12/31/2009. Derived from the Bloch 210, this clean all-metal airliner designed for Air France's main European routes may be regarded as the French answer to the new Douglas transports. Ordered on June 21, 1935, the prototype
(F-AOHA c/n 01) flew first in December 1935, as did the DC-3, and in power and weight the Bloch 220 came somewhere between the DC-2 and DC-3.
The Bloch's span was shorter than that of the DC-2, the fuselage was close in size to the DC-2's, but performance was inferior to the American types. Operated by a crew of three, the Bloch 220 had eighteen passenger seats compared with the DC-2's fourteen, and was powered by two 985 hp Gnome & Rhône 14N 16/17 radial engines.
To replace the Wibault 282/283 and Potez 620/621, Air France ordered sixteen Bloch 220s (c/n 2 to 17 F-AOHB to F-AOHJ, F-AQNK to F-AQNO,
F-ARIQ) and all received French region names.
The pictured first production aircraft was registered on July 5, 1937. Fifteen days later it flew its first service, from Le Bourget, Paris to Lyon Marignane, and was introduced on the Paris-Marseilles route during the winter of 1937-38. When Bloch 220s began operating Paris to London services in the spring of 1938 they cut the scheduled time by 15 min to 1 hour 15 min. By mid 1938 ten Bloch 220s had been delivered, which were operating as far as Stockholm and Bucharest.
During WW II some of the Bloch 220s were seized and passed to Lufthansa, but at least eleven were registered as owned by the French State in 1943 and six (F-AOHC to F-AOHF, F-AQNM, F-AQNN) were still in service six years later, by which time they had been fitted with 1200 hp Wright Cyclone
R-1820-97 radial engines and were redesignated Bloch 221.
Air France used Bloch 221s on early postwar services between Paris and Geneva, Strasbourg and Prague, and four aircraft were being operated in 1949 by Société Auxilaire de Navigation Aérienne (SANA).