She demonstrated a top speed of 485 kph at 4,950 m and climbed to 5,000 m in 7’ 15”, performances clearly better than those of the Morane-Saulnier 406 standard fighter of the French Air Force with 860 hp, which was 30 kph slower and climbed at the same altitude in 10’ (these values - very different from the "official performances" - have been carefully measured on all their MS 406 by the Finnish pilots in 1942).
However, the VG 30 had two main drawbacks:
|Arsenal VG 30 - On the Arsenal VG 33 site of Franck Devillers - Compare the radiator air-intake (for the cooling of a 690 hp engine) to the one of a P 51 Mustang!|
|Arsenal VG 33– The prototype 01 is in the foreground before a series fighter with a much more sloped windshield.|
This fighter appeared as the last and aerodynamically very refined development of the Bernard 20 fighter of the Jockey program (1928).
|Bernard 20 C1 – 320 kph at sea level with a not supercharged HS 12 Jb 400 hp|
Such a choice was the consequence of the irrational fear of some French deciders that France may be short of aluminum.
Obviously, once at war, the U-boat hazard would be very present…
A fast aircraft
(Sources: THE reference site - in French - on the Arsenal VG fighters http://arsenalvg33.free.fr/entrer.htm and the excellent series of Fanatique de l’Aviation, #197 and followings, April 1986).
Nevertheless, the VG 33 issued from mass production were a bit slower (540 kph), owing, probably, to the omission of the main landing gear hatches of the VG 33-01 prototype...
The stall speed was 120 kph (aircraft clean) at full power and 130 kph with no power in the same configuration.
However, the handling was easy at any speed.
A tremendously short operational career
However, the operational pilots who saw these fighters loved her instantly.
Evacuation by inexperienced pilots
The most advanced fighter they could have flown previously was the Morane 406 or only Dewoitine 500 family fighters designed between 1929 and 1930...
It is likely that the opinions of experienced pilots would have been very different.
A very good potential fighter
The pilots take part successfully to some combat against enemy air raids over Bordeaux, but we don’t know if they used of their Arsenal VG 33.
The Bordeaux airfield was overcrowded by French military aircrafts without any flight control: What a mess!
It appears, for me, as a consistent proof of the very good handling qualities of the VG 33 fighter!
Evolution of the Arsenal VG 3x family
Something was awkward in the management of the finishing process of the Arsenal fighters.
The VG 34 was a VG 33 airframe fitted with the same Hispano-Suiza 12 Y 45 engine than the Dewoitine 520.
She achieved 570 kph at 6,000 m and climbed to 5,000 min less than 6’.
It was said that she flew at 590 kph at 7,000 m in May 1940.
|Arsenal VG 36|
This variant will be introduced in mass production at the Fall of 1940.
|VG 39 at Bordeaux - A more streamlined nose and quite optimal ejector exhaust pipes|
The wood: Not a real problem!
You can read in the literature complaints about the fire hazard for a wooden fighter essentially.