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Amiot was born in Cherbourg. His first aircraft was built in a Paris garage in 1913, but it was not until 1916, during the First World War, that he became seriously involved in construction. The Minister of Defence granted a contract to SECM (French: Société d’emboutissage et de constructions mécaniques), owned by the Wertheimer brothers, Paul and Pierre, together with Félix Amiot. SECM and Amiot functioned as sub-contractors and assemblers only, and did not produce their own designs.
After the war, SECM and Amiot constructed light aircraft. In 1929 the company made a large sum of money selling its interest in the Lorraine-Dietrich engine company to the government. In 1934, controversially, the Lorraine company, then known as SGA, was sold to Amiot-SECM and Marcel Bloch for a fraction of the price the government had paid five years earlier.
As well as SGA, and the original SECM-Amiot works at Le Bourget, Amiot controlled the CAN (French: Chantiers aéronautiques de Normandie) at Cherbourg. In the early phases of rearmament, Amiot scored a considerable success with the Amiot 143, widely considered one of the ugliest aircraft, along with its contemporary the Potez 542, to have flown.
As the pace of rearmament increased in the late 1930s, Amiot scored another success, this time with the elegant Amiot 354 bomber. With the fall of Paris in June 1940, Amiot and 3000 of his workers headed south, to the unoccupied zone, where he established a new factory at Marseilles. Amiot became a subcontractor for the Junkers company, building 370 Junkers Ju 52/3m aircraft. Production continued postwar under the designation Amiot A.A.C. 1, mainly for the French military forces, but also for airline use.
Amiot was a Nazi collaborator, his businesses supplying the occupiers with armaments for warfare. In 1940 Amiot made a business arrangement with Paul and Pierre Wertheimer. The Wertheimers were Jews who presciently predicated the forthcoming mandates against Jewish business interests, and put control of their prestigious fragrance house, “Parfums Chanel” under his directorship. The Wertheimers had sweetened the deal for Amiot by purchasing a fifty percent share in the Amiot airplane propeller industry. At the end of World War II, Amiot turned “Parfums Chanel" back into the hands of the Wertheimers. It was said that his alliance with the Wertheimers “saved his [Amiot’s] little neck” from prosecution by the Allies.
After the war, and the second wave of nationalisations, Amiot concentrated on shipbuilding at his Cherbourg works, (French: Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie). There he built various small craft, including racing vessels. Among these ships were the fast missile boats, built for Israel, which escaped from Cherbourg while under embargo in 1969.
Amiot died, aged 80, in Paris.
- Frédéric Patart, L’aventure Amiot-CMN, des hommes, le ciel et la mer., Éditions des Champs, Bricqueboscq, 1998
- Thomas, Dana, “The Power Behind The Cologne,” The New York Times, February 24, 2002, retrieved August, 1, 2012
Thomas, Dana, "The Power Behind The Cologne," The New York Times, February 24, 2002, retrieved August 1, 2012