Oxford Diecast Morane Saulnier M.S. 406 KG200 review

16 February 2024
Oxford Diecast Morane Saulnier 406 KG200 Ossuntarbes France 1943
New Oxford Diecast Morane Saulnier M.S. 406 KG200 is a low-wing monoplane with a Tarbes-Ossun, France, 1943 livery

Oxford Diecast's new Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406 model

The Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406, a French fighter aircraft capable of exceeding 250mph, was developed and manufactured by Morane-Saulnier from 1938. One of only two French designs to exceed 1,000 in number, it was France's most manufactured fighter during World War II.

The M.S. 406 was a low-wing monoplane of mixed construction, with a fabric-covered wooden tail, and a bonded metal–wood material (Plymax) skin fixed to Duralumin tubing. Plymax consisted of a thin sheet of Duralumin bonded to a thicker sheet of plywood. Morane-Saulnier had a long history of producing warplanes dating back to before World War I, but in the inter-war period, it had concentrated on civil designs. The aircraft was Morane-Saulnier’s first low-wing monoplane, first with an enclosed cockpit and first with retractable landing gear.

It was armed with one 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon and two 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns. The M.S. 406 entered service with the French Air Force in 1939 and was initially praised for its good handling and manoeuvrability, but it soon became apparent that the aircraft was underpowered and outgunned by its German opponents, particularly the Messerschmitt Bf 109E.

Despite its shortcomings, the M.S. 406 played a significant role in the Battle of France, with French 406s claiming to have shot down over 400 German aircraft during the campaign. However, French losses were also high – over 400 M.S. 406s being lost. After the fall of France, the M.S. 406 continued to be used by the Vichy French Air Force and the Free French Air Force. It was also used by a number of other air forces, including those of Finland, Switzerland, and Bulgaria.

The KG200 was a variant of the M.S. 406 that was developed specifically for the Swiss Air Force. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 engine, which provided 935 hp. It was also equipped with a number of other modifications, including a new propeller, new landing gear, and a new armament system.

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Oxford Diecast’s example shows a 406 in German Luftwaffe livery, from 1943, reliveried following the fall of France. It features a dark green and grey camouflaged upper body with mottled blue fuselage, plus yellow underbelly and tail. The tail also features the German Swastika in black. The markings along the fuselage and underside are also painted black, with the German cross having a white outer edge. The retracted wheels are simulated by black paint with silver ‘hubs’. The exhaust is painted a rusty brown and the guns matt black.

Part of Oxford’s cheaper range of aircraft, the Morane Saulnier 406 KG200 comes ready to be displayed in ‘in flight’ mode, although a lack of pilot figure makes this look a little odd when mounted on the supplied display stand. There is also a version without a Swastika on the tail, released as No AC116S at the same price.