The post-World War 2 rebuilding period saw considerable growth for the French aero-industry that was one again able to operate freely. SNCASO of France, born from the mergers of Bleriot, Bloch, Sud-Ouest and others, eventually interested the French Navy in a new fighter design for carrier-based operations - the SO.8000 "Narval". The aircraft was first-flown in prototype form on April 1st, 1949 and two examples were completed during the program's run.
The Narval was given a twin-boom configuration with the cockpit, engine and armament all set within a well-streamlined fuselage nacelle. Views from the cockpit were excellent thanks to the high positioning of the seat and low-cut canopy base. At the rear of the fuselage were a pair of three-bladed propellers arranged in a "pusher" configuration - that is pushing the aircraft as opposed to pulling it. The blades (contra-rotating) spun within the area created by the twin booms and these booms were formed from the wing mainplane trailing edges, affixed to vertical planes at the tail. The rudders were joined by way of a single horizontal plane mounted high to help clear the prop wash. The mainplanes featured sweep along their leading and trailing edges, giving the Narval a rather futuristic look for a prop-driven design. A tricycle undercarriage, wheeled and retractable, was used for ground-running.
Power was from an Arsenal 12HO2 V-12 inline piston engine developing 2,250 horsepower. This engine was a French copy of the German wartime Junkers Jumo 213 series - the same engine powering designs such as the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter and Junkers Ju 188 fast reconnaissance platform. The aircraft was capable of speeds reaching 455 miles per hour with a range estimated out to 2,800 miles.
Dimensions included a wingspan of 38.6 feet, a length of 38.9 feet and a height of 10.5 feet. Gross weight was 15,432lb.
As stated, two prototypes were completed but it was the second example that flew first (this in April of 1949) with the first example not flying until December of 1949. Control was deemed rather poor by test pilots which led to some slight design changes. Despite this, the jet age was here to stay and the Narval continued to underperform to the point that it was written off as an active program. Over forty flights were had between the two prototypes.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
38.9 ft (11.85 m)
38.5 ft (11.75 m)
10.5 ft (3.20 m)
10,637 lb (4,825 kg)
15,432 lb (7,000 kg)
+4,795 lb (+2,175 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Sud-Ouest SO 8000 (Second Prototype) production variant)
1 x Arsenal 12HO2 V-12 inline piston engine developing 2,250 horsepower and driving two three-bladed propellers in contra-rotating fashion in pusher configuration.
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