Liore-Olivier LeO 20
|NIGHT BOMBER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Liore-Olivier|
A three-seat version of the LeO 122 prototype, the Liore-et-Olivier 20 won the 1926 French ministry of war competition for a new night bomber, and in September of that year the prototype established world distance records with a 2000kg payload.
The first order for 50 aircraft, for the French Aeronautique Militaire, was received at the end of 1926, the first LeO 20s being flight-tested at Villacoublay in 1927. Further orders followed, and the last of the 311 machines taken on charge by the French air arm was accepted in December 1932. The LeO 20s equipped the 12 escadrilles of the 21e and 22e Regiments d'Aviation based at Nancy and Chartres respectively. A considerable number went to the multi-engined training school of the Aeronautique Militaire at Etampes. LeO 20s were supplied later to the 12e Regiment d'Aviation at Reims and to the 34e Regiment d'Aviation at Le Bourget. The type remained the backbone of the French night-bomber force for a decade.
Nine LeO 20s were exported in 1928-29, seven to Romania and two to Brazil, as a result of demonstration flights abroad by a LeO 20 registered F-AIFI, which was later delivered to the Armee de I'Air. At the beginning of 1937 224 LeO 20s were still in French service, although by that time its relatively low speed meant that the type was obsolete. On the eve of World War II, 92 LeO 20s were still in flying condition, many as target tugs or trainers with flying schools in France and North Africa, and a further 23 were in storage. Earlier, a number had been re-designated LeO 201 when adapted for parachute training.