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Bloch MB.170


Reconnaissance Attack-Bomber Aircraft (1940)


Aviation / Aerospace

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The Bloch MB.170 series twin-engined reconnaissance bomber was part of the failed defense of France during World War 2.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/15/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
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Many aircraft ended up participating in the Fall of France during May of 1940. By this time in history, Germany claimed a lead in quantity of aircraft available by some margin and most of those fielded by neighboring France could hardly be judged as modern when compared to contemporaries. The best of the lot became the Dewoitine D.520 monoplane (detailed elsewhere on this site), which had a good showing in the Battle of France, but its impact was minimal and its presence soon outclassed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the growing stable of veteran Luftwaffe pilots. The nation of France capitulated as soon as June 25th, 1940 after six weeks of fighting.

One of the types that became available to the Armee de L'air was the Bloch "MB.170". The design was based around the concept of an "reconnaissance attack-bomber" for the French air service - the aircraft considered quite modern by the standards of the day and one of the best available to France at the outbreak of war. Its origins were in 1936 when the Air Ministry pushed a modernization effort and looked to a multi-role performer capable of both reconnaissance and attack duties. This more or less necessitated a twin-engine layout and multiple crewmembers and the aircraft should be given performance (namely speed and range) for the role.

Societe des Avions Marcel Bloch (Bloch) drew up plans for such an aircraft, resulting in their MB.170. The design team utilized the proven monoplane form with metal construction and skinning, each wing mainplane member set to house an engine installation in streamlined nacelles protruding from the wing leading edges. The wing members were mounted ahead of midships for balance and a twin-finned tail unit was used. A "tail-dragger" undercarriage configuration (wheeled and retractable) was installed for ground-running while the operating crew could be either two or three personnel depending on the needed role (bomber or reconnaissance, respectively).

The initial prototype was designated "MB.170.01" and this twin-seat, hybrid reconnaissance-attacker specimen went into the air for the first time on February 15th, 1938. Power was served from 2 x Gnome-Rhone 14N air-cooled radial piston engines outputting 970 horsepower and driving three-bladed propeller units. Giving power and performance, the motion of the propellers also countered naturally occurring torque, making for a stable flyer.

The aircraft carried 1 x 20mm Hispano-Suiza automatic cannon mounted in the nose with 2 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns in the wings, one gun to a wing member. For self-defense against rearward threats, there was another 7.5mm MAC 1934 emplacement facing the rear on a trainable mounting to be managed by one of the crew. Like other larger aircraft of the period, the MB.170 was given a ventral cupola/gondola, this section too armed with a trainable MAC M1934 machine gun to neutralize rearward, lower-angled aerial threats.

The first prototype was followed by the three-seat light bomber form as the "MB.170.2" which saw its ventral emplacement removed, its tailplanes enlarged for enhanced stability and control, and the canopy reworked.

The overall design was selected by French authorities for service and serial production following testing of the MB.174.01 prototype. This entry carried 2 x Gnome-Rhone 14N-49 series radials before attention switched to the production-quality MB.174A.3 of which 56 examples were made. The MB.174 saw its introduction during March of 1940 and was used to succeed the aging, outclassed Potez 637 within French air units. Initial operations then followed that very month where the platform proved its worth as a speedy, capable performer - often simply out-flying aerial dangers.
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As built, the MB.174 could reach speeds of 330 miles-per-hour and cruise near 290mph. Range was out to 1,030 miles with a service ceiling of up to 36,000 feet. Dimensions included an overall length of 40 feet with a span of 58.9 feet, and a height of 11.7 feet. Empty weight was 12,375lb against an MTOW of 15,820lb.

Armament of this mark comprised 2 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns in the wings (one per wing member), 2 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns at a dorsal emplacement and 3 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns seated at aft-firing mounts. Beyond this, the hold could house up to 880lb of conventional drop bombs and a further six bombs could be carried externally under the wings - giving the Bloch aircraft considerable punch in any attack sortie.

