Crecy Publishing's French Secret Projects 2


Jean-Christophe Carbonel


Crecy Publishing


$44.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 978-1-910809-06-8, 264 pages, hardcover over 450 images.

This continues a superb series of books on projects that either never made it off the drawing board, were terminated after prototypes turned out to be disappointing or were the basis for successful types. This volume covers a second part of French aircraft that concentrates on bombers, patrol, and assault aircraft. I missed the first one and hope to get the chance to read/review it in the near future.

As you can easily imagine, the range of projects covers the spectrum from fantastic to practical. Much of the early post war research was inspired by the results of material obtained from Germany and indeed, there were German engineers and designers hired by various aviation companies to help with their projects.

One area that the French really put in a lot of effort was in ramjet powered aircraft. Though most of that research went into fighters, there was still enough bleed-over to affect other projects. Naturally, with the advent of turbojets, design work went into that direction as well. One of the most impressive-looking turbojet bombers was the SO.4000. This huge aircraft was a complete failure, but was very impressive. Other research into bomber types did produce successful types like the Vautor and the Mirage IV, the latter of which was France's biggest and only real supersonic bomber. Nowdays bombing missions are left to fighter-bombers in the AdlA.

In the strike category there were a number of interesting designs and proposals that ranged from heavy strike to aircraft suited for COIN operations. A most unusual type was the Baroudoer which operated without landing gear, using skids for landing and a trolley for take off. This very promising type was built in a small pre-production batch but eventually cancelled. I think you'll find all the work that went into the Minerva project to be especially fascinating.

Like all major nations, France put considerable effort into vertical take off and landing types with a wide variety of designs, many of which never made it past preliminary designs. In the end, it was decided, as with most nations, that helicopters would be type used for most of these kinds of operations. Indeed, no production VTOL aircraft that was no rotary winged was produced. Among the most successful types of helos that were produced in France were the Alouettes, Gazelles and Pumas, the latter two being cooperation with the British in design and manufacture. The Alouette II gains the distinction of being the first turbine powered production helicopter.

The final sections cover transports, patrol and some rather far out types. The truly successful transport development was the C-160 Transall and the Alize and Atlantic were the result of work done with patrol Types. There were several other types built in small numbers that saw service, but for the most part, those three were the only truly successful one. The last section covers a variety of projects from atomic powered aircraft to a variety of flying saucers. All truly fascinating reading, but projects that never came to fruition.

Of all the various books in this series, this one has to be right up there with the best of them. The French were never ones to not give something a go and their designs certainly show that. The successful results of their projects were in service for decades while others quickly faded from memory.

November 2017

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