French Wings No. 1
Latecoere 290 & 298
Following on from the very successful “Polish Wings” series from Stratus, the new “French Wings” series covers aircraft in French service over the years. No. 1 tells the story of the Latecoere 290 & 298 aircraft. The acquisition and operations of these aircraft in the Aeronavale (French Navy aviation) is told in detail, illustrated with many previously unpublished photos. Colour schemes and markings are described and illustrated.
SAMI March 2011 2011-06-17
This was very good surprise when this new series was announced. Based on the success of their Polish Wings series and the book on the Curtiss H-75 in their Red Series and the Potez 63 family (Orange series), Mushroom has decided to go ahead with new studies on some more exotic topics with this series ‘French Wings’. For those who are familiar with the ‘Polish Wings’ concept, they won’t be disorientated in opening the book. Clear, with a lot of colour profiles (about 30), many photographs, around 100, the book offers the best source of information in English on this seaplane family, from the Latécoère 290 to the 298, the latter constituting the main body of the book. Even if this aircraft is not belong to the main aircraft types to have been used operationally during the war, its history deserves to be known. I must say that it is well done in giving a lot of details and information even if there is no technical data or performance chart included, probably the sole bad point I will give.
As the Frenchmen are rather reluctant to promote their own rich aviation history abroad, we should thank Mushroom team to cover this part of the aviation history, and as just written, because French military aviation is rich of history and aircraft, this issue is, I hope, the first of many more to come which will delight any reader or enthusiast, whatever he’s a modeller and historian, as far as it is done like this one, with professionalism and passion.
by Ray Mehlberger
Date of Review January 2011
Stratus Publications is based in Sandomierz, Poland. They are in partnership with Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) in the UK and MMP has their books printed by Stratus in English. Stratus also does books in Polish too.
This new book was sent to me from Stratus, very heavily packed in cardboard to protect it.
Following on from their very successful “Polish Wings” series from Stratus, the new “French Wings” series coveres aircraft in French service over the years. No. 1 tells the story of the Latecoere 290 & 298 aircraft, floatplane torpedo bombers which saw operational service during the 1930’s and 40’s.
The acquisition and operation of these aircraft by the Aeronavale (French Navy aviation) is told in detail, plus the use of the 298 by the Luftwaffe and in French service post-war. It is illustrated with 136 black and white photos, many of which are previously unpublished anywhere else. There are 30 color side profiles (2 on the back of the book cover). Included also are three color 2-views, two color 3-views, color illustrations of 10 different squadron logos and 2 information charts. The color illustrations appear on the same pages as the black and white photos of the aircrafts being illustrated…neat!
The cover arts for 2 forthcoming books are shown on the books title page:
French Bombers 1940
French Wings 2, Nieuport Delage NiD29 & NiD62 Family
The book is 80 pages long in soft cover. Pages are 8 ½” x 11” format.
This new book will prove to be a invaluable reference for aviation enthusiasts, historians and modelers. Highly recommended.
Reviewer:Scott Van Aken
It is always a delight to receive a book on a subject that you thought would never be done. Yet the fine folks at Stratus publishing have managed to put together a book that I think is really superb on an interesting subject, the French Latecoere 298 float torpedo bomber and its predecessor, the Latecoere 290.
If you've not had the chance to read a Stratus book, then you are in for a treat. Not only are they well written, but they are chock full of photographs and color profiles based on those photographs. This one is no exception with dozens upon dozens of well chosen image and great profiles.
We are provided with a full history of the Latecoere 298 from the inception of the idea in mid 1933, through its gestation as a working design, the development of the prototype and its eventual entry into service just prior to France's involvement in WWII. This is one of those planes that was a great idea, but in the heat of battle against a modern military, the 298 just wasn't able to properly protect itself or carry out its main mission. Many of the planes were squandered with land bombing missions, a rather odd use of a floatplane. They were able to do a fine job on coastal reconnaissance and though they dropped bombs on many suspected submarines, none were confirmed as sunk.
