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Arsenal VG-33

In 1936, the VG series was developed as a means to increase the number of modern aircraft in French service.

The objective was to provide a “light fighter” of wooden construction that could be produced quickly and in large quantities.

The contract resulted in three designs, namely the VG-30, the Caudron C.714, and the Bloch MB.700, with prototypes of all three being ordered.

The VG-30, named after engineer Michel Vernisse and designer Jean Galtier, was constructed entirely of wood, utilizing plywood over stringers in a semi-monocoque construction.

The design was conventional, featuring a low-wing monoplane that bore a striking resemblance to the later Italian Macchi C.202.

Armament consisted of a 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 engine-mount moteur-canon firing through the propeller hub, and four 7.5 mm MAC 1934 M39 drum-fed machine guns, two in each wing.

The original plan was to power the aircraft with the Potez 12Dc flat-12 air-cooled inline engine, but this encountered development issues.

As a result, the prototype was fitted with a Hispano-Suiza 12Xcrs instead, and flew in this configuration in October 1938.

To address the engine problem, the VG-31 was designed to use the 632 kW (860 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31, while the VG-32 was to be powered by the Allison V-1710C-15.

The VG-31 flew in 1939 and demonstrated excellent performance.

The VG-32 prototype was completed in 1940 and was awaiting its test flight when it was captured by the advancing German forces at Villacoublay.

The VG-33 was a modified version of the VG-31, utilizing the same 12Y-31 engine.

It first flew on April 25, 1939, and demonstrated impressive performance, reaching speeds of 560 km/h (348 mph).

A contract for 220 aircraft was awarded in September, later increased to 1,000.

Production commenced quickly, but most of the airframes were left without engines and remained at the factory when it was captured by the Germans.

Further advancements were made during the commencement of VG-33 production.

The VG-34 incorporated the more advanced 688 kW (935 hp) 12Y-45 engine, while the VG-36 utilized the 735 kW (1,000 hp) 12Y-51 engine originally intended for the VG-35.

Additionally, the VG-36 introduced a newly designed streamlined radiator bath, reminiscent of the P-51 Mustang.

Single prototypes of all three models were constructed and successfully flown in early 1940.

The VG-37 was a variant with extended range based on the VG-36, while the VG-38 was planned to incorporate the 12Y-77 engine, but neither of these models were ever constructed.

The final model in the series was the VG-39, initially powered by the innovative 882 kW (1,200 hp) 12Y-89 engine, which featured an extension shaft on the propeller to enhance the aircraft’s nose profile.

This modification allowed the plane to achieve an impressive speed of 625 km/h (388 mph), even when carrying additional machine guns.

The intended production version was the VG-39bis, which would have been equipped with the new 1177 kW (1,600 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Z-17 engine, incorporating the streamlined radiator intake design from the VG-36.

Furthermore, two additional designs were proposed, both based on the VG-39bis airframe.

The VG-40 was designed to accommodate the Rolls-Royce Merlin III engine, while the VG-50 was intended to incorporate the newer Allison V-1710-39 engine.

However, neither of these designs were ever realized.



The original powerplant was the Potez 12Dc flat-12 air-cooled inline engine, but the prototype was fitted with a Hispano-Suiza 12Xcrs and flew in this form in October 1938.


Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 powered prototype.


Allison V-1710C-15 powered prototype.


First production model with Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 engine


697 kW (935 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 engine.

360 mph (600 km/h).

Prototype only.


VG-33 variant with newer engine. 


746 kW (1,000 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51 engine.

Prototype only.


Extended range version of the VG-36.

Not built.


Projected for Hispano-Suiza 12Y-77 engine.

Not built.


954 kW (1,280 hp) Hispano-Suiza 12Z engine.

393 mph (655 km/h).

6 x 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns.

Prototype only.


Proposed production version powered by a Hispano-Suiza 12Z-17.


Projected variant powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin III.


Projected variant powered by an Allison V-1710-39. 


The ultimate projected variant powered by a 1,000 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51 supercharged by a two-stage Sidlowsky-Planiol turbo-charger.





8.55 m (28 ft 1 in)


10.8 m (35 ft 5 in)


3.31 m (10 ft 10 in)

Wing area

14 m2 (150 sq ft)

Empty weight

2,050 kg (4,519 lb)

Gross weight

2,655 kg (5,853 lb)


1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31, V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine,

641 kW (860 hp)


Maximum speed

558 km/h (347 mph, 301 kn)


1,200 km (750 mi, 650 nmi)

Service ceiling

11,000 m (36,000 ft)

Wing loading

164 kg/m2 (34 lb/sq ft)


0.24 kW/kg (0.146 hp/lb)


1 × 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon

4 × 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns.



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