SNECMA Museum — Villaroche (2)

Images and Narrative by John Martin

Another company which eventually joined the SNECMA family was Hispano-Suiza who produced a series of liquid-cooled inline V-8 and V-12 engines, examples of which are also on display.

Renault also produced a family of inline engines which powered a wide range of aircraft including the Dassault Flamant transport and the Nord range of light military aircraft. This range included both air-cooled and liquid cooled engines and eventually came under the SNECMA banner.



SNECMA was formed post World War 2 with the nationalisation of the various companies which had existed before the conflict. It focussed on moving into the world of jets and developed the ATAR family of engines, helped by technology and engineers acquired from Germany. A range of ATAR variants was produced over many years for a wide range of French military aircraft, in particular the Mirage family of fighters. The importance of the Mirage is underlined by the presence of an example hanging from the roof of what is primarily an engine museum.

Some of the more bizarre applications of the ATAR were the "turbo-reacteur" combined turbojet and ramjet used by Rene Leduc in his 022 prototype fighter and the Coleoptere, an annular wing VTOL research aircraft. Many models associated with the Coleoptere exist in the museum.

Also on display is a converted glider powered by underwing pulsejets derived from the Argus engine fitted to the V1 flying bomb.

To support early French jet combat aircraft such as the Dassault Mystere, Hispano-Suiza licence built the original Rolls-Royce Tay engine. It was the largest and final member of the Rolls-Royce centrifugal compressor line which was developed from the original Whittle W2 through the Welland, Derwent and Nene. The Tay never found an application in its home country, apart from an experimental Viscount, but was produced in large numbers in France.

The Rolls-Royce connection continued with a joint venture engine, the M45H. It was offered in many versions but only found one application, and then only in very restricted numbers, on the VFW614 jet transport. This was developed at a similar time to the Olympus 593 engine for Concorde, also with Rolls-Royce.

SNECMA also had a partnership with Pratt & Whitney to develop the TF306 for the Mirage G and Mirage IIIV, neither of which went into service. SECMA then formed the very successful relationship with General Electric which resulted in the CFM56 family and SNECMA participation in the GE90 program, together with the GE36 Unducted Fan of the 1980s. SNECMA’s last all in-house engine was the M88 which powers the Dassault Rafale fighter. All of the above are represented in the display.



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