The Caudron C.714 was a French light fighter used during the early months of World War II.
Inspired by the pre war racing aircraft of Marcel Riffard, the C.714 was developed from the fixed undercarriage C.710 prototype, which first flew on 18 July 1936. Even with two 20mm cannon, the C.710 was capable of speeds greater than many of its contemporaries, thanks to its 450 hp (336Kw) Renault 12Ro inverted Vee engine. In order to maximise the aircraft's potential, the type was reworked with retractable tailwheel undercarriage. Designated C.713, the new design flew for the first time in December 1937. Further refinement led to the C.714 production aircraft, with the initial C.714.01 prototype flying on 6 July 1938. An initial order for 20 C.714s[N 1] was placed on 5 November 1938, with the first being completed on 10 June 1939. These differed from the prototype in having narrower landing flaps, longer stroke shock absorbers and a Renault 12R-03 engine.[N 2]
Apart from the fabric covered light alloy control surfaces, the C.714 was of all wood construction. As the wing was too shallow to accommodate the four machine guns added in place of the 20mm cannon in November 1938, these were contained in streamlined pods under the wing, just outside the main undercarriage.
As the French Air Force considered the C.714 unsuitable for operations, the French government decided to donate between 50 and 80 examples to Finland, but only 6 reached their destination, arriving too late to participate in the Winter War. Registered CA-551 to CA-556, and assigned to LLv 30, these aircraft were presumably withdrawn from service no later than a year after their arrival, as they are not included in the list of Finnish Air forces for 2 July 1941.
The type was also operated by the all Polish Groupe de Chasse I./145. Known as the Warsaw Group, the unit fought during early June 1940, with 39 examples under the joint command of Polish Major Jozef Kepinski and French advisor Commandant Lionel A. de Marmier.
The Poles quickly became disenchanted with the aircraft due to a number of problems. In addition to the long take off/landing run required, the type was prone to mechanical failures such as repeated jamming of the landing gear, persistent failure of the variable pitch propeller, slow rate of climb and aileron response, and difficulties with the 12R 03 engine, which had a weak crankshaft, a tendency to overheat, and suffered leaks of both fuel and oil. The seriousness of the problems, and the resulting crashes, led Air Minister Guy le Chambre to consider grounding the Caudrons following an inspection of GC.I/145 on 25 May 1940. However, Kepinski chose to keep the aircraft in service despite the faults, as his men wanted to fight.
63 C.714s had been completed by the time production was terminated due to the Armistice.
- Including options for another 180 aircraft.
- This differed from the earlier 12R 01 in being fitted with a caburettor designed to permit negative G manoeuvres.
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- Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. 2001. Page 112
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- Guttman, Jon. 2000. Page 267