World War 1 (1914-1918) allowed the French to become globally-recognized leaders in military aviation, resulting in many classic types emerging from French aero-concerns such as Breguet, Caudron, Nieuport, SPAD, and others. This market recognition continued into the post-war period (known as the Interwar period) and resulted in other successful entries like the Morane-Saulnier MS.230 of the late-1920s.
The MS.230 was developed to fulfill a basic trainer role and accomplished this through simple construction and equally-simple controlling to go along with inherent stability. Over 1,000 examples were produced by Morane-Saulnier and the primary operator became the French military flying school at Reims. Global operators proved numerous and ranged from Belgium and Brazil to the United States (under the USAAC) and Venezuela. For the French, the MS.230 served as its primary trainer throughout most of the 1930s which covered the lead-up to World War 2 (1939-1945).
The aircraft, designed to a French Air Ministry specification, excelled in its role thanks to its rugged, lightweight structure and overall design. The engine was fitted to the nose in the usual way and drove a two-bladed propeller unit. The student and instructor were seated in tandem open-air cockpits. The fuselage and general configuration of the aircraft were highly-conventional for the period and incorporated a traditional single-finned tail unit to go along with basic streamlining. The wheeled undercarriage, for the sake of simplicity, were left fixed in flight while its wide-track nature made for above-average ground-running characteristics. The mainplanes were of particular note for the members were installed high on the design (known as "parasol"), supported by upward-angled struts at the fuselage sides. This placement gave the aircraft good downward visibility for the pilot and increased inherent drag-and-lift properties for "low-and-slow" flying. Construction of the product involved both metal and fabric.
In its original form, the aircraft went into the air for the first time in February of 1929 and proved the overall design sound. The first designated models were two MS.230 mounts powered by the Hispano-Suiza 8a V8 engine (one was later converted to a 9Qa radial in 1932). The primary, definitive production mark became the MS.230 which saw numbers reach well over 1,000 and deliveries seen to customers across the globe.
As built, the design had an overall length of 22.9 feet, a wingspan of 35 feet, and a height of 9 feet. Empty weight reached 1,830lb against an MTOW of 2,535lb. When fitting the Salmson 9AB 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, the platform could hope to reach speeds over 160 miles-per-hour, cruise near 100 mph, range out to 360 miles and reach an altitude of 16,400 feet. As a basic trainer, these aircraft were unarmed.
At least six aircraft were built to the MS.231 standard of 1930 which instead carried the Lorraine 7Mb engine of 240 horsepower. The MS.232 was a one-off experimental model of 1930 and powered by the Clerget 9Ca diesel-fueled engine of 200 horsepower output. The MS.233 followed and fitted either the Gnome-Rhone 5Ba or 5Bc engine types of 230 horsepower - sixteen went to Portugal and a further six examples stayed in France. The MS.234, numbering two examples, carried the Hispano-Suiza 9Qa of 20 horsepower. The MS.234/2 was an offshoot of the line built from the MS.130 Couple Michelin racing aircraft. This form was given the Hispano 9Qb under a racing-style engine cowling and flown at various levels up until 1938.
The MS.235 was a single example of 1930 powered by the Gnome-Rhone 7Kb engine of 300 horsepower. The MS.235H added floats for on-water landings and take-offs and saw its first flight in 1931. The MS.236, first-flying in 1932, were nineteen aircraft built for the Belgian Air Force and powered by an Armstrong Siddeley "Lynx" ICV series engine. The MS.237 of 1934 rounded out the MS.230 family line as a group of five airframes powered by the Salmson 9Aba engine of 280. These were purchased and flown in private hands.
In Czech Air Force service, the MS.230 was designated as the "C.23". The pre-World War 2 German Luftwaffe operated this French aircraft as well but only in limited numbers.