|Maiden Flight||8 August 1935|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe MS.406 fighters began their lives under the MS.405 design, which was a response to the French Air Force's requirement in 1934 for modern single seat fighters. The prototype took flight in Aug 1935, and it attracted an order for 16 aircraft. Upon some updates including lighter wings and retractable radiators, which prompted the renaming of the design to MS.406, these new fighters entered production in late 1938. The first production example took flight on 29 Jan 1939. License to build aircraft of the MS.406 design was sold to Switzerland, which built them under the designation D-3800; the Swiss fighters downed a small number of both Allied and Axis aircraft that ventured into Swiss air space in 1944 and 1945.
ww2dbaseWhen Germany invaded France in 1940, the 535 MS.406 fighters were the main fighters in the French Air Force. Underpowered and inadequately armed when placed in comparison to their German counterparts, they contributed little in French skies. 387 were lost in combat while they only brought down 183 German aircraft.
ww2dbaseIn 1939, work for the variant design dubbed MS.410 began, aiming for better performance, but production barely started (with only five aircraft completed) when Germany invaded. Under German supervision, limited production of MS.410 fighters continued in terms of upgrading the wings of existing MS.406 fighters to the new MS.410 wings. Meanwhile, other captured MS.406 fighters were either sold to friendly countries such as Finland (see below), Italy, Croatia, and Italy or used in Germany as trainers. The few MS.406 fighters remaining in French possession saw some action against British forces in Syria and Madagascar.
ww2dbaseBy the start of 1943, Finland purchased and received a total of 76 MS.406 aircraft and 11 MS.410 aircraft. Finnish designer Aarne Lakomaa modernized them, renaming them Mörkö-Morane fighters in the process. The first Mörkö-Morane fighter took flight in Feb 1943, but by the end of the war only three Mörkö-Morane fighters were completed. Together, Mörkö-Morane and unmodified MS.406 fighters brought down 121 enemy aircraft during the war.
ww2dbaseA total of 1,176 MS.406 fighters were built.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2008
|Machinery||One Hispano-Suiza 12Y31 liquid-cooled V12 engine rated at 860hp|
|Armament||1x20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon, 2x7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns|
|Wing Area||17.10 m²|
|Weight, Empty||1,893 kg|
|Weight, Loaded||2,426 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||486 km/h|
|Rate of Climb||13.00 m/s|
|Range, Normal||1,000 km|
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Winston Churchill, on the RAF