On this day, in 1956, the Mirage III 001 made its first flight at Melun-Villaroche, with Roland Glavany at the controls.
Designed and built within the framework of the light interceptor program defined by the French Air Force after the Korea war (1950-1953), the Mirage III was a bomber fighter aircraft with a delta wing and a fuselage designed according to the area rule which gave it a distinctive waisted profile. Derived from the first Mirage formula with a Delta wing, the Mirage III is designed at the end 1955.
The aircraft was then fitted with variable-section air inlets with moving conical hubs, called “mice”, and servo controls designed by Dassault engineers. The Air Force staff selected the Mirage III 001 as the future plane for its battle fleet. It hence ordered 10 pre-production aircraft in April 1957, (and a further 95 serially-produced Mirage III C in 1959).
Adjustment development went quickly. Thanks to its new fuselage shape and its new jet engine, Mirage III 001’s tests showed a great deal of promise.
On June 11, 1957, for its 62nd flight, the aircraft was presented at the 22nd Paris Air Show. Impressed by its results, the government decided to place an order. The contract was signed by GAMD on June 25.
On September 19, on its 78th sortie, Mirage III 01 –still with the traditional Pitot-tube air intakes – reached Mach 1.8 in level flight using its ancillary rocket and then, some two weeks later on October 2 (flight 84), Mach 1.89. The aircraft had reached its upper limit: its air intakes prevented any further increase in speed. Alerted to this problem, the design office found the answer: equip the air intakes with a moveable half-cone centerbody – a shock one – known in French as mouse (souris), varying as a function of the Mach speed.
On April 13, 1957, the Aircraft Section of the Service Technique Aéronautique asked GAMD to submit a definition dossier for the pre-production Mirage III A. Mirage III 01 was a little too small to accommodate all of the equipment required for the final version of the Mirage III A fighter.