Sud Aviation Vautour

The Sud-Ouest Aviation (SNCASO) S.O. 4050 Vautour II was a French bomber, interceptor, and attack aircraft used by the Armée de l'Air (AdA). Later, 28 of these aircraft were used by the Israeli Air Force. Vautour is the French word for vulture.

Sud Aviation Vautour
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Sud Aviation
Origin France
Country Name Origin Year
France 1952
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
France 1958 1979 View
Israel View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Sud Aviation 149 View

The Vautour was a shoulder-wing monoplane with a 35° swept wing and a "flying" tail. Two SNECMA Atar 101 turbojet engines were carried in pods in the wings. It had bicycle-type landing gear, with the main units in the fore and aft fuselage and smaller stabilizing gear in the engine pods. The central fuselage carried a large 5.0 meter (16 ft 5 in) weapons bay and substantial internal fuel tankage.

The IIB bomber lacked radar and other modern navigation and attack systems, armaments were aimed by a bombardier housed in a glass nose section of the aircraft with the aid of a World War II-vintage Norden bombsight. Both the IIB and IIA were limited to clear-weather operations in daylight only. The IIN interceptor had some capacity for night and adverse weather though the use of its radar. In Israeli service, where the weather was generally favorable and daylight missions commonplace, the Vautour's lack of advanced targeting and navigation equipment was not a crippling limitation; however, in Europe it was considered a major disadvantage. As a result, the French AdA did not use the single-seat IIA in a frontline capacity, and most of its IIB bombers were quickly converted to IIBR standard to perform photo reconnaissance missions instead.

In French service, the Vantour IIB could carry either a single AN-11 or AN-22 nuclear weapon in its internal weapons bay; although the primary carrier of those weapons would the Dassault Mirage IV, which would later replace the IIB. A fleet of 40 Vautour IIBs constituted the original air-based component of the French force de frappe, the Commandement des Forces Aeriennes Strategique (CFAS) of the French Air Force, established in 1955. Their performance were considered marginal for the strategic bomber role; thus, a requirement for a supersonic replacement aircraft was issued only a year later in 1956. The 1956 requirement would ultimately result in the selection and manufacturing of the Dassault Mirage IV bomber; Sud Aviation had also responded to the requirement with a proposal for a stretched Super Vautour. This unbuilt variant would have had a combat radius of 1,700 miles while travelling at a speed of Mach 0.9.

Role Fighter-bomber
Manufacturer Sud Aviation
First flight 16 October 1952
Introduction 1958
Retired 1979
Primary users French Air Force
Israeli Air Force
Produced 149

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 15.57 m (51 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 15.10 m (49 ft 6.5 in)
  • Height: 4.94 m (16 ft 2.5 in)
  • Wing area: 45 m² (484 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 10,000 kg (22,000 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 17,500 kg (38,600 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 21,000 kg (46,300 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × SNECMA Atar 101E-3 turbojets, 34.3 kN (7,710 lbf)) each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.9, 1,100 km/h (687 mph) at sea level
  • Range: 5,400 km (3,375 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 15,200 m (50,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 60 m/s (11,820 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 403 kg/m² (82.6 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.4


  • 4x 30mm DEFA cannons with 100 rounds per gun
  • Internal weapons bay for maximum of 2,725 kg (6,000 lb) of bombs (typically six 450 kg (1,000 lb) bombs), pack of 116x 68 mm (2.7 in) rockets, camera pack, or two 1,500 liter (400 U.S. gal) fuel tanks
  • Four underwing pylons each rated at 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) (inboard) and 500 kg (1,100 lb) (outboard) for total external load of 4,000 kg (8,800 lb); maximum practical weapons load (internal and external) 4,400 kg (9,700 lb) of bombs, rockets, missiles, or napalm tanks

End notes