Breguet Bre.19

Designed by Breguet's chief engineer, Marcel Vuillerme, as a successor to the Breguet 14, the Breguet 19 was intended either as a two-seat day bomber (B.2 category) or as a reconnaissance aircraft (A.2 category). The Bre.19.01 prototype was exhibited at the Paris Salon de l'Aeronautique in November 1921, with an experimental Breguet-Bugatti 16-cylinder powerplant installed, comprising two eight-cylinder Bugatti engines coupled to drive a single propeller. Re-engined soon afterwards with a more conventional 450 hp (336 kW) Renault 12Kb, it made its maiden flight in March 1922.

Eleven evaluation aircraft followed, and during an extensive test programme these were fitted with a variety of engines. Quantity production started in 1923, and by 1927 some 2,000 Breguet 19s (divided almost equally between reconnaissance and bomber versions) had been delivered to the French Aviation Militaire.

The Breguet 19 had a circular-section fuselage built up on a duralumin tube framework, covered as far as the rear cockpit with duralumin sheet and aft of this with fabric. The unequal-span fabric-covered wings were two-spar structures with spars and ribs of duralumin. The tail unit, which had horn-balanced elevators, had duralumin frames with fabric covering. The landing gear of production aircraft was of simple cross-axle type, the single tapered strut on each side having cable cross-bracing. First version to go into French service was the Bre.19 A.2 reconnaissance variant, which equipped the 32e, 33e, 34e and 35e Régiments d'Aviation from the autumn of 1924 onwards. The Bre.19 B.2 bomber version first went into service in June 1926 with the 11e Régiment d'Aviation de Bombardement.

A Breguet Bre.19 of the Spanish Nationalist Air Force in 1936


French-built Breguet 19s were powered by 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engines, either the Renault 12K or Lorraine-Dietrich 12D and 12E. While some structural strengthening was found necessary during its early career, the Breguet 19 gave outstanding service to the French Aviation Militaire. It equipped units involved in hostilities against rebel Druze tribesmen in Syria and the Riff insurgents in Morocco, as well as forming the backbone of metropolitan day bomber and reconnaissance units for many years. Inevitably it soldiered on into obsolescence, even equipping four night-fighter escadrilles, attempting a role for which it was quite unsuited. By the beginning of 1933 only 230 Bre.19 A.2s, 28 B.2s and 40 night-fighter Bre.19 Cn.2s were in first-line use, and the type was finally relegated to reserve duty and training in 1934.

As early as 1923 the Breguet company embarked on an aggressive export campaign. The first Bre.19.01 prototype was displayed at an international competition organised by the Spanish War Ministry and soon afterwards the first Bre.19.02 evaluation aircraft was supplied to Yugoslavia. As a result, Yugoslav military aviation took delivery of 400 Breguet 19s between 1925 and 1932. Of these 185 were supplied complete from France, 40 were built in Yugoslavia from French components and 175 were built in Yugoslavia at a new factory in Kraljevo. The first 150 aircraft had Lorraine engines, the next 150 had 500 hp (373 kW) Hispano-Suizas (12Hb or 12Lb types) and the final 100 (all built at Kraljevo) 420 hp (313 kW) Gnome-Rhône Jupiter 9Ab radial engines, built under licence in Yugoslavia.

When Yugoslavia was invaded in April 1941 the Breguet 19s saw limited action, but most were destroyed on the ground. About 40 were subsequently handed over to the puppet Croat regime for use against partisan units.

Spain imported 19 complete aircraft, the first three for use as pattern machines for licence production. The CASA company then assembled 26 aircraft from French components and went on to build 177 Breguet 19s. 127 were powered by Lorraine engines built under licence and 50 by imported Hispano-Suizas.

Spanish Breguet 19s first saw action against rebel tribes in Morocco. In 1936, 135 of the type were still on strength, most of them in Spain. Although obsolete, the Bre.19 was used by both sides in the Spanish Civil War, surviving aircraft being divided about equally between the Republicans and the Nationalists who also purchased 20 reconditioned Breguet 19s from Poland. The Bre.19s were employed largely against troops and ground targets, but also for coast patrol duties. By mid-1937 both sides had withdrawn the ageing Breguets from front-line service, surviving examples being used for training or placed in reserve.

Other foreign purchasers included Romania, which bought 108 Breguet 19s, and Turkey, which imported 20. Poland purchased 250 Lorraine-powered machines between 1925 and 1930, and the last of these were not withdrawn from service until just before the German invasion in 1939, The Chinese authorities obtained a total of 74 aircraft, which were employed against the Japanese in Manchuria. Surviving aircraft from 30 Bre.19s imported by the Greek government were expended in action against the invading Italians in October 1940.

Belgium bought six Breguet 19 B.2s in 1924, and then initiated licence production by the SABCA company. Deliveries to the Belgian Aéronautique Militaire totalled 146 Bre.19s between 1926 and 1930, some of these being powered by the Lorraine 12Eb engine and others by the Hispano-Suiza 12Ha. The Breguet 19 was also popular in Latin America. The Argentine Republic obtained 25, Bolivia 15, Venezuela 12 and Brazil five. Both Bolivian and Paraguayan Bre.19s saw action during the early 1930s.

