The Dassault Ouragan, Mystere, & Super Mystere

v1.2.0 / 01 may 03 / greg goebel / public domain

* In the spring of 1945, a French aircraft designer and resistance fighter named Marcel Bloch, who had been imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, returned to France. There he changed his name to Marcel "Dassault", which had been his "nom de guerre" in the French underground, and within a year established an aircraft manufacturing firm, the "Societe des Avions Marcel Dassault".

From then on, the name "Dassault" would become a trademark of a series of French combat and civil aircraft. This document details the evolution of the first major series of aircraft produced by Dassault, the "Ouragan". "Mystere", and "Super Mystere".



* Although the French, as citizens of an occupied country, were not able to contribute significantly to the great strides made in aircraft design made during World War II, after the war Marcel Dassault saw no reason why the French could not jump back into the race. In 1947, he outlined ideas for a jet fighter. French government response for his fighter was positive, but did not result in a development contract, and so Dassault decided to proceed on his own.

Detailed design work on the new aircraft, which was given the designation "MD (Marcel Dassault) 450", began in December, 1947, with construction beginning in April 1948. A French government contract for three prototypes followed in June, and the initial MD 450 "Ouragan (Hurricane)" fighter flew at the end of February 1949. The prototype lacked pressurization and armament.

The Ouragan was inspired by American designs, and had a general configuration like that of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet: essentially a "stovepipe" with intake in the nose, low-set straight wing, bubble canopy, and tricycle landing gear. It was smaller than the Thunderjet, however, weighing about a tonne less, and used a thin wing much like that of the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, as well as a swept-back tailplane. The prototype Ouragan was powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene 102 centrifugal-flow turbojet, license-built by Hispano-Suiza, with about 22.27 kN (2,270 kgp / 5,000 lbf) thrust.

After delivery of the third prototype, the French government followed up with a order for 15 pre-production prototypes, which would eventually be used to evaluate different engines for the Ouragan, different weapons fit, such as rocket packs; reconnaissance payloads; and night-fighting radar (more on this last item in the next section).

The pre-production prototype order was cut to 12. Well before delivery of these prototypes, however, the French government placed an order with Dassault in late August 1950 for 150 Ouragans. This was a bit disappointing for Dassault, since the government had been considering the purchase of 850 fighters, but it was still a large order and nothing to complain about. In fact, the government would order 200 more Ouragans and Dassault would be strained to build them fast enough.

   MD 450 OURAGAN:
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                13.16 meters        43 feet 2 inches
   wing area               23.4 sq_meters      252 sq_feet
   length                  10.73 meters        35 feet 2 inches
   height                  4.14 meters         13 feet 7 inches

   empty weight            4,140 kilograms     9,130 pounds
   max loaded weight       6,800 kilograms     15,000 pounds

   maximum speed           940 KPH             585 MPH / 510 KT
   service ceiling         14,900 meters       49,000 feet
   range                   965 kilometers      660 MI / 575 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

* The first operational Ouragans were delivered in 1952, replacing the De Havilland Vampire in French service. The first 50 Ouragans were built as "MD 450As" with the Nene 102 engine. The rest were "MD 450Bs", fitted with a Hispano-Suiza-built Nene 104B engine, which was lighter than the Nene 102 and had slightly greater thrust. Wingtip fuel tanks were fitted as standard in both cases.

The Ouragan was armed with four Hispano Mark V 20-millimeter cannon beneath the air intake, and could carry up to a tonne of stores under the wings. Typical stores included two 450 kilogram (1,000 pound) bombs; 16 105 millimeter (4-inch) Matra T-10 rockets; or 8 rockets and two 460 liter (121 US gallon) napalm bombs.

Armee de l'Air pilots found the Ouragan very pleasant to fly and a very stable gun and rocket firing platform, though it did have a tendency to snap into a spin in tight turns as it had a somewhat stubby fuselage. Top speed was about 930 KPH (580 MPH) at low level. The Ouragan was the demonstration aircraft for the "Patrouille de France" aerobatic team for two years.

