Nord Aviation 2501 Noratlas (62-KM) 201: French military transport aircraft

Development commenced during the late 1940s with the aim of producing a suitable aircraft to replace the numerous older types that were in service with the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) which dated back to the Second World War.

In response to a competition organised by the Direction Technique Industrielle (DTI), Nord produced their Nord 2500 proposal, which was selected as the most promising. Experiences with the first prototype, powered by Gnome-Rhône 14R engines, did not impress, thus the design was revised as the Nord 2501, powered by the SNECMA-built Bristol Hercules 738/9 engines instead, which was found acceptable. Accordingly, the Noratlas was introduced to service by the Armée de l’Air on 6 December 1953.

Following its adoption by the Armée de l’Air, a number of other operators in both Europe and Africa chose to procure the Noratlas for their own military air services. Having found itself in a similar situation to France, the German Air Force of West Germany chose to adopt the same solution, procuring the type for their own purposes.

The Israeli Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, and the Portuguese Air Force all deployed the Noratlas under combat conditions. Furthermore, operators often found a wide variety of uses for the type, extensively adapting aircraft to suit secondary roles in some cases. The Noratlas was also adopted by a number of civil operators, although most aircraft were flown by military customers. As such, several hundred aircraft were produced during the Noratlas’ production run, which lasted over a decade.

Old wings (Toulouse)

Nord-Aviation was a state-owned French aircraft manufacturer. The bulk of its facilities were based on the site of Bourges airport, in the département of Cher, in central France.

On 1 October 1954, Nord Aviation was created as a result of the acquisition of SFECMAS (Société française d’étude et de construction de matériels aéronautiques spéciaux) by SNCAN (Société nationale de constructions aéronautiques du Nord). The company’s name, Nord, also became commonly used as a generic name referring to the Pingouin light aircraft. It manufactured numerous aircraft; perhaps Nord Aviation’s most successful aircraft was the Nord Noratlas, a utility transport used by both military and civilian customers. Other aircraft included general aviation, trainers and experimental aircraft, as well as other transports. Nord Aviation also developed and produced its own range of missiles; perhaps the most famous of these was the Exocet, a sea-skimming anti-ship missile.

On 1 March 1970, Nord Aviation merged with Sud Aviation to create Société nationale d’industrie aérospatiale (SNIAS), which was promptly renamed Aérospatiale. In 2000, this company merged into European Aerospace Corporation EADS, which was then renamed to the Airbus Group.

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