Dassault Balzac


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Dassault Balzac

Dassault started work on vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) at the beginning of the 1960s and decided to modify the original Mirage III-001 prototype for VTOL research. The aircraft's Atar 101 was replaced by a 2270kg Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus 3 engine for forward propulsion, while eight 1000kg Rolls-Royce RB.108s provided vertical lift. These lift engines featured retractable intake grilles and the exhausts were covered by fairing doors during normal forward flight.

After tethered hovering trials, the Balzac - as it was renamed - made its first free hovering flight on October 13, 1962 and its first transition on March 18, 1963. Its career was interrupted by a crash landing on January 10, 1964 but it was subsequently repaired and flew again. The Balzac provided Dassault with a great deal of information on stabilization in hovering flight and led to the Mirage IIIV.

Dassault Balzac

Dassault BalzacA three-view drawing (800 x 470)

Joe Neale, e-mail, 09.11.2012 16:13

Here is an English translation of Jean-Marie Saget's account of the circumstances of Maj. Neale's fatal accident:

A mission was initiated, directed by Boeing, with an American test pilot, Major Neale who, unfortunately, suffered a hydraulic failure on takeoff.

I don't know if he was aware of it, but in any case, we in the ground control vehicle did not perceive this failure. While returning to land since he could not retract the landing gear because of the hydraulic malfunction, he was also not aware of the fact that the transfer of fuel was not working like it should since the transfer of the fuel was achieved by the hydraulic pumps to assure the perfect equilibrium of the aircraft. Due to the hydraulic failure, it didn't function and the vertical reactors which consume lots of fuel, were strictly fed by the main reservoirs in the fuselage which ran dry at the very moment that he was on approach.

He ejected, but he was low, near 5- 600 feet. The ejection seat worked perfectly, but the relatively high sink rate impeded the ejection sequence. The forward speed of the ejection seat was insufficient at the time when the opening of the main parachute should have occurred and the automatic (separation) sequence did not work properly. The pilot couldn't have done anything.

This accident was enough reason to stop the flights of the Mirage III V 01 (a larger VTOL variant of the Mirage) to improve the ejection seat rockets which was crucial in saving another pilot: Jarriges, this time in the Mirage III V 02.

The rockets had been improved and were capable of providing a sufficient escape speed at the time of the ejection even if it took place at a high sink rate. A sufficient speed, in any case, so that the ejection sequence would work correctly and that the parachute would open.


LolMan, e-mail, 14.05.2009 00:22

Balzac = Ballsack.



Gordon McKinzie, e-mail, 05.06.2008 04:12

I was in Villaroche with the USAF Test Team from Edwards AFB when the Balzac crashed in September 1965, killing our pilot, Maj. Phillip Neale. It was suspected that a faulty fuel proportioner caused the engines to flame out. It was unfortunate to end the career of this little airplane so soon, as the direct thrust lift concept had a lot of potential, as has later been proven.


Antoine Thierry Poitrenaud, e-mail, 06.04.2007 03:08

My Uncle, Rene Bigand, flew the Balzac V on several occasions; and alluded the TWO crashes that occurred AFTER his first trial flights of this doomed aircraft.
Experiments must take place to advance developement; however this aircraft was not easily transitional from helicopter to flying aircraft.

Rene Bigand was killed in 1967 not flying the Balzac; but, another Dassault aircraft.

This aircraft is very pretty; but should be "parked" forever.

Thierry Poitrenaud


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