Several production Ouragans were modified for rough field operation, with the single-wheel main gear modified to a two-wheel configuration 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 operations in the war in Algeria, and aircraft so fitted were nicknamed "Barougans", from the Arab term "baroud", or "battle". However, nothing came of the project, and some of the test aircraft were reconverted back to standard Ouragan configuration.

* The Ouragan did not have a long first-line service life with the Armee de l'Air, being phased out in favor of the much-improved Dassault Mystere IV beginning in the spring of 1955. Ouragans would persist in French service into the early 1960s as advanced trainers.

They would fly much longer in foreign service. In 1953, India ordered 71 Ouragans with the slightly uprated Nene 105 engine, with most of the order delivered that year. Additional orders from India brought the total to 104, though only the first 71 were new-build aircraft, with the remainder passed on from Armee de l'Air service.

The Indians named the aircraft the "Toofani", the Hindi word for "Hurricane". As with the Armee de l'Air, the Ouragan was quickly phased out of first-line service by the Dassault Mystere IVA, beginning in 1958, but the older aircraft would continue to be used as advanced trainers. The Indian Air Force apparently used the Ouragan in domestic counter-insurgency operations, but records are sketchy.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) was an enthusiastic Ouragan user. In 1955, the Egyptian government signed an agreement with Czechoslovakia to buy advanced Russian arms, such as the MiG-15 fighter. The only jet fighter the IAF possessed was the Gloster Meteor, which was no match for the MiG-15, and the Israelis quickly moved to upgrade their force.

The Israelis ordered 24 Dassault Mystere IICs and 24 Canadair Sabre Mark 6 fighters, but the Mystere IIC was found to suffer from structural problems, and the Canadians declined to supply the Sabres since they might inflame Middle Eastern instability. The Israelis decided to buy the better Mystere IVA, but as it was not in production at the time, ordered the Ouragan as a stopgap.

The IAF bought an estimated 75 Ouragans, with at least 12 of these being new-build aircraft, and the rest passed on from Armee de l'Air service. First deliveries were in 1955, just in time for the 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt to seize the Suez Canal.

The Israeli Ouragans were assigned to close support operations, since they could not match the performance of Egyptian MiG-15s. The Ouragan proved excellent in this role, as it was reliable and tough. However, Egyptian pilots were poorly trained and Israeli pilots, flying Ouragans sometimes sporting lurid sharkmouth markings, took on Egyptian pilots with success. A senior IAF official later said: "The Ouragan was a much better aeroplane than had been thought."

Ouragans would be relegated to advanced training as better aircraft became predominant in Israeli service, but the type would see more combat in the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1975, the Israelis sold 18 of their Ouragans to El Salvador, where they remained in service until the late 1980s.



* Even before the Ouragan was delivered to the Armee de l'Air, Dassault was working on a more advanced machine based on it, which would take to the air in early 1951 as the "MD 452 Mystere (Mystery) I".

The first prototype Mystere was essentially an Ouragan with a 30-degree swept wing and modified tail surfaces. Two further prototypes followed, powered by the Rolls-Royce Tay 250 centrifugal-flow turbojet, an improved version of the Nene, built under license by Hispano-Suiza, and rated at 28.0 kN (2,850 kgp / 6,280 lbf) thrust.

These three Mystere I prototypes led to two "Mystere IIA" prototypes, powered by the Tay and armed with four Hispano 20-millimeter cannon, and then four "Mystere IIB" prototypes, which exchanged the four 20-millimeter guns for two 30-millimeter DEFA revolver-type cannon. A Mystere IIA was the first French aircraft to break Mach 1 in controlled flight (in a dive), on 28 October 1951.

The eleven production prototypes that followed were designated "Mystere IIC", nine of which were fitted with the SNECMA Atar 101C axial-flow turbojet, rated at 24.5 kN (2,500 kgp / 5,510 lbf) thrust, while two were experimentally fitted with the afterburning Atar 101F, with afterburning thrust of 37.3 kN (3,800 kgp / 8,380 lbf).