The British, Italian and Persian (Iranian) governments each purchased two Breguet 195 for technical evaluation . The Japanese Nakajima company also bought two aircraft, but subsequently abandoned plans for licence production.


Breguet Bre.19 A.2 - An observation and reconnaissance version. It was capable of carrying 10 x 26.46 lbs (12 kg) of light bombs externally on underwing racks.

Breguet Bre.19 B.2 - A light bomber version, basically similar to the Bre.19 A.2 but with a provision for underwing bomb racks for an increased bombload of up to 1,764 lbs (800 kg).

Breguet Bre.19 Cn.2s - 40 aircraft converted for use as night-fighters and equipping four squadrons. Totally unsuited to this role, they were retired to secondary duties in 1934.

Breguet Bre.19.02 - A few aircraft supplied to the Yugoslav Air Force for evaluation purposes. Later Yugoslavia would purchase 400 more aircraft.

Breguet Bre.19 G.R. "Grand Raid" - The Breguet company ensured that the Breguet 19 remained in the headlines throughout the 1920s and early 1930s by developing a series of long-range or 'Grand Raid' variants. The first was the Bre.19 No.3, a standard early example powered by a Lorrain&-Dietrich 12Db engine. Flown by Pelletier d'Oisy and Besin, and carrying auxiliary fuel tanks attached to the bomb-racks, it flew from Paris to Shanghai, arriving at its destination on 20 May 1924. Bre.19 No.64, with additional internal fuel tanks, was flown by Lemaitre and Arrachart to capture the world distance record, flying from Etampes to Villa Cisneros (Spanish Sahara) on 3-4 February 1925, a distance of 3166 km (1,967 miles). A Belgian G.R. aircraft was followed by the conversion of the two Japanese-owned Bre.19s to Grand Raid standard that were bought by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper group, the latter flew from Tokyo to Paris in the summer of 1925. Four more French G.R. aircraft were built, one being converted to take a 600 hp (447 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Lb engine; named Nungesser-Coli, it was flown around the world between October 1927 and April 1928 by Costes and LeBrix, covering some 57000 km (35,400 miles) in 350 hours flying time, but the stretch between San Francisco and Tokyo was covered aboard ship.

Breguet Bre.19 Bidon "Petrol Can" - The Bidon variant (meaning literally petrol can) was a logical development of the G.R. type and built specifically for long-range flights, it incorporated many modifications including more integral fuel tankage, rounded wingtips, redesigned fin and rudder, and fairings for the main wheels. The first example was bought by Belgium, but the second established a world speed-over-distance record for France when, in May 1929, it covered a distance of 3,107 miles (5000 km) at an average speed of 116.88 mph (188.1 km/h). Two more Bidons were built by Breguet, with one eventually being sold to China. At least one Bidon was built in Spain by CASA.

Breguet Bre.19 Super Bidon - This final development was built to coax the maximum possible range out of the design. Extra tankage was provided in the upper wing and the lengthened fuselage. The first example was built for France and named Point d'Interrogation (Question Mark or simply '?'). After an unsuccessful transatlantic attempt it was re-engined with an Hispano-Suiza 12Lb and flown in two days from Le Bourget to Manchuria, landing on 29 September 1929 and establishing a world straight-line distance record of 4,912 miles (7905 km) and in September 1930 the same aircraft, crewed by Costes and Bellonte, achieved the first non-stop Paris-New York flight. The Spanish CASA company built the only other example of the Super Bidon, which differed from the original in having enclosed crew cockpits with raised rear fuselage upper decking, and by the incorporation of auxiliary fins. Tt was lost on a flight from Seville to Latin America, disappearing over the Caribbean between Cuba and Mexico.

Breguet Bre.19 Seaplane - Single examples of a twin-float version appeared, one built by Breguet and one, a temporary conversion for a Japanese Imperial Navy competition, by Nakajima.

Breguet Bre.19ter - Developed from the Bidon, this experimental military prototype was powered by a 600 hp (447 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Lb engine, and had elliptical wingtips and curved vertical tail surfaces. The type was offered for export in 1928.

Breguet Bre.19.7 - Five Yugoslav Breguet 19s were returned to Vélizy-Villacoublay for modification by Breguet. They were fitted with semi-elliptical wingtips, span being increased to 49 ft 2 1/4 in (14.99 m), length to 31 ft 6 in (9.6 m) and wing area to 530.46 sq ft (49.28 sq m). Four additional support struts were fitted between the fuselage and upper wing. The five aircraft were also re-engined with the 600 hp (447 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Nb and redelivered to the Yugoslavs in 1930. Five similar aircraft bearing the same designation (Breguet Bre.19.7) were delivered to Romania. All 10 aircraft participated in the Petite Entente military aircraft competition, the Yugoslav Bre.19.7s doing particularly well. 125 Yugoslav Breguet 19.7s were put in production at the Kraljevo works, though a shortage of Hispano-Suiza engines meant that only 75 had been completed by 1933. A number of these Yugoslav Bre.19.7s took part in the brief resistance to the Germans in the spring of 1941, several being later used by the Croat regime. The Turks ordered 50 Breguet 19.7s in 1933, and these were the last of the Breguet 19 family to be built by the parent company. Maximum level speed of the Breguet Bre.19.7 was 150 mph (242 km/h).

