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Fouga CM.170 Magister

France (1956)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 6/19/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Fouga CM.170 Magister  
Picture of Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft
Picture of Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft Picture of Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer AircraftPicture of Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer AircraftPicture of Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft

The Fouga CM.170 lays claim as being the first two-seat jet-powered trainer in the world.

It becomes much too easy to lose track of French military prowess following World War 2 but the Fouga Magister was a product of the years that followed. Developed towards closing years of the 1940's, the Magister became a principle jet-powered trainer of many-an-air force around the globe after its inception in the mid-1950's. Amazingly, the type has soldiered on into the new millennium (albeit in consistently limited roles) but would nonetheless become a permanent part of the Cold War years. Some Magisters were still in operation as late as 2007 while a total of 929 were believed to be produced in France and through license-production deals elsewhere.


The Magister could trace its origins back to the Fouga CM.130, a jet-powered (Turbomeca Palas types) trainer attempt originating in 1948 under the Air Fouga brand label (Air Fouga subsequently became part of the Potez Corporation and was then absorbed into Aerospatiale). The concept proved somewhat underpowered and was redesigned as the CM.170 with Turbomeca Marbore turbojet engines fitted into an enlarged airframe in an attempt to fill the French requirement for a dedicated jet-powered basic trainer. The resulting aircraft was then evaluated by the French Air Force (the "Armee de l'Air" or simply "AdA") in late 1950 as three CM.170 prototypes with the first such aircraft earning her wings on July 23rd, 1952. This was followed by a pre-production batch order for 10 more aircraft in June of 1953 with a production order coming the following year. The system was officially introduced into service in 1956 as part of the French Air Force. Production was primarily handled at a new Fouga manufacturing plant located in Toulouse-Blagnac.
Picture of the Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft
Picture of the Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft


The Magistar took on a most basic external design approach with the crew seated in tandem in a teardrop shaped fuselage. The student and trainer sat in separate cockpits under individual rearward-hinged canopies. The cockpits made up a good portion of the forward fuselage and was situated behind a very short nose cone assembly. Engines were mounted to either side of the fuselage at the thickest point and also made up the wing roots. The wings themselves were straight-edge, mid-mounted monoplanes with wingtip fuel tanks. The fuselage tapered off to a point forming the empennage to which was affixed the aircraft's distinct "V-tail" assembly showcasing slanted tail surfaces acting as both rudder and elevator (also called "ruddervators"). The undercarriage was wholly retractable and made up of a pair of single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a single-wheeled nose leg. These legs were quite short in length and provided the Magister with a relatively low-to-the-ground profile when at rest. The main landing gears retracted inwards toward the fuselage centerline under each wing. The nose leg retracted rearwards and up into the nose.

Standard armament revolved around a pair of machine guns in either the 7.5mm or 7.62mm caliber (depending on the operator's needs) along with approximately 200 rounds of ammunition per gun. Optional external underwing loadouts could include unguided air-to-surface rockets, 110lb bombs or the Nord Aviation SS.11 anti-tank missile on two hardpoints.

The France-based Nord Aviation firm served primarily as an aircraft manufacturer in their own right and produced various aircraft models from 1944 into 1962. The SS.11 became a large four-finned wire-guided anti-tank missile - meaning it had to be manually guided by an operator to the target via line-of-sight, with course corrections being sent through a connected wire (hence the term "wire-guided") - which was designed in 1953 and produced from 1956 well into the mid-1980s totaling some 180,000 units produced. The missile was fielded extensively for other nations across the globe including the United States, where it fell under the designation "AGM-22". The US trialed the missile system in 1958 and officially accepted it into service in 1961 as the AGM-22A for use on its UH-1B Huey gunships. The combination Huey/AGM-22 served in the Vietnam War beginning in 1966 but was phased out of service by 1976 with the arrival of the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank system.


Magister variants were few and far between. The CM.170 were used to categorize the three prototypes and the follow-up ten pre-production airframes. The CM.170-1 became the first production version and fitted a pair of Turbomeca Marbore II turbojet engines. An impressive total of 761 systems were ultimately produced with license-production handled in Germany, Israel and France making this the definitive Magister model.

The CM.170-2 "Super Magister" fitted uprated Marbore IV turbojet engines of 1,055lbf to which some 137 examples were ultimately produced. The CM.171 "Makula" was a one-off prototype fitting the Turbomeca Gabizo series engines into an enlarged frame. The engines produced whopping 2,422lbf for the light airframe though this prototype was lost to an accident on March 20th, 1957. The CM.173 "Super Magister" fitted Marbore Super VI series turbojet engines of 1,143lbf thrust each. This model also featured ejection seats for both crew and was produced to the tune of 137 examples. The Fouga 90 and similar 90A were failed attempts at modernizing the Magistar, each fitting a slightly different version of the Turbomeca Astafan engine. In addition to the updated engines, these Magistars were also given facelifts to their canopies and avionics suites. Neither form secured any contracts.

