SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc. 1947.

Warszawa 2021-11-17

SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc in Poland.

SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc is a French four-engine airliner. Five aircraft of this type were used in Poland by LOT Polish Airlines.

SNCASE SE-161 Languedoc. Photo of Wikipedia
SNCASE SE-161 Languedoc. Photo of Wikipedia

The aircraft was developed before the Second World War at the Bloch plant on the basis of the Bloch MB.160 aircraft. Design work on the new Bloch MB.161 aircraft began in 1937. The prototype of the Bloch MB.161 aircraft with F-ARTV registration was flown on December 15, 1939. The aircraft was powered by four Gnome-Rhône 14N radial engines, 4 x 1,020 hp (4 x 760 kW). Work on the plane took a long time. In addition, the Second World War broke out and Marcel Bloch became the subject of the Third Reich. Flight tests were completed in January 1942. The French government of Vichy, reporting to Germany, issued an order for twenty copies in December 1941. However, the planes were not built. The program was halted in 1944 when the Saint-Martin-du-Touch and Haute-Garonne factories were bombed by the Allies.

After the liberation of France, General De Gaulle's interim government allowed the resumption of production of the first series aircraft, designated SE.161 and registered F-BATA. The plane made its first flight on August 25, 1945. 40 aircraft were built for Air France. In total, approximately 100 SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc aircraft were built. The planes served mainly with Air France, the French Air Force and the French Navy.

In general, the plane was underdeveloped. The planes had problems with extending the landing gear. The machines did not have de-icing installations for wings and propellers. Visibility from the cockpit was unsatisfactory and the cockpit and passenger compartment were not heated (!) In addition, the plane was noisy. The Gnome Rhône engines were highly fail-safe and also had a very short service interval.

In 1947, the planes were decommissioned and modernized. New Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines were used. Installations for de-icing the leading edge of wings and propellers were built. Heated cockpit and cabin heating, but not tested. New communication radios were installed. The revised plane was designated SE .161.P7.

In Air France, the planes served until 1952, when they were replaced by Douglas DC-4 planes. Air France eventually sold some of its planes to airlines: Air Lebanon from Lebanon, Misrair from Egypt and Aviaco from Spain. The remaining planes were transferred to the French army. There were as many as 25 aircraft in service in the French Navy. Some of them were used to train navigators and were equipped with a radar. Some of the planes have been adapted to SAR tasks. SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc airplanes were used as carriers for the René Leduca jet aircraft. The plane was involved in 20 accidents and incidents, or every fifth plane.

SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc in Poland.

Poland was the first foreign user of SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc aircraft.

On March 21, 1947, a four-engine SNCASE SE-161 Languedoc passenger plane was demonstrated in Warsaw. In May 1947, LOT Polish Airlines purchased 5 aircraft of this type. They were intended primarily for servicing longer foreign lines. The purchased SE-161/1 Languedoc B-2 aircraft were manufactured in the period 1946 - 1947. They received registration marks: SP-LDA, SP-LDB, SP-LDC, SP-LDD, SP-LDE. The first three machines arrived in Poland on July 5, 1947, and from August 1, 1947, they entered the route. In October 1947, the fourth aircraft arrived, and the fifth in 1948.

Initially, it was planned to purchase a total of 10 SE-161 aircraft to ensure the rapid development of foreign airlines. Unfortunately, the engines turned out to be very emergency. They led to several forced landings. On May 31, 1948, during the flight of the SP-LDA plane from Warsaw to Paris, three engines stopped in succession and the plane forcibly landed with folded landing gear near Reims, France. Fortunately, the passengers were fine and the plane needed to be repaired. After this accident, all SE-161 aircraft at LOT Polish Airlines were suspended. The factory offered to replace the engines with the Pratt Whitney R-1830. The engines, however, were not replaced, and in the spring of 1950, the planes were canceled. Together with the renovated SP-LDA, not collected from France. Languedoc was the first 4-engine aircraft used in Polish air transport. The terrible technical condition of the SNCASE SE-161 Languedoc planes gave the communists an excellent argument about the poor quality of Western technology. Human tragedies are also associated with the use of Languedoc by LOT Polish Airlines. The authorities of the Polish People's Republic accused several key employees of PLL LOT, associated with the operation of these aircraft, with sabotage activities and sentenced them to death.

Design of SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc.

The SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc aircraft is built in a classic layout and is a low wing aircraft. The drive train consists of four piston engines.

The plane had a crew of five: pilot, co-pilot / navigator, radio operator, flight engineer and flight attendant. There were 33 seats in the 1-2 layout in 11 rows in the passenger compartment. With the use of higher seats, there were 44 seats in a 2-2 arrangement on board. Three-support chassis with rear tail wheel. All wheels were retractable in flight.

The star motors type Gnome-Rhône 14N 44/45 or 54/55, with a power of 4 x 1,020 HP (4 x 760 kW). It was possible to use an engine mount for a water-cooled in-line motor. Due to problems with the Gnome-Rhône engines, France installed Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engines. These engines were not installed in Polish aircraft.

T-T SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc details:

Crew of 5 people. Number of passengers 33 people. Wingspan 29.39 m (96 ft 5 in). Length 24.26 m (79 ft 7 in). Height 5.14 m (16 ft 10 in). Wing area 111.32 m2 (1,198 sq ft). Curb weight 12.651 kg (27.891 lb). Take-off weight 20,577 kg (45,320 lb). Top speed of 440 km / h (274 mph, 238 kn). Range 3,200 km (1,989 mi, 1,728 nm). Operating ceiling of 7,200 m (23,616 ft).

Written by Karol Placha Hetman