Gourdou-Leseurre GL.30

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GL.30
Role Fighter
National origin France
Manufacturer Gourdou-Leseurre
First flight 1920
Primary users Aéronautique Militaire
Aéronautique Maritime
Number built >500

The Gourdou-Leseurre GL.30 was a racing aircraft built in France in 1920 which formed the basis for a highly successful family of fighter aircraft based on the same design. The GL-30 was a parasol-wing monoplane with retractable undercarriage and a Bristol Jupiter engine. In 1922, this was used to develop a fighter under the designation GL.31. Generally similar to its predecessor, the GL.31 had a greater wingspan, fixed undercarriage, a Gnome-Rhône 9A engine, and was armed with four machine guns; two in the forward fuselage and two in the wings. While this remained a development aircraft, it paved the way for the company's entry in a forthcoming Aéronautique Militaire competition to select a new fighter, announced in 1923.

By the time the prototype flew, the Gourdou-Leseurre had been acquired by Loire, and therefore the new aircraft was entered as the LGL.32. Placed second in the trials, the type's performance was impressive enough to still result in an order in January 1927 for a small batch of aircraft - five evaluation aircraft and 20 pre-production machines. Eventually, 475 of this basic version, dubbed LGL.32C.1 in service, would be ordered by the Aéronautique Militaire and 15 more by the Aéronautique Maritime. Romania ordered a further 50 aircraft of the same design as the examples in French service, Turkey ordered 12 (these designated LGL.32-T) and another one may have been purchased by Japan.

In French service, development turned from fighters to adapting the aircraft as a carrier-borne dive bomber. These featured general strengthening of the airframe, divided main undercarriage units, and a "fork" under the fuselage able to release a 50 kg (110 lb) bomb from under the fuselage while avoiding hitting the propeller.

While prolific, the GL.32 was not long-lasting, and attrition took a heavy toll on them. By 1934, all remaining examples were relegated to training and as instructional airframes; at the start of 1936, only 135 remained of the original 380 purchased. A number of these were sold to the government of the Second Spanish Republic and to the Basque Nationalist Party. Another aircraft was supplied to the Basques in 1937, modified as a dive-bomber along the lines of the previous French experiments. Designated the GL.633, this aircraft was used by Miguel Zambudio to attack the Nationalist battleship España, scoring decisive hits that contributed substantially to her subsequent sinking.

Variants[edit]

GL.30[edit]

  • GL.30 - Racer with retractable undercarriage and Bristol Jupiter engine (1 built)
  • GL.31 - Four-gun fighter prototype with fixed undercarriage, longer-span wings and Gnome-Rhône 9A engine (1 built). Also known as the GL.31C.1 or CL-I-3.
  • LGL.32 - Definitive two-gun fighter version (ca. 490 built). Also known as the GL.32C.1.
    • LGL.32.01 - The first prototype.
    • LGL.32T - Export version for Turkey (12 built)
    • LGL.32 Hy - Twin-pontoon floatplane version converted from LGL.32 prototype. Set world seaplane altitude record on 28 March 1927 (1 converted)
    • LGL.321 - LGL.32 converted to use 450 kW (600 hp) version of the Gnome & Rhône 9Ac (1 converted)
    • LGL.323 - LGL.32 converted to use supercharged 373 kW (600 hp) Bristol Jupiter for unsuccessful altitude record attempts. (1 converted)
    • LGL.324 - LGL.323 further modified and used by Pierre Lemoigne to set world landplane altitude record with 500 kg payload of 9,600 m (31,500 ft) on 23 May 1929 and Albert Lécrivain to set world landplane altitude record of 11,000 m (39,090 ft) on 24 October. (1 converted)
  • LGL.33 - Similar to LGL.32 but with Lorraine 12Eb engine, and revised wing struts, landing gear, and tail (1 built). Also known as the LGL.33C.1.
  • LGL.34 - Similar to LGL.32 but with Hispano-Suiza 12Gb engine (1 built). Also known as the LGL.34C.1.
    • LGL.341 - similar to LGL.32 with Hispano-Suiza 12Hb engine (2 built, second with revised radiator arrangement)
  • LGL.35
  • LGL.390 - night fighter prototype with Hispano-Suiza 9Va engine (1 converted from LGL.32)

GL.40[edit]

  • GL.410 - modernised fighter with divided main undercarriage (1 built)
  • GL.430 - strengthened carrier-borne dive-bomber prototype (1 built)
    • GL.432 - dive-bomber variant similar to GL.430 used for operational testing (4 built)
  • GL.450 - fighter version
  • GL.480

GL.520[edit]

  • GL.520
    • GL.521 - dive-bomber version with Gnome-Rhône 9Kfr engine and taller tail fin (2 built)

GL.60[edit]

  • GL.630
    • GL.633 - dive-bomber similar to GL.432 (1 built)

Operators[edit]

 France
 Romania
 Spain
 Turkey


Specifications (LGL-32C.1)[edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One, pilot
  • Length: 7.55 m (24 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 12.20 m (40 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 24.9 m2 (268 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 963 kg (2,123 lb)
  • Gross weight: 1,376 kg (3,033 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Gnome-Rhône 9Ady, 313 kW (420 hp)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 250 km/h (155 mph)
  • Range: 500 km (311 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 9,700 m (31,800 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 6.9 m/s (1,370 ft/min)

Armament

See also[edit]

Related lists

References[edit]

  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 429–30. 
  • World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 895 Sheets 10–11.