Even after the French armistice, the 298 continued to be built for the Vichy Navy and were mostly based in either Southern France, Corsica or the North African colonies. A brief detachment was made to the Levant against the British, but with apparently little enthusiasm. After the North African invasion by the Allies, the 298 continued to perform its mission. Even post war the plane played a part in the new French Navy, finally retiring in 1950. Though several planes were tested by the Germans, they were never used by any other power other than the French.
The other part of the book is on the Latecoere 290, the predecessor to the 298. This was truly a plane that was not effective, though it did help to develop strategies and techniques for the use of torpedo float planes. Not that many were built and many of those built succumbed to crashes, taking several crews with it. It was eventually relegated to secondary and tertiary duties once the 298 was in unit service.
In addition to a history of the types, there is a section on the various camouflage and markings schemes worn by these planes. None of these aircraft survived, but thanks to Stratus, we now have a fine reference book in English on this important French naval type. Like all of Stratus' books, this one is a keeper and a must have by those interested in WWII French aviation.
This is another review I feel I need to start with a question. Name a military torpedo bomber that served with a total of 4 air forces in Western Europe, had an active service career from 1938 - 1950 including all of the wartime years, saw action on innumerable occasions but which never dropped a torpedo in anger against its enemies?
To be honest, without this latest volume from Stratus, the first in a new series covering aircraft used by the French military forces, I would have been seriously struggling to find the answer. The Latécoère 298 was a French floatplane designed to attack shipping from shore bases; as well as France, it served with the Vichy Air Force, the Luftwaffe (who used captured examples) and a solitary machine served with the RAF in Malta.
The 290 was its predecessor; going into service in 1933, it was an aircraft that was dogged by tragedy causing the loss of many lives, including an amazing incident in 1937 where a propeller was lost in flight, causing the plane to crash and kill 4 French sailors. It was put out of service in August 1940, but it did provide valuable lessons in the development of the much better 298.
The A4 book covers the history of both aircraft in full, from development, service history and final decommissioning. Starting with the 298, the first picture (below) shows the standard approach of the book - an ongoing mixture of good text, original photographs and colour profiles. The first photo shows some pre-war aircraft.
The second photo (above), in contrast, discusses aircraft flying with the Vichy air force.
A similar section then covers the 290; the first photo(below) showing aircraft early in their service life and the last photo (above) picturing 290s in their final years of service.
The book is well written, has a good pace to its writing and has both plenty of detailed history for the aviation historian and plenty of colour profiles for modellers. On this point, models of the 298 and 290 are not exactly thick on the ground. I know that the French model firm Azur have released both 1/72 and 1/48 kits of the 298 and I seem to remember a 1/72 kit of the 290 being produced in conjunction with a French model magazine, possibly by CMK, though I am not certain of this. It will be interesting to see how well this first volume in the series sells.
So what do we think?
A very comprehensive history on 2 interesting aircraft. The small number of available models probably means that sales will be greater in the aviation history sphere than to actual modellers. A good read nonetheless.
By Matt Bittner
When I first heard about a couple of upcoming books on French Aircraft from Stratus I was excited. There aren't many books released on French aircraft in the English language. This first French book from Stratus definitely sets the bar high.
The Latécoère 298 actually participated in the early months of WW2. While nothing significant came from their involvement, it was still something to participate. At the time of the Armistice, there were still plenty of 298s still flying.
The book is broken down into a section on the 290 and a section on the 298. There is one area that I don't like about the book. It should be arranged chronologically; that is, since the Latécoère 290 was the first to fly, it should appear first in the book. It doesn't. Instead the Latécoère 298 takes up the beginning of the book. Some could argue this was due to the fact the 298 played a larger role in aviation history, but to me – logically – the 290 should appear first. Okay, my one and only beef with the book is out of the way, and in no way should you let my small annoyance stop you from buying this superlative book.
