CASA-Breguet XIX Super Bidon
Light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft, Spain/France
Archive Photos 
[CASA-Breguet XIX (Jesus del Gran Poder) at the Museo Del Aire, Cuatro Vientos Air Base, Madrid, Spain (Photo by John Shupek)]
- Breguet Br.19
- Role: Light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft
- Manufacturer: Breguet Aviation
- Designer: Marcel Vuillerme
- First flight: March 1922
- Primary user: French Air Force
- Number built: ~ 2,700
The Breguet 19 (Breguet XIX, Br.19 or Bre.19) was a light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, also used for long-distance flights, designed by the French Breguet company and produced from 1924.
The Breguet 19 was designed as a successor to a highly successful World War I light bomber, the 14. Initially, it was designed to be powered by a 340 kW (450 hp) Bugatti U-16 engine, driving a four-blade propeller, and such a prototype was shown on the 7th Paris Air Show in November 1921. A new design was flown in March 1922, featuring a conventional layout with a single 340 kW (450 hp) Renault 12Kb inline engine. The aircraft was built in a sesquiplane platform, with lower wings substantially smaller than the upper ones. After trials, the Breguet 19 was ordered by the French Army's Aéronautique Militaire in September 1923.
The first 11 Breguet 19 prototypes were powered by a number of different engines. A "trademark" of Breguet was the wide usage of duralumin as a construction material, instead of steel or wood. At that time, the aircraft was faster than other bombers, and even some fighter aircraft. Therefore, it met with a huge interest in the world, strengthened by its sporting successes. Mass production, for the Aéronautique Militaire and export, started in France in 1924.
The Breguet 19 was a biplane (sesquiplane), conventional in layout, with braced wings. The fuselage, ellipsoid in cross-section, was a frame of duralumin pipes. The front part was covered with duralumin sheets, the tail with canvas. The wings were canvas covered. It had a conventional fixed landing gear with rear skid. The crew of two, pilot and observer/bombardier, sat in tandem in open cockpits, with dual controls.
A wide variety of engine types were fitted, mostly water-cooled V-12 or W-12 inline engines, including the following:
- Breguet-Bugatti U.16: 370 kW (500 hp) - Br 19 n° 01, Br-23
- Farman 12We: 370 kW (500 hp) - Br-19-5
- Gnome & Rhône 9Ab Jupiter: 310 kW (420 hp) (Yugoslav aircraft)
- Gnome & Rhône 9C Jupiter: 310 kW (420 hp) - Br 19-4
- Gnome & Rhône 14Kbrs: 520 kW (700 hp) - Br 19-8
- Hispano-Suiza 12Ha: 340 kW (450 hp) - Br 19 n° 09
- Hispano-Suiza 12Hb: 370 kW (500 hp) - Br 19 B2, Br 19 CN2, Br-19-6
- Hispano-Suiza 12Lb: 450 kW (600 hp) - Br 19ter
- Hispano-Suiza 12Nb: 480 kW (650 hp) - Br 19-7
- Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs: 640 kW (860 hp) - Br 19-9
- Renault 12Kb: 340 kW (450 hp) - Br 19 n° 01, 03, 04 & 05:
- Renault 12Kd: 360 kW (480 hp) - Br 19 n° 06, 07, 08, 010 & 012
- Liberty L-12: 340 kW (450 hp) - Br 19bis
- Lorraine 12Da: 280 kW (370 hp) - Br 19 n° 02
- Lorraine-Dietrich 12Db: 300 kW (400 hp) - V12
- Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb: 340 kW (450 hp) - Br 19 n° 011
- Lorraine-Dietrich 12Ed: (with reduction gear) - W12
- Lorraine-Dietrich 12Hfrs: 540 kW (720 hp) - Br 19-10, Br 230
- Salmson 18Cma: 370 kW (500 hp) - Br 19-3
A fixed 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Vickers machine gun with an interrupter gear was operated by the pilot, while the observer had twin 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Lewis Guns. There was also a fourth machine gun, which could be fired by the observer downwards through an opening in the floor. The Br.19CN2 night fighter variant was fitted with two pilot's machine guns. The bomber variant could carry up to 472 kg (1,041 lb) of bombs under the fuselage, or in a vertical bomb bay (small bombs up to 50 kg (110 lb)). The reconnaissance variant could carry 12 × 10 kg (22 lb) bombs. The reconnaissance variant had a camera mounting, which was optional on the bomber variant. All variants had radio.
