The history of the Saint-Cloud site, from the purchase of land by Marcel Bloch in 1938 to the commissioning of a new building in 2001.
Marcel Bloch bought land and set about building a plant in Saint Cloud in 1938. That plant did not initially build planes; it made Chauvière propellers for the fighter planes that state-owned companies produced, and small engines powering private planes.
As the German army was closing in on Paris in June 1940, the staff and some equipment were evacuated on trucks and barges to Thiers then Bordeaux. To save the plant, Bloch’s staff agreed with him to found a company, SACAM (for Société Anonyme de Constructions Aéronautiques et Mécaniques), in April 1941. That company operated the Saint Cloud plant on a lease from May 1 that year.
After the war, state-owned companies held a monopoly over aircraft production. The Saint Cloud plant thus focused on producing engine and propeller prototypes, in association with the Boulogne facility. Progressively, Dassault’s employees came back to the company as they were relieved from military duties. One of them, Bention Grebelsky (Benno Claude Vallières), was appointed in charge of the Saint Cloud plant on June 1, 1945.
As usual, Marcel Dassault wanted things done fast. In the race that ensued, Saint Cloud pulled ahead producing the first prototype. That plant then became the technical branch headquarters, encompassing prototype engineering offices, prototype construction workshops and research labs. Almost every Dassault combat aircraft prototype up to the Rafale came from that plant.
The company was intent on designing and producing flight control systems in-house. The labs and workshops it created to do so in the 1950s were in Saint Cloud. Extension work on the plant came to an end around that time. The pink-brick main building was enlarged, and the main entrance was placed in the middle of the new front. Two new blocks were erected in the main courtyard; the northern one housed the prototype engineering office.
In the early 1960s, the Saint Cloud plant counted 1 650 employees and spanned 31 000 sq.m. It encompassed the technical branch headquarters, including the prototype-aircraft, pre-production-aircraft, equipment and propeller engineering offices.
Modern systems using CADM technology came about in the late 1980s and prototypes, as a result, were replaced by aircraft built for test programs. As the Saint Cloud-based prototype construction workshop no longer needed to exist independently, it was transferred next to, and merged with, the serial production workshop in Argenteuil in 1992.
The company used the vacated premises to reorganize the site and bring together all the activities thereunto scattered throughout the suburbs of Paris.
Production facilities were transferred to Argonay and Argenteuil in 1992. Large-scale works to refurbish and rebuild Saint Cloud began in July 1994.
The new Saint Cloud facility was designed around the upgraded Palissy building, that houses the heavy-duty simulation systems, and technical branch headquarters teams in charge of aircraft design, definition and industrial-scale production.