Breguet Deux-Ponts - Design and Development

Design and Development

Breguet began design work on the Breguet 761 two-deck airliner even before the end of the Second World War, in 1944. It was decided that a medium range airliner with seating for over 100 passengers would be built. The design envisaged using readily available engines with the aim of ease of manufacture and an early first-flight date. The design was known as Project 76-1. The aircraft was destined not to be the first French postwar design to fly, an honour which instead fell to the Sud-Est Languedoc, a civilianised Bloch MB161. The prototype Br.761, F-WASK, first flew at Villacoublay on 15 February 1949.

The 761 featured a cantilever wing set at mid-height on the bulky fuselage. The retractable tricycle landing gear featured dual-wheel main units. The empennage, high on the rear fuselage had twin fins and rudders. The prototype was powered by four 1,580 hp (1180 kW) SNECMA built Gnome-Rhône 14R radial engines.

The prototype was followed by three Br.761S pre-production aircraft powered by 2,020 hp (1506 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-B31 radial engines. These were fitted with 12 ft 1½in (3.70 m) diameter Hamilton Standard propellors. The aircraft successfully completed their trials incident-free. Their first flights were in 1951 or 1952. They also included a vestigial central fin.

The French Government ordered 12 production aircraft, the Breguet 76-3 which were later redesignated Br.763. Six aircraft were to be operated by Air France and the other six by the Ministry of Transport. The 763 had more powerful engines, an 1.20 metres (3 ft 11 in) larger wingspan, strengthened wings and three-crew flight deck (earlier aircraft had four crew). The 763 first flew on 20 July 1951 and entered service with Air France during autumn 1952.

The Air France aircraft had accommodation for 59 passengers on the top deck, and 48 on the lower deck, although the aircraft was capable of carrying 135 passengers in a high-density layout. During 1964 Air France transferred six Br.763s to the French Air Force. The air force also acquired the three pre-production Br.761S aircraft and four new Br.765 Sahara freighter aircraft with removable cargo doors.

Projects to build versions powered with British engines (for possible United Kingdom buyers) did not come to fruition. The projects would have been the 766 (with the Bristol Hercules radial engine), and the 767 with British turboprop engines.

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