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Leduc Ramjet aircraft (Photo J. Descroix)

Leduc Ramjet aircraft

Leduc Ramjet aircraft with pilot Yvan Littolff

Work on the Leduc ramjet project began in 1937 when Frenchman Rene Leduc started construction of the 010 test aircraft. With the start of World War 2 work on the project was forced to stop. It was not until 1946 that Leduc was able to continue developing the aircraft.

The first flights were made with the ramjet powered aircraft riding piggy-back on a SE.161 Langedoc transport aircraft. In 1947 the Leduc 010 undertook its first unpowered free flight after being released by the transport aircraft. And in 1949 the Leduc 010 became the first aircraft to fly using ramjet power alone.

In 1951 the Leduc 010 was joined by a second aircraft, the 016. This aircraft flew under turbojet power in 1952. In total there were five Leduc aircraft. The 010, the 016, two 021 models and a final 022 version. The first and last Leduc aircraft are on display at Musée de l'Air in France.

One of the more unusual features of the Leduc aircraft was the semi-reclined pilots seat which was housed in a glass nosecone. In the event of an emergency the nosecone could be jettisoned and safely brought to ground by a parachute.

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