Europe’s Transall turns 50

Thanks to my Air & Cosmos buddy Guillaume Steuer for reminding me that today is the 50th anniversary of the Transall’s first flight.

The phrase “venerable” probably doesn’t do justice to the European-designed transport, which remains in use with the air forces of France, Germany and Turkey, and which is most prominently currently supporting France’s Operation Serval campaign in Mali. Its duties there have included transporting personnel and equipment, airdropping paratroops and supplies, and also making tactical landings on dirt strips (image below courtesy of the French military Flickr feed ‘Theatrum Belli’).

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I checked Flight International‘s online archive to see how we reported the first flight event in early March 1963, and here’s what we said back then:

“Nord test pilot Jean Lanvario made the successful first flight of the C. 160 Transall from Melun Villaroche on February 25, remaining airborne for 55min. The aircraft has been jointly designed and built by Nord, Hamburger Flugzeugbau and Weser Flugzeugbau, and a pre-production batch has been ordered by the French and German governments. The next two aircraft are being assembled by the two German companies.

Powered by two Rolls-Royce Tyne RTy.20s giving 5,665 h.p. each, the Transall will cruise at 270kt and have a range of 2,800 miles. Military payload will be 33,1001b and civil 35,2751b. Various military and civil versions are proposed, including some with RB.162 jet-lift or jet lift/propulsion (swivel-nozzle) pods.”

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Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database records 130 Transalls as still being in active service: 41 for France (including two Gabriel surveillance examples); 72 for Germany; and 17 for  Turkey. All three nations will replace their C160s with Airbus Military’s A400M Atlas, with 50, 53 and 10 on order, respectively. Berlin has stated its desire to field only 40 of the new type (pictured alongside a Transall at 2010′s ILA Berlin air show in the Airbus Military shot below); a topic which is still the subject of discussion with the airframer.

Transall meets A400M 560.jpg
Under current plans, France will get its first Atlas, MSN7, in late May or early June 2013. Turkish deliveries will start in September 2013 with aircraft MSN9, and Germany will get its first example, MSN18, in November 2014. As I reported late last week elsewhere on Flightglobal, the A400M will have a 32t cargo capacity from service entry; around twice that of its French/German predecessor.

If you have any stories or experiences to share about the Transall then I look forward to reading your comments.


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