The Amiot 143M is a strategic and well-equipped bomber which can carpet bomb targets and also fend for itself against enemy planes. Still, a fighter escort is essential to bring the Amiot back safely to the airfield. Through experience, the Amiot is much better than the Guppy.
To be a bomber, the Amiot is extremely slow, making it a very easy target to enemy AA and it does not have enough weapons to fend itself against enemy fighters.
In 1928, the French Air Ministry issued a specification for a four-seat Multiplace de Combat, a multi-seat combat aircraft to act as a bomber, reconnaissance aircraft and long-range escort fighter. Amiot received an order for two prototype Amiot 140s, to be evaluated against the competing Bleriot 137, Breguet 410 and SPCA 30. The Amiot 140 was a high-winged cantilever monoplane of all-metal construction, with corrugated wing skinning and a fixed tail wheel undercarriage. The pilot sat in an open cockpit, with separate cockpits for gunners in the nose and dorsal positions. A glazed gondola under the forward fuselage carried a bombardier/gunner, ensuring that the gunners had a clear field of fire all around the aircraft. The Amiot was intended to be powered by two 515 kW Lorraine-Dietrich 18 Orion water-cooled W engines, but these were unavailable, and the first prototype was fitted with Hispano-Suiza 12NBr engines to allow flight testing, making its maiden flight on 12 April 1931. The second prototype was completed in February 1932, but the continued non-availability of its intended engines, either the original Lorraine-Dietrichs or turbocharged Hispano-Suizas, meant that it never flew. Despite this, on 23 November 1933 an order was placed for 40 Amiot 140s, to be powered by 662 kW Lorraine 12Q engines.
The French Air Ministry had meanwhile revised its requirements, requiring better performance and better bombing capability, and Amiot redesigned the aircraft to meet these requirements and incorporate lessons learned during testing of the Amiot 140. The gondola under the fuselage was enlarged, allowing easier operation of the aircraft's guns, and allowing a fifth crew member (a radio-operator) to be carried. Manually operated gun turrets were provided in the nose and dorsal positions. Orders were placed for two prototypes, differing only in the engines fitted, with the Amiot 142 having Hispano-Suiza 12Y engines and the Amiot 143 having Gnome-Rhone 14K radial engines. The 143 flew first, on 1 August 1934, with the 142 not flying until January 1935. As it was decided to allocate the Hispano-Suiza engines to fighters, the Amiot 143 was selected, the existing order for 40 Amiot 140s being converted to 143s.
The Amiot 143 had the same high-winged, fixed undercarriage layout as the Amiot 140, with the wing thick enough to allow the crew to access the engines in flight using a tunnel between the wing spars. The pilot sat in an enclosed cockpit level with the leading edge of the wing, and the navigator/bombardier, who was also provided with flying controls, sat in the extensively glazed gondola beneath the pilot. The radio operator sat towards the rear of the gondola, and in early aircraft also operated two 7.7 mm Lewis guns. Nose and dorsal turrets, each carrying a single Lewis gun, completed the defensive armament, while the gondola also housed an internal bomb-bay. After 40 aircraft had been completed, the design was revised, with the aircraft being fitted with a longer nose (increasing overall length from 17.94 m to 18.24 m, a revised fuel system, and with the Lewis guns in the nose and dorsal turrets and the ventral position replaced by single 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns, with a fourth gun used by the navigator/bombadier firing through a hatch in the floor.
The Amiot 143M entered service in July 1935, with deliveries continuing through 1936 and 1937. By the time the last deliveries were made in March 1938, the Amiot was quite out of date, and began to be replaced by more modern aircraft such as the Bloch MB.131. Nevertheless at the outbreak of the Second World War, Amiot 143s equipped 5 metropolitan groupes together with a single African based groupe.
During the Phoney War, Amiot 143M groupes carried out reconnaissance and leaflet raids over Germany. 87 Amiot 143M remained in front line service on 10 May 1940, 50 equipping four metropolitan groupes: GBs I/34 and II/34 in the north, GBs I/38 and II/38 in the East, and 17 equipping one African groupe, GB II/63, which was in the process of re-equipping with Martin 167Fs. Following the start of the Battle of France, the Amiot 143M was mainly used in night attacks against German airfields and lines of communications, with losses relatively low. One notable exception was a daylight raid by 10 Amiots from GBs I/34, II/34, and II/38 led by Commandant de Laubier against German bridgeheads near Sedan on 14 May 1940. Despite fighter escort, two Amiots were shot down while a third force-landed before reaching its base.
By the time of the Armistice, the Amiot 143M had dropped a total of 474 tonnes of bombs. 52 Amiot 143Ms were in the Unoccupied Zone and 25 were in French North Africa. They were reorganized into GBs I/38 and II/38 and were used until July 1941 when they were replaced by LeO 451 bombers. Some planes of the II/38 served as a transports for the French in Syria. This groupe later went over to the Allied side after their landings in Africa. The last Amiot 143M was retired from service in February 1944. A few Amiot 143M are reported to have been commandeered by the Germans and used as transports. Only 11 planes were left in the Unoccupied Zone when it was occupied by the Germans in 1943, and only three were flightworthy.
Pros & Cons
+Cheap and powerfull
- It has enough bombload to kill exposed infantry
- It has enough defensive armarment to survive light fighter planes.