Operational History 
The Breguet had its baptism of fire during the Greco-Italian War, in World War II. At the outbreak of war, 18 Breguet were on line with 1 Observation (or Army Cooperation) Mira, under I Corp Command, based at Perigiali, near Corinth and with 2 Observation Mira under II Corps command, based at Larissa and Kozani. On 4 November 1940, a RHAF (Royal Hellenic Air Force) Breguet from 2 Mira was sent looking for the attacking 3rd Julia Alpine Division, locating it in a mountain pass near Metsovo. Three more Breguets sent to bomb the Italian division were in turn attacked by three Fiat CR.42 fighters. A Breguet was shot down, one crash-landed and the third returned to base, though badly shot up.
Br.19.01: Br.19.01 was the first Breguet 19 prototype which first flew in March 1922. It was later bought by the Spanish government.
Br.19.02 to 011: Pre-production aircraft, whose fuselage was lengthened by 600 mm (24 in). The Br.19.02 was sent to Yugoslavia for evaluation in 1923.
Br.19 A2: Two-seat reconnaissance aircraft.
Br.19 B2: Two-seat light bomber biplane. These first two variants were the most numerous, and were practically identical. They used a variety of engines, the most popular being the 300 kW (400 hp) Lorraine-Dietrich 12Db, the 340 kW (450 hp) Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb, the Renault 12K, the Hispano-Suiza 12H and the Farman 12We.
Br.19 CN2: Night fighter version, almost identical to the B2 reconnaissance variant with two additional forward-firing machine guns.
Br.19 GR (Grand Raid): A variant specially modified for long-distance flights, after early long-range attempts were made with the regular Br.19 A2 no.23 fitted with additional fuel tanks. The first Br.19 GR (no.64) had a fuel tank of about 2,000 l (530 US gal; 440 imp gal) and captured the world distance record in 1925. In 1926, three further aircraft (no.1685 to 1687) were modified to Br.19 GR 3000 liters specifications. They had larger fuel tanks fitted in the fuselage, with a total capacity of about 2,900 to 3,000 l (770 to 790 US gal; 640 to 660 imp gal). The cockpit was moved slightly aft, and the wingspan was increased to 14.83 m (48.7 ft). The three aircraft were fitted with different engines: the first one (no.1685) had a 370 kW (500 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Hb, the others had 410 kW (550 hp) Renault 12K and 390 kW (520 hp) Farman 12Wers engines. In 1927, no.1685 received a new 450 kW (600 hp) Hispano 12Lb engine, its fuel capacity was extended to 3,500 l (920 US gal; 770 imp gal) and its wingspan w
as further increased by 1 m (3.3 ft). It was christened Nungesser et Coli after the two airmen who disappeared in a transatlantic flight attempt in May 1927. A fifth aircraft was built (no.1554) for Greece, called Hellas, with a 410 kW (550 hp) Hispano 12Hb. (Other Br.19 aircraft may have received additional fuel tanks for long distance flights, but these were not officially called Br.19 GR. Some sources mention a Belgian Br.19 GR, maybe a confusion with the Belgian Br.19 TR.)
