50th anniversary of the first flight of the Mirage G

2017/11/18
Passion

On this day, in 1967, the Mirage G made its first flight at Istres, piloted by Jean Coureau.

On this day, in 1967, the Mirage G made its first flight at Istres, piloted by Jean Coureau.

The Mirage G was an experimental aircraft with a single Pratt & Whitney/Snecma TF 306 turbofan. It took over from the fixed-wing prototype Mirage F 2, to which it was similar in terms of size and technology (the fuselage and engine configuration were identical). The Air Force and Naval Aviation both expressed interest in it.

In February 1965, the Mirage III G, designed by Jean-Jacques Samin and Jean-Paul Emoré, was adopted by the Defense Ministry. Four months later, the dossier was submitted to the Defense authorities and a scale model of the Mirage III G was presented at the Paris Air Show. One major problem remained to be solved: the wing movement mechanism.

Mirage G in flight in Istres.
Mirage G in flight in Istres.

By the fall of 1965, a lot of progress had been made. The wing pivot position had been determined at a point slightly flush of the fuselage. Several Dassault patents were placed on the discovery. On October 18, 1965, while Anglo-French negotiations on the joint swing-wing project were going on, the Defense Ministry placed an order for a Mirage G experimental variable geometry aircraft. The first drawings were begun immediately, and manufacturing work on the prototype began in January 1966.

The aircraft made an initial short hop at Melun-Villaroche on October 18, then – after being dismantled – was taken to Istres, where it made two more on November 16 and 17. On the 18th, it made its maiden flight, with a 20º wing setting, piloted by Jean Coureau. It landed at 120 knots. Only two years had gone by since the first pencil-mark on the drawing-board.

On December 8, only three weeks after the first flight, Jean Coureau reached Mach 2.1 with the maximum sweepback setting.

In 20 flights and less than two months, a flight envelope had been opened up extending to Mach 2.1 and 700 knots. The low-altitude performance was extraordinary: approach speed 125 knots, touch-down at 108, wings maneuverable at 3 g.

Mirage G 8 01 and Mirage G 8 02, in flight.
Mirage G 8 01 and Mirage G 8 02, in flight.

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