Stratus' Caudron-Renault CR.714 Cyclone: The ultimate story


Bartlomiej Belcarz




$85.00 from


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 456 pages, hardbound, 8.3 x 11.8 inches
ISBN: 978-83-61421-26-9

It is always a delight to receive a book from Stratus. They choose interesting subjects and the books are well researched. This one is no exception and happens to be on an aircraft in which I am particularly interested. The CR.714 (often just known as the C.714) was an attempt in the late 1930s to build a lightweight fighter based on a racing aircraft. The seeming benefits of a lightweight fighter is that you can get the same performance as a larger, more powerful plane by using a smaller engine in a smaller airframe. This is something that was tried by most of the major powers of the day. It was also something that did not quite work out as expected. Only France and Italy actually put them into production and (limited) squadron service.

The book is subtitled 'the ultimate story' and I agree. I seriously doubt if anyone could improve on what is in these pages. You are provided with a history of the Caudron racers to build up to the militarized version. Then the development of the actual aircraft is covered. The resulting aircraft did not live up to expectations for a number of reasons, all of which are fully reported in these pages. As the French Air Force was not going to use the types, those produced were offered for export. One country that showed interest was Finland, so two examples were sent there. It is from here that the sole surviving example resided.

With the outbreak of WWII, an influx of pilots and crews from Poland ended up in France. They were very willing to fight, but had no aircraft. The French government provided the C.714 as they were not being used and the type was still coming off the assembly line (though very slowly). Though they did equip one unit (EC 1/145), their operational career was very short as France was soon overrun by German forces. Due to their limited range, none made it to Vichy North Africa and all were eventually captured by the Germans. A few were used as airfield decoys, but most were vandalized by occupying troops to the point that they were eventually scrapped. German authorities had no real use for these planes.

The authors have combed the world for images of the C.714 and have found an amazing number of them, mostly photographed by troops occupying the airfields. As a result, there were sufficient images to discern the various markings worn by these planes. Indeed, the book covers each known aircraft with images of that plane and color profiles showing the markings worn by the planes when they were pristine. This part is especially useful for modelers as each plane had a unique camouflage scheme.

As mentioned, there is a surviving example and that provides the basis of a section of closeups along with some period photos as well. The survivor was transferred from Finland to Poland so that the aircraft could be restored. It was in fair condition, but after so many years of storage, restoration will be a fairly long process. The full story of this aircraft and its current state of restoration is also part of the book.

In all, it makes for the best researched book on the type ever done. If you have an interest in the type, or just like good reference books, then this is the one to get. Highly recommended.

February 2020

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