MD 415 Communauté
Origins and prototypes
When war broke out in Algeria, the French authorities pressed for a specialized twin-engine aircraft, more heavily armed and better protected. In September 1954, the Air Force issued a job sheet defining the specifications for a multi-mission twin-turboprop aircraft: weight under 5 tonnes, range of 1,080 nm, cruising speed of 216 knots and weapons including two 30-mm cannons, bombs and rockets or air-to-ground missiles. Later, liaison transport and training capabilities were added to these fire-support criteria.
At the end of 1957, the Mérignac design office came up with two aircraft types based on the same airframe:
- the MD 415 Communauté for liaison, with secondary fire-support capability
- the MD 410 Spirale for fire-support, with liaison as a secondary capability
Production and operational experience
The MD 415 Communauté, designed by Dassault, had a pressurized fuselage and could carry about ten passengers as well as a considerable battery of weapons (two 30-mm cannons, bombs, rockets and air-to-ground missiles) for air strikes. With its twin Turboméca Bastan turboprops, the MD 415 made its maiden flight at Bordeaux-Mérignac on May 10, 1959, piloted by Paul Boudier, Dominique Mourey and Jean Dillaire.
On May 26, 1959, seeing that their respective corporations were working on the same type of program (the Voltigeur and the Communauté) and for reasons of increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness, Marcel Dassault and Sud-Aviation CEO Georges Héreil decided to join forces to build a twin-engine aircraft for two different missions :
- liaison, training and ground attack. This aircraft was flown by GAMD under the name Communauté
- ground attack and multi-purpose missions along the lines of Sud Aviation’s Voltigeur, also produced as a model by GAMD under the name Spirale
If the general staff chose the ground attack version, the two corporations would devote their efforts to developing the Voltigeur or the Spirale ; if the general staff preferred to have a major liaison aircraft with a wing-mounted load capacity, then they would work together on the Communauté.
On February 21, 1961, GAMD and Sud-Aviation agreed to develop a new version of the MD 415, the Communauté A1, to act as a liaison aircraft for 8 passengers over a range of 2,400 km or as a small transport for 21 passengers over a 500-km range. Sud-Aviation as to carry out 80% of the work; GAMDs 20% would cover manufacture of the stabilizers, general assembly and production-standard flight tests. In the end, the aircraft was not chosen.
On April 18, the Minister for Public Works and Transportation informed GAMD and Sud-Aviation that their project had been rejected in favor of the Max Holste 262 Super Broussard. The MD 415 was subsequently grounded and placed in stock. The Corporation used it as a liaison aircraft up until 1964.