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MARUCA (MArine RUelle Contre Avion)

The French Navy was extremely active with missiles in the early years of the Cold War, being second only to aeronautical efforts. Like the other French military services, even before the signature of the armistice, La Marine went to Germany scouring for German missiles. It created a German Secret Weapons Commission in October 1944, with a team based in Constance. A GANES group was then established one year later, with the goal of analyzing German hardware, and using it as a basis to develop new weapons, mainly flying torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles.

While activities on the FX and Hs 293 flying bombs did not proceed further than limited reverse-engineering production, the Navys DCCAN Engins Spciaux group, led by Jean-Jacques Peyrat, was more interested by the information the latter had brought from Germany about the Hs 117 Schmetterling, as the development of a surface-to-air missile was decided in 1948.

No Schmetterling was ever launched from France, but this missile was significantly redesigned under the name of MARUCA (MArine RUelle Contre Avion - against plane). Flight testing started in 1951, with early versions keeping the same general shape and guidance system. The sustainer however was replaced by a new one, keeping nitric acid, but with furaline instead of tonka, while boosters were French-made. Problems with the latters separation led to different configurations, A1 to A5.

In the fall of 1954, a totally new A6 version, of canard configuration, was developed in order to increase the flying speed of the missile, from Mach 0.72 to 0.85. It later tested a new guidance system, using a modified naval fire control radar. From 1959, several Maruca A6s were launched from the Ile d'Oleron research ship, confirming that a liquid-fuelled missile was not practical for operational naval use.

For this reason, as soon as in June 1953, the ES group had considered developing a solid-fuelled supersonic version under the name MARUCA C, which later became the MASURCA (MArine SUpersonic Ruelle Contre Avions). The last MARUCA accordingly were used as test beds for the MASURCA program until 1961.





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