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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Nord 2500 Noratlas

F-AZVM, the last surviving airworthy Noratlas, at the Paris Air Legend air show at Melun Villaroche in September 2018. Owned and operated by the Association Noratlas de Provence, its full service history can be found on the Assocation's website (Eric Salard; licenced).

The 2500 was designed by Société Nationale de Construction Aéronautique du Nord to meet a 1947 Direction Technique et Industrielle (DTI) specification for a mid-sized military transport aircraft equally capable of carrying freight, passengers or paratroopers. Featuring twin booms and rear-opening clamshell doors, the 2500 was selected ahead of more conventional designs submitted by Bréguet and Sud-Ouest, and DTI placed an order for two prototypes on 27 April 1948. An order for further three pre-production aircraft followed shortly thereafter, before the first production batch of 34 was ordered on 10 July 1951. The name Noratlas was formally adopted on 9 January 1953. Further production orders for the French Air Force followed and, in 1956, export orders were received from West Germany and Israel. In the meantime, Nord had embarked on an extensive marketing campaign in an attempt to drum up interest from commercial operators but despite offering operators a choice of engine, commercial sales were poor. Military Noratlas operations continued until 1989 when the French Air Force withdrew the last of its aircraft. Germany, on the other hand, had begun disposal of the type before deliveries were complete, with 50 ex-German aircraft eventually being supplied to Greece (as reparation for war damages), 16 to Israel and others to Niger, Nigeria and Portugal. A healthy number of Noratlases survive, with one still active on France’s thriving warbird circuit.

First flight: 10 Sep 49 (2500 c/n 01)

Production: 415, comprising 254 in France (at Issy-les-Moulineux, Les Mureaux and Bourges) and 161 by Flugzeugbau-Nord in Germany (at Bremen)

First delivery: 27 May 53, to French Air Force (2501 c/n 05)

Last delivery: Jul 64, to German Air Force (2501D c/n 187)

Variants (all built at Les Mureaux and Bourges unless otherwise stated):

2500 - first prototype, powered by 2 Gnôme et Rhône 14R radials (1 built at Issy-les-Moulineux, c/n 01);

2501 - second prototype and main production variant (also referred to as 2501F) powered by 2 Bristol Hercules 739 radials (212 built, c/ns 02-05 and 1 to 208)

2501A - commercial version of 2501 for Union Aéromaritime de Transport, powered by Hercules 758/759s (4 built, c/ns 1, 2, 148/1 and 149/1);

2501D - version for West German Air Force based on 2501 but with some German systems (186 built, c/n 001-025 by Nord and the remainder in Germany, c/n 026-186);

2501IS - version for Israel (6 built by Nord, reportedly c/ns 5761-5766);

2502A - developed version of 2501A for Union Aéromaritime de Transport, equipped with 2 wing-tip mounted Turboméca Marboré II auxiliary turbojets (5 built, c/ns 3 to 7);

2502B - 2502A for Air Algèrie (1 built, c/n 3 - plus two conversions);

2502C - commercial cargo transport version (1 built, c/n 2);

2502F - military version of the 2502A for Portugal (6 built, c/n 001F-006F);

2503 - 2501 c/n 04 re-engined with Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB17 radials;

2504 - proposed anti-submarine warfare training version, not ordered into production but delivered to the French Navy as a transport aircraft (1 built, c/n 01, first flight 17 Nov 58);

2506 - short-field performance version of 2501, powered by Hercules 759 and auxiliary turbojets (1 built, c/n 01, first flight 22 Aug 57);

2508 - developed version of 2503 with 2 Marboré II auxiliary turbojets (1 built, c/n 02, subsequently transferred to West German AF as a 2501D and assigned the c/n 001A; 2508 c/n 01 was converted from 2501 c/n 04).

Conversions included: 2501RNR - version with thimble nose for radar navigator training (5 converted; 2501SNB - version with radar mounted in the belly for training Mirage IV navigators (6 converted); 2501GABRIEL - version optimised for electronic warfare (8 converted).

Nord Noratlas survivors
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