Following the French government’s decision to nationalize military industries in 1936, Bloch and a few of his engineers converted an existing workshop in Talence, outside Bordeaux, into a small plant in November 1939.
They called that facility Bordeaux-Aéronautique, and serially manufactured MB175 nose fuselages there.
When Marcel Dassault returned from Buchenwald at the end of April 1945, the Talence group’s work became his stepping stone to revive his aviation business. The MB315 earned him a contract with the Air Force in 1947. His premises, however, proved much too small for the ensuing workload.
Mérignac is born
After a little vacillating, Dassault chose to open his new facility in Mérignac. It was from that facility, Building A, called “Grande Usine” (or Large Factory), that 318 serially-produced MB315, renamed Flamant, emerged. An engineering team gradually came together over that time, and Dassault later entrusted it with designing the Flamant’s successor.
New facilities were built in step with new programs. The Ouragan, Mystère IV, Super Mystère B2, Etendard, Mirage III, Mirage IV, Super Etendard, Mirage F1, ATL, Mirage 2000 and Rafale, as well as all the civil aircraft series except for the Mercure, were assembled in the seven buildings, named Building A to Building G in chronological order.
As Mérignac was a non-specialized assembly facility at the start, it counted scant machine tools. That equipment came between 1955 and 1960, with the decision to manufacture prototypes and pre-production aircraft, and provide major maintenance services for Air Force planes there. All the facilities there comprised a vast workshop and large gates leading out onto the airport runways.
Zoom on… the 1st Falcon
May 4, 1963: a delegation from Pan Am headed by Charles Lindbergh in Mérignac, a few hours before the Mystère 20’s first flight. The delegation returned to headquarters determined to persuade their chairman that their company had to distribute this type of aircraft in the U.S.. A few months later, a contract for the purchase of 40 planes and an option for a further 120 was signed. The first serially-produced aircraft flew on January 1, 1965.
A “delivery” plant
Over 53 years of activities, the Mérignac facility had taken part in building over 7000 new aircraft, including 1600 Falcon.
The plant is dedicated to final assembly, acceptance tests and aircraft delivery to civil and military customers. It is the only facility where it is possible to see full planes, hence the name “delivery plant”.
A new Falcon building dedicated to future productions such as the Falcon 7X had been delivered in September 2003. It was designed according to the principles induced by Marcel Dassault.