In 1945, French aviation industry was in disastrous state. The most worrying thing was the 5-year gap with the allies, particularly concerning jets.
Governements were so worried about that that they push research and prototypes too quick... the result was a series of errors, mishaps and accidents from 1945 to 1952, year when things start to improve.
Programs were launched right from 1946.
- a day fighter, the SO-6020 Espadon
- a bomber in the class of Il-28 or Canberra
NC-270 and SO-4000 were the two competitors
- a naval fighter program (a new carrier, the
PA-28 Clemenceau was on the way). Competitors were Arsenal VG-90, SNCAC NC-1080, SNCAN N-2200.
There was also plenty of prototypes build out of program! They were
- SO-6000 Triton. first French jet to fly 11/11/1946
- Arsenal VG-70, SNCAN 1601 were private venture dedicated to swept-wing studies.
- NC-1071 was a curious, twin-boom jet aircraft. It was a jet variant of the naval, piston powered NC-1070. It was the first french twin-jet aircraft to fly.
- Dassault MD-450 Ouragan was a raw day fighter quite similar to the F-84. studied as private venture, it finally replaced the Espadon which ended in failure...
- Breguet Vultur was a strange mixed-powered aircraft, with a turboprop on the nose and a jet in the tail. It become the Breguet 1050 alizé which had along career on the french carriers...
- SE 2410 Grognard was an audacious heavy strike aircraft with swept wings.
Failure of the 1946 programs.
The SO-6020 Espadon was underpowered. The governement had hopes for 355 of them, but this was cancelled and only 4 planes were build.
In 1953, the ultimate derivative, the 6025 powered by a rocket was the first european plane to break mach-1 in horizontal flight. This was nevertheless the end for this plane...
The bomber program was not better!
The NC-270 disapeared with the SNCAC in 1949. The firm had gone bankrupt... in every case, these heavy planes were totally underpowered, because France had only RR Nene engines with 2270kgp of thrust.
The NC-270 competitor, SO-4000 reached flight status in 1951 but its only flight was so disastrous that... it was the last one! Handling was catastrophic, and the bomber program had been cancelled in may 1950. Without money, the SNCASO could not improved the plane, which ended as target for the artillery...
But the worst disaster was to come. The naval fighter program was a big failure...
Three planes were supposed to cover the future
PA-28 Clemenceau (which was cancelled in 1952). These planes were the Arsenal VG-90 (2 were build) NC-1080 and N-2200.
The NC-1080 was saved after the bankrupcy of the SNCAC. It flew in 1949, but imediately revealed serious flaws. In april 1950, test pilot Pierre Gallay was killed when the plane entered in a flat spin.
One month later, the VG-90 broke out in the air, killing Pierre Decroo after the undercarriage doors hit the tail.
The other VG-90 once again broke out in flight in february 1952, killing famous test pilot Claude Dellys!
The only survivor, N-2200 had correct handlings but was too heavy and underpowered.
Arsenal VG-70, SNCAN 1601, NC-1071 were all underpowered, or unuseful. Le Fana de l'aviation recently narrate the story of the N-1601, which stay on the ground for three years, flying only 25 times before beeing scrapped!