SNCASO SO.9000 Trident I 01

The SNCASO SO.9000 Trident is a French mixed-power interceptor aircraft built by aircraft manufacturer SNCASO during the 1950s. As part of a wider effort to re-build French military power during the late 1940s and to furnish France with advanced, new domestically produced designs, a request for a supersonic-capable point-defence interceptor aircraft to equip the French Air Force was issued to SNCASO. In response, the firm designed the mixed-propulsion Trident, powered by a single SEPR rocket engine, which was augmented by wingtip-mounted turbojet engines, and the Air Force ordered two prototypes.

The two SO.9000 Trident Is demonstrated the feasibility of the design concept despite the loss of one aircraft during flight testing and the Air Force ordered a batch of three prototype SO.9050 Trident II fighters in 1954, and a batch of six pre-production aircraft in 1956 to further develop the aircraft so it could serve as a short-range interceptor. Only six of these nine aircraft were ultimately completed, of which all three prototypes were damaged or destroyed in accidents before the programme was cancelled in 1958 despite their record-setting performance.

On 2 March 1953, the first prototype Trident I conducted the type’s maiden flight; flown by test pilot Jacques Guignard, the aircraft used the entire length of the runway to get airborne, being powered only by its two 4 kN (900 lbf) Turbomeca Marboré turbojet engines. It was initially flown without any rocket engine installed, relying solely upon its turbojet engines instead to evaluate its low-speed handling.

According to aviation historian Bill Gunston, the early test flights of the SO.9000 were “hairy” prior to the installation of the rocket motor in September 1954. During the first flight of the second Trident I prototype on 1 September 1953, the aircraft crashed after struggling to gain altitude after takeoff and collided with a utility pole, resulting in the separation of the nose section and Guignard sustaining severe injuries.

Country: France

First flight: 2 March 1953

Production: 8 planes

Crew: 1

Length: 12.7 m (41 ft 8 in)

Wingspan: 6.98 m (22 ft 11 in)

Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Gabizo turbojet + 1 × SEPR 631 liquid-fuelled dual-chamber rocket engine

Maximum speed: 2,092 km/h (1,300 mph, 1,130 kn) (Mach 1.92)

Ceiling: 24,000 m (79,000 ft)

Weight: 5,150 kg (11,354 lb)

Bourget Museum (ParisFrance)

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