Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100 years of airplanes

Congratulations to Daher Socata of France, who this year celebrate 100 years of manufacturing aircraft.

The company began as Morane-Saulnier in 1911, producing a world-famous series of aircraft that set records before World War I, and introduced new and innovative technology during it. The pioneering aviator Roland Garros flew across the Mediterranean in a Morane-Saulnier G in 1913.

A Russian license-manufactured Morane-Saulnier G

Float-equipped versions of the same model competed in the Schneider Trophy races in 1913 and 1914.

Lord John Carberry practicing for the 1914 Schneider Trophy race
in his float-equipped Morane-Saulnier Type G aircraft

The Parasol, or Morane-Saulnier L, was the first aircraft to use a form of interrupter gear to allow a machine-gun to be fired through the arc of its propeller. Roland Garros, flying a Parasol, achieved the first aerial 'kill' with this apparatus on April 1st, 1915.

Morane-Saulnier L ('Parasol')

Morane-Saulnier continued to develop the 'parasol' wing concept after World War I, producing their M.S. 230 and M.S. 315 as late as the 1930's.

Restored Morane-Saulnier M.S. 230 (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The company also developed more modern fighter aircraft, culminating in the M.S. 406 of 1935.

Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406 fighters in 1939

It was considered very advanced at the time of its introduction, but had been outclassed by later designs by the outbreak of World War II. It suffered heavy losses at the hands of German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters in 1940.

During World War II, Morane-Saulnier produced German-designed aircraft for the occupying forces, including the famous Fieseler Fi 156 Storch observation and utility aircraft, which it continued to manufacture after the war as the Morane-Saulnier M.S.500 Criquet.

After World War II, the company produced many training and utility aircraft for the French Air Force and for export. One of its most innovative projects sprang from an unsuccessful military jet trainer, the M.S. 755 Fleuret. This twin-engined, twin-seat aircraft was produced in prototype form, but did not win a contract. Undaunted, the company extended the fuselage to make it a four-seater, and produced what is now regarded as the world's first very light jet transport, the M.S. 760 Paris.

Morane M.S. 760 Paris

This was produced in several versions for both the military and civilian markets. It anticipated the success of the subsequent Learjet 23, which was also developed from an unsuccessful military design.

Morane-Saulnier developed other civilian designs during the post-war era, including the very successful M.S. 880 Rallye Club and related designs.

Morane-Saulnier M.S. 880 Rallye Club

The company was sold to Potez in 1962. In 1966 Sud Aviation purchased Potez, and formed its civil aviation assets into a new company known as SOCATA. In its turn, SOCATA was purchased by EADS in 2000. In 2008, Daher, a French industrial conglomerate, announced it would buy 70% of SOCATA to form the company's current incarnation, Daher Socata.

Daher Socata currently produces the TBM 850, a single-engined turboprop-powered light business and utility aircraft. It's a very successful aircraft in its market segment, offering comparable range and almost the same speed as a small executive jet, for considerably less money.

Daher Socata TBM 850

On the occasion of their 100th anniversary, the company released this photograph of a current-production TBM 850 flying in formation with a replica of the Morane-Saulnier G of 1913.

Daher Socata also released this video clip to mark its centenary. It's got some great historic shots.

Congratulations to Daher Socata on becoming the first aircraft company in the world to reach the milestone of 100 years in existence.



Old NFO said...

Very nice, and yes, congrats to them!

Jerry said...

I would imagine that last photo was difficult to stage. The stall speed of the TBM 850 is 65 kts (74.8 mph) while the max speed of the Moraine- Saulnier G is 76 MPH.

I doubt that they flew them in formation, choosing instead to have the TBM fly by the G and get the shot from a chase plane with a slower stall speed than the TBM. Just my guess.

Wayne Conrad said...