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What If/Challenge: Make the Coleoptere worthy of actual combat use before 1970

HeavyArmor

Trust me, I'm a Tech-Priest
Author
As we know IRL, the French SNECMA C.450 Coleoptere is a annular wing tail-sitter VTOL aircraft project that started in 1956, and ended in 1959 after the only prototype crashed, and additional funding was not available to build additional prototypes.



But what if, this is to be changed?

R.O.B. senses an interesting point of divergence in the timeline, and sends you to 1st August of 1959.

Armed with rudimentary knowledge of aviation history of the time period, you are tasked to be R.O.B.'s liaison to supervise his sponsorship towards the Coleoptere team.

R.O.B. has graciously offered USD $5 Billion in 1959 currency sponsorship to the project. (To put in perspective, the Dassault Mirage IIIE program of the same time period costs USD $50 million to develop and USD $3 million per airframe in 1971.)

Your goal is to ensure that before 1970, there would be at least a fully operational wing with 30+ Coleopteres in service of at least 1 major/prominent airforce, and be widely regarded as acceptable in combat. It would be preferable if some performance aspect are comparable with the Dassault Mirage 5 or Mirage F1 that came in service in 1970's.


So, is this workable? what would you expect to be produced from this effort?
How would you guide their efforts?
How do you think this aircraft would affect the IRL development of combat aircrafts?
 

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
Oi vei, that's not gonna be easy even with the insane funding. Definitely not going to have the agility or speed of a conventional plane, nor the payload, range or whatever, this is just not going to happen outside Clarke-tech which would be better applied on conventional designs anyway. Need to think about niche usages, and the most obvious one would be fast anti-submarine warfare to be carried on any ship whatsoever, but even then, without the permanence of the helicopter that can hover for a long time, it wouldn't be as good. The size of the plane could make it valid as a submarine-launched aircraft, but once again, for what type of mission, considering it'd need to surface for the launch and recovery, making it as doomed as a Regulus submarine.

One possible role would be helicopter-whacking and CAS near the frontlines, à la Harrier, but then again, Harrier-type design would be simply better in all roles. The plane weighs 3 tonnes and is 4,5 metres wide, so it might be launched from a dedicated truck, but never succeeded at transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight IRL, indicating how messy the thing would be. True, some really, really ambitious programme using the funding could maybe achieve proper fly-by-wire controls in 1959 (Avro Arrow had them in 1958) and possibly fix this "slight" issue, but the problem of what the fuck to do with it remains... maybe as a smuggable jet for extracting critical assets from a hostile country by launching near the border as an oversized jetpack? Really expensive for James Bond stunts, though, and it wouldn't work for long either.

Yeah, only use IMO would be to complement helicopters on smaller ships and to provide sensors plus maybe the occasional weapon. But it's not gonna come close to a Mirage performance-wise without ridiculous technology that would itself make the Mirage feel like a X-Wing.
 

HeavyArmor

Trust me, I'm a Tech-Priest
Author
Oi vei, that's not gonna be easy even with the insane funding. Definitely not going to have the agility or speed of a conventional plane, nor the payload, range or whatever, this is just not going to happen outside Clarke-tech which would be better applied on conventional designs anyway. Need to think about niche usages, and the most obvious one would be fast anti-submarine warfare to be carried on any ship whatsoever, but even then, without the permanence of the helicopter that can hover for a long time, it wouldn't be as good. The size of the plane could make it valid as a submarine-launched aircraft, but once again, for what type of mission, considering it'd need to surface for the launch and recovery, making it as doomed as a Regulus submarine.

One possible role would be helicopter-whacking and CAS near the frontlines, à la Harrier, but then again, Harrier-type design would be simply better in all roles. The plane weighs 3 tonnes and is 4,5 metres wide, so it might be launched from a dedicated truck, but never succeeded at transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight IRL, indicating how messy the thing would be. True, some really, really ambitious programme using the funding could maybe achieve proper fly-by-wire controls in 1959 (Avro Arrow had them in 1958) and possibly fix this "slight" issue, but the problem of what the fuck to do with it remains... maybe as a smuggable jet for extracting critical assets from a hostile country by launching near the border as an oversized jetpack? Really expensive for James Bond stunts, though, and it wouldn't work for long either.

Yeah, only use IMO would be to complement helicopters on smaller ships and to provide sensors plus maybe the occasional weapon. But it's not gonna come close to a Mirage performance-wise without ridiculous technology that would itself make the Mirage feel like a X-Wing.
Would it be of use as a point defense interceptor?
 

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
Would it be of use as a point defense interceptor?
Nope. You need a lot of speed for this role, and ideally some proper missile armament combined with radar or the like for such a role, and the performance isn't nearly enough, to the point you'd better build a SAM for the same role. Too small and not good enough to do pretty much any role, and if you make it bigger, you end up getting a worse Harrier.
 
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