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Letord LET (Series)

Three-Seat, Twin-Engine Biplane Reconnaissance Bomber Aircraft

Letord LET (Series)

Three-Seat, Twin-Engine Biplane Reconnaissance Bomber Aircraft


Only about 300 Letord series three-seat biplanes were realized out of the 1,500 ordered by the French Aeronautique Militaire during World War 1.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: France
YEAR: 1916
MANUFACTURER(S): Letord - France

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Letord Let.5 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 36.25 feet (11.05 meters)
WIDTH: 59.22 feet (18.05 meters)
HEIGHT: 12.14 feet (3.7 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 3,660 pounds (1,660 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 5,401 pounds (2,450 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Lorraine-Dietrich 8Fb engines of 240 horsepower each and driving two-bladed propeller units.
SPEED (MAX): 96 miles-per-hour (155 kilometers-per-hour; 84 knots)
RANGE: 217 miles (350 kilometers; 189 nautical miles)
CEILING: 15,978 feet (4,870 meters; 3.03 miles)

1 OR 2 x Machine guns on trainable mounting in nose cockpit position.
1 OR 2 x Machine guns on trainable mounting in dorsal midships position.

Up to 660lb of conventional drop munitions.
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Series Model Variants
• LET - Base Series Designation
• Let.1 - Original production model; dedicated reconnaissance model; fitted with Hispano-Suiza 8A series engines.
• Let.2 - Based on Let.1 but with Hispano-Suiza 8Ba engines.
• Let.3 - Dedicated bomber form; Hispano-Suiza 8Ba engines.
• Let.4 - Dedicated reconnaissance model; fitted with Lorraine-Dietrich 8A engines.
• Let.5 - Dedciated bomber form; Lorraine-Dietrich 8Fb engines.
• Let.6 (Ca.3) - Escort fighter variant; 1 x 37mm cannon in nose cockpit; 1 x Machine gun amidships; Hispano-Suiza 8Be engines.
• Let.7 - Dedicated bomber variant; Lorraine-Dietrich engines fitted.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Letord LET (Series) Three-Seat, Twin-Engine Biplane Reconnaissance Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/4/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Beginning in 1909, Emile-Louis Letord began construction of aircraft out of a facility in Meudon near Paris, France. Ultimately the company was commissioned to build aircraft from other manufacturers (including Dorand and Nieuport) until the concern headed development of their own three-seat biplane - the Letord Let.1. The series encompassed the Let.1 up to the Let.7 and some 1,500 were eventually ordered by the French Air Force for service in World War 1 (1914-1918) but only about 300 were realized.

World War 1 puched many new military technologies and one of these was large, multi-engined aircraft types to serve in the long-range reconnaissance, bombing, and escort roles. For a time, airships handled these over-battlefield roles with limited success but advancements made in air-to-air interception and ground-based Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) limited the tactical value had in these slow-moving, gas-filled systems.

In 1916, the Letord "Let", in prototype form, recorded its first flight and this three-man, twin-engined platform was developed along the lines extended-range reconnaissance. To cover the distances required of the type, a multi-engine arrangement was used and this fitted to a relatively large airframe. The aircraft relied on a traditional biplane wing arrangement for lift and control and the crew required to man its various systems numbered three. "Negative wing stagger" was present in the over-under wing arrangement where the lower planes were set well-forward of the upper sections, making the parallel struts angle rearwards. Power was from 2 x engines of various makes and models throughout the service life of the aircraft and each was charged with driving two-bladed propellers. The engines were held outboard of the fuselage and atop the lower wing assembly. Each of the three crewmen sat in separate open-air cockpits so communication between them was limited. The undercarriage showcased double-wheeled main legs and a tail skid though a nose leg was usually added to prevent "nose-over" accidents when ground-running (common to larger aircraft of the war). The tail unit was marked by a single vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal planes.

Design of this aircraft was attributed to Emile Dorand.

Standard armament was defensive in nature and involved a pair of dedicated machine gunners. The forward-most cockpit was given 2 x machine guns atop a trainable mounting and a further 1 or 2 x machine guns were installed near amidships (dorsally). For offensive-minded, light-to-medium bombing sorties the aircraft could be equipped with up to 660lb of conventional drop stores.

Performance-wise, the aircraft could reach speeds of 90-to-100 miles-per-hour out to ranges of 220 miles and an altitude of 16,000 feet.

The initial form offered was the Let.1 which carried 2 x Hispano-Suiza 8A engines and this was followed by the similar Let.2 model with Hispano-Suiza 8Ba engines. The Let.3 was introduced as more of a dedicated bomber form (to include the Bn3 night bomber) and relied on the same engines as the Let.2 variant. The Let.4 was a reconnaissance platform carrying 2 x Lorraine-Dietrich 8A series engines while the bomber variant, Let.5, was similar to this but carried the Lorraine-Dietrich 8Fb engine of 240 horsepower (each) instead.

Let.6 emerged as a large escort fighter and was given the official designation of "Ca.3" in French service. These were notable in their carrying of a 37mm cannon in the nose and being powered by 2 x Hispano-Suiza 8Be 8-cylinder water-cooled engines of 220 horsepower (each). The Let.6 was born from the Let.3 Bn3 night bomber but the type was more or less made obsolete by technological advancements had in the war.

The final notable mark became Let.7 which was another bomber development. This product reverted to the Lorraine-Dietrich powerplants.

The Let series bombers were not exported and quickly fell to history with the end of the war in November 1918.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (96mph).

Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Letord Let.5's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (300)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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