The rest of the book is outstanding. Each aircraft section starts with how the impetus for the design came into being, followed by the prototypes. From there the production machines are outlined. With the 298, the sections include a detailed analysis of not only peace-time flying, but war time as well. In addition, there is a section within the 298 outlining how the Germans used it after the Armistice. A pretty detailed outline.
One aspect of the book is outstanding and other publications should take heed. There are a lot of color profiles of both the 290 and the 298. On the page – and sometimes pages – for each color profile the authors include photographs to back up the color profiles. Excellent. There are some instances were more than one photo is on the same page as the color profile. In my opinion as a modeler, all publications should be geared this way. Provide the proof for your theories on the same page(s) as the color profiles.
Fortunately, in model from, Azur has released the Latécoère 298 in both 1/72 and 1/48. However, since it was one of their first releases, it's not easy to find. Unfortunately the Latécoère 290 was released in 1/72 as a very limited resin, years and years ago. I do wish someone else would come out with the 290 in model form in 1/72. Personally I like the looks of it more than the 298.
All in all an excellent publication. If you enjoy reading about aviation in general, or French aircraft specifically, then you need this book. As it's the only English-language reference I know of for the Latécoère 290 and 298, then it's a must if you plan on building one of these two aircraft.
There are two other coming publications that are ones to look forward to as well. In the inside cover of the Latécoère 290 and 298 book Stratus has announced a book on French Bombers, 1940, and a book on the Nieuport-Delage 29 and 622 series of aircraft. Excellent!! Hopefully we'll see even more French aircraft covered by Stratus.
MAM April 2011 2011-06-17
Aeroplane 05/2011 2011-06-17
amazon.com customer review (1) 2011-06-17
5.0 out of 5 stars Good History of Little Known Planes, March 3, 2011
By John Matlock "Gunny" (Winnemucca, NV)
In the years leading up to World War II the French built a lot of aircraft. Unfortunately in the 'lot' of aircraft, there were a lot of different designs intended to meet specifications that were not very competitive with designs like the Spitfire or Bf-109. None of the designs were produced in anywhere near the quantities of the other planes. The 290 was a very antiquated design, even for 1933. The 298 was considerably better and soldiered on through the end of the War, but by then the days of float planes were all but over.
This book does the usual superb job for which the publisher is noted. The line drawings are excellent and the collection of original photographs show a side of World War II that is little known in this country.
amazon.com customer review (2) 2011-06-17
5.0 out of 5 stars First in a new series from MMP, April 5, 2011
By Jim Davis (St. Charles, MO USA)
MMP has launched a new series of books in English which seems intended to cover the obscure French designs between the two World Wars, although we'll have to see exactly how the series develops. There has been a need for such books for some time. French aircraft of WWI are adequately covered and much has been written about French aircraft in the post WWII period but the period in between has been badly neglected, in English at least.
The first volume illustrates this issue perfectly. I had not even heard of the Latecoere firm much less any aircraft they produced. It's always a pleasure to read about aircraft for the first time so this series is off on the right foot as far as I'm concerned.
The series is in the larger A4 format which seems to be the new standard for MMP books except for the long established Red, Orange, and Yellow series which continue to be released in B5 size. The eighty pages of the book are divided into two sections, 54 pages for the 298 and the rest for the 290 and derivatives. Curiously, the two parts are not in chronological order; the later 298 is covered first.
The text focuses on the development and service history of the two types. There is scant information on the details of the designs, not even a table of performance and dimensions. The only table is a production list for the 298. I can only conclude that this information did not survive the fall of France in 1940 and the subsequent occupation and liberation.
The books are copiously illustrated with photographs and color profiles including some plan views. The photographs no doubt represent the best available, perhaps all that is available. The quality varies although there are few close ups. The profiles are the only color in the book. Line drawings would have been useful but again the information to produce them may have been inadequate.
Highly recommended to anyone with interest in this area.
