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  Dassault MD 311 Flamant : Back to origins

In September 2010, the head of the Dassault Aviation’s site in Mérignac, near Bordeaux, decided to acquire a Flamant MD311 in order to illustrate the aircraft that initiated the creation of this factory. Indeed, the "Flamant" (which means Flamingo in French) program allowed to launch the construction of the first building of this plant in 1946. The goal was to present this aircraft in static display inside the factory in front of the workshop where it was built and assembled. It was also decided that the restoration of the chosen aircraft would have to be carried out by a team of volunteers working in the Mérignac factory. After some research, Memorial Flight's aircraft was chosen. Our MD311 had been grounded for a few years. Thus, the decision to sell it was made in October 2010. This aircraft was interesting because it was the last Flamant to be operated by the French air force.

The aircraft was disassembled during December 2010, and then took the road to Bordeaux, in early January 2011.

The restoration began in late January, allowing enough time to set up the required means and to set up the “Groupe Flamant”, naming the team of volunteers which quickly reached the number of 35 members.

The first step consisted in establishing a precise report of the restoration tasks to be realized to lead to the best possible static display. It was decided that the aircraft should be installed on a central pedestal fixed on the wing spars, with the landing gear retracted and a slight banking angle and angle of attack.

The aircraft will be enlightened at night using all its internal and external electrical systems. To the big surprise of the electricians who assigned themselves to this task, all the electric circuits of the aircraft were in operating order and could be thus re-used.

The second step was to disassemble the aircraft. The team started by removing the perspex that had to be replaced, and all the hatches and doors needed to carry out an anti-corrosion treatment in order to ensure the best structure conservation. Actually, this structure happened to be in a surpisingly good state considering the age of the aircraft, with very few repairs to be made.

At the same time, the wings were prepared for reassembly as well as the empennage, engines and propellers. This step was completed in March. At the same time, the flight controls were locked with non-visible devices from the outside.

Once the aircraft was reassembled, the new perspex were mounted, and it was prepared for painting. It was decided to apply the paint scheme that it wore between 1953 and 1965 when it was issued to the instruction group of Avord to train navigators and bombardiers.

For more authenticity, a copy of the Norden bombsight was modelled in CAD from an original one. A copy was then produced and installed in the aircraft's glass-nose. To complete the display, the modern antennas installed in the late use of the aircraft were removed, associated openings were sealed, and a copy of the original HF antenna system, which equipped the aircraft at that time, was installed.

Once the Flamant was painted, special care was paid to the final details.

A test assembly between the pedestal and the aircraft revealed some difficulties. This was not a surprise, as this was the first time a Flamant was fixed in this way. Of course, It had been decided to do the test assembly inside the workshop rather than on its final location in order to solve any problem. Everything went well at last, and the landing gear could be removed and the undercarriage doors definitively closed.

Finally, The Flamant MD311 n°282 was placed on the decided location on June 17, 2011 after 1.500 working hours and it was officially inaugurated on September 24, 2011.

 The restauration by the "Groupe Flamant"

 Dassault MD 311 Flamant : The Memorial Flight adventure

To find more about the Flamant n°282, and its story when flown by Memorial Flight, click here.