No. 13125. Sud-Ouest S.O.4050 Vautour IIN (304 c/n 11) French Air Force
Photograph from CEAM (Centre d'Expériences Aériennes Militaires), Mont-de-Marson, France

Sud-Ouest S.O.4050 Vautour IIN

06/30/2017. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "Beside its military role the Vautour (Vulture) was also used as a flying test bed. The second Vautour II prototype (serial 002 c/n 002) and a pre-production Vautour IIA (serial 07 c/n 07), both single-seaters, carried out releasing test of various external loads, including the Nord AS.20 air-to-surface and Matra 511 air-to-air missiles. Cameras, placed under the nacelles of the aircraft engines, recorded the actual release of the charges, and the firing of the missiles. Release of a 333 gal (1,260 l) fuel tank was tested as well. Two two-seat Vautour IIN's (serial 301 c/n 4 and the above pictured 304 were used for similar tests.

The Vautour IIN was dedicated to test airborne radars. The first one to receive a CSF Cyrano fire-control radar installed in the nose was the sixth of the pre-series (serial 06 c/n 06), which was equipped at the CEV (Centre d'Essais en Vol, flight test center of the French AF) at Brétigny-sur-Orge in June 1963. Four more Vautour IIN's (serial 303 c/n 9, 337 c/n 84, 351 c/n 121, 363 c/n 133) were equipped in the same way. 303 was accidentally destroyed on March 24, 1964, and 351 was destroyed in a landing accident at Brétigny, during the winter of 1970-1971, killing the two crew members. The CEV also used the Vautours 304, 348 c/n 106, and 355 c/n 125, the latter two were ex service machines.

The last Vautour IIB series bomber (serial 640 c/n 119) was used by the CEV at Cazaux for the testing of towed and remotely guided targets. The second Vautour II prototype and the fourth Vautour IIA (serial 4 c/n 5, call-sign F-ZADQ) were used in the development of in-flight refueling techniques Fitted with refuelling probes in the nose or on the fuselage side were used for dry hook-ups.

The flexibility of the Vautour also enabled it to be used in various experimental roles. It was used as a sampling aircraft after nuclear explosions, but also as a fast track aircraft during the Diadem II experiment, the launch of a geodetic satellite in February 15, 1967.

The pictured aircraft first flew on December 16, 1956 and was delivered to the French AF on May 21, 1957. Subsequently it was used at the CEAM (Centre d'Expériences Aériennes Militaires, research center of the French AF). From 1970 till 1973 it was operated by the CEV as a radar test bed. Presently the aircraft is preserved at the Musée Château de Savigny-lès-Beaunes."

Created June 30, 2017