|Amiot 351 1/72 scale model by Johan De Wolf|
|Primary user||Armée de l'Air|
The Amiot 350 series originated in the same 1934 requirement as a rival to the Lioré et Olivier LeO 451. Derived from the Amiot 341 mail plane, the Amiot 340 prototype was involved in a propaganda misinformation flight to Berlin in August of 1938 to convince the Germans that the French employed modern bombers. Though 130 machines were ordered by the French government that year, production delays and ordered modifications ensured that September 1939 saw no delivered aircraft. Eventually, the ordered number of this very modern aircraft reached 830, though ultimately only 80 machines were received by the Air Ministry. The main variant was the twin-tailed 351; however, due to various delays, the single-tailed 354 was accepted into service as an interim type.
The Amiot 351 was planned to mount one 7.5 mm (.295 in) MAC 1934 machine gun in nose and ventral positions and one 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon in the dorsal position. Due to various technical issues with the armament installation, many aircraft went to operational units with only a single light machine gun in the dorsal position.
In May 1940, the Amiot 351/354 was in the process of equipping just two bomber groupes: GB 1/21 and GB II/21 based at Avignon. Though 200 were in the final stages of construction, only 35 were ready for flight. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that the Amiot 351/354 was constructed in three separate factories, two of which were later bombed by the Germans. On 16 May 1940, the several Amiot 351/354 carried out armed reconnaissance missions over Maastricht in the Netherlands - the first combat mission conducted by planes of this type.
By June, the Amiot 351/354 was also delivered for GB I/34 and GB II/34, neither ever flying them in combat. At that time, all Amiot 351/354s were based on the northern front. Three had been lost in combat, 10 in training accidents. All aircraft were ordered to evacuate to Africa on 17 June, 37 surviving the trip. As their numbers were too few to effectively engage the Italians, they planes were sent back to Metropolitan France and their groupes disbanded in August 1940.
Five Amiot 351/354s continued to be used as a mail plane after the Battle of France. Four Amiot 351/354 were commandeered by the Luftwaffe as transports, two found service in the 1./KG200 special service geschwader.
Engines taken from these aircraft were later used on Messerschmitt Me 323 cargo transports.
The Amiot 351/354 saw service with the Armée de l'Air (80?)
Total production (including prototypes): (86?)
Data from War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Seven Bombers and Reconnaissance Aircraft