The MD 450 Ouragan interceptor fighter plane had its maiden flight on February 28, 1949 in Melun-Villaroche and equipped the PAF in 1955 and 1956.
The end of the Second World War caught France lagging far behind on the piston-engine front. Its inroads in the budding field of jet engines, however, leveled the playing field with other countries. The winners, in fact, were keen on the breakthroughs Germany – a pioneer in that technology – had achieved. French specialists sent to the United States and Great Britain advocated for catching up by working alongside those countries and then embarking on strictly national projects. The Ministry of the Air, however, wanted to develop a French-designed aircraft right away.
France’s aeronautical industry started aiming high. Engineering departments worked on literally hundreds of civil and military projects, encompassing just about everything from training planes to transoceanic-transport aircraft, and from lightweight fighter planes to heavyweight bombers – with myriad prototypes for each one.
Marcel Dassault believed he could play a role in the jet aircraft segment, and the Ministry of the Air allowed him to bid on an interceptor fighter plane competition. He saw that as an opportunity – and to seize it, he understood, he needed to stay clear of unrealistic targets.
This aircraft’s first drawings came out in October 1947. On December 30, Marcel Dassault signed the first contract to design, build and deliver three interceptor fighter planes. The prototype’s construction began on April 7, 1948, only six months after the first sketches were put on paper.
Reviving the standards of the Bloch aircraft from the years just before the war, and drawing on experience gained on the MB 150 series of fighters and its derivatives, the small Dassault team designed the simplest airframe possible: a small aircraft, light, inexpensive and as effective as the engine would allow.
The wing was fixed under the fuselage in such a way as to allow the articulated landing gear to be mounted underneath. The gear retracted laterally into the wingroot (for the struts) and under the fuselage (for the wheels). The fuselage, fully circular in cross-section, was designed around a pitot head frontal air intake (for optimal in-take with no boundary parasite layer) ; it contained a double air duct running either side of the pilot’s bucket seat, fuel tanks and a chamber for the Nene jet engine. The cockpit was pressurized, as the aircraft was designed to climb to 39,000 ft. The fuselage carried all the stabilizers (vertical and horizontal, the latter being effectively placed high on the rudder, and thus well clear of the slipstream from the low-slung wing).
The Ouragan prototype MD 450 01, piloted by Kostia Rozanoff, made its maiden flight at Melun-Villaroche on February 28, 1949. The team at Dassault had managed to turn the project into reality in only 18 months.
The satisfactory results from tests at the State’s flight test center led air authorities to order 12 pre-production aircraft on August 31, 1949. That way, they could count on a large enough fleet to fine-tune the operational aspects, which included carrying and delivering air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, and running the Air Force’s various trials. The contract was signed on 15 December 1949. Those aircraft were produced in Dassault’s plants outside Paris, and to assess the scale of jet-powered aviation.
In August 1950, while the Ouragan was in development, the French parliament adopted a five-year plan (for 1951 to 1955) including a fixed aviation program. The worsening international political climate (Korea war) speeded up the decision-making process. On August 31, 1950, the Secretariat of State for Aviation ordered 150 Ouragans, an order which was subsequently raised to 450, only to be reduced to 100 in 1952, in preference for the Mystère II. American military aid (MDAP) to Western Europe, thanks to “off-shore” contracts, covered the funding of 185 aircraft.
On January 8, 1951, The French National Assembly passed a rearmament law stepping up military investment in general and aeronautical investment in particular. In that scheme, jet aviation was prominent.
The first production-standard aircraft Ouragan flew at Mérignac on December 20, 1951, piloted by Kostia Rozanoff. Dassault shared production with different state-owned aircraft manufacturers, and the final assembly took place in Dassault’s facility in Mérignac. The first Air Force unit to be equipped with the aircraft was, in November 1952, the 12th Cambrai Wing. This was the Air Force’ first jet aircraft to be designed and produced in France. For two years (1955 and 1956), the Ouragan was the aircraft of the Patrouille de France aerobatics.
In 1953 France exported combat aircraft for the first time since the 1930s. On June 25, India ordered 71 Ouragans, which they renamed Toofani (Typhoons). The order was later raised to 113 aircraft. The following year, Israel bought 24. These products were taken from those initially intended for the French Air Force, which was very convenient is that this enabled the Air Force to replace them with more recent aircraft from the Mystère series.
On February 18, 1950, Marcel Dassault signed a contract to provide a night fighter, the MB 451. This two-seater was to be equipped with nose-cone radar, which meant that lateral air intakes would be required.
To test the new air intakes, the front of the Ouragan nº 11 was modified. The aircraft, under the new name MD 450-30 L, first flew at Melun-Villaroche on January 24, 1952, with Charles Monier at the controls.
The increase in weight combined with the absence of radar motivated the Corporation to focus its efforts on a more advanced model from the same range, the MD 453 Mystère de Nuit.
To meet the needs of those who wished to make use of makeshift temporary airfields, one of the Ouragan production models (nº 140) was overhauled for the purpose. It was fitted with special landing gear (four low pressure wheels mounted on a bogie) and a tail parachute. The ‘Barougan’, as it was called, first flew on February 24, 1954, piloted by Paul Boudier. Able to operate from grass strips, it stood as the competitor to the Baroudeur, then being developed by Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Sud-Est (SNCASE), which had skids instead of wheels. Because of budget cuts, neither the Barougan, nor indeed the Baroudeur, were ordered for production.