The Magister existed in a dedicated naval form as the CM.175 Zephyr, a carrier-capable basic trainer variant serving with the French Navy's Aeronavale for a time. Outwardly the system maintains a similar appearance to its land-based counterpart though an arrestor hook, nose-mounted light, revised canopies and reinforced undercarriage were all new to the Zephyr. Of note for this Magister variant is the lack of ejection seats for the crew. The prototype first flew on July 31st, 1956 under the early designation of CM.170M Esquif. Thirty-two such aircraft were delivered to the Aeronavale.

Magisters and the Globe

Magisters earned a relatively strong production total thanks to their sale in the world market. Beyond France's 397 examples, the aircraft was purchased by nations in Africa, South America and Europe. Of note were the 50 Magisters delivered to Belgium, the 52 becoming a part of the Israeli Air Force (36 were license-production airframes) and the 80 serving the Finnish Air Force. Germany was the other major operator totaling 250 production examples. Morocco utilized at least 21 of the type at a later date, these delivered as "used" from France and Germany.

In Action

The Magister saw combat with the Israeli Air Force in the 1967 Six Day War versus Jordan. This particular version of the Magister was in fact a license-production model under the IAI Tzukit designation. Though fielded in some number, the Tzukit was essentially outmatched leading to unacceptable losses for the IAF. Other combat experience of note came in Katanga where rebel forces waged a campaign against the communist government. Like the Israeli experience, these systems fared equally as poor.


The Fouga Magister is often credited with becoming the first purpose-built twin-seat jet-powered trainer. However, other systems fitting this same description managed to become airborne some time before the Magister leading some to question the claim.

French use of the Magister ended in the 1970's after the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet was selected to become the air forces next jet trainer.

Of the hundred or so Fouga Magisters in Finnish service, at least 20 of these were lost to accident with six causing loss of lives.
Cockpit picture from the Fouga CM.170 Magister Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft
Fouga CM.170 Magister Cockpit Picture
Fouga CM.170 Magister N300FM Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Year: 1956
Type: Jet Powered Trainer Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Fouga - France
Production: 929
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 2
Length: 32.97 ft (10.05 m)
Width: 39.90 ft (12.16 m)
Height: 9.09 ft (2.77 m)
Empty Weight: 4,740 lb (2,150 kg)
MTOW: 7,048 lb (3,197 kg)

Installed Power
2 x Turbomeca Marbore IIA turbojet engines developing 875lbs thurst each.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 444 mph (714 kph; 386 kts)
Maximum Range: 575 mi (925 km; 499 nm)
Service Ceiling: 36,079 ft (10,997 m; 6.83 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 3,345 ft/min (1,020 m/min)

2 x 7.5mm OR 7.62mm machine guns

2 x 110lb bombs
Unguided Rockets
Nord Aviation SS.11 anti-tank air-to-surface missiles.

Up to 310lbs of external ordnance

Operators List
Algeria; Austria; Bangladesh; Belgium; Brazil; Cambodia; Cameroon; El Salvador; Finland; France; Gabon; Germany; Ireland; Israel; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; Nicaragua; Rwanda; Senegal; Togo; Uganda; Katanga

Series Model Variants
• CM.170 "Magister" - Early Model; making up three prototypes and ten pre-production examples.
• CM.170-1 "Magister" - Initial Production Model; fitted with 2 x Turbomeca Marbore II series turbojet engines; 761 examples produced.
• CM.170-2 "Super Magister" - Fitted with uprated 2 x Turbomeca Marbore IV turbojet engines of 1,055lbf thurst each; 137 examples produced.
• CM.171 "Makula" - Single Prototype Example; fitting 2 x Turbomeca Gabizo turbojet engines of 2,422lbf thrust eachp; lost to accident.
• CM.173 "Super Magister" - Fitted with Marbore Super VI turbojet engines of 1,143lbf thrust each; ejection seats as standard; 137 examples produced.
• Fouga 90 - Modernized Magister; fitting 2 x Turbomeca Astafan turbojet engines of 1,715lbf thrust each; revised canopy for improved visibility; improved avionics suite; never produced.
• Fouga 90A - Modernized Magister; fitting different 2 x Turbomeca Astafan turbojet engines; revised canopy for improved visibility; improved avionics suite; never produced.
• IAI "Tzukit" / AMIT Fouga - Israeli Variant; featuring light attack capability through 2 x underwing hardpoints.
• FM-1 - Finnish Designation for French-built Magisters; 18 examples delivered.
• FM-21 - Finnish Designation for Finnish-built Magisters; production by Valmet.

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank

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