Br.19 TR Bidon: Built in 1927 with various aerodynamical refinements and 3,735 l (987 US gal; 822 imp gal) of fuel in the fuselage. With an additional fuel tank in the wing, the total fuel capacity was 4,125 l (1,090 US gal; 907 imp gal)). Five were built by Breguet and two by the Spanish company CASA. Three of the French aircraft had a 450 kW (600 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Lb, one had a 410 kW (550 hp) Renault 12K, and one had a 340 kW (450 hp) Lorraine 12Eb. The first Bidon Hispano was sold to Belgium, and the Bidon Renault was sold to China after a Paris-Beijing flight. The third Bidon Hispano became the French Br.19 TF. The second Spanish Bidon was christened Jesús del Gran Poder, and flew from Sevilla to Bahia (Brazil).
Br.19 TF Super Bidon: The last and most advanced long-distance variant, built in 1929, and designed for transatlantic flight. The French Super Bidon was the third Br.19 TR Hispano, named Point d'Interrogation, with a modified fuselage, a wingspan of 18.3 m (60 ft), and 5,370 l (1,420 US gal; 1,180 imp gal) total fuel capacity. It was powered by a 450 kW (600 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Lb engine, later replaced by a 480 kW (650 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12NLb. Another aircraft, with a closed canopy, was built in Spain in 1933. Christened Cuatro Vientos, it flew from Sevilla to Cuba, and disappeared while attempting to reach Mexico.
Br.19 ter: Utilizing the experience with long-distance variants, this improved reconnaissance variant was developed in 1928, maybe for export purposes. It remained a prototype only (with civilian register F-AIXP).
Br.19.7: The most popular of the late variants developed in 1930 with a 450 kW (600 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Nb engine, giving a Max speed of 242 km/h (131 kn; 150 mph). The first five machines were converted in France for Yugoslavia, then a number were built in Yugoslavia, and a further 50 built in France for export to Turkey.
Br.19.8: With a 580 kW (780 hp) Wright GR-1820-F-56 Cyclone radial engine, 48 Br.19.7 airframes were eventually completed as Br.19.8's in Yugoslavia. Their Max speed was 279 km/h (151 kn; 173 mph).
Br.19.9: A single prototype developed in Yugoslavia with a 640 kW (860 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs engine.
Br.19.10: A single prototype developed in Yugoslavia with a 540 kW (720 hp) Lorraine-Dietrich 12Hfrs Petrel engine.
Br.19 hydro (or Breguet 19 seaplane): Fitted with twin floats as a seaplane, a single prototype (no.1132) was produced for France. Another aircraft sold to Japan was fitted with floats built there by Nakajima.
Nakajima-Breguet Reconnaissance Seaplane: Nakajima built Breguet 19-A2B seaplanes.
Some modified civilian variants of the Breguet 19 were developed, such as the Br.19T, the Br.19T bis and the Br.19 Limousine (for six passengers, with a thicker fuselage), but these were never built.
Further passenger variants with modified fuselages were designated: Breguet Br.26T (1926); Breguet Br.26TSbis; Breguet Br.280T; Breguet Br.281T; Breguet Br.284T. These were used in limited numbers in France and Spain.
In total, more than 2,000 Breguet Br.19s were manufactured in France, and about 700 license-built by Spanish CASA, Japanese Nakajima, Belgian SABCA and the Yugoslavian aircraft factory in Kraljevo.
Argentina: Argentine Air Force operated 25 Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb powered aircraft.
Belgium: Belgian Air Force bought six Br.19 B2s in 1924, and further 146 A2s and B2s were manufactured in under licence by the SABCA works in 1926-30. They were powered with Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb and Hispano-Suiza 12Ha engines, and used until the mid-1930s.
Bolivia: Bolivian Air Force bought ten aircraft and used them during the Chaco war against Paraguay.
Brazil: Brazilian Air Force operated five aircraft.
China: Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin is claimed to have ordered 70 Breguet 19s, but these were not delivered. Similarly, an order for four Br.19s from the central government was not met. Manchuria did acquire a single Br.19A2 in 1926 and a Br.19.GR in 1929.
Independent State of Croatia: Zrakoplovstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske seized 46 aircraft used for anti-partizan missions.
