There was much going on behind the scenes during France's battle for its very existence under the pressure of the German war machine in May-June 1940. In the years leading up to the war, a plethora of programs were undertaken to shore up French military strength in the region and abroad and one product of the period became the "MS.406" - an all-modern single-seat, single-engine monoplane fighter put forth by long-time airplane-maker Morane-Saulnier. The type recorded its first-flight on August 8th, 1935 (as the prototype "MS.405") and series introduction occurred in 1938 - just in time for war.
The aircraft showcased a sleek design consistent with the period: the nose contained a spinner which contoured nicely with the smooth edges of the cowling and fuselage. The cockpit was seated at midships with the pilot under a framed canopy. The mainplanes were near midships as well and of straight-lined design with rounded tips. The tail unit incorporated a tapering vertical fin to go along with low-mounted horizontal planes. The undercarriage, of tail-dragger form, was retractable.
Further development evolved the MS.406 into the upgraded "MS.410", this as the MS.406 series was just reaching French fighter squadrons during 1939. Proposed changes to the original aircraft included a much stronger wing with more internal volume so as to add another pair of 7.5mm MAC 1934 drum-fed machine guns - bringing the armament to 1 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 autocannon firing through the propeller hub with 4 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns in the wings. The retracting radiator feature of the original MS.406 was deleted in favor of a simpler, fixed arrangement. Exhaust "ejectors" were also added to transfer some of the engine's byproduct to become additional thrust to aid straight line performance.
Better armed, stronger and faster than its progenitor, the MS.410 looked to be the next logical step in the evolution of the promising MS.406 as a whole.
However, fortunes for the new fighter changed when the Battle of France turned against the defenders. About 150 of the new wings had been completed at the time of the French surrender in June of 1940 and only five MS.410s had been completed at all. With the Germans now in control, many aero-projects suffered cancellation but some were allowed to continue under their new masters - mainly to shore up ongoing needs covering newly-conquered territories or in support of German allies.
As such, the MS.410 modernization program got underway and a batch of existing MS.406 fighters were fitted with the new four-gun wings. To simplify matters, the exhaust ejection feature was altogether dropped and only some of the lot were fitted with the simpler radiator arrangement.
What MS.410s managed to see completion were either held locally or shipped off to allied Finland (eleven total examples in this case) in 1941 to be used against the Soviets. Croatia became the only other known recipient of this particular variant fighter design.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
Production 74 Units
Morane-Saulnier - France
Croatia; Finland; France; Nazi Germany
26.74 ft (8.15 m)
34.94 ft (10.65 m)
8.86 ft (2.7 m)
4,189 lb (1,900 kg)
5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Morane-Saulnier MS.410 production model)
1 x Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 liquid-cooled inline-piston engine developing 860 horsepower while driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
316 mph (509 kph; 275 kts)
621 miles (1,000 km; 540 nm)
2,550 ft/min (777 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Morane-Saulnier MS.410 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 autocannon in firing through the propeller hub.
4 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns in wings (drum-fed).
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Morane-Saulnier MS.410 production model)
MS.410 - Base Series Designation; 74 conversions from existing MS.406 series fighters.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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