80th anniversary of the first flight of the MB 151

On this day, in 1958, the MB 151 made its first flight at Villacoublay, piloted by R. Blanc.

On this day, in 1958, the MB 151 made its first flight at Villacoublay, piloted by R. Blanc.

Designed by Avions Marcel Bloch at Courbevoie, the aircraft made its maiden flight on 4th May 1937 at Villacoublay with André Curvale at the controls.
In early 1938, the MB 150 was selected together with the Morane-Saulnier MS 406 for accelerated re-equipment of the French fighter units. The first aircraft were delivered to the squadrons incomplete (temporary engine cowling, gun sight not installed, exhaust manifolds without flame-traps, etc.). It was consequently impossible to use the aircraft in operations, and on 1st September 1939, two days before France entered the war, only No. 1 squadron of fighter group GC I/l had started flying the MB 152.

Despite its limited radius of action, its poor manoeuvrability at altitude and the lack of power from its engine, the MB 152 proved to be a very sturdy aircraft, much better able to withstand damage than the other types in service. According to its users, it was a very stable firing platform and was quick to reach high speeds in a dive. By the time war was declared, 249 MB 151 and 152 had left the assembly lines. By 10th May 1940, 140 MB 151 and 363 MB 152 had been accepted by the French Air Force and sixteen MB 151 had been allocated to the French Naval Air Force.

Out of some 632 Bloch accepted by the French Air Force up to the end of 1940, only 320 aircraft remained. In six weeks, close to 270 Bloch had been destroyed in combat or abandoned in the face of the advancing enemy. Out of the twenty-five aircraft ordered by the Royal Greek Air Force in December 1939, only nine MB 151 were delivered and assigned to the 24th Fighter Group based at Thriasson Eleusinos airfield, to defend Athens and Pyrea. The MB 155, an improved version of the MB 152, was put into series production and a small number were built. The MB 153 (1939) and MB 157 (1942) versions never progressed beyond the prototype stage.

Back to top