French flying boats of WWII - the Sud-Est SE.200 Ebay photo find #23

The Sud-Est SE.200 Amphitrite  (named after a Greek sea goddess)was a flying boat airliner built in France in the late 1930s, originally developed as the Lioré et Olivier LeO H-49 by the brilliant young Russian designer Paul (Pavel)Asantchéeff prior to the nationalisation of the French aircraft industry. Asantchéeff had been captured by the Germans at the end of WWI on the Baltic Front and arrived in France in 1920 after two years as a POW. After employment with Renault he was taken on at Villacoublay in the Breguet design office and went on to complete his studies in aeronautical engineering. As a Lioré et Olivier design engineer he specialised in large flying boats and led the SNCASE design bureau following the nationalisations of 1937. The SE 200 was a large, six-engine design powered by Gnome Rhone 14R radials with a high-set cantilever monoplane wing of 52 metres span and twin tails. It was developed in response to a French air ministry specification of 1936 for a transatlantic airliner for Air France with a range of 6,000 km (3,700 mi) and capacity for 20 passengers and 500 kg (227 lb) of cargo. Planned to enter service with Air France in 1942, the SE 200's six engines could in theory develop 9,000 hp at takeoff  and propel the 72 ton fully loaded machine at some 390 km/h making it one of the fastest flying boats ever constructed - however fuel payload at 42,000 litres was not sufficient to transport a planned 60 passengers from Biscarosse to New York (see Gerard Hartmann in "L'hydravion le plus rapide du monde...." )

Only three of the five SE.200s ordered were actually built (at Marignane, Marseilles). Work on them continued after the fall of France, along with a fourth and fifth machine now started. The first aircraft, christened  Rochambeau flew on 11 December 1942.Following testing, it was seized by the Germans and taken to the Bodensee (Lake Constance), where it was destroyed in an air-raid by RAF Mosquitos on 17 April 1944. A USAAF raid on Marignane on 16 September destroyed the second SE.200. Aircraft no. 3, coded F-BAIY made its maiden flight on 2 May 1946..on 30 July 1946 it flew a test flight at its maximum TOW of 70 tonnes...

SE 200 no. 3 at Berre in 1947. After three years of testing it made its last flight in October 1949, remaining on the water at Marignane until 1963, date of its scrapping

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