|Andres Erdos, 13.08.2012|
In 1967 the French Air Force was investigating replacement aircraft for the Douglas DC-3 and Beechcraft 18 twin-engine aircraft being used for light transport and pilot navigation training. They solicited proposals from the French industrial community, and specified that any submittals would be powered by Astazou turboprops of 870 hp.
In response to this request, Dassault designed and constructed a single prototype, the M.D.320. It was later named Hirondelle (Swallow).
The Hirondelle is a all-metal low-wing monoplane with swept vertical tail,and had a circular cross-section fuselage with accommodation for a crew of two and room for a maximum of 14 passengers. There were 5 round windows on each side of the pressurized fuselage.
The prototype (French civil registration F-WPXB) was powered by two Turbomeca Astazou XIVD turboprop engines mounted in wing nacelles, driving three-blade fully feathering propellers. Production aircraft would have had Astazou XVI engines.
The experience gained in the Hirondelle program was applied to the subsequent Dassault Falcon 10 project, the prototype of which first flew in 1970 and was the last propeller-powered aircraft to be designed by Dassault.
Capacity: 8 to 12 passengers depending on seating configuration
Length: 40.19 ft (12.25 m)
Wingspan: 47.74 ft (14.55 m)
Wing area: 290.64 ft² (27 m²)
Empty weight: 7,716 lb (3,500 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 11,905 lb (5,400 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Astazou XIVD turboprop, 920 ehp (686 kW) each
Maximum speed: 311 mph (500 km/h)
Range: 1,864 miles (3,000 km)
Service ceiling: 16,405 ft (5,000 m)
Wing loading: lb/ft²