Single Seat Monoplane Fighter
The Wibualt 7 became a French monoplane fighter design of the Interwar years - seeing foreign combat service with Paraguay during the Chaco Air War.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
In the early 1920s, Societe dea Avions Michel Wibault began work on a new monoplane fighter featuring a single-seat, single-engine layout with fixed, wheeled undercarriage and strut-supported mainplane (parasol type). A first-flight was had in 1924 and the type saw introduction during 1929 with the French Air Force becoming its primary operating service. Eventually the nations of Chile, Paraguay and Poland all operated the type - in the case of Paraguay the series saw action in the "Chaco War" against Bolivia.
"Societe des Avions Michel Wibault" (SAMW) was founded after the fighting of World War 1 in 1919 by Michel Wibault in Billancourt, France with a focus on aircraft. The company's first entry became the Wibault 1 fighter and this was followed by the Wibault 2 series night bomber of 1921. The firm went on to generate a healthy resume in the field of aviation and work progressed throughout the 1920s and 1930s until it merged with Penhoet.
The prototype aircraft was designated as Wib.7 and this model sported a Gnome-Rhone 9Ad radial piston engine of 480 horsepower. Three prototypes in all were produced and twenty-five production-quality units followed this standard. The Wb.71 were Wib.7 aircraft incorporating the Hispano 12 Jb series engines of 400 horsepower but eventually existed under the Wib.9 designation. The Wib.72 offering, with a reinforced structure, followed to fill future orders for both the French Air Force and the Polish Air Force. Poland, as well as Paraguay, received the follow-up Wib-73 which carried Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb W series engines of 451 horsepower. Twelve were built. The Wib.74 became eighteen French Navy aircraft, modified for maritime service with a crew of two and slightly sweptback mainplanes.
Vickers of Britain manufactured (under license) a variant all their own as the Vickers Wibault "Scout", these completed with Britsol "Jupiter" engines. Twenty-six of this standard went to Chile.
As designed, the Wib 7 showcased a length of 7.45 meters, a wingspan of 11 meters and a height of 2.9 meters. It held an empty weight of 830 kilograms against a gross weight nearing 1,445 kilograms. Power from its Gnome-Rhone 9Ac series radial of 420 horsepower allowed for a maximum speed of 230 kph, a range out to 600 kilometers, and a service ceiling of 8,500 meters. Rate-of-climb was 1,070 feet-per-second.
As a military-minded fighter, the aircraft carried 2 x 7.7mm air-cooled Vickers machine guns paired over the nose and firing through the two-blade propeller by way of interrupter gear.
Paraguay ultimately received seven Wib.73 models but only three remained in service at the outbreak of the Chaco War. Beyond this the series saw little action and was superseded by more impressive types appearing in the inter-war years.