Sud-Ouest SO.4050 Vautour
After the cancellation of the SO.4000, the Sud-Ouest design team turned to a more refined type, the SO.4050 Vautour that eventually entered service in three versions optimized for MK.IIN all-weather interception, Mk.IIA close support, and Mk.IIB bombing from medium and high altitudes.
The SNCASO SO.4050 Vautour (Vulture) was first flown on 16 October 1952. Midway in size between small fighters and jet medium bom¬bers, it had the same layout as the much bigger Boeing B 47, with a mid-¬high 35 degree swept wing, under-slung engines, a fighter type nose cockpit and so-¬called bicycle landing gear. The front wheels retract forward and the rear wheels rearward. Small balance wheels were under each engine nacelle. Fitted with conventional ailerons, rudder, all-moving tailplane, split flaps, and an air brake on each side of the rear fuselage.
Each engine was fed from its own set of fuel tanks. The inner 17 fuel tanks had an automatic system to "isolate" cells which caught fire or to neutralize leaks in the passages. The pilot could direct or divert flow of fuel in case of damaged pipes or engine malfunction. The Vautour didn't have inflight refuelling devices. Only the experimental (FR-AF) IIA(R) s/n 8, was tested as an air tanker for the Mirage-4.
The Vautour prototype was the first French twin-jet aircraft to exceed the speed of sound in a shallow dive. Various engines were fitted in the three prototype and six pre-production models but all production Vautours had Atar turbojets.
Production took place later in three versions. The Vautour IIA is a single seat tactical fighter, of which 30 were built, the first production machine flying on 30 April 1956. Twenty-five Vautour II-As were supplied to Israel.
The Vautour IIB. This had a single‑seat pilot cockpit similar to that of the Vautour IIA attack version, but added a glazed nose for a navigator/bombardier who could use a conventional bombsight. Navigation was mainly by a twin‑gyro platform and Doppler radar, and considering the small dimensions of the aircraft an excellent bombload could be carried both internally and externally. The first production aircraft of this sub‑type flew on 31 July 1957 and eventually 40 were delivered to equip the Armee de l'Air's 92e Escadre, which was the original operating element of the Commandement des Forces Aeriennes Strategiques (strategic air command). The Vautour IIB (redesignated Vautour IIAB after fitting one‑piece tailplanes in the early 1960s) was replaced by the Dassault Mirage IVA from 1965.
The first of 70 Vautour II-N all weather fighters flew on 10 October 1956.
SO.4050 Vautour II-N
It was in service with the air forces of France (II-Bs and II-Ns) and Israel (25 II-As).
Engines: 2 x SNECMA Atar 101E-3 turbojet, 7716 lb
Wingspan: 49 ft 6.5 in
Length: 14 ft 1.75 in
Wing area: 484.4 sq.ft
Empty weight: 23,150 lb
MTOW: 45,635 lb
Internal fuel: 4426 lt
Weapon bay fuel capacity: 3,000 lt (2 x 1,500 lt tanks)
External fuel: 2 drop tanks of 1,300 lt or 600 lt
Max fuel capacity: 10,026 lt / 8,021 kg
Max speed SL: 685 mph
Max ROC: 11,800 fpm
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft
Armament: 4 x DEFA cannon
Sud-Ouest SO 4050 Vautour