France: The French Army's Aéronautique Militaire operated its first Breguet Br.19s in the A2 variant from the autumn of 1924, the B2 variant from June 1926, then the fighter C2 and CN2 variants. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, they were the most numerous French combat aircraft. In metropolitan France, they were withdrawn from service in the early 1930s; the last Br.19 CN2 was withdrawn in 1935. Until 1938, they were still used by the French Air Force (successor to the Aéronautique Militaire) in colonies in the Middle East and North Africa - among others, they were used there to suppress native rebellions.
France: French Navy.
Greece: Hellenic Air Force acquired 30 Breguet 19 A2s and some were used against invading Italian forces in 1940, delivering valuable information on Italian movements.
Italy: Regia Aeronautica bought one aircraft for tests.
Japan: According to some publications, Japan bought a number, and they were license-built in Nakajima, though this is not confirmed, apart from the two aircraft bought by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
Iran: Iranian Air Force operated two aircraft.
Poland: Polish Air Force bought 250 Breguet 19 A2s and B2s, with 340 kW (450 hp) Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb engines, in 1925-30. 20 aircraft were reportedly the longer-range reconnaissance variant, but details are not known. The first Br.19 entered Polish service in 1926, but most were delivered in 1929-30. They were withdrawn from combat units in 1932-37, and used in training units until 1939. They were not used in combat during the Invasion of Poland of 1939 and most were destroyed on the ground.
Romania: Royal Romanian Air Force bought 50 Breguet 19 A2s and B2s in 1927, then 108 Br.19 B2s, and five Br.19.7's in 1930. They were in service until 1938.
Soviet Union: Soviet Air Force bought one aircraft for tests.
Spain - Kingdom of Spain & Spanish Republic: Aeronáutica Militar bought a prototype and a license in 1923, and started production in the CASA| works, in A2 and B2 variants. The first 19 aircraft were imported, the next 26 completed from French parts, then 177 were manufactured (50 of them had Hispano-Suiza engine, the rest the Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb engine). The Breguet 19 was the basic equipment of Spanish bomber and reconnaissance units until the initial period of the Spanish Civil War. In July 1936, there were less than hundred in service in the Spanish Republican Air Force. They were actively used as bombers during the war, especially on the government's side. In 1936, the Nationalists bought an additional twenty from Poland through the SEPEWE syndicate. With an advent of more modern fighters, the Br.19 suffered many losses, and after 1937 were withdrawn from frontline service. The Republican side lost 28 aircraft, and Nationalists lost 10 (including 2 Republican and 1 Nationalist aircraft, that deserted). The remaining aircraft were used for training until 1940.
Turkey: Turkish Air Force bought 20 Br.19 B2s, then 50 Br.19.7s in 1932. Some of these aircraft were used in bombardment and reconnaissance missions during the Dersim Rebellion.
United Kingdom: Royal Air Force bought one aircraft for tests.
Uruguay: Uruguayan Air Force
Venezuela: Venezuelan Air Force operated 12 aircraft.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia: Yugoslav Royal Air Force bought 100 Br.19 A2s in 1924, and in 1927 acquired a license to manufacture them in a new factory in Kraljevo. The first batch of 85 aircraft were assembled from French parts, and a further 215 were built from scratch. The first 150 aircraft in Yugoslavian service had Lorraine-Dietrich engines, the next 150 - 370 kW (500 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Hb engines, and the last 100 - 310 kW (420 hp) Gnome-Rhone Jupiter 9Ab radial engines. From 1932, the Br.19.7 variant was manufactured - the first five were built in France, the next 75 in Kraljevo (51 according to other publications), and a further 48 aircraft, lacking engines, were completed in 1935-1937 as Br.19.8's, with 580 kW (780 hp) Wright Cyclone radial engines. (Some publications give different numbers of Yugoslavian Bre.19s). Some of these Yugoslavian aircraft were used in combat after the German attack on Yugoslavia in 1941.
