Exploring the flight envelope-The SNCASO SO.4000

By Willie Bodenstein

Shortly after the end of WWII the French Air Force drew up a requirement for a jet bomber able to fly at high-subsonic speeds whilst carrying a weight of about 25-30 tonnes.

SNCASO's design, the SO.4000, was a rather conventional mid-mounted swept wing aircraft with a carefully streamlined oval section fuselage accommodating two 22.2 kN (4,980 lbf) Rolls-Royce Nene engines mounted side-by-side in the rear fuselage. The crew of two was accommodated in a pressurized cockpit in the extreme nose of the aircraft.

However, the order the company received was for two manned scale models; the SNCASO M.1 an unpowered glider and the SNCASO M.2 powered by a single Rolls-Royce Derwent and a full-size prototype.

Although production plans were abandoned in 1947, it was decided to complete the two scale models and the full size prototype for experimental purposes. The M.2 made its maiden flight on 13 April 1949, with the M.1 glider making its first free-flight, launched from a SNCASE Languedoc on 26 September 1949. Testing of the M.2 was successful, with it exceeding 1,000 km/h (621 mph) in a dive.

The SO.4000 was rolled out on 5 March 1950, but was damaged when its undercarriage collapsed during taxi-tests on 23 April that year. After repair, it made its maiden flight on 15 March 1951, but its undercarriage failed again on landing, and the project was abandoned, with no more flight testing being carried out.


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