By the time of the end of World War 2 (1939-1945), it was clear to global military powers that the aircraft carrier - and its potent fleet of carrierborne aircraft - were the face of naval warfare. The rebuilding French nation faced a mountain of epic proportions in coming back from the dead and its naval armed fared no better. Throughout the 1950s, the service collected many used vessels and aircraft from its allies of the war and, in time, eventually were able to claim their own indigenous aircraft carrier.
For this was needed a new-generation of jet-powered fighters capable of launching and landing on a moving carrier deck. In response, French aero-industry undertook a myriad of studies, projects, and testing of various designs - many proving unsuccessful or abandoned for various reasons. One design fitting the latter situation became the Breguet Br.1120 "Sirocco".
The Sirocco emerged from the pre-existing plans of the Br.1001 "Taon" ("Horsefly") of 1956 developed and flown against a NATO light strike fighter requirement (a first-flight was recorded on July 25th, 1957). This single-seat, single-engine fighter showcased a clean overall design with its shoulder-mounted swept-back mainplanes and equally-swept-back tailplanes. However, this record-setting design was eventually abandoned with one prototype ending up in a museum.
The Sirocco continued the form and function of the Taon, complete with its single-seat, single-engine arrangement as well as shoulder-mounted, swept-back mainplanes and swept-back tailplanes. The engine of choice became the SNECMA Atar 9 series turbojet of 15,300lb and this unit was buried in the aft-section of the fuselage, aspirated by half-moon intakes to each fuselage side (complete with active "shock cones" for high-speed flying) and exhausted through a single port under the tail. The cockpit was positioned over the nose to provide the best views for the naval aviator at the controls and the canopy was a simple two-piece unit with excellent views - though the raised dorsal spine negated any benefit to the rear. A tricycle (retractable) undercarriage was to be fitted and the usual arrestor hook assembly for carrier deck landings.
Dimensions on paper equaled a length of 46.7 feet and a span of 29.6 feet. Gross weight would reach 26,235lb as finalized and proposed armament was to feature a mix support for air-to-air missiles as well as conventional/nuclear drop bombs (interestingly no fixed, forward-firing cannon armament figured into this fighter design). Each wing was to be given a pair of hardpoints for the carrying of air-launched/air-dropped munitions.
Performance-wise, the fighter was expected to handle well into the Mach 2.0 speed range.
The shoulder-mounted nature of the mainplanes were to provide the aircraft with good lift-versus-drag and leading edge slats, along with trailing edge flaps, would have aided control on those inherently dangerous approaches to the carrier.
Whatever the reasons may have been, the Br.1120 Sirocco's development did not extend beyond drawings and performance/structural estimates it seems - the fate had by many French aircraft of the Cold War period (1947-1991). Once having graduated from its stock of prop-driven fighter forms, the French Navy eventually adopted capable types like the Dassault Etendard IVM strike fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site) which went on to have a most respectful career in service to the French.
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