The "Oiseau Canari"

On the 13 and 14 June 1929 the Oiseau Canari, a Bernard type 191 GR plane, completed the longest crossing of the North Atlantic from west to east (5900 kms). This was a new feat in the crazy years of aviation records and large raids. The crossing was accomplished by Armand Lotti (radio and aircraft owner), Jean Assollant (pilot, shot in 1942) and René Lefèvre (navigator). 

   From left to right : Armand Lotti, Jean Assollant et Réne Lefèvre *
   Bernard 191 GR Oiseau Canari *

It is the model of this aircraft, now on show at the Museum de L'Air et de l'Espace du Bourget, that I am presenting to you here. It is an old wood and metal model dating from the early 1930's.

Although in the absence of proof one should never make assumptions, it seems that this model was produced at the request of or by the manufacturer itself. Indeed, a very similar model was exhibited beside the wind tunnel models of the same manufacturer during the promotion of its new designs. This is shown by the below press photograph, stamped and dated 3 December 1933, with the caption "Models of the new BERNARD aircrafts. From left to right: the new fighter aircraft, the Avion Canari and the 81G.R. longest distance in a loop world record holder with Paillard, and Mermoz. MONDIAL PHOTO PRESS". It should be noted that the feat achieved by the Oiseau Canari was such that in 1933, more than 4 years after its completion, the aircraft remained the benchmark for the manufacturer.

The professional nature of the model leaves no doubt. There are very few details, only those essential to an accurate restitution of the features and identity of the aircraft have been retained. No surface details have been designed, only the exhaust system and glass surfaces were featured in paint. Special care was given to the general shape of the aircraft, which has a very accurate outline, from the wing dihedral to the position of the landing gear (wood and metal).

Furthermore, the shape of the propeller is very accurately designed, as is the difference between its two sides, the driver side being painted in black.

To conclude, it goes without saying that the model is decorated with the tricolour ribbon under each of its wings which can also be seen on the flanks of the fuselage where the famous Stork figures. The model’s details were brush-painted, in line with the era’s standards.


At a time when model manufacturers competed in the finesse and the multitude of details replicated, regardless of scale, this is a very attractive collector’s piece, especially considering its large size. This is a reminder that the bare essentials are all that is required to perfectly evoke a machine.

* Signed photographs : Le Comptoir de l'Aviation's private collection


Bernard 191GR "Oiseau Canari" - Wooden and metal model (c. 1930)
Scale (about) : 1/20 - Wingspan 82,5 cm (33.46"), length 63 cm (24.8")


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