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GOLDEN AGE


Levasseur PL.4


Carrier-based Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft


The French Navy took on a stock of forty Levasseur PL.4 biplanes for the maritime reconnaissance role.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 11/3/2016
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Specifications


Year: 1926
Manufacturer(s): Levasseur - France
Production: 41
Capabilities: Navy/Maritime; Reconnaissance (RECCE);
Crew: 3
Length: 31.73 ft (9.67 m)
Width: 47.90 ft (14.6 m)
Height: 12.63 ft (3.85 m)
Weight (Empty): 3,748 lb (1,700 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 5,842 lb (2,650 kg)
Power: 1 x Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb engine developing 450 horsepower.
Speed: 111 mph (178 kph; 96 kts)
Ceiling: 16,404 feet (5,000 m; 3.11 miles)
Range: 559 miles (900 km; 486 nm)
Operators: France
The Levasseur concern, established by Frenchman Pierre Lavasseur, managed several aircraft products that were adopted by the French Navy throughout the early 1900s and this included the Levasseur PL.4, a maritime reconnaissance platform based on the earlier PL.2, itself a naval torpedo-bomber design. The PL.4 was given a traditional biplane-winged arrangement which featured single bays and apparel struts. The undercarriage was of a conventional "tail-dragger" design with the main legs wheeled and the tail supported by a simple skid. The crew of three was seated inline across three separate open-air cockpits. A first-flight was had in 1926 and the type went on to be adopted by the French Navy to serve on FS Bearn, a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier commissioned in 1927.

The PL.4 was given certain qualities about it to better perform its overwater role: should the crew have to bail the aircraft, the fuselage was given a boat-like hull design and floats were installed under the lower wing assembly. Additionally the undercarriage could be jettisoned prior to crash landing - these features intended to give the crew a fighting chance at surviving a crash.

About forty of the type were produced with the French Navy becoming its sole global operator. The sole prototype used to prove the design sound was the PL.4 A3 R3b.

As completed the aircraft exhibited a length of 9.7 meters, a wingspan of 14.6 meters and a height of 3.8 meters. Empty weight was 1,700 kg against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 5,800 kg. Power was from a Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb series engine developing a healthy 450 horsepower output and driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 111 miles per hour, a range out to 560 miles and a service ceiling reaching 16,400 feet.






Armament



None.

Variants / Models



• PL.4 - Base Series Designation
• PL.4 A3 R3b - Prototype designation; single example.
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