Morane-Saulnier was a prolific designer and builder of aircraft since its founding in 1911. Beyond World War 1 (1914-1918), the company contributed throughout the Interwar years and into World War 2 (1939-1945) where its aircraft evolved into very modern, very capable combat platforms. The MS.406 series - born from the "MS.405" - was one of the concern's final offerings before the Fall of France in May-June 1940 and this single-seat, single-engine monoplane fighter went on to see service with several forces of the period beyond the French Air Force itself.
Back in September of 1938, the first of two "MS.406H" fighters were given to Switzerland for evaluation and to serve as the basic form for a locally-produced, licensed version of the same French aircraft - this to become the "D-3800" in Swiss service. These aircraft were essentially MS.405 airframes and wings carrying the engine (a Hispano-Suiza 12Y31 inline) of the MS.406 production type though with localized changes to suit a standing Swiss Air Force fighter requirement. For example, the original the drum-fed wing machine guns were converted to belt-fed models already in Swiss service and the two-pitch propeller gave way to a controllable-pitch form of local origination. The aircraft production program was headed by Eidgenossisches Konstruktions-Werkstatte (EKW) with the engines coming from Adolph Saurer AG.
The Swiss Air Force contracted for eight pre-production models constructed to the revised Swiss fighting standard and these were built during 1939. Deliveries then followed in January of 1940 and, into late August 1940, some seventy-four production-quality aircraft were built in all. In 1942, with the war already a daily part of European existence, at least two more fighters were built from what were essentially available spares and this was used to further strengthen Swiss Air Force numbers. The following year, the fleet was modernized with the changes enacted to the "D-3801" standard (detailed elsewhere on this site) - this included an ejector-exhaust system to provide additional forward thrust, upgrading the internal control system, and improved engine cooling.
All told, the streamlined fighter could reach a speed of 295 miles-per-hour and had an endurance of 1.75 hours in the air. Rate-of-climb reached 2,685 feet-per-minute, making them suitable interceptors if needed. Empty weight was 4,000lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 5,500lb. Dimensions included a running length of 26.9 feet, a wingspan of 34.9 feet, and a height of 8.10 feet.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
26.7 ft (8.15 m)
34.9 ft (10.65 m)
8.9 ft (2.70 m)
3,968 lb (1,800 kg)
5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
+1,543 lb (+700 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the EKW D-3800 production variant)
1 x Adolph Saurer (Hispano-Suiza) 12Y31 inline piston engine of 860 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the EKW D-3800 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
1 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 autocannon firing through the propeller hub.
4 x 7.5mm machine guns in wings (belt-fed).
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
D-3800 - Base Series Designation; based in the MS.405/Ms.406 French design; 8 pre-series with 74 production models and two additional units built from spares.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (295mph).
Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
EKW D-3800 operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
The three qualities reflected above are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (84)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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