The Morane-Saulnier M.S.230 was the most important French intermediate training aircraft of the interwar period, and was a two-seat swept-back parasol wing trainer.
Morane-Saulnier's first successful trainer had been the Type AR, mass produced after the First World War as the M.S.35. This was a parasol wing aircraft, with a straight wing with diagonal ends. It was followed by the M.S.50, which had an improved wing profile and rounded wing tips, the M.S.53, with a swept back wire-braced 'auto-stable' wing, and the M.S.138, which saw service with the Armée de l'Air until 1935.
The M.S.230 was another parasol wing two-seat trainer, with a swept back wing and similar construction to its predecessors. The fuselage had a rectangular framework, which was faired out to produce a circular fabric-covered cross-section. The undercarriage had divided wide-track main wheels. The crew were carried in tandem cockpits. The pupil was in front, just below a cut-out in the training edge of the upper wing, with the instructor in the rear cockpit.
The main advance on the M.S.230 was the use of a strong strut based wing in place of the wire-braced wing used on earlier designs. The M.S.230 was powered by a 250hp Salmson 9Ab air-cooled radial engine, a big leap in power compared to earlier French military trainers.
The M.S.230 was produced in much larger numbers than any earlier Morane-Saulnier trainer. The M.S.35 had been the most successful, with over 400 produced, but it was over shadowed by the M.S.230, of which over 1,100 were built. Its success was guaranteed right from the start, when the Aéronautique Militaire placed an initial order for 500 aircraft.
The Aéronautique Militaire, and its successor the Armée de l'Air, placed a number of further orders, including one for 59 aircraft to be built by SFAN and another for 80 aircraft from Levasseur (eighteen of these aircraft were built after the Second World War). The aircraft was also used by the French Navy, and was sold onto the civil market. It was also an export success. Romania purchased twenty in 1930, Greece bought twenty-five in 1931 and Belgium and Brazil both bought nine. Belgium also produced the type under licence as the M.S.236, while Portugal did the same as the M.S.233.
The Armée de l'Air used the M.S.230 for a wide range of duties, including pilot training, gunnery instruction, target and glider towing, liaison and observation. It was also used for aerobatics, and the Armée de l'Air central flying school at Etampes operated a team of three M.S.230s.
M.S.229: 1031 version produced for Switzerland
M.S.231: Powered by- Lorraine 7Mb engine
M.S.232: Powered by 200hp Clerget diesel engine
M.S.233: Portuguese version, powered by Gnome-Rhone radial engine
M.S.234: Civil versions
M.S.235: Gnome-Rhone powered version
M.S.236: Belgian version, powered by Armstrong-Siddeley engine
M.S.237: Five sold to private owners
Engine: Salmson 9Ab radial engine
Wing span: 34ft 1 3/4in
Length: 22ft 10 3/4in
Height: 9ft 2 1/4in
Empty Weight: 1,828lb
Maximum Take-off Weight: 2,535lb
Max Speed: 127mph
Service Ceiling: 16,405ft