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Dassault Aviation 1945-1965 - Engines and Equipment

The company's design and production facilities made it one of the leading companies building French aviation equipment. Its business encompassed the whole aviation field. It provided for research and development as well as the building of aircraft, missiles, radars and electronic equipment, engines, servo-actuators and electrical equipment.

Following the initial flight trials of the Mystère II, it was clear that it would difficult for the pilot to exert the forces that would be required by a manual control system: hydraulic assistance had become essential. Marcel Dassault thus fitted the Mystère with servo-actuators but the ones he purchased were not suitable and so he decided to have them manufactured by his Company.

He gave this complex design task to his mechanical design Department, led by Joseph Ritzenthaler. A young graduate engineer from Sup'Elec, Jean-Luc Lagardère, was hired in November 1952 and appointed as his assistant after a spell in the design office. These servo-actuators were a success and paved the way for the success of subsequent aircraft.

In 1959, activities were extended to the building of a number of items of equipment including the hydraulic or hydro-electric servo-actuators that were fitted to all the GAMD aircraft. Tried and tested through hundreds of thousands of flight hours on various types of aircraft, under extreme temperatures and under the most difficult flight conditions, they formed an essential component of the safety of Dassault aircraft.

In February 1953, on seeing that the French engines intended for the future light combat aircraft would not be ready at the same time as the airframes, Marcel Dassault acquired the license for the British Armstrong Siddeley Viper engine that his company developed on independent funds under the name MD 30. At his request, Joseph Ritzenthaler designed and developed a post-combustion system for the Viper. Six years later, the Engines department completed its latest product, the R 7 Farandole, intended to be fitted to the Méditerranée business aircraft, then in the design stage, and certified in 1960. Its abandonment, as a result of the discontinuing of the Méditerranée liaison aircraft program, put an end to the department's existence.

During the design of the Mystère IV N, which had not yet been fitted with its radar, Marcel Dassault became aware of the contribution a department specialized in electronics could make to his business. On Serge Dassault's advice, Marcel Dassault hired Bertrand Daugny in September 1954. The department's first activity, which it completed in a few months with fewer than 20 people, was to build a nose cone airborne radar called Aladin, for the light interceptor program.

Up to the end of the 1950s, the Electronics department designed a number of airborne units (radar for the Étendard aircraft, airborne radar for the Mirage III which was to be discarded in favor of a competitor's radar, the first countermeasures radar). The design of an air-to-air seeker head (homing head for the Matra 530 missile ) began in 1959, marking the start of a range of homing heads which, over the next few years, were to be fitted to virtually all Matra's air-to-air missiles. At the same time, the department designed and produced an analogue navigation and bombing computer for the Mirage IV's nuclear payload. A long series of digital computers was to be fitted, not only to most French combat aircraft, but also to the long range missiles of the Albion platform and nuclear submarines (SSBS and MSBS). Due to the diversification of its products and the development of the electronics business, GAMD was led to build an establishment in Saint-Cloud, housing the CEREL (Centre d'études et de recherches électroniques ), the new name of the Electronics department. On March 31, 1962, CEREL became an SARL, called Électronique Marcel Dassault and managed by Benno Claude Vallières. The Société immobilière Marcel Dassault holding was the main shareholder. Électronique Marcel Dassault became a société anonyme on January 28, 1963, with Benno Claude Vallières as chairman and Serge Dassault and Bertrand Daugny as deputy managing directors.

In view of the fact that Générale Aéronautique Marcel Dassault's (GAMD) business had, due to the departure of the Electronic department which had become an independent company, refocused on airframes alone, Marcel Dassault considered the name GAMD to be too general, and no longer justified and, on December 15, 1965, decided to restore the company's original name, Avions Marcel Dassault.

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