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Bernad H.52 (Hydravion)

Floatplane Fighter Prototype (1933)

Aviation / Aerospace

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Like the earlier land-based Model 260 fighter, the Bernard H.52 floatplane fighter form failed to net the interest of French authorities during the Interwar Period.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/18/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
With its failure to sell the French Air Force on its Model 260 land-based monoplane fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site), Societe des Avions Bernard (Bernard) reworked the design into a navalized, carrierborne "floatplane fighter" form. The aircraft was more-or-less the same specimen with enlarged, streamlined floats added to the fuselage in place of the original's fixed wheeled undercarriage and an all-new engine installation to go along with a revised forward section. The floatplane fighter concept offered tactical flexibility at the expense of performance and the resulting Bernard H.52 ("Hydravion") floatplane fighter was not evolved beyond two completed (and flown) airframes.

The H.52 was built against a French Navy specification originating in 1932. It carried the Gnome-Rhone 9Kdrs 9-cylinder air-cooled supercharged radial piston engine of 500 horsepower driving a fixed-pitch metal propeller unit at the nose. Like the Model 260 before it, metal construction was used throughout the makeup of this machine and, like the earlier form, the H.52 was to be armed through 2 x 7.7mm machine guns installed under the wings (one per wing member), these now to be supplied by Darne. High-lift devices, in the form of Handley Page slots at the wing leading edge and flaps at the trailing edges, were in play for low-speed handling.

The prototype was flown for the first time on June 16th, 1933. Testing then followed and the aircraft was given various metal propeller fits differing in blade numbers (up to four-bladed assemblies were trialed). The H.52 borrowed the proven rear fuselage, mainplane members, and tail surfaces from its Model 260 sister. The second prototype then followed into the air during 1934. Despite the work, the design was not adopted by the French Navy, leading the company to focus its efforts on the "H.110" floatplane fighter instead. This too was not selected for production and only one example was built for testing in 1935.

In its place, the French Navy ended up selecting the competing Loire 210 floatplane fighter and twenty-one of the type were contracted for before the end. These were introduced in 1939 and retired shortly thereafter due to repeated structural failings at the wings.

As completed, the H.52 prototype has a length of 30.5 feet, a wingspan of 37.8 feet, and a height of 14 feet. Empty weight was 3,265lb against an MTOW of 4,165lb. The design managed a maximum speed of 204 miles-per-hour with a range out to 370 miles and a service ceiling of 27,900 feet. Time to 13,125 feet was nine minutes.


Service Year

France national flag graphic

Development Ended.


Societe des Avions Bernard (S.A.B.) - France
National flag of France France (trialed)
(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.
Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Manual process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to exit in the event of an airborne emergency.

30.5 ft
(9.30 m)
37.7 ft
(11.50 m)
14.0 ft
(4.27 m)
Empty Wgt
3,263 lb
(1,480 kg)
4,167 lb
(1,890 kg)
Wgt Diff
+904 lb
(+410 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Bernard H.52 production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the Bernard H.52 production variant)
Installed: 1 x Gnome-Rhone 9Kdrs 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 500 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Max Speed
205 mph
(330 kph | 178 kts)
Cruise Speed
165 mph
(265 kph | 143 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+40 mph
(+65 kph | 35 kts)
27,887 ft
(8,500 m | 5 mi)
373 mi
(600 km | 1,111 nm)
1,455 ft/min
(443 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
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 Bernard H.52 production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
2 x 7.7mm Darne machine guns under the wings (one gun per wing member).

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0

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