An unspecified Breguet bomber type features quite frequently in the plot of Biggles Foreign Legionnaire. In the preamble to the case, Biggles mentions that a stolen Breguet bomber had bombed an Abyssinian village. Later in the book, Voss, a Legion deserter leads Biggles and Ginger in stealing another Breguet bomber but they are ambushed during the attempt. Voss is killed and Biggles and Ginger crash land.
The only plausible Breguet aircraft which fits this storyline is the Breguet 693. The previous Breguet light bomber type, the Breguet 460, first flew in 1935 and would already have been obsolete by the time of the events in the book. The next model after the Breguet 693, the Breguet Atlantique, did not fly until 1961, long after the book was published.
The Breguet 693 was a twin-engine ground attack aircraft designed for the French Air Force on the eve of World War Two. It was a fairly modern design for its time, of all metal construction and with a characteristic twin tail. The prototype first flew in 1937 but operational models were not delivered to combat units until March 1940. As a result, Breguet units were still training and developing tactics when the Germans attached. Although reasonably well-armed, the Breguets proved vulnerable to ground fire and enemy fighters and almost half the force of approximately 230 were lost in the Battle of France. A few continued to serve with the Vichy Air Force and Italy. There is however no record of the Breguet 693 serving with the post-war French Air Force.
Some French bombers of World War Two vintage did continue serving after the war, notably the Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45, which continued in service until 1957 but Johns probably wanted a more commonly known French aircraft manufacturer.
For that matter, there is no record of bombers of French make serving in Algeria in the 1950s. The attack aircraft used by the French Air Force in Algeria at that time was the Douglas A-26 Invader, but an American aircraft type would not have fitted the plot so well. It was the fact that an aircraft of French make was seen attacking an Abyssinian village that proved so embarrassing for the French government, bringing Marcel Brissac into the picture to investigate.
- Crew: 2
- Length: 9.67 m (31 ft 9 in)
- Wingspan: 15.37 m (50 ft 5 in)
- Empty weight: 3,010 kg (6,636 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 4,900 kg (10,803 lb)
- Engines: 2 × Gnome-Rhône 14M-6 / Gnome-Rhône 14M-7 14 cyl. radial engines, 522 kW (700 hp) each
- Maximum speed: 490 km/h (304 mph) at 5,000 m (16,404 ft)
- Cruising speed: 400 km/h (249 mph) at 4,000 m (13,123 ft)
- Range: 1,350 km (839 mi)
- Service ceiling: 8,500 m (27,887 ft)
- Guns: 1 × fixed, forward-firing 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon, 2 × fixed, forward-firing 7.5 mm machine guns, 1 × flexible, rearward-firing 7.5 mm machine gun in rear cockpit, 1 × fixed, rearward-firing 7.5 mm machine gun in ventral position
- Bombs: 460 kg (1,014 lb)