. Dewoitine D510

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 39 feet, 8 inches; length, 26 feet; height, 8 feet, 10 inches Weights: empty, 2,870; gross, 4,235 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 860-horsepower Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 250 miles per hour; ceiling, 34,500 feet; range, 435 miles Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine guns, 1 x 20mm cannon Service dates: 1935-1940


he Dewoitine 500 series represented the most modern, technically ambitious fighters of their day. They marked a transition phase between open – cockpit biplanes of the 1920s and the more modern aircraft of World War II.

In 1930 the French Aeronautique Militaire is­sued specifications for a new fighter to replace the aging Nieuport-Delage ND 62s then deployed. It fell upon designer Emile Dewoitine to conceive a revo­lutionary new concept that spelled the beginning of the end for biplanes. First flown in 1932, the Dewoi – tine 500 exuded modernity. It was a cantilevered, low-wing monoplane constructed entirely of metal. The craft was covered by stressed metal sheeting and completely devoid of drag-inducing struts and bracing wires. The only seemingly antiquated fea­ture was fixed landing gear with conspicuous ob­long spats. The in-line engine was closely covered by a pointed cowl, giving the craft an ultramodern, very sleek appearance. In the air, the Dewoitine was faster than its biplane contemporaries, more maneu­verable, and, because of its metal construction,
much stronger. The Armee de l’Air was duly im­pressed by the new machine, and it entered produc­tion in 1933. Within two years a total of 143 were built, including a number of cannon-armed Model 501s.

In August 1934 Dewoitine fielded a more re­fined version, the Model 510. It mounted a larger rudder, an uprated engine, and other aerodynamic refinements. Consequently, it became the first French fighter to exceed 250 miles per hour in level flight. The French air service acquired an additional 120 of these sleek machines, with a further 30 being assigned to the Navy’s Aviation Maritime (naval air arm). These craft also caught the attention of sev­eral governments and were exported abroad, with China acquiring 24 D 510s, Lithuania 14. The Dewoi – tine series still equipped several frontline units as late as 1940, at which time they had been overtaken and rendered obsolete by the newer Messerschmitt Bf 109. Nonetheless, the D 500 series made history by anticipating modern design trends by several years.