Lioré et Olivier LeO 45 - French Wings 4

Review by John Baxter

It’s not often that we get to see a quality title about French aircraft/aviation, of any period, in English. But the Stratus/Frrom French Wings series goes some way in correcting that omission. It’s a pity that publishing house Histoire & Collections don’t do the same with that small percentage of their publications which are French text only! Nevertheless, this particular series helps fill the gap.

This A4 sizes, stiff card cover, 80 page booklet is very, very impressive. Authors José Fernandez and Patrick Laureau have done an excellent job. It covers the World War Two Lioré et Olivier twin engine light bomber very nicely indeed. This was quite an advanced aircraft for its day, featuring a number of innovations as well as some bureaucratic meddling which went some way to preventing an even better fighting aircraft!

The text is extensively researched and very wide ranging backed with 12 large, colour profiles, 8 colour 3-views (over a double page spread for each) with under-surface scrap art, 107 b&w photos and 17 b&w drawings. It covers pre-war, the invasion of France, Vichy activities in North Africa (including Operation Torch) and Syria, Aéronavale and Luftwaffe service. There’s also a short section on the LeO 455 and LeO 453. And it concludes with late war civil operations and as a mother aircraft in the post war development of flying bombs and other missiles, pulse jet development and ramjets.

The text does not suffer in translation and the range of photos is quite extensive. It’s an excellent book for both enthusiast and modeller. This is the fourth in the series. The earlier ones are - No 1 Latécoère 290 & 298; No 2 Nieuport-Delage Ni-D 29 and Ni-D 69 Family; No 3 Breguet 27, Potez 39, Mureaux 115/117. I also have No 1 in my library and I look forward to the release of No 5 – Morane Saulnier MS 406. All are worthwhile editions although Nos 2 and 3 were not to my personal periods of aviation interest. Nevertheless, they were of similar quality to the two I do now hold.

So, what’s my recommendation? I’m impressed with the title and the quality of the publication. If Stratus/Frrom continues in this vein, they will provide an excellent series about French aircraft that has never been published previously in English anywhere near this good. Grab one, as this is a great title for any French aviation enthusiast. It is available from Platypus Publications (see ad this issue).

Many thanks to Ley Reynolds of Platypus Publications for the review copy.