Missile-Carrier / Ground Attack Prototype
Originally developed as a missile-carrier, the French Potez 75 was eventually rewritten as a ground-attack platform - budget issues eventually ended its development.
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In the 1950s, a rebuilding French military industry placed its focus on missile-carrying combat aircraft and one product of the period attempted to mate the "SS.10" wire-guided anti-tank missile with an airframe developed specifically to carry it in the "Potez 75" aircraft. The missile's design was credited to one Jean Bastien-Thiry of Nord Aviation and was an early-form dedicated tank-killer appearing at a time when the enemy of the West was the Soviet Union and its feared tank formations set to spell a future doom for most of Europe. Some 30,000 of these missiles were eventually produced and went on to see service with the French and American (as the "MGM-21A") militaries for its time. This missile directly spawned the Potez 75 aircraft designed to carry it - but this aircraft became only a one-off prototype that did not enter serial production with any world power.
The resulting aircraft's fuselage was slab-sided with the dedicated "missile operator" seated in the nose section and the pilot aft of him in a raised position. The two cockpits were, therefore, of stepped arrangement and had individual, lightly-framed canopies offering fairly decent views out-of-the-cockpit (the pilot's position initially had an open-air emplacement). A battery of machine guns were fixed into the nose section ahead of the missile operator. The wing mainplanes were straight-edged with clipped tips and the twin-boom arrangement extended from each wing's trailing edges aft, each boom concluding with a vertical tail fin at the rear and these further joined together by a single horizontal plane overhead. As a prototype, the tricycle undercarriage (faired over for aerodynamic efficiency) was fixed in flight (non-retractable). The aircraft was completed in all-metal construction.
Rather uniquely for a combat aircraft of this time, the Potez 75 had its single engine fit driving a three-bladed, variable-pitch propeller unit at the rear of the fuselage in a "pusher" configuration - this clearing the frontal section of the aircraft for unobstructed views and fixed, forward-facing armament. The engine of choice became the in-house Potez 8D.32 V8 inverted air-cooled piston engine of 480 horsepower.
Proposed standard, fixed armament became 4 x 7.5mm MAC 1934 machine guns installed into the nose. In addition to this, the aircraft was to carry several of the Nord anti-tank missiles.
Dimensions of the aircraft included a running length of 30 feet, a wingspan of 43 feet, and a height of 8.9 feet. Empty weight was 4,000lb against an MTOW of 5,300lb.
A first-flight in prototype form was finally had on June 10th, 1953 but subsequent testing revealed the aircraft to be a poor missile-carrying / missile-launching platform. As such, to save the aircraft its original over-battlefield role was changed to that of "ground-attack" and provisions were introduced for carrying up to 8 x Air-to-surface rockets, these to be held under the wings. In this revised form, the prototype was pressed into active, direct-combat service in 1956 with French forces during the bloody Algerian War (1954-1962) and eventually proved its worth - resulting in a pre-production order covering fifteen airframes. However, in light of a dwindling French defense budget the following year, the new, rather novel, combat aircraft was nixed from procurement and its development ultimately stopped. It flew for only a short time later into 1958 at which point it crash-landed in September of that year and was subsequently dismantled and destroyed.