   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                13.1 meters         42 feet 9 inches
   wing area               30.3 sq_meters      326 sq_feet
   length                  11.7 meters         38 feet 6 inches
   height                  4.26 meters         14 feet

   empty weight            5,225 kilograms     11,495 pounds
   max loaded weight       7,475 kilograms     16,480 pounds

   maximum speed           1,060 KPH           660 MPH / 575 KT
   service ceiling         15,250 meters       50,000 feet
   range                   885 kilometers      550 MI / 480 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

The Armee de l'Air ordered 150 Mystere IICs, with the first production item flying in June 1954, and delivered in October of that year. The production aircraft featured the twin 30-millimeter DEFA cannon, an Atar 101D turbojet with 29.4 kN (3,000 kgp / 6,615 lbf) thrust, increased tail sweep, and revised intake trunking and internal fuel tank arrangement. Top speed was 1,030 KPH (640 MPH) at low level. Details of external stores are unclear, but a reasonable assumption would be that they were similar to those of Ouragan.

The last Mystere IIC was delivered in 1957, by which time the type was already being relegated to advanced training duties. Aircraft design was moving at a breakneck pace in the 1950s and even as the Mystere IIC was becoming operational, the better Mystere IVA was flying. The Mystere IIC was very much an interim type, though it did persist in the training role until 1963.

There were no foreign buyers for the Mystere II. As noted, the Israelis wanted to buy 24 of them but changed their minds and bought Mystere IVs instead. Sources do not hint that the Mystere II was ever used in combat.

* There was only a single "Mystere III", or more precisely "Mystere IIIN", derived from experiments with the Ouragan. One of the original Ouragan prototypes had been built as a demonstrator for a night fighter, with a solid nose containing air intercept radar, and the air intakes moved to the side of the aircraft, under the cockpit. It was fitted with twin 30-millimeter DEFA cannon and designated "MD 350-30-L", with the "30" meaning the 30 millimeter guns and the "L" meaning the lateral intakes.

The modified Ouragan retained its single-seat configuration. It was intended to lead to a two-seat night fighter, the "MD 451", but the development of the Mystere II made it more attractive to develop a two-seat version of the Mystere II instead.

The result was the "MD 453 Mystere IIIN", or "Mystere de Nuit". This aircraft had the solid nose and lateral intakes of the Ouragan night fighter variant, and was powered by the Tay. It first flew in July 1952. Two more prototypes were planned, but they were never built as interest had moved on to a night fighter version of the Mystere IV. The sole Mystere IIIN was never fitted with radar and the program was abandoned in December 1953. However, the aircraft was later used for ejection seat trials.



* The "Mystere IV" was essentially a new design, a rethinking of the Mystere II rather than a modification of it. The first prototype was flown in September 1952, and was powered by a Hispano-built Rolls-Royce Tay 250 turbojet, as were the early Mystere IIA prototypes.

While it also featured the twin 30-millimeter DEFA cannon adopted for the Mystere II, the Mystere IV had a new and more robust oval-section fuselage, a thinner wing with greater sweep, and new tail surfaces. The result resembled the Mystere IIC in a general way but had cleaner lines, more in the class of the US F-86 Sabre.

There was apparently only one prototype, leading to a production contract for 225 Mystere IVAs for the Armee de l'Air. Interestingly enough, this batch of aircraft was purchased for the French by the United States as part of the NATO Military Assistance Program, though the French would purchase 100 more Mystere IVAs with their own funds.

The first production Mystere IVA flew in late May 1954, and the type entered service with the Armee de l'Air the next year, being initially deployed as an interceptor. It would also be used as ground-attack fighter in French service.

The first 50 production aircraft used the Tay 250 engine, but all following production was fitted with an uprated Tay, the Hispano-built Verdon 350, with 34.3 kN (3,500 kgp / 7,715 lbf) thrust.

