Development and Career

The French Air Force announced an invitation to tender in order to equip two training squadrons with a new jet which would be economical to operate. Two projects were started :

Since the tandem configuration was close to that of modern Armée de l'Air fighters, the Fouga won the competition. Studies conducted by engineers Robert Castelo and Pierre Mauboussin from Fouga for the cell and M. Szydlowski from Turboméca started in 1949. The project was developed around the CM-813 glider.

CM 8R-13 Cyclone. (©ARR)

July 14th 1949, CM 8R13 n°01 Cyclone flew for the first time, in the hands of Léon Bourrieau. This plane was fitted with the Turboméca Piméné engine and reached 200 km/h. Eventually the Cyclone became the Sylphe.

CM 8R-13 Cyclone. (©ARR)

Many derivatives of the Cyclone will fly, the CM 8R9 Cyclope fitted with a Turboméca 110kgp Piméné engine, or the Cyclope II. Two Cyclopes were connected in the F-82 Twin Mustang way, and received a more powerful power plant.

CM 88R Gémeaux I. (©ARR)

The result was called the CM 88R Gémeaux I, then Gémeaux II and III. It flew on August 14th 1951 with a Marboré II 360kgptengine, then in late 1951 with a 400kgt engine. Finally, July 23rd 1952, the Magister (Latin for teacher-professor) made its first flight at Mont-de-Marsan air base, flown by Léon Bourrieau.

The Navy was also looking for a training aircraft, and naturally turned towards Fouga and its CM-170 Magister. It asked the firm to adapt the plane to carrier operations and a sea environment in general. The main differences between the French Air Force CM-170 and the French Naval Aviation CM-175 are the sliding canopy, the arresting hook and the reinforced landing gear.

Two CM-170M Esquif prototypes were ordered. April 10th 1956, M.Anxionnaz, Secretary of the Navy, signed a contract for 30 CM-170Ms, including two prototypes. Ten are funded for in 1954 and twenty in 1956. The CM-170 M01 Esquif made its first flight on July 31st 1956 with Jacques Grangette at controls. LV Joseph Gérard who was just appointed as the engineer officer of the new aircraft, made two flights with Léon Bourrieau in the teacher seat, on September 27th of the same year, including a 30,000 ft climb.Regarding the second prototype - the CM-170 M02 Esquif - its first flight took place on April 12th 1957.

Prototype 01 of the CM-170M Esquif. (©CEV Istres)

In July 1957, few Field Carrier Landing Practices (FCLP) were carried out by both prototypes at Istres.

Under the aegis of the Centre d'Essais de Brétigny (Brétigny Test Center), represented by CC Mauban and LV Mosneron-Dupin, operational evaluations were performed at the Bedford Royal Establishment from January 16th to 22nd 1957 to evaluate the aircraft's behavior during carrier wires arrestment and catapult launches from the test center ground installations. 01 and 02 prototypes were sent from Toulouse to Cherbourg by CC Picchi and LV Gérard with a stop at Tours, to carry out catapulting and deck landing tests aboard the Brtish carrier HMS Bulwark. Based first at Maupertus airfield, they headed to the carrier on July 31st from Ford airfield where the weather was better. Tests began on August 1st but they were interrupted, after some ten landings carried out by CC Mauban, CC Picchi & LV Gérard, the hook' shock-absorber being damaged, arrestment was much uncertain.

CM.170M Esquif prototype landing on the deck of H.M.S. Eagle in March 1958. (©Jacques Grangette)

Twelve FCLP were made on February 25th 1958 by the 02 at Istres, followed by 29 additional ones on March 7th.
The second carrier campaign was held between March 10 and 13 1958 off Toulon, aboard HMS Eagle. Both prototypes carried out 31 landings and catapultings on the deck of the British carrier.

CM.170M Esquif prototype about to be catapulted from H.M.S. Eagle in March 1958. (©Jacques Grangette)

Prototype (F-ZWUD and F-ZWUZ) pilots were Jacques Grangette (Fouga test pilot), LV Murgue and LV Mosneron-Dauphin from the CEV, LV Klotz (engineer officer) & de Lavergne (CEV) and EV1 Ruytinx from the CEPA. In October, testing was done aboard the Arromanches. In 1959, the prototypes were delivered to the CEPA's prototypes section, and received serials SR-21 and SR-22. The first one stayed at the CEPA until April 1962, and then went to the CEAN (Naval Aviation School Center). The second one was scrapped in January 1965.

