Amiot 354

The Amiot 354 was the most advanced member of the Amiot 350 family of twin engined bombers to enter production. It was powered by two 1,060hp Gnôme & Rhône radial engines, giving it 210hp more power than the Amiot 351, the only other member of the family to enter production and service.

The Amiot 354 was a graceful twin engined aircraft, with a streamlined fuselage and engine cowlings. Most were produced with a single tail fin, although some used the twin fin tail also seen on the Amiot 351 (and sometimes said to be the difference between the types, which were actually differentiated by their engines).

The Amiot 354 was armed with two 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns - one in the nose and one in the ventral position, and one rear firing 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS 404 cannon on a dorsal mount (although the first eleven aircraft delivered to the Armée de l'Air lacked the cannon and carried three 7.5mm Darne machine guns in its place. The internal bomb bay could carry up to 2756lb (1,250kg) of bombs, and could take two 500kg, six 200kg, ten 100kg, twenty 50kg or eight 10kg bombs.

The Amiot 354 was ordered in relatively small numbers. Of the 880 Amiot bombers included in the French Air Ministry contracts on 1 December 1939 only forty were for the Amiot 354, with another 140 for the Amiot 351. Deliveries were very slow, and by 1 May 1940 the Armée de l'Air had only accepted 37 of the hundreds of machines it had been expecting by that date.

Despite the small number of aircraft available Groupement de Bombardement No.9 began to convert to the new aircraft, operating it alongside the Bloch 210. GB I/34 and II/34 received their first aircraft on 7 April, and GB I/21 and II/21 had received six by the start of the German offensive in the west on 10 May. More aircraft were delivered during the fighting, and on 22 June, when the four groups were moved to Oran, they had 37 aircraft. Only seven were left in France by the Armistice.

During the Battle of France the four squadrons were forced to use their Amiot 354s (and 351s) as soon as they arrived, starting with an armed reconnaissance mission over the Netherlands on 16-17 May. Sixty one aircraft were accepted by the Armée de l'Air, of which forty four survived the war, suggesting that seventeen were lost during the fighting.

The surviving Amiot 354s were not amongst the aircraft operated by the Vichy Air Force, although three were used as liaison aircraft, operating between Vichy France and North Africa between July 1941 and November 1942, although with all of their military equipment removed.

Engine: Two Gnôme & Rhône 14N48/49 14-cylinder air-cooled radials
Power: 1,060hp each
Crew: 4 (pilot, bombardier/ navigator, dorsal gunner, radio operator/ ventral gunner)
Wing span: 74ft 10in (22.8m)
Length: 47ft 7in (14.5m)
Height: 14ft 9in (4.5m) or 13ft 4in (4.08m) - sources differ
Empty Weight: 10,403lb (4,719kg)
Maximum Weight: 24,879lb (11,285kg)
Max Speed: 298mph at 13,123ft (480km/h at 4,000m)
Service Ceiling: 32,808ft (10,000m)
Range: 1,554 miles (2,500km) with full load, 2,175 miles (3,500km) with 1,756lb bomb load
Armament: Two 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns (nose and ventral positions), one 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS 404 cannon (dorsal mount)
Bomb-load: 2,756lb (1,250kg) in bomb bay

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 September 2009), Amiot 354 ,

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