   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                11.12 meters        36 feet 6 inches
   wing area               32 sq_meters        344.5 sq_feet
   length                  12.85 meters        42 feet 1 inch
   height                  4.59 meters         15 feet 1 inch

   empty weight            5,870 kilograms     12,950 pounds
   max loaded weight       9,500 kilograms     20,950 pounds

   maximum speed           1,120 KPH           695 MPH / 605 KT
   service ceiling         15,000 meters       49,200 feet
   range                   920 kilometers      570 MI / 495 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

The Mystere IVA had four stores pylons, with a total load capacity of 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of underwing stores. It appears that in typical flight configurations, two of the pylons were fitted with drop tanks while two others carried bombs or Matra 68-millimeter unguided rocket packs. As with many early jet aircraft, the Mystere IVA's range without drop tanks was pathetic.

The Mystere IVA remained in first-line service with the Armee de l'Air until the early 1960s, when it was replaced by the Mirage IIIC. It remained in service in the ground-attack role until 1975, when replaced by the SEPECAT Jaguar, and as an operational trainer until 1980, when it was replaced by the Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet.

60 of the Verdon-powered Mystere IVAs that were ordered by the French ended up being sold to Israel, with the first batch of 24 arriving April 1956, just in time for the war over Suez in October. In the hands of skilled IAF pilots, they proved themselves more than a match for Egyptian MiG-15s. French Mystere IVAs also participated in the October 1956 war, operating from Israeli bases with an Israeli squadron number, and French pilots would also fly some of the Israeli Mystere IVAs during that war.

The remaining 36 Mystere IVs in the batch were shipped to Israel after the 1956 war. Two squadrons of Mystere IVAs were still in Israeli service in the Six-Day War in 1967.

The Indian Air Force also bought 110 Verdon-powered Mystere IVAs. These were all new-production aircraft. First delivery was in 1957. The type was used in the close-support role during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, and like its ancestor, the Ouragan, proved robust and able to absorb punishment.

* The Mystere series continued to evolve, with an improved "Mystere IVB" developed to take advantage of the new afterburning engines. The Mystere IVB was almost a new aircraft, with a new fuselage and redesigned vertical stabilizer, and also featured a radar gunsight similar to that used on the F-86 in the upper lip of the intake.

The first prototype flew in December 1953, and was powered by an afterburning Rolls-Royce Avon RA.7R axial-flow turbojet, with a maximum afterburning thrust of 42.5 kN (4,330 kgp / 9,550 lbf). Another Avon-powered prototype flew in June 1954, while a third prototype, powered by the Atar 101F (which, as mentioned, was fitted experimentally to two pre-production Mystere IICs), flew in March 1955.

Seven pre-production Mirage IVB aircraft were also completed. The first two were fitted with a SEPR 66 bi-fuel rocket motor to provide boost thrust, and the last two were powered by the afterburning Atar 101G-2 turbojet with 44.1 kN (4,500 kg / 9,920 lbf) afterburning thrust.

The Mystere IVB was promising, but Dassault was already working on an even better aircraft, the Super Mystere, and so the Mystere IVB did not enter production.

* As mentioned previously, a single night-fighter version of the Mystere IVB, the "Mystere IVN", was completed and flew in 1954. The prototype was powered by an Avon RA.7R, and was stretched 1.4 meters (4 feet 7 inches) to accommodate two tandem seats and additional fuel. It was to be fitted with US-built AN/APG-33 air-intercept radar in a nose radome above the intake, giving it a certain resemblance to the US F-86D "Sabre Dog" interceptor.

It had two 30-millimeter DEFA cannon, and like the F-86D had a retractable tray for unguided air-to-air rockets, in this case accommodating 55 68-millimeter rockets. Some sources claim that this tray was optionally fitted to the standard Mystere IVA, but if so it appears to have been little used.

The project went nowhere because of problems with the radar and the limited endurance of the aircraft. The French were also developing another night fighter that seemed more promising, the "Sud-Ouest Vautour IIN", and the Mystere IVN was cancelled.



