Fonderie-Miniature 1/48 NORD 1500 “Griffon II”
The Nord 1500 Griffon was an experimental ramjet-powered fighter aircraft designed and built in the mid-1950s by French state-owned aircraft manufacturer Nord Aviation. It was part of a series of competing programs to fill a French Air Force specification for a Mach 2 fighter.
Design of the Griffon originated in a late 1940s requirement for a high speed interceptor. Engineers at Arsenal de l'Aéronautique instigated studies into swept and delta wings using supersonic gliders. Results from these flight tests favoured the delta configuration, which was incorporated into design studies using a variety of powerplants. Two prototypes were ordered in 1955, without military equipment for research purposes only.
Constructed mainly of light alloys, the Griffon comprised a large tubular fuselage which supported the middle set delta wings, fin with rudder and the forward fuselage, which extended forwards over the turbo-ramjet air intake. The forward fuselage housed the single-seat cockpit and carried small delta canards on either side of the cockpit. The tricycle undercarriage retracted into the wings and the underside of the air intake.
The design of the Griffon featured a dual turbojet-ramjet powerplant, with the turbojet enabling unassisted takeoffs (ramjets cannot produce thrust at zero airspeed and thus cannot move an aircraft from a standstill) and the ramjet producing extra thrust at airspeeds above 1,000 km/h (600 mph). To reduce risks in using the relatively new turbo-ramjet powerplant, the first Griffon (Nord 1500-01 Griffon I) was completed with only the 3,800 kgf thrust ATAR 101F turbojet component.
First flown by Andre Turcat on 20 September 1955, the Griffon I proved to be underpowered but plans to install the planned ramjet component were never realised. Despite the lack of power the Griffon I still managed to reach M 1.17. Flying with the Griffon I ceased in April 1957 in favour of the ramjet-equipped Griffon II. Visible differences between the two aircraft were limited to the smaller intake and two-position exhaust nozzle of the Griffon I.
After proving the aerodynamic aspects and systems of the Griffon, the 1500-01 was retired in April 1957. Flying continued with the Griffon II after its first flight on 23 January 1957. With Major André Turcat at the controls, the Griffon II reached a top speed of Mach 2.19 (2,330 km/h or 1,450 mph) in 1958, thus proving the soundness of the basic design. However, the aircraft met several technical difficulties, such as kinetic heating, due to the lack of temperature-resistant materials, such as Inconel or titanium, in the parts of the airframe experiencing the highest temperatures. The ramjet was found to work well at high speed, but was unstable at medium speeds.
Production of operational versions, dubbed Super Griffon did not take place as it was found that the requirements could be met and exceeded with less complex and cheaper aircraft such as the Dassault Mirage III.
I bought this rare kit when I was on a mission in France 17 years ago, as I loved the shape and the rarity of this aircraft. It is a typical multimedia FM kit, the main parts done in thick low pressure styrene, many "delicate" parts (cockpit, seat, wells, nose -yes the nose!- etc) cast beautifully in resin, nice white metal gear and the complimentary photoetched fret, which, although nicely done, is not completely appealing to me, as some depictions (elevon pushrods, pitot tubes etc) cannot be succesfully rendered 2-dimensionally with photoetch.
OF COURSE being an FM kit meant it enjoyed the velvet treatment of my bastard file. After a laborious endless circular effort of sandind - errrr, sorry - grinding, testing, then sanding-testing-sanding...gluing-filling etc etc the result was attributed acceptable (dear Penlight Police, please do not get very close to the intake!) The detail in the cockpit and the wheel wells is very good indeed!
I didn't do any multishading, which would be nice, but I was not into this technique back then.
The decals performed beautifully with no issues whatsoever.
So here she is! "Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder", but I guess few will say that the Griffon is not beautiful.
Not a kit for a beginner. As usual (!), I loved putting it together.
15 additional images. Click to enlarge.