Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


FOR A LONG TIME, MY GMAX/FLTSIM HOBBY focused on pre-WWI civilian aircraft. Examples appearing here at SimanaitisSays include Cody’s 1909 BAA-1, first to fly in Great Britain; 1910’s Coandă “Jet” and Dunne’s Flying Wing; 1911’s Tatin-Paulin, Barber’s Valkyrie, and Blériot’s De la Meurthe Limousine; and 1913’s Deperdussin Monocoque.

Geez. I should give you all a break. 

Well, I have, sorta. A significant time jump came with the 1939 Stipa-Caproni (the flying toilet-paper roll). A major diversion came in 1939’s Belyaev DB-LK, decidedly non-civilian though it never actually flew in combat. 

And today’s topic is something of a reductio ad absurdum in this regard: The French Sud-Est SE100 fighter plane was armed with ten—count them, ten!?!—20-mm cannons.The only aspect preserving any pacifist status on my part is that the SE100 apparently never fired a shot in anger.

Another Oddball Design. As this summary of GMax/Fltsim suggests, the SE100 continues my attraction to odd aircraft. For example, its appearance from the side differs so dramatically from its front and top views.

These and following images are of my Sud-Est SE100 modeled in GMAX for use in Microsoft Flight Simulator FS9. 

Cannons. Cannons. Yet More Cannons. Sud-Est went through several design iterations, with armament increasing along the way. These were all 20-mm HS-404 cannons supplied by Hispano-Suiza (the same company producing marvelous cars of the era).  Originally, the SE100 was fitted with four of these cannons firing forward and one under control of an aft-located gunner. As noted by Wikipedia, a second prototype had armament “increased to six cannon in the nose, two in the gunner’s post and one additional cannon in the floor of the gunner’s post.”

In final form, the floor got a second cannon. And, so it seemed, a second gunner could be added for full utility of both locations. Or at least this is what I did in my GMax model. 

Firepower? You want firepower? 

These cannons were designed by Marc Birkigt, co-founder of Hispano-Suiza, who also contributed fine coachwork for many of its automobiles. Wikipedia provided dimensions of these armament, which proved useful when I modeled their inclusion within the confines of the SE100’s fuselage. 

Image from

This cutaway was very useful; it improved my français as well. Notice the goulette (literally “gutter”), one of the sunken gun ports suggesting locations of the six forward-firing cannons.

It also defined the pilot’s location, nestled above and between these six cannons.   

An informative YouTube by Ed Nash provided a fine image of the pilot’s controls. (His commentary is knowledgable and witty.) My assembling all these components, including the six cannons, hints at the narrowness of the cockpit. I particularly like the seat design.

Images from Ed Nash’s “Cannon Crazy! The Sud-Est SE100.”

Despite that intricate nose gear, the SE100 is a tail-dragger, sorta (actually a dual-vertical-stabilizer-dragger). The nose wheel is steerable (“guidage”) and retractable (“relevage”), with damping (“amortisseur”) Why it has all this component complexity and multiplicity of hatches is anyone’s guess. It provided a good exercise in modeling and GMax articulation.

Yet Other Cutaway Clues. Note the oblique wingtip ailerons and main wing spar of wood. Also, the cutaway iteration retains the windowed passageway that was replaced by added fuel tanks enhancing the plane’s 810-mile range.

siege (“seat”) for chef du bord (“skipper”) and another for radio operator are shown in the cutaway. I’ve replaced these with simple jump seats that fit the narrow fuselage. Plus, there’s only one poste de tir (shooting station) on this version. My SE100 is the more heavily armed final envisioned iteration, covering rear attacks from both above and below. 

The Sud-Est SE100 sure woulda shown ’em. Deliveries were planned to begin late in 1940. The Nazis moved into Paris on June 14. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2023

6 comments on “A HOBBY DIVERSION

  1. Andrew G.
    April 2, 2023

    It certainly looks stylish and French. But Jeez, I’d hate to be riding in that thing when all the cannons fired. What a wake-up call that would be!

    Are the World War I era American roundels for the pilote, “Ace” Simanaitis?

    • simanaitissays
      April 2, 2023

      Agg!! Zut alors! To be corrected shortly. Thanks.

      • Andrew G.
        April 2, 2023

        I just imagined you were volunteering to fight the good fight: “Lafayette, I am here — Ils ne passeront pas!”

  2. simanaitissays
    April 2, 2023

    They sure as hell won’t pass now that matters are corrected.

  3. brosgunter
    April 6, 2023

    Very nicely modeled Dennis. The SE-100 may have been one of the first pupose-built gunships of the WWII era. The airplane’s unique design and high performance were a great tribute to Messrs. Mercier and Lecarme’s forward thinking. You’ve captured the aircraft’s unusual form and interior details very well.

    Thank you for posting the screenshot views, and rare photos and drawings of the SE-100.

    Best Regards,

    • simanaitissays
      April 7, 2023

      Thank you, John, for your kind words. Of course, you sense that GMax is one of my time-gobbling (and thus life-enriching) hobbies; this website is the other.

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