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Bernard H.52 (Hydravion)

Floatplane Fighter Prototype

France | 1933

"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."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Bernard H.52 Floatplane Fighter Prototype.
1 x Gnome-Rhone 9Kdrs 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 500 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
205 mph
330 kph | 178 kts
Max Speed
27,887 ft
8,500 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
373 miles
600 km | 324 nm
Operational Range
1,455 ft/min
443 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Bernard H.52 Floatplane Fighter Prototype.
30.5 ft
9.30 m
O/A Length
37.7 ft
(11.50 m)
O/A Width
14.0 ft
(4.27 m)
O/A Height
3,263 lb
(1,480 kg)
Empty Weight
4,167 lb
(1,890 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Bernard H.52 (Hydravion) Floatplane Fighter Prototype .
2 x 7.7mm Darne machine guns under the wings (one gun per wing member).
Notable series variants as part of the Bernard H.52 (Hydravion) family line.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/30/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

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.

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Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Bernard H.52 (Hydravion). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 2 Units

Contractor(s): Societe des Avions Bernard (S.A.B.) - France
National flag of France

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Image of the Bernard H.52 (Hydravion)
Image from the Public Domain.

Going Further...
The Bernard H.52 (Hydravion) Floatplane Fighter Prototype appears in the following collections:
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