Jim Lund Latécoère 521 “Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris” — Golden Age Flying Boat of France
Latécoère 521 Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris — Golden Age Flying Boat of France
This aircraft was the French contemporary of the Sikorsky S-42 and Martin M-130 Flying Clippers of Pan American Airlines fame. The 521 was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean using six engines (the inboard engines were a tractor and pusher pairing). Literally, it looked like a flying boat with the upper level distinctively set atop the lower level with its outer deck surrounding the upper flight deck — which must have been of great benefit during mooring or docking procedures — with the flight deck set apart and atop the upper level. I would be surprised if this outer deck were not used as a fishing platform at one time or another. The Lieutenant de Vaisseau was designed for passengers, as well as cargo, carrying a maximum of 72 passengers. The upper level had seating for 20 with a compartment for three flight engineers while the lower level had several cabins, stowage and a salon which seated 20.
The Lieutenant de Vaisseau made four trans-Atlantic flights during May through July in 1939. One of the flights traveled an enviable 3651 miles/5875km at an average speed of 127 mph/206kph — and on five of the six engines for approximately one-third of the trip!
Thanks to famed scale modeller Jim Lund we can see how the Latécoère 521 named Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paris looked back in her day before WW II and her demise. More of Jim Lund’s photos or the aircraft models and dioramas in the Oceans by Air: scale models and photographs by Jim Lund exhibit can be seen here.