SNCAC (Aerocentre) NC.1080 Single-Seat Jet-Powered Fighter Prototype
The SNCAC NC.1080 single-seat fighter was part of the post-World War 2 rebuilding phase of France - just one was completed.
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The post-World War 2 French aero-industry was a beaten down entity following years of German occupation. Once the war had concluded, business could resume and engineers wasted no time in attempting to return the sector back to global prominence. The timing could not have been better as the jet age was in full bloom and French engineers were chomping at the bit to have their many designs realized during this period.
By the late 1940s, Soviete Nationale de Constructions Aeronautiques du Center, also known as "Aerocentre", was at work on a single-seat, single-engine fighter for possible use by the French Navy (the Aeronavale). The aircraft was scheduled to go up against two other homegrown fighters for the requirement - the Arsenal VG 90 and the Nord 2200.
In the NC.1080, company engineers relied on a single Rolls-Royce "Nene" turbojet engine outputting 5,000lb of thrust. Half-moon intakes were set along the side of the nearly-slab-sided fuselage which sat the pilot at front over the nose under a relatively unobstructed canopy. The engine exhausted through a single port at the rear of the fuselage. Above this was a single vertical tail fin with mid-set horizontal planes. The wing mainplanes were installed at midships and were low-mounted along the fuselage. Slight dihedral was seen of these members and sweepback was apparent only along the leading edges. All-metal construction was used and a wholly retractable tricycle undercarriage was fitted to complete the very modern aircraft.
Dimensions included a length of 42.2 feet, a wingspan of 39.4 feet and a height of 15.4 feet. Empty weight was 1,335lb against an MTOW of 16,975lb.
Proposed armament was a collection of 3 x 30mm automatic cannons though these were never fitted.
First-flight of a prototype form was recorded on July 29th, 1949 and these revealed an unstable aircraft, requiring changes to some of the control surfaces and tail area. The product was threatened when SNCAC went defunct later that year, its assets liquidated and ending up in the hands of such local firms as SNCAN, SNCASO and SNECMA. Despite this cloud of uncertainty, engineers persisted with their fighter as flight-testing continued for a short time longer.
However, all hope for the product truly ended when, on April 10th, 1950, the sole prototype crashed (the cause has never been determined). After this, all related development was ended and the NC.1080 fell to the pages of French aviation history. In 1952, the French Navy moved ahead to adopt the British-born de Havilland "Sea Venom" jet-powered fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site) to fulfill its standing requirement.