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JMGT 1/48 Dassault MD450 Ouragan

 

By Tom Cleaver

 

The Airplane

Today, everyone is familiar with the company Avions Marcel Dassault, designer and builder of some of the most outstanding warplanes of the entire postwar period. There was a time, however, when this was not the case.

Marcel Dassault, who was one of the originals of French military aircraft design, with a record going back to the First World War, was originally Marcel Bloch. His first company, formed with Henri Potez, foundered in the slump of the 1920s, and his second, Avions Bloch, was founded in 1930. The company was nationalized in 1936 and became SNCASO (Societe National de Construction Aeronautiques de Sud-Ouest). His MB150 series of fighters might have been far better known than they were, had they had more development time before being thrown in the cauldron of the German invasion of France in May 1940. As it was, the only French fighter better than they was the Dewoitine D.520. After the war, he adopted the resistance nom de guerre of his brother Paul, a contraction of "Char d'assault" - battle tank - and began again in 1946 as Marcel Dassault.

The company's first product was the Flamant, a twin-engine transport that gained large military orders. In 1947, despite SNCASO (or perhaps because of it) having been chosen to develop the first indigenous jet fighter, the SO 6020 "Espadon," Dassault began working on a competing design under the designation MD450. It was to be armed with 4 20mm cannon and powered by the Rolls-Royce Nene, an engine then powering designs on both sides of the Atlantic as well as both sides of the Iron Curtain. It was to be a "low risk" design, of conventional construction with a design maximum speed of Mach 0.9, where compressibility effects would be minimal. By 1948, though not holding a contract, Dassault had received enough official encouragement to proceed with the construction of a prototype, which flew February 28, 1949. Worthy of note is the fact that the only change between the three prototypes and the production "Ouragan" - French for "Hurricane" - was minor changes in the ailerons and trim tabs as a result of compressibility trials with the prototypes. The first production aircraft flew December 20, 1951.

Initial operational capability was achieved with the airplane in early 1953, as an interceptor with EC1/12 "Cambresis." Performance-wise, the MD450 was comparable with the U.S. Navy's Grumman F9F "Panther," meaning it was not an airplane that should be found in the same sky with the MiG-15. The "Ouragan" went on to become the French Air Force's fighter-bomber through the 1950s, alongside the MDAP-supplied F-84G Thunderjet.

Blooded by the Israelis

The Israeli Air Force had been an interested participant in the development of the "Ouragan" since 1951. A contract was finally announced for 24 "Ouragans" for Heyl Ha' Avir in January 1955; however, French Foreign Office resistance obstructed the sale even after the Egyptian announcement in September 1955 that the Soviet Union would provide 200 MiG-15s and MiG-17s, and two squadrons of Il-28 jet bombers for the Egyptian Air Force. Fortunately, the French Defense Minister, General Pierre Koenig, was made of better stuff than the diplomats; on his own authority he ordered 24 "Ouragans" to be transferred from the French to the Israeli Air Force, and then resigned from the government.

The Ouragan achieved IOC with the Israelis on November 29, 1955, and scored the first aerial victories on April 12, 1956, when two Egyptian Vampires were shot down over the Negev desert by No. 323. Ouragans, Meteors and Mustangs were the vanguard of the Israeli attack against the Egyptians on October 29, 1956. The Ouragan proved its worth as a ground attack aircraft by claiming the majority of the Egyptian armored vehicles destroyed during the brief conflict, plus half a share in the destruction of the Egyptian destroyer "Ibrahim el-Awal" when two Ouragans attacked the ship with rockets on October 31.

While the Ouragan had by this time been replaced in the air superiority role by its descendant, the Mystere IV, the Ouragan proved its fighting ability by shooting down a MiG-15 in a two-versus-two encounter; in another fight in which two Ouragans were jumped by eight MiG-15s, the Israelis were able to hold out until rescued by Mysteres, shooting down a MiG in the process. The Ouragan's legendary toughness was shown by the fact that one was hit in this engagement by a 37mm shell which exploded, and the other force-landed out of fuel, yet both were back on operations the next day. The IAF were the first to say that the superiority of Israeli pilot training was responsible for these outcomes. Only two Ouragans were lost in the 1956 war.

By 1967, Israel had received 70 Ouragans, of which 40 were still operational at the time of the Six-Day War, during which they participated in the destruction of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces on the first day, attacked Jordanian armor the second day, and participated in the rout of the Egyptian Army at the Mitla Pass on June 7. Three Ouragans were lost on the first day of the war, and a total of eight during the whole conflict. By the end of 1967, the delivery of A-4 Skyhawks allowed the war-weary Ouragans to finally be placed on reserve. The airworthy survivors were sold to El Salvador in 1975.

This is not a bad record for an airplane that was technologically five years out of date - in a period of great changes - when it first flew. Its descendants, the Mystere series and the Mirage series, clearly demonstrated that Dassault knew what they were doing when it came to building fighters.

The Kit

The Ouragan is an airplane that is not that well known to either British or American modelers. Heller released a very acceptable kit in 1/72 in the late 1970s, but until JMGT of France decided to produce one in resin, the airplane had never seen production in any other scale.

JMGT was one of the best vacuform companies in the 1970s and 1980s, and made the move to full resin kits in the early 1990s. While the kits are expensive, they have proved good value for the money, and their subject matter has been esoteric enough that only the Morane Saulnier MS-406 and now the Bloch MB-152 and MB-155 have seen production in injection plastic; to date, the JMGT products have remained superior.

As with most resin kits, there is a minimum of parts, with the wing molded in one piece, the fuselage in two halves with the cockpit side detail molded in, a rudder, horizontal stabilizers, and white metal landing gear with resin gear doors. The kit comes with two very clear vacuformed canopies, and a sheet of decals including markings to do either one Israeli airplane with a very wild mouth motif as used in the 1956 war, and one airplane from each of the five units that flew the Ouragan in the French Air Force.

The light tan resin is very smooth, with light surface detail, and no pinholes. Other than the usual clean-up of parts associated with a resin kit, there appear to be no major fit problems.

For the modeler who enjoys the first-generation jets, when the designers were still figuring out what worked, with the result of some interesting-looking airplanes being created, the Ouragan is a kit worth getting and building. The airplane more than lived up to its name in the hands of competent pilots.



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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

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1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
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HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

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