Breguet Bre.19.8 - A single Yugoslav Breguet Bre.19.7 was tested by Breguet with a 690 hp (515 kW) Gnome-Rhône 14Kbrs radial engine. Further tests in Yugoslavia led to its rejection as a possible powerplant for the 50 engineless Bre.19.7 airframes, and it was finally decided to fit the 780 hp (582 kW) Wright Cyclone GR-1820-F-56 9-cylinder radial engine with a Hamilton propeller. The 50 aircraft were completed accordingly, the last one delivered in November 1937, and a handful survived to be used by the Croat regime after the Yugoslav collapse in 1941. Maximum level speed was 173 mph (279 km/h) at 8,200 ft (2500 m).

Breguet Bre.19.9 - A re-engined Yugoslav Bre.19.7 with a 860 hp (641 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs engine.

Breguet Bre.19.10 - Another one-off Yugoslav conversion of a Bre.19.7 this time with a 720 hp (537 kW) Lorraine 12Hfrs Petrel engine and flown in 1935. 

Specifications (Breguet Bre.19 A.2)

Type: Two Seat Army Co-Operation, Liaison, Reconnaissance & Light Bomber

Accommodation/Crew: Pilot & Observer/Gunner in an open cockpit located a cut-out in the upper wing trailing edge, with the observer/gunner's cockpit immediately behind.

Design: Chief Designer Marcel Vuillerme of Société Anonyme des Ateliers D'Aviation Louis Breguet

Manufacturer: Société Anonyme des Ateliers D'Aviation Louis Breguet at Vélizy-Villacoublay, Toulouse and Bayonne (which remained independant after the nationalisation of the aircraft industry in 1936). In 1937 Breguet bought Latécoère factories at Toulouse-Montaudran and Biscarosse. Also built in Belgium under licence by Société Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aéronautiques (SABCA) in Evére, near Brussels. A factory in Kraljevo, Yugoslavia was also built to produce the Breguet Bre.19 for the Yugoslav air force.

Powerplant: One 450 hp (336 kW) Lorraine-Dietrich 12Ed/12D or a 513 hp (382.5 kW) Renault 12Kb 12-cylinder inline liquid-cooled piston engine.

Performance: (Lorraine-Dietrich) Maximum speed 133 mph (214 km/h) at sea level; service ceiling 23,620 ft (7200 m); (Renault) Maximum speed 146 mph (235 km/h) at sea level; service ceiling 22,640 ft (6900 m); climb to 16,405 ft (5000 m) in 29 minutes 50 seconds.

Range: (Lorraine-Dietrich) 497 miles (800 km) on internal fuel. (Renault) 746 miles (1200 km)

Weight: (Lorraine-Dietrich) Empty equipped 3,058 lbs (1387 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 5,511 lbs (2500 kg). (Renault) Empty equipped 3,796 lbs (1722 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 6,856 lbs (3110 kg).

Dimensions: Span 48 ft 7 3/4 in (14.83 m); length 31 ft 6 1/4 in (9.61 m); height 12 ft 1 1/4 in (3.69 m); wing area 538.21 sq ft (50.0 sq m).

Armament: (B.2) One fixed forward firing 7.7 mm (0.303 in) synchronised Vickers machine-gun on the starboard side of the fuselage and two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Lewis machine-guns on a trainable mount in the rear cockpit plus provision for up to 1,764 lbs (800 kg) of light bombs carried externally on underwing racks. French 7.5 mm (0.295 in) MAC 1934 machine-guns were also used instead of the Vickers and Lewis guns.

Variants: Bre.19.01 (prototype), Bre.19 A.2 (observation/reconnaissance), Bre.19 B.2 (bomber), Bre.19 Cn.2s (night fighter), Bre.19.02 (export), Bre.19 G.R, Bre.19 Bidon, Bre.19 Super Bidon, Bre.19 Seaplane, Bre.19ter, Bre.19.7, Bre.19.8, Bre.19.9, Bre.19.10.

Equipment/Avionics: None.

History: First flight (Bre.19.01) March 1922; withdrawn from frontline duties (all types French service) 1934.

Operators: France (Armée de l'Air), Yugoslavia (400), Spain (19), Belgium (6 purchased plus 146 licence built), Romania (108), Turkey (20 + 50 Yugoslav built), Poland (250), China (74), Greece (30), Argentina (25), Bolivia (15), Venezuela (12), Brazil (5). Britain, Italy, Iran and Japan each bought two aircraft for evaluation purposes.