The Morane-Saulnier M.S. 222 was the third in a series of parasol wing fighters produced in response to a French requirement for a lightweight fighter, and differed from the earlier M.S. 221 by having a turbo-supercharged engine.
The first of these designs, the M.S. 121, had made its maiden flight in 1927. It was powered by a 400hp Hispano-Suiza, and lacked the required rate of climb. It was followed by the very similar M.S. 221, which used a 600hp Gnome-Rhône 9Ae Jupiter radial engine. This aircraft was more powerful and lighter than the M.S. 121, but it still lacked level speed.
The second of the two M.S. 221 prototypes was given a turbo-supercharged Gnome-Rhône 9As Jupiter engine, also rated at 600hp but that gave its maximum power at 12,465ft. The re-engined aircraft was given the new designation M.S. 222. This aircraft made its maiden flight in March 1929. It had an improved rate of climb, but its top speed remained 166mph (although at a more useful altitude than in the M.S.221).
The first of the M.S.222 prototypes was used by Maryse Hilz to establish a height record for women pilots in 1932. A second prototype was also built, this time with a Townend ring around the engine. The M.S. 222 was followed by the very similar M.S. 223, which featured a different undercarriage, but soon after this, in 1930, the French air ministry cancelled the 'Jockey' programme. This allowed Morane-Saulnier to increase the weight of their next design, and the M.S. 224 was a more successful aircraft that entered service in a modified form and in small numbers as the M.S. 225.