding parallel struts generated a single-bay arrangement. The wheeled undercarriage was fixed during flight (a tail skid bringing up the rear) and the engine, mounted at the nose, drove a two-bladed wooden propeller in the usual way. The tail was of traditional arrangement, utilizing a single vertical fin with the horizontal planes seated at the top of the aft fuselage sides.

The prototype was completed in 1924 and this year also saw its first flight recorded. The aircraft saw deeper testing into 1925 and proved itself to French Air Force authorities who ordered it into serial production to fulfill a reconnaissance role. A second form was developed as a bomber-reconnaissance platform.

Standard armament became 2 x 7.7mm machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts at the upper forward fuselage and a single 7.7mm machine gun in the rear cockpit on a trainable mount. Up to 200 kilograms of drop stores could be carried for the bomber role.

Due to the glut of post-military aircraft in the world market following World War 1, Potez faced the challenge of selling its new large biplane to mildly interested parties. As such, it became common to feature the type in the various air races permeating the globe in an effort to showcase the design's true potential. In this way, the Potez 25 was able to secure first place in several mainly European air races and the marketing ploy worked in Potez's favor, the Potez 25 becoming a successful commercial venture for the French aircraft-maker.

Of the 4,000 Potez 25 systems built, 2,500 were produced in France alone with the rest taken on by foreign operators from Afghanistan to Belgium and Uruguay to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Croatia managed to capture forty-two Yugoslav Air Force examples. The Soviet Union trialled the aircraft through two examples but elected for a local design for their needs instead. The series was also used by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) while 300 aircraft were built in Poland for the Polish Air Force. The series was used by Paraguay in the Chaco War against Bolivia and a sole Finnish example, taken on for evaluation, managed an amazing 700 hours in the air.

The Potez 25 witnessed a large collection of designations associated with the line - differing mainly in their respective engine fits - beginning with the standard two-seat observation variant as the Potez 25 A.2. These carried a Salmson 18CmB or Lorraine 12Eb engine fit of 520 horsepower. The Potez 25.5 was a version fitted with the Renault 12Jb and 100 were built to this standard. The Potez 25.8 became the reconnaissance-bomber form and these were powered by a Farman 12Wc W-12 engine of 500 horsepower. Various other designs existed including a two-seat trainer (Potez 25.55) of which 40 were built, a long-range model (as the Potez 25GR) carrying a Lorraine 12Eb W-12 engine of 450 horsepower, and a floatplane prototype (the Potez 25H - two being built with Gnome-Rhone Jupiter radial piston engines).

The Potez 25 design was officially retired during the 1940s and managed service with some twenty air forces militarily and succeeded in the private market before the end.


2 x 7.7mm machine guns in fixed, forward-firing positions at forward fuselage.
1 x 7.7mm machine gun on trainable mounting in rear cockpit.

Up to 200 kilograms (440lb) of conventional drop stores.

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Variants / Models

• Potez 25 - Base Series Designation
• "1925 Experimental" - Prototype; fitted with Hispano-Suiza 12Ga W-12 engine of 451 horsepower.
• Potez 25 A.2 - Observation platform; fitted with Salmson 18Cmb / Lorraine 12Eb engine of 520 horsepower.
• Potez 25.5 - Fitted with Renault 12Jb engine of 500 horsepower; 100 examples completed.
• Potez 25.8 - Reconnaissance bomber form; carrying Farman 12Wc W-12 engine of 500 horsepower.
• Potez 25.12 - Reconnaissance model; fitted with Salmson 18Cmb radial engine of 520 horsepower; 280 examples completed.
• Potez 25.23 - European touring model of 1928; single example completed
• Potez 25.35 - Target-Tug model
• Potez 25.36 - Monoplane variant
• Potez 25.44 - Reconnaissance-Bomber form; fitted with Renault 12Jb V-12 engine of 500 horsepower; 74 examples completed.
• Potez 25.47 - Liaison model for French Air Force service; fitted with Hispano-Suiza 12Lb V-12 engine of 600 horsepower.
• Potez 25.55 - Trainer variant; 40 examples completed
• Potez 25 ET.2 - Trainer variant; carrying Salmson 18Ab radial engine of 500 horsepower.
• Potez 25 "Farman" (Potez 25/4) - Fitted with Farman 12We engine for observation role within French Air Force; 12 examples completed.
• Potez 25GR - Long-range model; fitted with Lorraine 12Eb W-12 engine of 450 horsepower.
• Potez 25 "Jupiter" - Export mode with Gnome-Rhone 9Ac Jupiter engine of 420 horsepower; local production by Portugal and Yugoslavia.
• Potez 25H - Floatplane prototype fitted with Gnome-Rhone 9A Jupiter engine; two examples.
• Potez 25 "Hispano-Suiza" - Fitted with Hispano-Suiza 12Lb engine; VIP passenger transport variant.
• Potez 25M - One-off with Hispano-Suiza engine; monoplane (parasol) wings
• Potez 25-O - Reinforced airframe for very-long-range North Atlantic service; fitted with Jupiter radial piston engine and jettisonable undercarriage; two examples completed.
• POtez 25 TOE - Definitive production model with Lorraine 12Eb W-12 engine; 795 examples built.
• Potez "Clerget" - One-off testbed fitted with Clerget 14F-01 diesel-fueled radial engine.
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