Nord 1500 Griffon II

The Nord 1500 Griffon was an experimental ramjet-powered interceptor aircraft designed and built by French state-owned aircraft manufacturer Nord Aviation. The Griffon was developed to become a Mach 2 follow on to the supersonic Nord Gerfaut research aircraft. Development of the aircraft began in earnest after the receipt of a letter of intent in 1953 for a pair of unarmed research aircraft. The design featured an innovative dual propulsion turbojet-ramjet configuration; the former being used to takeoff and attain sufficient speed to start the latter.

The Nord 1500 Griffon originated from a state-sponsored study into delta and swept wings. To provide data for these studies Arsenal de l’Aéronautique (SFECMAS’s nationalised predecessor) built a wooden glider, the Arsenal 1301, that could be fitted with both delta and swept wings and with and without canards. Towed to the release point by SNCAC Martinet, Douglas DC-3 or SNCASE Languedoc transport aircraft, the glider provided valuable data for the design of the Gerfaut.

To utilise this data SFECMAS’s chief designer, Jean Galtier, initiated the 1400, 1500 and 1910 interceptor projects with delta wings and different types of propulsion systems. The 1400 developed into the Nord Gerfaut series, the 1500 became the Griffon, while the 1910, ambitiously specified with two large ramjet engines, was never pursued. Galtier envisioned the Griffon as the Mach 2 successor to the supersonic Gerfaut. By this time Arsenal had been privatised as SFECMAS – Société Française d’Etude et de Construction de Matériel Aéronautiques Spéciaux. Powered by a large ramjet with turbojet sustainer, the Griffon was renamed from the SFECMAS 1500 Guépard (Cheetah) after SFECMAS was merged with SNCAN to form Nord Aviation.

On 24 August 1953, a pair of prototypes were ordered, although the final contract (No. 2003/55) would not be issued until 1955. Although intended by Nord to eventually fulfil a requirement for a light interceptor capable of using grass airfields, these two aircraft were ordered without any military equipment installed, being intended for research purposes only.

A key innovation of the Griffon was its dual-propulsion arrangement, which incorporated a turbojet-ramjet powerplant. The turbojet would enable the aircraft to perform unassisted takeoffs (ramjets cannot produce thrust at zero airspeed, and thus cannot move an aircraft from a standstill) while the ramjet would provide additional thrust once the aircraft had attained an airspeed in excess of 1,000 km/h (600 mph). To reduce risks in using the turbo-ramjet powerplant, the first Griffon (Nord 1500-01 Griffon I) was built with only the afterburning 37.3-kilonewton (8,400 lbf) SNECMA Atar 101G turbojet engine installed with the ramjet to be added at a later date.

Country: France

Manufacturer: Nord Aviation

First flight: 20 September 1955

Production: 2

Length: 14.54 m (47 ft 8 in)

Wingspan: 8.1 m (26 ft 7 in)

Height: 5.0 m (16 ft 5 in)

Crew: 1

Powerplant: 1× SNECMA Atar 101E-3 turbojet + 1× Nord Stato-Réacteur ramjet

Maximum speed: 2,320 km/h (1,440 mph, 1,250 kn) (Mach 2.19)

Weight: 6,745 kg (14,870 lb)

Bourget Museum (ParisFrance)

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