After successfully crossing the Mediterranean with their Morane Type G replica, one hundred years after Roland Garros, the eighty Réplic'Air Association enthusiasts have taken up a new challenge: to build, and fly a D551. This eight metre (almost 26 feet) long fighter, equipped with five machine guns, was ordered by the French state from the industrialist Emile Dewoitine. In 1939, the first units were assembled, but never took to the air.
Thomas Moutton, Secretary, Réplic'Air Association
« The first flight should have taken place in June 1940, except that the armistice between France and Germany had been signed, bringing with it the obligation to destroy all French military aircraft of the time. »
The Dewoitine 551 story could have stopped there, but it not. 75 years later, the Réplic'Air association decided to revive this fighter, which on paper, should be able to reach 660 km/h (410 mph). Based on the original plans, preserved in the local archives and, with the aid of Catia 3D modelling software, a full-scale mock-up of the ‘plane has been produced.
Bastien Sclafer, Réplic'Air Association, Cable installation specialist, D551 project
« This model has not been made to fly. We will use it, as they did in the 40’s, to see where we can place the electrical wiring, pneumatics, and hydraulics, the flight instruments... »
The schedule is tight. The association’s partners will produce the D551 aluminum parts, which will then be assembled in Toulouse (south western France). After spending 40 years in an attic, and subsequently bought from a private collector, the 1,000 horsepower, Swiss Saurer engine (HS-51), will be overhauled.
There will also be the inevitable wind tunnel tests. Designed in 1939, the Dewoitine 551 will make its first flight in late 2017.