Yugoslavia: SFR Yugoslav Air Force operated one Croatian Br.19 taken by its pilot and delivered to the partisans of Tito, and used in June-July 1942, until it was shot down. Another two, captured by the new Communist government forces in April 1945, were used to pursue Ustashes.
Record Variants 
Both standard and modified Breguet 19s were used for numerous record-breaking flights. The first was the Br.19 prototype, which won a military aircraft speed contest in Madrid on 17 February 1923. On 12 March 1923, it also set an international altitude record of 5,992 m (19,659 ft) carrying a 500 kg (1,100 lb) load. It was later bought by the Spanish government.
The Jesús del Gran Poder, was a special version of the Breguet 19 that flew to Brazil from Spain in 1929. Many crews made long-distance flights in Br.19s. In February 1925, Thieffry flew from Brussels to Leopoldville in central Africa, a distance of 8,900 km (5,500 mi). Two Br.19 A2s were bought by the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper and fitted with additional fuel tanks. They were flown by H. Abe and K. Kawachi on the Tokyo-Paris-London route in July 1925, covering 13,800 km (8,600 mi). Between 27 August and 25 September 1926, the Polish crew of Boleslaw Orlinski flew the Warsaw-Tokyo route (10,300 km (6,400 mi)) and back, in a modified Br.19 A2, despite the fact that one of its lower wings was broken on the way. Between 1927 and 1930, Romanian, Yugoslavian and Polish Br.19s were often used in Little Entente air races.
Breguet 19 GRs and TRs set several world records, mostly of long-distance non-stop flights, starting with Arrachart and Lemaitre's 3,166 km (1,967 mi) flight from Paris to Villa Cisneros in 24.5 hours on 2-3 February 1925. On 14-15 July 1926, Girier and Dordilly set a new record of 4,716 km (2,930 mi) between Paris and Omsk, beaten on 31 August-1 September by Challe and Weiser's 5,174 km (3,215 mi), and on 28 October by Dieudonne Costes and Rignot's 5,450 km (3,390 mi). From 10 October 1927 - 14 April 1928, Costes and Le Brix flew a Br.19 GR (named Nungesser-Coli) around the world, covering 57,000 km (35,000 mi) - though the journey between San Francisco and Tokyo was taken by ship.
The Super Bidon was created especially for the purpose of a transatlantic flight. It was named Point d'Interrogation ("The Question Mark"). Dieudonne Costes and Maurice Bellonte set a non-stop distance record of 7,905 km (4,912 mi) from Paris to Moullart on 27-29 September 1929 on this aircraft. Then on 1-2 September 1930, they flew from Paris to New York City, a distance of 6,200 km (3,900 mi) making the first non-stop east-west crossing by a fixed-wing aircraft of the North Atlantic. The second Super Bidon, the Spanish Cuatro Vientos, vanished over Mexico with M. Barberan and J. Collar Serra, after a transatlantic flight from Seville to Cuba on 10-11 June 1933.
Specifications (Br.19 A.2) 
- Crew: 2
- Length: 9.61 m (31 ft 6 in)
- Wingspan: 14.83 m (48 ft 8 in)
- Height: 3.69 m (12 ft 1 in)
- Wing area: 50 m² (540 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 1,387 kg (3,058 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 2,500 kg (5,512 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 365 L (96 US gal; 80 imp gal)
- Powerplant: 1 × Lorraine 12Ed Courlis W-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, 340 kW (450 hp)
- Max speed: 214 km/h (133 mph; 116 kn)
- Range: 800 km (497 mi; 432 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 7,200 m (23,622 ft)
- Guns: 1 × fixed, forward-firing 7.7 mm (0.30 in) Vickers machine gun, and two flexible, rearward-firing 7.7 mm (0.30 in) Lewis Guns.
- Bombs: Provision for light bombs.
- Shupek, John. Photos via The Skytamer Archive, copyright © 2000 Skytamer Images (Skytamer.com). All Rights Reserved
- Wikipedia. Breguet Br.19
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