In January 1938, Air France ordered six H-246.1 aircraft in addition to the prototype, and two aircraft were about to enter service on the Marignane-Algiers route when war broke out. The French navy intended to impress all six series aircraft for maritime reconnaissance, but in the event only one was converted. This was the third series aircraft, which flew in June 1940, and then went into service with Escadrille 9.E with a modified extended glazed nose section. It was armed with four 7.5mm Darne machine-guns and 600kg of bombs.
From October 1939 to November 1942 the civil LeO boats operated the route to Algiers for Air France. After that they were seized by the Luftwaffe, converted to carry 21 troops or 14 stretcher cases, and armed with five 7.92mm MG 15 machine-guns, one in a bow turret, two in lateral positions and two more firing through windows at the rear of the flight deck. They were used on a variety of tasks, including brief operations in Finland. Post-war, two surviving LeO H-246.1s were used for a time on the Air France Marignane-Algiers route.
Designed to an official requirement of 1935, the Liore-et-Olivier LeO H-246.01 flying-boat prototype flew on 30 September 1937. A graceful parasol-wing monoplane, its metal hull incorporated a flight deck for the four-man crew and a main cabin for 26 passengers.
Engine: 4 x Hispano-Suiza 12Xgrs/Xhrs V-12, 537kW
Max take-off weight: 15000 kg / 33070 lb
Loaded weight: 9800 kg / 21605 lb
Wingspan: 31.72 m / 104 ft 1 in
Length: 21.17 m / 69 ft 5 in
Height: 7.15 m / 23 ft 5 in
Wing area: 131.0 sq.m / 1410.07 sq ft
Max. speed: 330 km/h / 205 mph
Ceiling: 7000 m / 22950 ft
Range: 2000 km / 1243 miles