We’re starting a series of developer diaries about the French military aircraft that will appear in update 1.73! The D.371 monoplane was one of the first attempts by French aircraft designers to create a next-generation airplane that significantly outclassed the good old biplanes of the First World War.
When the First World War ended, France possessed one of the most powerful aerial armies in the world, and French pilots were accepted professionals of aerial warfare. But the era of biplanes ended and the French army needed new airplanes – fast, high-altitude, and better armed. In 1932, the French designer Emile Dewoitine presented a prototype for the single-seat single-engine Dewoitine D.37 fighter at a contest to create a new fighter that could reach a speed of at least 300 km/h. This fighter was designed to a “monoplane-parasol” schematic. Tests showed that the engine power of the first experimental prototype was insufficient and the machine was further developed to house an 800 hp engine made by the Gnome-Rhône company. The wing, cooling system, and landing gear were also modernized. The new fighter was designated D.371 and, in spite of the fact that it failed to win in a contest of armed forces, 28 units of the vehicle were produced.
By the start of the Second World War, the D.371 was already considered outdated. Nonetheless, the Dewoitines saw combat against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and were pretty successful! The Espana combined regiment, armed with D.371 and D.372 fighters, fulfilled combat objectives to escort bombers, patrol aerial regions, and destroy fascist aircraft. D.371s also fought against pilots from the Condor air group, in which many future aces of the Luftwaffe served.
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