Fifty of the reconnaissance standard were delivered before May of 1940 and this mark was then overtaken on the lines by the bomber-minded "MB.175". The MB.175 was led by the MB.175.01 prototype and its Gnome-Rhone 14N-48 radials before switching to the production-quality MB.175B.3 mark. Twenty-three of these were built with a further 56 added to the Luftwaffe stable as unarmed airframes.

With its reworked internals (including a widening of the fuselage to accept the needed bombload), the variant was capable of carrying a more impressive war load than its reconnaissance counterpart. Production and deliveries began as soon as possible under the stress of invasion and a version with the American Pratt & Whitney R-1830 air-cooled radial was quickly penciled out to help expedite the production effort - though this did little to stop the German advance as no more than twenty-five examples were on hand before the French surrender.

As a testament to its sound design, just three MB.170 aircraft were lost in the fighting. Some examples flown by French pilots to North Africa for safe keeping and the last Allied-centered actions involving the series took place during the Battle of Tunisia in May 1943. Some captured specimens were utilized by the conquering Germans as training aircraft and general reconnaissance. The more advanced MB.178 was in-the-works at the time of the German takeover and its development subsequently ended by the conquerors.

In the post-war period, the MB.170 continued to live on through the "MB.175T" - a torpedo-bomber variant developed in 1947 and operated by the French Navy into 1950.

For its time in the air, the Bloch MB.170 served with French Air Force reconnaissance groups 1/33, 2/33, 1/52, and 2/36.

Specifications



Service Year
1940

Origin
France national flag graphic
France

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
3

Production
230
UNITS


Societe des Avions Marcel Bloch (Bloch) - France
National flag of France National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany France; Nazi Germany (captured)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.


RUGGED AIRFRAME
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
INTERNAL BAY
Fuselage volume includes space for internally-held weapons or special-mission equipment.
HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
HIGH-ALTITUDE PERFORMANCE
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
SUPER PERFORMANCE
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
BAILOUT PROCESS
Manual process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to exit in the event of an airborne emergency.
CREWSPACE PRESSURIZATION
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
CREW-MANAGED
Beyond a pilot, the aircraft takes advantage of additional crew specialized in specific functions aboard the aircraft.
GUN POSITIONS
Defensive gun positions for engagement / suppression.
TAIL GUN
Defensive rear-facing gun position to neutralize enemy targets emerging from the rear.
ENCLOSED CREWSPACE(S)
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
RETRACTABLE UNDERCARRIAGE
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
CAMERA EQUIPMENT
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.


Length
40.2 ft
(12.25 m)
Width/Span
58.8 ft
(17.92 m)
Height
11.6 ft
(3.55 m)
Empty Wgt
12,379 lb
(5,615 kg)
MTOW
15,818 lb
(7,175 kg)
Wgt Diff
+3,439 lb
(+1,560 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Bloch MB.174A.3 production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / straight
Monoplane
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Low-Mounted
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
Straight
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the Bloch MB.174A.3 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Gnome-Rhone 14N 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,035 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units.
Max Speed
329 mph
(530 kph | 286 kts)
Cruise Speed
286 mph
(460 kph | 248 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+43 mph
(+70 kph | 38 kts)
Ceiling
36,089 ft
(11,000 m | 7 mi)
Range
1,025 mi
(1,650 km | 3,056 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
2,385 ft/min
(727 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Bloch MB.174A.3 production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
STANDARD:
2 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns in firxed, forward-firing mountings at wing leading edges.
2 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns at trainable dorsal fuselage mounting.
3 x 7.5mm MAC M1934 machine guns at trainable aft-facing fuselage mountings.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 880lb of conventional drop bombs held internally; Also 6 x 50lb drop bombs under wings.


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2
Mounting Points




-
-
9
7
5
-
-
-
4
6
8
-
-
HARDPOINT(S) KEY:
X

15
13
11
9
7
5
3
1
2
4
6
8
10
12
14


COLOR KEY:
Fuselage Centerline
Fuselage Port/Wingroot
Fuselage Starboard/Wingroot
Wing/Underwing
Wingtip Mount(s)
Internal Bay(s)
Not Used

Note: Diagram above does not take into account inline hardpoints (mounting positions seated one-behind-the-other).


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