Breguet Br.521 Bizerte
|| 8 seat SAR aircraft
|| 3 Gnome-Rhône 14Kirs1 with 3-bladed variable pitch propellers
|| Length 20,48 m, height 7,5 m , span 35,18 m , wing area 162,6 m2 ,
|| Empty 9470 kg, loaded 15091 kg , max. take off weight 16600 kg, fuel 5250 l
|| Max.. speed 243 km/h at 1000 m , cruising speed 164 km/h (economical) 199 km/h (normal) , range 2100 km at normal cruising speed, 3000 km at economical speed , endurance , service ceiling 6000 m , climb to 2000 m 8 min. 46 sec., 3000 m 14 min. 30 sec.
||Guns: 5 × 7.5 mm Darne machine guns
A biplane of all-metal construction, with three engines mounted in nacelles between the upper and lower wings, the aircraft was a development of the Breguet S.8/2 Calcutta, which itself was a militarised licensed version of the British Short S.8 Calcutta. It was built to meet a French Navy specification for a long-range flying boat issued in 1932, competing against proposals from Latécoère (the 582), Lioré et Olivier (the unbuilt LeO H42) and Loire Aviation (the Loire 70). The first prototype made its maiden flight on 11 September 1933, with it being purchased, and an order placed for two more on 4 January 1934.
A series of small orders for production Bizertes was placed, starting with an order for three in 1934, with the last order, for 12 (nine of which were later cancelled) being placed in September 1939. In total, 37 Bizertes were built, with the last three not being completed until after the French surrender in June 1940.
In 1935 a civilian version - the Breguet Br.530 Saigon - was produced.
After the first flight in September 1933, 37 aircraft were produced, which served with five squadrons of the French Navy from 1935 until 1940. Two squadrons remained in service with the Vichy Navy after the armistice, at Berre in Southern France and Karouba in Tunisia, with six aircraft each. The German Luftwaffe purchased a number of Bizertes for its Seenotdienst (Air-Sea Rescue) service in 1940, which (in addition to the three undelivered Bizertes it used to equip a squadron based at Brest on the French Atlantic coast. When Vichy France was occupied by the Germans following the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the remaining Vichy Bizertes were taken over by the Luftwaffe, allowing further Seenotdienst units to be established at Biscarrosse and Berre. Following the Allied Invasion of Southern France in August 1944, one of the Luftwaffe Bizertes was discovered by French forces and used for communications duties until spares ran out.
It's an interesting point of history that many of the "Bizerte" with German markings weren't captured but were bought. On July 26, 1940, in Wiesbaden the German armistice commission asked the French delegation if they had to sale some French a/c ... for non-military using machines from the free French territory (later Vichy-France). On July 27, 1940, the French admirality gave their "O.K." ... with a letter from July 30, 1940, that available only 8 "Bizerte" (4 in France and 4 in Karouba/Tunesia). On the same day a German float-Ju 52 landed with two complete crews (with Lt. Klingspohr and Lt. Unterhorst) in Hourtin and captured the W.Nr. 11 and 34 ... the French leaved the a/c because of technical failures and the lack of spare parts. French mechanics repaired the a/c's, they got German markings and then was flown to Brest-Poulmic on August 7, 1940 ---- this were "right captured machines". Other "right captured machines" were the W.Nr. 35, 36 and 37 from Le Havre which were never used official by French marine.
On August 9, 1940, 4 "Bizerte" (W.Nr. 23 -- with French marking 2E1, 26 -- 3E1, 6 -- 3E2 and 7 -- 3E4) arrived in Berre coming from Karouba.
On August 12, 1940, in Berre German engineers inspected the "Bizerte" W.Nr. 4,6,7,23,24,26,27 and 29. Together with French pilots they tested four machines in flight ... all the time with French markings.
The sales talks were in Berre. The French agent of admirality, an special supreme commissioner, insisted on that the a/c's start not until the German armistice commission give their "O.K." to the price ... on August 15, 1940, was it given and the machines were sold for 43.240.000 FFr. (the real value was 25.000.000 FFr.). Now the machines got German markings. On August 17, 1940, the W.Nr. 6,7,26 and 27 were flown to Brest-Poulmic, on August 19, 1940, followed the W.Nr. 4, 24 and 29, two days later the W.Nr. 23. It's interesting that the French admirality had more than 8 "Bizerte" (all in all 19 machines) but the Germans didn't insist on their demand for more flying boats.
With the occupation of the "free French part" in the South the Luftwaffe got new "Bizerte". On November 30, 1942, discovered two Do 24 in Berre two "Bizerte" with "Red Crosses" and something later the base Berre was occupied with the French a/c's.