SEM Model 1/72 Couzinet 71 Arc 5
Transatlantic Carrier
by Serge Rincourt

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Designed for transatlantic postal service, the Couzinet Arc-en-Ciel (Rainbow) went into service with Aeropostale, alongside the Latecoere 300 Croix du Sud (Southern Cross) hydroplane, on the long route between St. Louis, Senegal, and Natal, Brazil. Only one Arc-en-Ciel was ever built, and it was modified several times. In the last five months of 1934, it completed eight Atlantic crossings. But the most noteworthy flight took place on January 16, 1933, when the pilot Jean Mermoz and three crew members inaugurated the South American route by covering the distance between St. Louis and Natal in 14 hours and 27 minutes.

The Couzinet 70 was the result of a design that the twenty-three-year-old Rene Couzinet developed in 1928 in collaboration with Marcel Maurice Drouhin. Their plan was to construct an aeroplane that could make the Atlantic crossing from east to west. Drouhin and Couzinet were so enthusiastic that they launched a public collection throughout France to get the necessary funds to construct the plane. Two million francs were collected, and the first Arc-en-Ciel was built. In August 1928, the plane crashed during a test flight, and Marcel Maurice Drouhin was killed. A second model was destroyed by fire.

Couzinet could not be stopped. Though mourning the death of his friend, he continued to design planes modelled after his original project. The 70 type, also called Arc-en-Ciel, was built expressly for the trans-Atlantic service of Aeropostale. Just like its prototype, this plane was a low-wing monoplane powered by three 650 hp Hispano-Suiza engines. The hull was broad and the under-carriage was fixed. But the lines of the plane were rather unusual. In particular, the fuselage was altogether original in shape. Its continuous vertical tapering, including the rudder, acted as a drift board. The wings were very thick and they were made heavier by the large engine housing, and the undercarriage was almost as long as the wing was broad. The whole plane was covered in wood. There was accommodation for four crew members and a cabin for cargo, with three windows on each side.

After Mermoz's inaugural flight, the Couzinet 70 was extensively modified and renamed Couzinet 71. The fuselage was lengthened, the tail structure was altered, and the three-blade propellers were replaced by two-blade propellers. Both the 70 and 71 had metal propellers. Thus remodelled, the Arc-en-Ciel began its regular postal run to South America on May 28, 1934. Beginning in June of that year, there was a monthly Atlantic crossing. Early in 1935, the plane was overhauled once again. The under-carriage fairings were removed, and trimmer engine housings were introduced, while the radiators were moved.


This is the SEM Model 1/72 Couzinet 71 Arc 5 available directly from SEM Model. Building this kit again, I would improve the casting and the smoothness of the inner fuselage, thus in some areas, a Dremel tool is needed to reduce the thickness of the resin. Anyway, when the fuselage halves are assembled, there's little to be seen inside unless a modeller wishes to display the side fuselage door open. Construction is easy going and does not require much filling. The assembly of the main landing gear is tricky. Prior to gluing the landing gear, the modeller must paint the wing undersurfaces and apply the decals "A" and "M", belonging to this planes registration. It's also important to get the take care of the right geometrical angles of that landing gear.

 Technical Specifications

Aircraft: Couzinet 70 Arc-en-Ciel
Manufacturer: Société des Avions René Couzinet
Type: Civil Transport
Year: 1934
Engine: 3 x Hispano-Suiza 12Nb, V-12 liquid-cooled, 650 hp (485 kW) each
Wingspan: 98 ft 5 in (30 m)
Length: 52 ft 11 3/4 in (16.15 m)
Height: 13 ft 1 1/2 in (4 m)
Weight: 37,015 lb (16,790 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 174 mph (280 km/h)
Range: 4,225 miles (6,800 km)
Crew: 4
Cargo: 1,300 lb (600 kg)

 Additional Images

 Video - Couzinet 70 Arc-en-Ciel

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March, 2018
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