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French Flying Boats of WWII

French Flying Boats of WWII Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review December 2013 Title French Flying Boats of WWII
Author Gérard Bousquet Publisher Mushroom Model Publications
Published 2013 ISBN 9788363678067
Format 232 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $75.00


During the Second World War, France's Aéronautique Navale operated some of the world's most intriguing warplanes.

Now MMP profiles 30 of those interesting designs in French Flying Boats of WWII by Gérard Bousquet.

From the massive Latécoère 523 and beautiful Potez-CAMS 141 to the ubiquitous Loire 130 and exotic Minié-Cassin M.C 10, Bousquet recaps every French WWII flying boat – including "paper" projects, prototypes and militarized civilian conversions.

Aéronautique Navale, Vichy, German and Les Forces Aeriennes Françaises Libres (FAFL or "Free French") service – they're all here.  The lavishly illustrated, annotated account begins with sections recapping French naval aviation in 1939, technical programs, asset dispositions and losses.

Proceeding alphabetically by manufacturer, Bousquet then details each aircraft's development, deployment and fate.  Coverage also summarizes, where apt, government contracts, production totals, variants, units and shipboard service, armament, and performance and dimensional data.

Expect surprises along the way.  What did the SNCAC/NC 420 share with the Heinkel He 162?  Bousquet exposes an interesting link.  How many Axis submarines did France's Aéronautique Navale destroy in WWII?  Bousquet reveals that, too.

Photos, drawings and color profiles by the late, great Teodor Liviu Morosanu illustrate text.  His gorgeous color plates made me wish someone produced, for instance, a Potez-CAMS 141 kit.  The stunning illustration of "Antares" in aluminum and anti-corrosion red with "livrée d'esclave" – Vichy red-and-yellow "slave stripes" – nearly gave me whiplash!

Just don't gauge colors from book artwork alone: read the captions.  Two CAMS 37 profiles, for instance, illustrate the issue.  The plate of "AS5.4" on page 58 allegedly sports overall Gris Bleu Clair – "light blue-gray".  But one page later, "BR.43" in Gris Bleu Foncé – "dark blue-gray" – actually appears lighter.

This doesn't detract from MMP's excellent effort.  Pity more models of French flying boats don't exist.  Might this colorful compendium change that?  We can only hope.  Regardless, let's hope for a corresponding MMP study of WWII French floatplanes!

Roundly recommended.

With thanks to Casemate for the review copy.