AIR Modeller 34 2011-06-17
Reviewed by: Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 43146
This book is the first of a series on French aircraft, and follows the excellent format developed by this publisher’s Polish Wings series of books on Polish aircraft. Since Azur produces kit of the Latecoere 298 in both 1/72 and 1/48 scales, this book will serve as a good reference for these aircraft. An 8 ½ x 11” paperback consisting of 80 pages, this book tells the development and service history of the two major French Navy torpedo bombers of the 1930’s. Strangely, the Latecoere 298 is covered before its predecessor, the 290 is described, and to get things into perspective, I began reading about the earlier type, then progressing to its replacement at the beginning of the text, as I wanted to read the story in sequence.
And what a story it is. The Latecoere 290 was a development of a high wing commercial aircraft which set some records in the 1920’s. It was easily adapted to naval use as a torpedo bomber, with floats and military equipment installed, and was ordered into production in 1932, achieving service status the following year. Only 29 were built, and while successful, they suffered a number of accidents, mainly involving water landings in which the touchdown was at too high a speed, resulting in cartwheeling, destroying the airplane and sometimes trapping the crews inside. Since the Latecoere 290 was only seen as an interim torpedo bomber anyway, the planes were not replaced, but its successor, the Latecoere 298, was seen as the torpedo bomber they were looking for.
The Model 298 was designed and ordered in 1935, and a mockup was quickly constructed. This was a more modern, cantilever low wing, 2 or 3 place floatplane torpedo bomber powered by a Hispano Suiza 12 liquid cooled engine of 835 hp. Flight testing in 1936 led to production orders, with 129 eventually delivered by several manufacturers. The plane had a good service record, although stall-spin accidents seemed to be more common than with other types. The type was operated by French units at the beginning of the war, and after the German invasion, some escaped to North Africa and unoccupied Southern France. A few were captured by the Germans, and used by the Luftwaffe. At the end of the war, surviving examples continued in service, lasting until 1950, when the last one was retired. The book provides a detailed account of the development and service of the type.
Comments and Recommendations
If you are interested in this phase of aviation history, or if you are building models of these aircraft, this book is a “must have”. The photos are drawings are excellently reproduced, and the detail photos and diagrams will be especially useful in the modeling process. I am not aware of a kit of the Latecoere 290 in any scale, but with this book available, I’m sure that one will appear shortly. The Model 298 is available from Azur. The book is enjoyable reading, and I found the captions on the photos to be very informative. Don’t miss out on this one. Highly recommended.
SP 02/2011 2011-03-18
Podobnie jak w przypadku serii „Polskie Skrzydła / Polish Wings”, tak i „French Wings” jest minimonografią określonego typu samolotu. W tym przypadku omówione są wersje samolotów Latécoère 290 oraz Latécoère 298 służące w lotnictwie francuskiej marynarki wojennej.
Tradycyjna dla Wydawnictwa Stratus. Jeśli ktoś miał w rękach dowolną pozycję z serii „Polskie Skrzydła / Polish Wings”, będzie się czuł jak w domu.
Plany, zdjęcia i profile
Planów brak, za takie mogą posłużyć profile barwne — przypuszczalnie wydrukowane w skali 1/72. Zdjęcia opublikowane w książce w większości są mało znane i unikalne. Na ich podstawie przygotowano profile barwne i trzeba przyznać, że Teodor Liviu Morosanu włożył w nie wiele pracy. Warto porównać je z artykułem o Latécoère 298, przed laty opublikowanym we francuskim czasopiśmie „Air Magazine”.
To bardzo interesująca pozycja i to z kilku powodów. Przede wszystkim przedstawia mniej znane samoloty, bo wyposażenie francuskiego lotnictwa morskiego jest mało znane. Ponadto publikacja w języku angielskim pomaga pokonać dość poważną barierę w zapoznawaniu się z historią samolotów francuskich — barierę językową. Zalew publikacji na temat samolotów niemieckich i anglosaskich dość skutecznie wypiera pamięć o konstrukcjach z innych krajów, a przecież nie są one wcale mniej ciekawe. Zresztą fani Luftwaffe i RAF też znajdą w tej książce coś dla siebie — malowania dla każdej z tych formacji.