The Aéronavale's "Zéphyr" (1959-1994)

The first production aircraft (n°003) was rolled out of Toulouse-Blagnac assembly line May 30th 1959 ; the last one being delivered on October 30th 1960. The plane was renamed Zéphyr. Part of the fleet of Zéphyrs was kept at Cazes (Morocco), then at Lartigue (Algeria) until 1962, and finally at Lann-Bihoué (1962-1991) to replace active duty Zéphyrs in the different squadrons. The 57.S flight used several Zéphyrs until 1959. When 57.S closed down, its planes were transferred to the 59.S, already on Zéphyrs since 1959, and to squadron 2S.
59.S' aircraft were able to carry S.S.11 AAMs, to train pilots to use the N5103 from the same company and fitted on 11.F and 16.F squadrons' Aquilons.
Until 1969, six Zéphyrs were specially kept with the 2S flight to train reserve pilots. These six planes were then transferred to the Zéphyr Section of NAS Landivisiau which became Jet Engine Section in May 1972 with the arrival of the MS-760 Paris.
In 1973, squadron 59.S became the sole user of Zéphyrs in the Aéronavale, until 1994. This squadron also formed a demonstration team of four Zéphyrs in 1961 and 1962. After 35 of service (1959 - 1994), the Zéphyr had flown 107,300 hours and done 5,297 carrier traps on the deck of the Arromanches (R95), Clemenceau (R98) and Foch (R99).

After the failure of the navalised version of the Alphajet (VTX) in the competition for the US Navy's new carrier trainer, against the T-45 Goshawk (carrier version of the BAe Hawk), the French Navy refused to build a new trainer, which would have been very expensive. France thus decided to send its Navy pilots to NAS Meridian for their carrier training.

Several derivatives of the Magister were built, such as the CM-176 Close Air Support plane fitted with 2 HS-404 20mm canons and 18 CC-120 rockets, the CM-171 fitted with a new 1 100kgt engine, the Potez-94 with ejection seats and a new canopy. Finally, a whole new version of the Magister, the Fouga-90, was built as a possible replacement for the Magister. It had two Turboméca Astafan 2G 680kgt engines (production aircraft would have had Astafan 4G 790kgt engines) and two Martin-Baker Mk.10 ejection seats. The oil crisis of the 70's killed the program.








Prototype. Scrapped.


57.S, 59.S. Retired from service.


Prototype. Displayed at the Savigny lès Beaune Museum.


59.S. Retired from service.


57.S, 59.S. Lost in nocturnal flight, south of Giens.


57.S, 2.S, SFL, 59.S, EAE.


57.S et 59.S. Was retired after a undercarriage failure at Lann-Bihoué.


57.S, 59.S. Lost while landing on the deck of the CV Arromanches in 1973.


59.S and stocked. Able to fly since 1991. Given in to the SEA.


57.S, 2.S, SFL, 59.S. CEAN.


59.S. Lost in 1992 at Signes.


57.S, 2.S, SFL, 59.S. Retired in 1991 and given in to the SEA.


57.S, 2.S, SFL, 59.S. Lost at sea.


57.S, 59.S. Lost at sea in 1993.


57.S. Lost in 1960 at Khouribga crashing with a MS-733.


57.S, 59.S. Retired from service.


57.S, 59.S. Lost at sea.


57.S, 59.S, CEAN.


59.S, CEAM Rochefort.


59.S. Lost in 1975.


57.S, 2.S, SFL, 59.S. Stocked at Lann-Bihoué.


59.S. Lost at sea in 1979.


57.S, 59.S. Burnt. Retired in 1991.


59.S. Displayed at the air & space museum of Paris.


57.S, 59.S. Lost in 1963 at Carqueiranne.


59.S. Given in to the SEA.


59.S. Retired from service.


59.S. Lost on February 14th,1991.


57.S, 2.S, 59.S. Lost at sea in 1976.


59.S. Retired from service.


33. 4 ft
10. 21 m
39. 86 ft
12. 15 m
9. 67 ft
2. 95 m
5 180 lb (min)/ 7 495 lb (max)
2 350 kg (min)/ 3 400 kg (max)
397 mph
640 km/h
593 nm
1 100 km
1 763 lb
800 kg


-Two AA-52 guns with 150 cartridges. They were removed because of many accidents.
-Four T10 rockets of 25 kg.
-50 kg bombs.
-2,25 inch rockets.
-SNEB of 68 mm.
-SNEB of 37 mm.
-SS-11 missile. Removed in the 1970s.

sources - acknowledgements :
Jacques Grangette, former Fouga company's Test Pilot.
CV(H) Georges Picchi, former Fouga Zéphyr's Test Pilot within the CEPA.
CV(H) Joseph Gérard, former Fouga Zéphyr's Test Pilot.