Latécoère Late 631
Developed in 1939, construction of the L.631 was interrupted by the war. The prototype Late 631 flew for the first time on 4 November 1942. It was a high-wing monoplane flying-boat powered by six 1,192kW radial engines. Accommodation was provided for 46 passengers in two- or four-berth cabins. However this aircraft was confiscated by the Germans during the occupation of France. It was flown it to the Bodensee (Lake Constance) on the German–Swiss–Austrian border. In 1944, it was attacked and destroyed at anchor by RAF Mosquitos.
Despite the war raging through France, Latécoère managed to complete the first production model in March 1945, now powered by Wright Cyclones instead of its original Gnome et Rhône engines.
In October of 1945 a propeller on F-BANT separated in flight with a blade slicing through the cabin and killing two passengers. Four production models were bought by Air France and inaugurated transatlantic services between their base at Biscarosse, south-west of Bordeaux, and Fort-de-France in Martinique on 26 July 1947.
Other operators were SEMAF (Société d’Exploitation du Matériel Aéronautique Français) and SFH (Société France Hydro).
The first Transatlantic Flight, Geneva, Switzerland to Fort de France, Martinique by "Latecoere 631" was on June 14, 1948. They covered the distance of nearly 5000 km in 16 hours.
A special mail flight arrived at Fort de France on June 16th, 1947. The plane disappeared on its return flight.
In February of 1948, F-BDRD crashed in the English Channel during a snowstorm killing all 19 on board. After just over one year of service, there was the total loss, with all passengers and crew, of F-BDRC on 1 August 1948. In March of 1950, F-BANU was lost off the coast of France, again with no survivors and finally in 1955, SFH’s F-BDRE had a wing failure, crashing with the loss of half of the 16 people on board.
The Societe France-Hydro operated one on cargo services in French Equatorial Africa for three years, but it crashed: after which all remaining Late 631 were broken up.
Latecoere L.631 Lionel de Marmier