F-BDRA  Latecoere 631                                   (c/n  04)


                                     Design of this elegant six engined 70-ton 'boat was begun just prior to the Nazi occupation of
                                     France.  The prototype took four years to complete and was then confiscated by the Germans
                                     who flew it to Friedrichshafen for testing, where it was promptly destroyed the very next day
                                     after its arrival (20 January 1944) by an allied air raid.   A second prototype was hidden from
                                     the occupying forces on the outskirts of Toulouse (where the Latecoere factory was located)
                                     and re-emerged after the war.   A further ten Late 631s were built and were operated by Air
                                     France in the late 1940s on their trans-Atlantic route to the French West Indies (to Martinique).
                                     Air France sold the machines off after a couple of years, and all were withdrawn from use by
                                     around 1955 after four were lost in crashes.   I always thought the aircraft looked  rather low
                                     in the water (I was more accustomed to seeing Short Sunderlands and PBY Catalinas), but it
                                     appears that this amount of hull in the water was not detrimental to getting the monster airborne.
                                     The image below shows it taxiing.  The outboard floats retracted into the outer engine nacelle.