Dassault Ouragan

The Dassault M.D.450 Ouragan was a 1940s French jet fighter-bomber aircraft. While technologically unremarkable, the Ouragan played a key role in resurgence of the French aviation industry after World War II. 

In July 1949, French Air Force ordered 15 pre-production aircraft (later reduced to 12), which were eventually used for evaluation of various engines (including SNECMA Atar), armament schemes, and payloads. On 31 August 1950, Dassault received an order for 150 production Ouragans, with an additional 200 ordered in the following years. 

The first production Ouragan flew on 5 December 1951. The type entered service with the French Air Force in 1952. In French service, the Dassault Mystere IV completely replaced the Ouragan by 1961. 

India and Israel also purchased the Ouragan. El Salvador purchased some Israeli aircraft between 1973 and 1978. These were retired over the next decade and the were the last Ouragan aircraft to be operational.

Dassault Ouragan
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation
Origin France
Country Name Origin Year
France 1949
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
France 1949 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Dassault Aviation 433 View

As citizens of an occupied country, the French were not able to contribute significantly to the great strides made in aircraft design made during World War II. After the war, aviation designer Marcel Dassault was eager to re-establish the aviation industry with an all-French jet fighter, which was outlined in 1947. The government response to the proposal was positive and prototype construction began soon after the design was finalized.

Detailed design work on the new aircraft, which was given the designation M.D. (Marcel Dassault) 450, began in October 1947, with construction beginning on 7 April 1948 at Dassault's factory in Saint-Cloud. The Ouragan was smaller and lighter than the Thunderjet and had a thin wing similar to the one used by the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star.

A French government contract for three prototypes followed on 7 December 1947. The first Ouragan fighter flew on 28 February 1949 with Kostia Rozanoff at the controls. The M.D.450-01 prototype lacked pressurization, armament, and the distinctive wingtip fuel tanks. Powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene 102 centrifugal-flow jet engine generating 22.27 kN (2,270 kp/5,000 lbf) of thrust, the aircraft reached a top speed of 980 km/h (529 knots, 609 mph) and initial climb rate of 43 m/s (8,465 ft/min) in service trials in 1949. The 450 liter (118.9 US gal) wingtip tanks that would become the indelible feature of all Ouragans first appeared in December 1949. The pressurized second prototype, M.D.450-02, climbed to 15,000 m (49,213 ft), while the third prototype, M.D.450-03, was powered by a Hispano-Suiza-licensed Nene 104 was used in weapons trials with 15 mm and later 20 mm cannon.

In 31 August 1949, the French Air Force ordered 15 pre-production aircraft (later reduced to 12), which were eventually used for evaluation of various engines (including SNECMA Atar), armament schemes, and payloads. The contract was signed on 15 December 1949. These aircraft were to be produced at Dassault's plants outside Paris. On 31 August 1950, Dassault received an order for 150 production Ouragans, with an additional 200 ordered in the following years.

Four production aircraft were modified for rough-field operation with the two-wheel main landing gear with low-pressure tires retracting into a fairing added under the wing roots, and a brake parachute. The configuration was intended for operations in Algeria, and the nickname came from the Arab word "baroud", meaning "battle". The first flight was on 24 February 1954. Despite good performance, the project was abandoned in 1958 with two aircraft converted back to standard Ouragans.

Armee de l'Air

In August 1950, before delivery of the first pre-production aircraft, the French government placed an order for 150 Ouragans, although the initial order was to have been 850 Ouragans. Armee de l'Air would subsequently order 200 additional Ouragans, with Dassault being strained to build them as fast as possible.

The first production Ouragan flew on 5 December 1951. The type entered service with the French Air Force in 1952, replacing the British De Havilland Vampire. The first 50 Ouragans were built as M.D.450A with the Nene 102 engine; the rest were M.D.450B with a Hispano-Suiza-built Nene 104B engine, lighter than the Nene 102 and with slightly greater thrust. Wingtip fuel tanks were fitted as standard in both variants.

Pilots found the Ouragan to be generally pleasant to fly and a stable gun and rocket platform, although due to its short-coupled fuselage, the aircraft had a tendency to snap into a spin in tight turns. However, for two years, the Ouragan successfully performed with la Patrouille de France aerobatic team.

Several production Ouragans were modified for rough field operation, single-wheel main gear changed to a two-wheel configuration fitted with low pressure tires, retracting into a fairing added under the wing roots. These aircraft were also fitted with brake parachutes. This configuration was intended for combat operations in Algeria, and aircraft so fitted were nicknamed "Barougans", from the Arabic word baroud (battle). However, nothing came of the project, and some of the test aircraft were reconverted back to standard Ouragan configuration.

In French service, the Dassault Mystère IV completely replaced the Ouragan by 1961.

India

On 25 June 1953, India ordered 71 Ouragans with the slightly uprated Nene 105 engine, with deliveries starting that year and completed in March 1954. An additional order for 33 second-hand Ouragans in March 1957 brought the total to 104. The selection of the Dassault Ouragan fighter from France at this time reflected the decision to initiate diversification of supply sources. The Indians named the aircraft Toofani (Hindi: Hurricane).

