60 years ago this minute prototype began the successful story of the Mirage III. The MD.550 (and other similar “featherweights”) supposed a sort of bizarre reprise of France interwar obsession with the “chasseur léger”, that certified failed formula. Started as a light interceptor, the Mirage I was the second stage of the original MD.550 prototype, called then the “Mystère Delta”. The meagre “muscle” of the Mystère Delta was evident early on so new afterburned MD 30 Vipers and a SEPR 66 rocket engine were added. All in all, from the beginning the design showed its serious possibilities, if it was enlarged and equipped with a decently powerful engine. The rest is history.
Mechanics of the Villacoublay test center makin’ fun of the pair of toy-like MD 30 Vipers. The SEPR 66 is clearly seen under the fuselage.
Photo: Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (coll. Lebourg).