In 1932, the
Ministry of Air launched a new program C1 to acquire a modern fighter
to replace the NiD 62 or Wibault 72 in service.
The company Loire, based
in Saint-Nazaire, offers the Loire 43, an all-metal construction
machine. Its wing in high position, has a shape "Seagull Wing"
to improve the visibility of the pilot. It is equipped with a fixed
landing gear and is powered by an in-line engine Hispano-Suiza 12Xbrs
690ch water-cooled driving a two-blade metal propeller. It is armed
with two 7.5mm Darnes machine guns. The prototype makes its first
flight October 17, 1932. During a test at high altitude on January
14, 1933, his pilot, Mr Morin, probably a victim of discomfort at
900m altitude, lost consciousness. The plane crashes to the ground
and the pilot is killed.
A second prototype is built
on own funds, the Loire 45, powered this time by a star engine air-cooled
740ch Gnome-Rhone 14Kds driving a three-blade propeller. A circular
hood surrounds the mechanism and the wheels receive a closed fairing.
It is equipped with two Oerlikon guns of 20mm gondola under the
wings. He made his first flight on February 20, 1933, when the official
tests began in September. The lack of visibility related to the
presence of the wing is considered unacceptable and the aircraft
is rejected. It is returned to the Loire workshops for modifications.
Its wing is modified to improve the field of vision and its drift
is enlarged. It is also equipped with a Gnome-Rhône engine
14 Kcs 880 hp more powerful. The Loire 45reflected its flights in
January 1934, but the military no longer interested in the aircraft
and he ended his career as LP "Lance Parachute" from May
1935. Under the registration F-AKHP, and equipped with a quadripal
wooden propeller, it will fly until the early 50's.
In response to various criticisms,
the Loire 46 is presented as the accomplished version of the Loire
43 and 45. Its wing is deeply reworked: its shape in wing of gull
is stressed to release the visibility towards bottoms. The engine
mount is modified in order to be able to lower the engine: this
creates an atypical silhouette with a bonnet off-center with respect
to the axis of the fuselage, but here again, the visibility is thus
improved, especially during the landing phases. 20 mm rlikon
cannons are preserved. It is powered by a Gnome & Rhone 14Kfs
of 850ch driving a three-blade metal propeller; He made his first
flight on September 1, 1934 but the first tests led to modifications
and it was not until January 1935 that he was delivered to CEMA
to conduct official tests.
Thus modified, it was judged
effective and in April 1936, the Air Force ordered 60 copies which
had to be delivered before the end of the year. If the first aircraft
of series flew in February 1936, it was not delivered until June
and at the end of the year, only about twenty devices had been delivered
The first unit to be equipped
with the new aircraft was the 6 fighter squadron based in Chartres.
The series Loire 46 was armed with four 7.5mm Darne machine guns
to replace the 20mm Oerlikon cannons, in order to protect the wing
structure. In the use, the aircraft of healthy piloting, was penalized
by the lack of reliability of the engine Gnôme-Rhône,
what limited the duration of the flights and requireda strengthened
The career of Loire 46 was
short, since at the end of 1938, it was replaced by the new Morane-Saulnier
MS406. The aircrafts are then removed from combat units and assigned
to schools, including the Cazaux Shooting School.
The Loire 46, however, experienced
fighting under the colors of the Spanish Republic. Five aircraft
will be delivered, without weapons ... and will be equipped on site
with Vickers machine guns. There too, the lack of reliability of
the engine was the cause of several accidents following cuts in
full flight. None of the five Loire 46 "Spaniards" will
survive the fighting.