The Indian Toofanis faced combat in 1961, when they performed air strikes against the Portuguese territory of Diu on the western coast of the Indian sub-continent. They were also used in ground attack missions against anti-government rebels in Assam and Nagaland, and in 1962 for reconnaissance missions in the Sino-Indian War. One Toofani strayed over the border with Pakistan on 24 April 1965, and was forced to land by a Pakistan Air Force's F-104 Star Fighter. While the pilot was returned to India, the aircraft was retained and ended up being displayed at the Pakistan Air Force Museum at Peshawar.

As was the case in France, the Ouragan started to be replaced in front-line service by the Mystère IVA in 1957, being withdrawn fully from front line service in 1965, although it continued in use for some years as advanced trainer and Target Tug.

Israel

In contrast to France and India, the Israeli Air Force was an enthusiastic Ouragan user, as Arab air forces were buying advanced Russian arms, such as the MiG-15 fighter. Seeking to augment its jet aircraft force of British Gloster Meteors, IAF initially considered French Dassault Mystère IIC and Canadian-built F-86 Sabre Mk.6 fighters. Due to development problems with the Mystère and a Canadian embargo on the Sabres, the order was changed to Mystère IVAs, with a batch of Ouragans purchased as a stop-gap measure. By 1955, the IAF had received at least 75 aircraft, comprising a mix of newly built and retired French Air Force examples. The Israeli Ouragans were assigned to close support operations, since they could not match the performance of Egyptian MiG-15s.

Israeli Ouragans entered combat on 12 April 1956, shooting down an Egyptian De Havilland Vampire. At the onset of the Suez Crisis on 29 October 1956, Ouragans shot down an additional four Vampires. The two documented encounters with Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighters (also powered by the Nene engine but with a more modern swept wing) ended with one Ouragan surviving several 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon hits to fly the next day and one MiG-15 being heavily damaged after it entered a turning dogfight with the Ouragans. The poor training of the Egyptian pilots who were consistently unable to realize their advantage in numbers as well as the MiG-15's speed and climb characteristics helped Ouragans to survive despite their inferior performance. On 31 October, a pair of Ouragans armed with rockets strafed the Egyptian destroyer Ibrahim el Awal (ex-HMS Mendip), resulting in the capture of the ship.

The Ouragans were relegated to advanced training shortly after the Suez Crisis, although they saw more combat in the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1975, the IAF sold 18 Ouragans to El Salvador, where they remained in service until the late 1980s.

El Salvador

In the wake of the Football War of 1969, El Salvador began a concerted push to modernize its air force. Unable to buy combat aircraft from the United States due to a US government arms embargo, the Salvadorans bought 18 surplus Israeli Ouragans on the international arms market. These aircraft were refurbished by the Israelis and were delivered to El Salvador between 1973 and 1978.

El Salvador's Ouragans saw extensive combat during the Salvadoran Civil War of 1980-1992. Salvadoran Ouragans flew strike missions against communist FMLN forces, operating from Ilopango airport located near the capital city of San Salvador. As El Salvador is not a large country and combat radius was not a pressing concern, Salvadoran Ouragans in combat usually operated with their wingtip fuel tanks removed in order to save weight and allow for greater weapons loads.

An FMLN sapper attack against Ilopango in 1982 destroyed several Ouragans and accelerated the push to supplant, and eventually replace, the Ouragans with American-made Cessna A-37 Dragonfly aircraft, which were made available after the Reagan Administration dropped the arms embargo. The remaining Ouragans served on for several more years, but were all retired by war's end.

Salvadoran Ouragans have been pictured in several camouflage schemes, and it is possible that during the war the Ouragan fleet operated in colors that were never completely standardized.

At least one survivor of El Salvador's Ouragan fleet is currently on static display, at Ilopango.

Role Fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation
Designer Marcel Dassault
First flight 28 February 1949
Introduction 1952
Retired 1980s
Primary users French Air Force
Indian Air Force
Israeli Air Force
El Salvador Air Force


General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 10.73 m (35 ft 2 in)
  • Wingspan: 13.16 m (43 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 4.14 m (13 ft 7 in)
  • Wing area: 23.8 m (256.2 ft)
  • Empty weight: 4 142 kg (9,132 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 7 404 kg (16,323 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7 900 kg (17,416 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Nene 104B centrifugal compressor turbojet, 22.2 kN (4,990 lbf)
  • Aspect ratio: 7.3

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: Mach 0.83
  • Maximum speed: 940 km/h (508 knots, 584 mph) (Mach 0.76) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 750 km/h (405 knots, 465 mph)
  • Combat radius: 450 km (245 nm, 280 mi)
  • Ferry range: 920 km (500 nm, 570 mi)
  • Service ceiling 13 000 m (42,650 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 38 m/s (7,480 ft/min)
  • Takeoff distance: 783 m (2,570 ft)
  • Landing distance: 910 m (2,985 ft)

Armament

  • 4 x 20 mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon, 125 rounds/gun
  • Underwing hardpoints for 16x 105 mm (4.1 in) Brandt T-10 rockets or eight rockets and 2x 458 l (121 US gal) napalm tanks or 2x 454 kg (1,000 lb) bombs

End notes