Air France in the 1930s
Dewoitine 333 – Potez 621 – Wibault 283
Air France is one of the world’s great airlines and France’s national ‘flag carrier’ airline. It was created in October 1933 from the amalgamation of five existing French airlines and brought together France’s domestic, colonial and inter-national airlines. The five airlines had a combined route distance of 37,800km and a mixed fleet of 259 aircraft. Air France reduced its fleet to about 90 aircraft by standardizing on four makes of airliners, each suited for a different role. They were the Bloch 220, the Potez 621, the Dewoitine 338 and the Wibault 282. Let’s look at three of them now.
Bloch 220 in 1/144 by F-Rsin
This airliner was the most modern of the four and was, in many ways, a French version of the trend setting Douglas DC-2. It was derived from the Bloch 210 bomber, the prototype first flew in June 1936 and they began entering service in July 1937 on the Paris-Marseilles route. They were fast and comfortable (for their time) and flew on French domestic routes, carrying 16 passengers. Seventeen were built, all were requisitioned for military roles at the beginning of World War 2 and seven were seized by the Germans and used by Lufthansa. After the war they returned to Air France and remained in service until 1950.
The only kit of this aircraft in 1/144 is the F-Rsin kit which is now out of production. If you want to up-scale there is a 2005 MixKit mixed media kit and a 2017 S-R Models kit, both in 1/72. I know nothing about either of these kits or if they are still even available.
Potez 621 in 1/144 by F-Rsin
This airliner was based in the Potez 580 bomber with the wings and engines of the bomber and a new fuselage that could accommodate 13-16 passengers. The prototype made its first flight in January 1935. Air France ordered 14, the first version has radial engines and the 621 version had in-line engines. They were slow but rugged and reliable. Air France used them first for services inside South America and then for routes inside Europe and to the Middle East. Commercial operations came to an end with the beginning of World War 2 although some served with Free French forces.
The only kit of this aircraft in 1/144 is the F-Rsin kit which is now out of production. In 1/72 the only option is a resin conversion kit with the fuselage of a 621 that goes onto the flying surfaces of the old Heller/Smer Potes 540 kit. The conversion kit was published by Dujin in the 1990s and reissued with improvement and decals issued by FGMmasterDujin in 2011. The Heller Potez 540 kit dates from 1967 and has been reissued quite a few times, most recently in an Azmodel box. I don’t know how good the conversion parts are so you might have your work ahead of you making a reasonable model from the parts available.
Dewoitine 338 in 1/144 by F-Rsin
The Dewoitine 338 was a slightly enlarged version of the Dewoitine 333 that first flew in 1933. The larger 338 first flew in August 1935 and Air France ordered 28 in several batches with the first commercial service flown in July 1936. They could carry between 12 and 22 passengers depending on the route. They started a long range service to French Indo-China from Paris to Saigon in 1938 and extended to Honk Kong in 1939 On these services they were fitted with 12 luxurious seats, six of them convertable into beds. At the beginning of World War 2 the French Air Force requisitioned 12 and they then served with Vichy and Free French forces, with Air France with German permission, with Lufthansa and with a Free French airline. Several remained at the end of the war and flew Air France’s Paris-Nice service for several months before being retired.
There have been two kits of this airliner in 1/144, the Air Craft Models vacform kit and the F-Rsin resin kit. I made this model from the F-Rsin kit but I’d be happy to make the Air Craft kit if one came my way because my previous experience with Air Craft tells me it is a challenging but worthwhile building experience. Of course, both these kits are now out of production and unavailable unless you are lucky. Broplan offer a kit in 1/72, I’ve had no luck in making them but you might do better. A build review of this model on the French website Maquette 72 shows you how to make a model from this kit and it looks like magnificent but seriously hard work to me.