The Nord 1500 Griffon was an experimental ramjet-powered fighter aircraft designed and built in the mid-1950s by French state-owned aircraft manufacturer Nord Aviation. It was part of a series of competing programs to fill a French air force specification for a Mach 2 fighter. The Griffon actually featured a dual turbojet-ramjet powerplant, with the turbojet enabling unassisted take-offs (ramjets cannot produce thrust at zero airspeed and thus cannot move an airplane from a standstill) and the ramjet producing extra thrust at airspeeds above 1,000 km/h (600 mph).
Configuration was a delta wing with Canards and a tail without an aileron. With Major André Turcat at the controls, the Griffon reached a top speed of Mach 2.19 (2,330 km/h or 1,450 mph) in 1958, thus proving the soundness of the basic design. But the plane met several technical difficulties, such as heating, because the aircraft did not yet use special materials such as Inconel or titanium. The ramjet worked perfectly at high speed, but was hard to control at mid-speed.
For those reasons, the Griffon program was cancelled to the benefit of Dassault Aviation's Mirage III. This unique plane is on display in the French air and space museum, in Le Bourget, near Paris.
- Overview of the Griffon program (in French)