CM 170 R Fouga Magister


Texte : ©Marc ARYS / S.B.A.P.



The CM170 Fouga Magister was born during a program of the Armée de l'Air Française (French Air Force) when in 1949 they decided to equip their flightschools with a twin-seat jet powered training aircraft.


This design arise from the hard work of Robert Castello and Pierre Mauboussin (hence the CM abbreviation) from the Air Fouga concern and Joseph Szydlowski from Turbomeca regarding the engine.

The design of the Fouga Magister was based on the glider CM 8.R13 with a reduced wingspan of 9,80m. Equipped with a single Turbomeca Pimène jet engine, the aircraft took the air for the first time on July 14, 1949, flown by Léon Bourrieau.

Several prototypes were built which finally led to the CM 170 R Fouga Magister 01. This aircraft was testflown by Léon Bourrieau at Mont de Marsan on July 23, 1952 and was equipped with two Marboré II jet engines, producing 400 kg of thrust each.

The Fouga Magister is also known as the 'Whistling Turtle' due to the high-pitch whistle of this two Marboré II engines, its slow airspeeds and the 'turtle' shell design of the cockpit area.

Until 1969, 925 aircraft were built and delivered to 20 countries, including Belgium.

Belgium ordered 45 of these planes for his Air Force in replacement of the ageing Texan T6 training aircraft. The first plane was delivered on January 23, 1960 at Kamina (ex- Belgian Congo).

In 1970 5 more airplanes were acquired from the German Luftwaffe bringing the total number of aircraft in the Belgian Air Force (now Belgian Air Component) to 50. Aircraft registrations did run from MT1 to MT50.


His career came slowly to an end in 1979 with the introduction of the Dassault Dornier Alpha Jet.

Nowadays only 6 Fouga Magister are still airworthy in the Belgian Air Component, of which two (MT26 and MT48) received a special paintscheme to commemorate the 46 years and 249.000 flighthours of dedicated service.

Both aircraft will be flown in a joint display by Lt. Col. "Paul" Rorive and Lt. Gen. "Pedro" Buyse during the airshow at Koksijde airbase on July 01 and 02, 2006 and the Belgian Defence Days on September 02 and 03, 2006 at Beauvechain airbase.

The special paintscheme is based  on the renowned Belgian "Red Devils" scheme, complemented by the emblems of all the Fouga operators in Belgian service as well as repainted wingtip tanks.


The 'Red Devils' team was the display team of the Belgian Air Force from 1965 till 1977.

Noteworthy is the fact that after the disbandment of the Red Devils the Belgian Air Force revived the airshow scene since 1989 with a solo-display of this fine aircraft.

The last Fouga Magister solo-display pilot is Lt. Col. "Paul" Rorive which will present the 'Whistling Turtle' in its final year (2006) accompanied by classical music on his 12 minute display routine.



This brings us to the highlight of our story the model of the CM 170 R Fouga Magister.

On April 05, 2006 I witnessed the flight of this superb model on the Beauvechain airbase, home of the last Belgian Fouga's. At that moment I had little information, apart from the builder's and pilot's name : José Vrancken.

So I contacted José and loaded him with questions, which he responded to in a cheerful lettre.


Here is what I learned on the person and his model.


José has been a modeller for almost 25 years now with two passions, the building of his models and flying them. His building activities takes more than 50% of his time as José develops his models entirely from start to end.

Jets were always his favourite and when 1978 saw the arrival of the F-16, he lost his heart.

Although in those years ducted fan propulsion was not at his best, he started the construction of a F-16 model based on a simple three view.

After some time he decided to built an all composite airframe of this aircraft. With much trial and error he succeeded but, as he recalls, his flying techniques were not as good as now, he crashed the airplane during the first flight. This was almost 20 years ago.

When he was touring model airshows in France and Belgium with a F-22 powered by an AMT Pegasus engine, some friends from France convinced him to "work" on the Fouga.

José started to draw his own plans,  again from a simple three view of the aircraft. At first on a 1/3 scale but due to some practical considerations he elected the design and built his Fouga Magister on a 1/4 scale giving a wingspan of 3,07m and a length of 2,54m.

He then started the building of the 'masters' which took him for about 1 year to complete. José told us that, the more he worked on this model, the more he  loved it and the more he detailed it. Albeit the rivetting and panneling detail was 'finished' like the Belgian Fouga Magisters, mildly detailed because the real aircraft were often repainted, hiding most of these details.

Some 6 years ago he decided to share his passion with other modellers and presented the master on various exhibits, including Jets over Pampa.


In the meantime Eric Rantet (from Aviation Design) contacted José through another modeller Jeff Lallemand and they all met.

An agreement was settled and from then on things evolved briskly.

Eric completed the rivetting detail (French Fouga's were not repainted as often as their Belgian counterparts) and worked further from José's masters (internal fuelcells, tiptanks, airbrake prototypes). He also completed the masters for the outer wing panels.

The thrust tube was conceived and built by Eric and José bought one to complete his own model.


The Fouga model from José differs a little from the kit of Eric Rantet :


- the fuselage can be separated in two pieces (just aft the thrust tube outlets) for transportation comfort

- acces hatch to the engine installation is bigger

- flaps, ailerons and control surfaces are molded separately

- airbrakes working like the real ones


José also told us that he does not commercialise his model. Interested modellers have to adress Eric Rantet at Aviation Design.


So one can ask why all this work. Well as José stated, if it crashes, he can entirely rebuild it from his molds.


Some details on José's model :


- length : 2,54m

- wingspan : 3,07m

- take-off weight : 21 kg

- power : AMT Pegasus Turbine producing 16 kg of thrust

- fuel : 2 x 4l

- airbrakes in CTP 6mm working like the real ones

- main landing gear : simple effect pneumatic gear - 20 kg

- nose landing gear : twin effect Robart 630


José commented on the weight of the model : the only points where weight could be saved is to build the formers using honeycomb technology and to look for a lighter turbine.


The first flight of José's Fouga Magister took place in April 2004. Hard wind down the runway, but with his 21 kg, the plane handled very well, inertia and behaviour almost like the real counterpart.

At slow speeds no bad tendencies were detected.


On his second flight, he was misled by his confidence and during final the model stalled short of the runway, but thanks to the high corn the plane suffered no damage.

Airbrakes are very efficient and flaps are needed. Both combined give nice landing characteristics. Without these the airplane is, like the real one, very slippery and keeps on floating inches above the runway.


Since then José has made several flights, but the main tires still causes him some troubles.

As witnessed during his flight on April 05, 2006, the left tire departed the main landin gear rim on take-off, but despite this, José made a beautiful presentation ended by a superb landing.


He is currently working on the masters of a model of the Jet Squalus, building them from the original factory plans he acquired some time ago. This model will span 2,22m with a length of 2,24m. Powered by a single turbine and with the wings and stabiliser having the same airfoils as the real airplane.

The Squalus was ment to replace the Siai Marchetti SF260 in the Belgian Air Component (former Air Force) and prototypes were tested by this Air Component, but that is where the career of this airplane ended.


An after the Squalus, José's intentions are to built a F14 Tomcat - 1/8 scale - of which the plans are almost drawn. So as we can see, retiring is not always the quiet job we all dream off.


We are looking forward to these new aircraft from José and are quite confident that they will be built to the same standard as his Fouga Magister.



Photopage - Big and Small


Back   -     Home