* The last of the Ouragan-Mystere series was the "Super Mystere", which was also largely a new aircraft, with a slight resemblance to the US F-100 Super Sabre and roughly similar in capabilities, though smaller. It was the first "transonic" aircraft of European origin to reach quantity production.

The first prototype, the "Super Mystere B1", flew in March 1955. This initial prototype was powered by the Avon RA.7R engine, and featured wings with a 45-degree sweepback, as well as updated cockpit and F-100-like oval air intake. The prototype broke Mach 1 in level flight the day after it first took to the air.

Five pre-production "Super Mystere B2s" followed, powered by the SNECMA Atar 101G, with the first of the five flying in May 1956, and the first production Super Mystere B2 flying in late February 1957. The production version was powered by improved Atar 101G-2 or G-3 engines, providing 33.1 kN (3,375 kgp / 7,400 lbf) maximum dry thrust and 43.75 kN (4,460 kgp / 9,833 lbf) afterburning thrust.

Armament consisted of twin DEFA 30-millimeter cannon. Early versions also had a rocket pack for 35 68-millimeter unguided rockets, but the rocket pack was quickly abandoned. The aircraft had two stores pylons, and could carry an external load of 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds), including drop tanks, bombs, unguided rocket pods, AS-30 radio-guided air-to-surface missiles, or Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                10.5 meters         34 feet 6 inches
   wing area               35 sq_meters        377 sq_feet
   length                  14.04 meters        46 feet 1 inches
   height                  4.53 meters         14 feet 11 inches

   empty weight            6,985 kilograms     15,400 pounds
   maximum loaded weight   10,000 kilograms    22,050 pounds

   maximum speed           1,200 KPH           745 MPH / 650 KT
   service ceiling         17,000 meters       55,750 feet
   range                   870 kilometers      540 MI / 470 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

180 Super Mystere B2s were built for the Armee de l'Air, with the last delivered in 1959. They were relegated to the attack role after the Mach 2 Mirage III came on line, but remained in French service until the fall of 1977, being replaced by the Mirage IIC and Mirage F1C.

In 1958, two examples were completed with Atar 9B engines with 58.9 kN (6,000 kgp / 13,225 lbf) afterburning thrust. They were designated "Super Mystere B4". The type did not enter production because by that time the much superior Mirage III was already entering service.

* 36 of the Super Mystere B2s bought by the French ended up being sold to the Israelis in 1958. The IAF was fond of the aircraft and nicknamed it "Sambad", after its initials ("SMB-Deux"). Israeli pilots found it a match for transonic Arab MiG-19s, and the Sambad generally came out the winner in the intermittent air skirmishes that took place between outright war.

The Sambad served in the ground attack role in the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In the early 1970s, the Israelis upgraded their surviving Super Mysteres by retrofitting a non-afterburning Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A turbojet, rated at 41.4 kN (4,220 kgp / 9,300 lbf) thrust. This required airframe modifications, resulting in a longer fuselage.

Updated Israeli avionics were also fitted, and the variety and weight of external stores were increased as well. The first example of the upgrade appeared in May 1973, and participated in the Yom Kippur War. In 1977, 12 of these uprated Super Mysteres were sold to Honduras, with the Hondurans operating the type until 1989, making them the last of the operational Ouragan and Mystere series.



* The Ouragan and Mystere series of fighters, though reasonably successful aircraft, are somewhat obscure and hard to find information on, so many details in this document remain uncertain.

They defined a line of French fighter evolution that would lead indirectly to the entirely successful Mirage delta-winged fighter series, but ended up being overshadowed by the Mirage in the literature. One of these days I hope to find more information to correct this imbalance.

* Sources include:

* Revision history:

   v1.0   / 01 oct 98 / gvg
   v1.1   / 01 may 01 / gvg / Minor cosmetic update.
   v1.2.0 / 01 may 03 / gvg / Major cosmetic update.