Before the World War 2 (1939-1945) began, the nation of France made some strides in attempting to deliver all-modern battlefield solutions - though many of these developments came much t0o late to be of use in the defense of the nation. This commitment included the Potez 230, a single-seat, single-engine ligthweight monoplane fighter which was to feature very modern qualities including an enclosed cockpit, metal skinning, a low-mounted elliptical wing planform and a retractable undercarriage. Work progressed well on the design but the German conquer of France abruptly ended its future value. The aircraft was confiscated by the enemy and taken back to Germany where it was studied at length and ultimately discarded. Only one prototype was completed.
Just before the war the Potez concern was allowed to continue as a brand despite its absorption into the Societe Nationale de Constructions Aeronatique du Nord (SNCAN) which also claimed ANF-Mureaux during 1937. By this time work had been ongoing on another lightweight fighter, the ANF-Mureaux 190 model, and from this was evolved a similar product - to become the Potez 230.
Engineers elected for an eliptical wing planform which was popular for the period - featured on the classic British Supermarine Spitfire for example. The fuselage was well-streamlined with a propeller spinner fitted at front and a tapered empennage. The tail unit incorporated conventional tail surfaces that included a sole vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal planes. The undercarriage was of a "tail-dragger" arrangement with two main legs retracting under the wing roots and a small tailwheel under the rear. The wing mainplanes were fitted ahead of midships with the cockpit at midships. The pilot sat under a heavily framed canopy and views to the rear were blocked by the raised fuselage spine. Armament, only proposed for the finalized design, was to incorporate a 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 series cannon in the engine block, firing through the propeller hub with two 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns fitted to each wing element. Power would be served through a Hispano-Suiza 12Xcrs V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 670 horsepower.
With the prototype completed, a first flight was recorded on March 30th, 1940 as World War 2 was already ongoing (the Germans invaded Poland back in September 1939). The design offered a maximum speed of nearly 350 miles per hour when operating at 16,400 feet and a mission endurance window of 1.5 hours was listed. Its handling was sound and the design seemed promising enough. The integrated wing torsion box was of particular note for it was the first of its kind fitted to any aircraft. However, the German invasion of France in May of 1940 derailed all future gains of the product - when Villacoublay fell to the invaders so too did the single prototype which was promptly taken over and shipped back to Germany where it was dissected for whatever value it held - interest primarily settling on the wing torsion box design.
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Societe Nationale de Constructions Aeronautiques du Nord (SNCAN) / Potez - France Manufacturer(s)
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