Kit No. (No number)
Decals: Four versions by Propagteam – One for the French Navy (Aeronavale); two for the Argentinian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Argentina), and an American civil version
Comments: Short run kit; lightly engraved panel lines; single vacuform canopy
In the early 1950’s the French Air Force needed an introductory-to-advanced jet trainer for pilots who had previously flown only piston-engined aircraft, and Morane-Saulnier proposed the MS 755 Fleuret. However, the competition was won by the Fouga Magister. Undeterred, Morane-Saulnier then re-designed the MS 755 as a four-seat liaison aircraft which they called the MS 760 Paris.
On July 29, 1954 one of the three prototype MS760, registered F-WGVO (later registered F-BGVO), took off on its maiden flight piloted by test pilot Jean Cliquet. With its T-shaped vertical stabilizer, low wing, and two Turbomeca Marboré 400 kg turbines internally mounted side-by-side in the aft fuselage, the Paris offered a platform characterized by inherent stability. The aircraft had four seats, two in the front and two in the back, and a retractable tricycle landing gear.
The French military ordered aircraft for training and liaison duties with both the French Air Force and Navy and production started with first deliveries in 1958. The French Navy in particular used them to train Super Étendard and F-8 Crusader pilots in IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and all-weather flying, as well as for advanced training for new pilots, and ongoing proficiency training for senior naval officers who were also pilots.
Some 153 aircraft (Paris I and Paris II) were produced for the French Air Force (36 planes), French Navy (14), Brazil Air Force (30), Argentina Air Force (48) of which 36 where built in Argentina by Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) in Argentina (formerly Lockheed Argentina) under license and about 25 type II for the civil market. Some of the Argentine Air Force Paris Jets were equipped with machine guns, 20mm cannon and other light armament.
Despite performing about 700 demonstration flights in co-operation with Beech in the USA in 1954-1958, the Paris was unable to compete with the Learjet and Jet Commander at the time. During this period, about 1955, a short-lived venture with Beech Aircraft got underway to pitch the Paris to the American market as an executive business jet, but the MS 760 was soon eclipsed by Learjet’s Model 23. Still, the MS 760 has retained a special appeal in the civilian market; while four-seat propeller -driven aircraft are common, jet-powered planes with this seating arrangement, similar to the U.S. Navy’s Grumman EA-6B Prowler, are comparatively rare.
In 1961, production plants started rolling out the MS760B Paris II, fitted with two Marboré IV 480 kg engines, wingtip fuel tanks, air-conditioning, and a bigger luggage compartment. On February 24,1964, a six-passenger version, designated MS 760C Paris III, made its first flight, but it was never ordered. Production of the Paris II ceased, and production of the Paris III never started.
The French Navy stopped operating the MS 760 in 1997 followed by the French Air Force in 2001. Many of the aircraft went to French museums or became instruction airframes and just one (s/n; 32 and previously French Navy) was left as F-AZLT in flying condition for the French air show displays. In 2007, after 48 years of continuous service, the Argentine Air Force retired their last Paris. Many of the civilian MS 760 Jets are still in service, with some of them for sale and competing very favorably with the new generation of very light jets on price, comfort, and, with appropriate refurbishing, avionics.
Private owners have included the Shah of Iran, Harold Quandt (shareholder of Daimler-Benz), film star John Travolta, and Enrico Mattei, an Italian industrialist and director of the powerful ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), Italy’s National Fuel Trust, who negotiated a deal with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War to purchase Russian oil. Mattei, his pilot Irnerio Bertuzzi, and an American, Time-Life journalist William McHale, were killed when his MS 760 crashed near Bascape, Italy on October 27, 1962 (the very day that U.S. Air Force Major Rudolf Anderson was killed when his U-2 spy plane was shot down by a Russian surface-to-air missile over Cuba, the tensest moment of the Missile Crisis). A subsequent investigation revealed evidence of an explosion aboard Mattei’s aircraft, giving rise to allegations of sabotage. In addition to high-profile owners, various flight training schools, including the Dutch Government Flight Training School for KLM student-pilot training, and French Centre de Ecole St. Yan, have operated the MS 760.
Aerofile’s Morane-Saulnier MS 760 Paris is injection molded in white and consists of 49 parts, including a single vacuform canopy. The kit features engraved panel lines which will require a bit of reinforcement with a scribing tool and care during sanding. The cockpit is surprisingly detailed for a short run kit, featuring four seats, two up front for crew and two in the rear for passengers, dual control yokes, a main instrument panel with engraved detail, and rudder pedals.
Screens of some kind are provided for the triangular jet intakes, but these appear to be foreign object damage covers rather than actual filtering devices. The landing gear are reasonably well detailed. The kit is devoid of any locator pins, so quick drying cement such as cyanoacrylate will probably work best. Two different antenna for the aircraft’s dorsal spine are provided; the French and American versions are the same and are longer and more tapered. The antenna for the Argentine version is located a bit farther forward on the plane’s spine and is stubbier in appearance.
The decals are by Propagteam and include markings for French, American, and Argentinian versions. The French version is for a French Navy aircraft and accounts for the lion’s share of the markings on the decal sheet. It calls for a paint scheme of overall aluminium or natural metal, and is an Aeronavale aircraft based at Landivisiau, exact unit and time period unknown. The American version has only two markings for a civil registration number and calls for a paint scheme of overall gloss white. The first Argentinian Air Force version has national markings on the tail, rescue arrows (in Spanish, “Rescate”) and what appear to be two aircraft ID markings. It calls for a camouflage paint scheme of green and brown over grey, indicating Humbrol paint numbers only. The second Argentinian version has identical markings and calls for a paint scheme of overall natural metal.
This is a very interesting and somewhat rare kit of a sleek, effective French military trainer operated for four decades during the Cold War, a design so well thought out that it now enjoys a second life on the civilian market, both for private use and as an aerobatic aircraft. Highly recommended.