Dassault, Marcel

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DASSAULT, MARCEL (1892–1986), French aeronautical engineer and industrialist. Dassault was born Marcel Bloch in Paris, the son of a physician. He was one of the first graduates in aeronautical engineering (1914). In World War i he invented an improved propeller for the Spad fighter. In 1930 he founded the aircraft company Societé des Avions Marcel Bloch, where he designed a series of civil and military aircraft including the Bloch 152, the only French fighter aircraft potentially capable of opposing the Luftwaffe. The firm was nationalized in 1936 but he remained director. He was deported to Buchenwald in 1944, where he remained until the end of the war after his refusal to collaborate with the Germans on aircraft design. After the war he changed his name to Dassault, after his brother Paul's code name in the resistance "d'assault" (derived from the French phrase "char d'assault" for tank). In 1946 he founded the Societé des Avions Marcel Dassault. In 1967 Dassault's company merged with Breguet. The new company became the dominant supplier of French military aircraft. Dassault designed the Ouragan, and the Mystère and Mirage series of jet fighters. These aircraft made a prominent contribution to Israel's military campaigns. The Ouragan was used in the 1956 Sinai campaign and the Mystère iv in the 1967 Six-Day War. An upgraded version of the Super Mystère b2 was employed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He also designed military transport aircraft and the Falcon series of private business jets. Subsequently the company greatly expanded and diversified its business interests in Dassault's later years and under the direction of his son and heir, Serge. Marcel Dassault served as a deputy in the French National Assembly (1951–55) and as a senator (1957–58). He was again elected a deputy in 1958.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]