Built to an official requirement of 1928 for a two-seat observation aircraft, the Breguet 270 was designed by a distinguished team led by Marcel Vuillerme and including Rene Dorand, Rene Leduc and Paul Deville. The prototype Bre.270.01 made its maiden flight on 23 February 1929 with Bucquet, chief Breguet test pilot, at the controls.
A two-seat all-metal sesquiplane, it introduced a number of interesting design features. High-tensile steel replaced aluminium alloys, and the short fuselage, engine, lower wing and tail boom were all attached to a steel chassis, resulting in a very tough aircraft. Following early tests, the prototype was returned to the company's Velizy-Villacoublay workshops where the tail unit was redesigned with a more angular fin/rudder assembly and lower-set horizontal tailplane. Nine further prototypes under the Bre.270/271 designations were completed, two of them being displayed at the 1930 Paris Salon de I'Aeronautique.
Despite a rather poor overall performance, orders for a total of 85 Breguet 270s were received during 1930, all for the French Armee de I'Air. In 1932, an order was placed for 45 examples of the Breguet 271, powered by an engine delivering 112kW more than the original Hispano-Suiza 12Hb, and capable of lifting an increased useful load. Several Bre.270s were subsequently modified for VIP liaison duties, with a 'glasshouse' covering both cockpits.
In 1932 the original prototype registered F-AJRC and fitted with a supplementary ventral fuel tank, made a longdistance flight across Africa to Madagascar. Besides small batches of Bre.270s bought by Brazil and Venezuela, 15 examples of the Breguet 273 reconnaissance-bomber development were exported to Venezuela and six to China. The Bre.273 prototype had flown in April 1934. Powered by a 641kW Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs engine with a frontal radiator (all previous versions had 'chin' radiators), the Bre.273 had improved performance and bombload increased to 400kg.
Experimental versions of the basic design included the Bre.272 TOE fitted with a radial engine, initially a Gnome-Rhone 9K and finally a Renault 9Fas, and the Bre.274 with a 567kW Gnome-Rhone 14K. The latter, intended as a bomber, was subsequently operated by sporting Frenchwoman Maryse Hilsz, who flew it to victory in the 1936 Coupe Helene Boucher contest, averaging 277km/h. A series of experimental Breguet 41 twin-engined biplanes, which shared the same 'chassis' and tailboom construction as the Breguet 270, met with initial success and secured an order for the Armee de I'Air, which intended them for the 'multiplace de combat' role, capable of fighting, bombing or reconnaissance. With the appearance of more promising rival designs, the order was cancelled before deliveries had commenced.
On 1 January 1936 Bre.270s and Bre.271s were still in service in the French observation escadrilles. At the outbreak of World War II a number of Groupes Aeriens d'Observation (manned largely by reserve pilots) had Bre.27s on charge. These included GAOs 509, 543 and 547. A number of Bre.27s were shot down while on reconnaissance patrols across the Rhine before being withdrawn from service at the end of 1939.
Engine: 1 x Hispano-Suiza 12Hb inline piston engine, 373kW
Take-Off Weight: 2393 kg / 5276 lb
Loaded Weight: 1756 kg / 3871 lb
Wingspan: 17.01 m / 55 ft 10 in
Length: 9.76 m / 32 ft 0 in
Height: 3.55 m / 11 ft 8 in
Wing Area: 49.67 sq.m / 534.64 sq ft
Max. Speed: 236 km/h / 147 mph
Ceiling: 7900 m / 25900 ft
Range: 1000 km / 621 miles
Armament: 3 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 120kg of bombs