The D.520 was designed in response to a 1936 requirement from the French Air Force for a fast, modern fighter with a good climbing speed and an armament centred on a 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon. At the time the most powerful V-12 liquid-cooled engine available in France was the Hispano-Suiza 12Y, which was less powerful, but lighter than contemporary engines such as the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Daimler-Benz DB 601. Other fighters were designed to meet the specifications but none of them entered service, or entered service in small numbers, too late to play a significant role during the Battle of France.
The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft, intended to be a capable contemporary of types such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Supermarine Spitfire. An all-metal structure was used, except for fabric-covered ailerons and tail surfaces. The wing, even if single-spar, was a solid and rigid unit with a secondary spar and many reinforced parts. The inwardly retracting undercarriage had a broad 2.83 m (9 ft 3 in) track, and was fitted with wide, low-pressure tyres.
The D.520 was designed to be maintained easily with many inspection panels, a rare feature for its time. Recharging the D.520 ammunition was swift and easy; the machine gun magazines required five minutes each and three minutes for the 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon. To fill the machine gun ammunition boxes took 15 minutes, while five minutes were needed to empty it as the cartridges were not expelled.
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The D.520’s cockpit was set well back in the fuselage, aft of the trailing edge of the wings. This gave the pilot good downward visibility, but the long nose in front of him was a drawback when taxiing on the ground.
Length: 8.6 m (28 ft 3 in)
Wingspan: 10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)
Height: 2.57 m (8 ft 5 in)Empty weight: 2,123 kg (4,680 lb)
Gross weight: 2,677 kg (5,902 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 2,785 kg (6,140 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Y-49 V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, 710 kW (950 hp)
Maximum speed: 560 km/h (350 mph, 300 kn)
Range: 1,250 km (780 mi, 670 nmi)
Service ceiling: 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 14.3 m/s (2,810 ft/min)
Wing loading: 167 kg/m2 (34 lb/sq ft)
Power/mass: 0.257 kW/kg (0.156 hp/lb)
After the war, the D.520s that remained in France were used as trainers; on 1 June 1945, the school base No. 704 was formed at Tours for the purpose of training pilot instructors operating, amongst other types, 17 D.520s. At the encouragement of No. 704's commanding office, one D.520 was field-modified into a two-seater configuration in late 1945, which was subsequently designated as the D.520 DC