Dassault Balzac V

Although there was no British requirement for the RB.108 lift engine, Dassault in France was interested in developing a supersonic vertical take-off and landing fighter. The first step was to take eight of the existing RB.108 lift engines and install them in the Mirage III prototype airframe 001. The rebuilt aircraft, nicknamed Balzac, weighed about 13,500 lbs. It had a fattened and stretched fuselage (43 ft), but the same 24 ft span wings. The inlet duct for the cruise engine, the 4,850 lb thrust Bristol Orpheus, ran down the center of the lift engine collection. The front four engines were also separated from their rear counterparts by the main landing gear to balance the center of gravity. Each lift engine pair shared an inlet door and an exhaust door. First tethered hover was performed on 12 October 1962, with the first free hover made 6 days later. First conventional flight was made on 1 March 1963. During transition, all the lift engine doors created quite a bit of drag. On 27 January 1964, during one of the first transition attempts, it crashed in a "falling leaf" accident, killing the pilot. It was rebuilt and killed another pilot on 8 September 1965; this time it was beyond repair.


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