- Dassault Hirondelle
M.D.320 Hirondelle Role Utility transport Manufacturer Dassault Aviation First flight 11 September 1968 Number built 1
Design and development
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). Its design and construction were fairly rapid, because it extensively used the Dassault Falcon 20 (which first flew in 1963) as a basis. The fuselage length and volume were identical to the Falcon 20, and its wing and control surfaces were adaptations of the 20.
The Hirondelle was an all-metal low-wing monoplane with swept vertical tail. The wing and tailplane were slightly swept. It used a retractable tricycle undercarriage, with the main gear retracting into the engine nacelle.
The Hirondelle 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 Hirondelle wings contained integral fuel cells. The airframe was designed using fail-safe principles.
The prototype first flew on 11 September 1968, at Bordeaux-Mérignac. It was piloted by Hervé Leprince and Jean Foureau.
In 1968 the French Air Force procurement office reversed its previous position and announced that it was seeking jet-powered aircraft for the DC-3/Beechcraft 18 replacement program. Thus there was no further official interest in the Hirondelle, and no further examples were constructed.
The experience gained in the Hirondelle program was applied to the subsequent Dassault Falcon 10 project, the prototype of which first flew in 1970.
The Hirondelle was the last propeller-powered aircraft to be designed by Dassault.
Specifications (M.D.320 Hirondelle)
Data from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985)
- Crew: Two
- Capacity: 8 to 12 passengers depending on seating configuration
- Length: 40.19 ft (12.25 m)
- Wingspan: 47.74 ft (14.55 m)
- Height: ()
- 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 ()
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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