The Bloch MB.130 and its derivatives were a series of French monoplane reconnaissance bombers developed during the 1930s. The MB.130 was developed in response to the August 1933 French Aviation Ministry request for a reconnaissance and tactical bomber.
The low-wing Bloch 130 was a smaller version of the Bloch 210, but with a fixed and trousered undercarriage. The Bloch 130.01 Guynemer prototype first flew on 29 June 1934. Despite very ordinary performance, soon entered production, 40 machines being ordered in October 1935. An improved version, the MB.131 was first flown on 16 August 1936, but still needed more work to overcome its deficiencies. The radically revised second prototype which flew on 5 May 1937 eventually formed the basis for series production, with aircraft being manufactured by SNCASO, the nationalised company that had absorbed Bloch and Blériot.
As with the Potez 540, given the role that the aircraft was expected to fill, the evaluation was cursory and simply confirmed that the aircraft was completely unsuited to the intended role and should not be considered further.
A total redesign led to the Bloch 131, with a glazed nose and tall single fin and rudder, and powered by two 708kW Gnome-Rhone 14N radial engines. A retractable undercarriage was fitted. Armament comprised 7.5mm machine-guns in nose, dorsal turret and ventral positions.
The single Bloch 133, with a new twin fin and rudder tailplane, was later converted to a standard Bloch 131.
One hundred and thirty-nine production Bloch 131 were built for the Armee de l'Air in the RB4 category as four-crew machines intended for bombing and reconnaissance. The first six aircraft were delivered by June 1938, the rest by September 1939. Entering service in June 1938, the MB.131 went on to equip seven reconnaissance Groupes, six in metropolitan France and one in North Africa. Upon the outbreak of the war, the metropolitan Groupes suffered heavy losses in attempts at daylight reconnaissance of Germany's western borders. From October 1939 they were restricted to flying night missions, though they still suffered heavy losses even then, and for training. The max bomb load in various combinations was 800kg. By May 1940, all metropolitan units had been converted to Potez 63.11 aircraft, with only the African groupe retaining them for front-line duty.
Following France's capitulation, the Vichy regime used surviving Bloch 131s for target-towing. 21 planes were reported captured by the Luftwaffe in inoperable condition, but photographic evidence suggests at least a few flew for the Nazis.
Engine: 2 x Gnome-Rhône 14N-10/11, 610kW(950 hp)
Take-Off Weight: 6500 kg / 14330 lb
Wingspan: 20.0 m / 65 ft 7 in
Length: 17.9 m / 58 ft 9 in
Wing Area: 52.0 sq.m / 559.72 sq ft
Max. Speed: 400 km/h / 249 mph
Cruise Speed: 350 km/h / 217 mph
Service ceiling: 23,785 ft
Range: 2000 km / 1243 miles
Armament: 3 × 7.5 mm (.295 in) MAC 1934 machine guns
Bombload: 4 × 200 kg (440 lb) or 6 × 100 kg (220 lb) or 8 × 50 kg (110 lb) or 64 × 10 kg (22 lb) bombs