EFW N-20

N-20 Aiguillon
The N-20 Aiguillon
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin Switzerland
Manufacturer Eidgenössische Flugzeugwerke Emmen
First flight 8 April 1952
Status Cancelled
Primary user Swiss Air Force
Number built 1

The EFW N-20 Aiguillon (in English: "Stinger") was Switzerland's first indigenous jet fighter aircraft. The Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory developed a design for a four-engined swept winged fighter following the end of the Second World War. During the test programme an unpowered glider was built and flown. A turbojet powered test aircraft, known as the Arbalète ("Crossbow"), also flew.

The N-20 design was not produced. Both the single Aiguillon and Arbalète airframes survive and are on public display at the Flieger-Flab-Museum, Dübendorf; the glider test aircraft was destroyed in an accident.

Design and development

The aircraft was to be powered by four turbofan engines buried in the wings, with the bypass air feeding cold-air pipes each side of the engines, being routed through a combustion chamber where additional fuel could be burned as a form of reheat, or deflected though large slots on the upper and lower wings to act as aerodynamic flaps or thrust reversers. Two engines could be shut down in flight to increase range. It was planned that the N-20 would carry its armament in a detachable weapons bay, capable of carrying large loads of cannons, rockets or bombs.[1]

SM-1 engine on display

It was initially planned that the aircraft's engines would be designed and built by the Swiss company Sulzer. The initial engine choice was a small turbojet, the Sulzer D45, with a thrust of 7.38 kN (1,660 lbf), which was abandoned in 1947. Only two prototype D45 engines were built in 1948. The first engine, D45.01 was used in a test rig between 1950 and 1951 and the second engine, D45.04 (of limited airworthiness) was used until 1955 in a test rig. The D45.04 is also part of the Dübendorf museum N-20 display.

The Armstrong Siddeley Mamba turboprop was then chosen as the basis for the N-20's engines, with the propeller reduction gear replaced by a low pressure compressor.[2] This powerplant was named Swiss Mamba SM-1, the conversion was carried out in 1948 by EFW, with only six engines built (four fitted to the N-20 with two spares). One of the spare engines is today part of the Swiss Museum of Transport, at the Flieger-Flab-Museum Dübendorf.

EFW N-20.01

Since Swiss industry still had no experience with the aircraft and aerodynamics of jet aircraft, several wind tunnel models were produced. In addition, a 3/5th scale wooden glider, the EFW N-20.01 was built to allow testing of the novel wing shape; this flew on 17 April 1948.[1] The aircraft was equipped with a JATO solid rocket motor, with which she was able to start independently and reach the necessary altitude for tests. The nose gear came from a de Havilland Vampire and the main landing gear from a Messerschmitt Bf 109; both were electromechanical retractable. The body was made from wood and fabric covered. The N-20.01 was destroyed in a landing accident on 1 July 1949 at Emmen air force base.

EFW N-20.02 Arbalète

N-20.02 Arbalète on display

The glider had successfully proven the design and was followed by a similar sized powered test aircraft, the EFW N-20.02 Arbalète ("Crossbow"), powered by four 0.98 kN (220 lbf) Turboméca Piméné turbojets mounted above and below the wings. This aircraft first flew on 16 November 1951. It proved to have good manoeuvrability and reached a maximum speed of 750 km/h (466 mph).[3]

EFW N-20.10 Aiguillon

The full scale aircraft was estimated to have a maximum speed of 1,095 km (680 mph),[1] but the initial converted Mamba, the SM-1, which was test-flown under a de Havilland Mosquito in 1948 and was the first turbofan to fly, did not generate adequate thrust. Considerable further work was required for the definitive two-shaft SM-5 engine, which was meant to generate 14.7 kN (3,300 lbf) thrust. The prototype was completed in 1952 and, fitted with four SM-1 engines, flew briefly during a taxi test on 8 April 1952 but development of the engine and the N-20 aircraft was cancelled soon afterwards.[2]

EFW N-20.20 Harpon

During testing it was discovered that the engines would not produce the required thrust, so the N-20.20 project was started. The aircraft was similar to the N-20.10, but had one conventional engine, a Rolls-Royce Avon or Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet in each wing root. The wing was a little thinner and the main landing gear came a little closer to the fuselage because now there was no need to place the engines within the wing. The N 20:20 was never completed, although some wind tunnel models were manufactured.[4]

Specifications (N-20.10 Aiguillon)

Sulzer D45.04 engine

Data from The Swiss N-20 Jet Fighter Bomber. [3][5]

General characteristics



  1. 1 2 3 Haller 1962, p.203.
  2. 1 2 Haller 1962, p.204.
  3. 1 2 Haller 1964, pp. 203–4.
  4. Cockpit Number 2 February 1984, pp. 40–43.
  5. Cockpit Nr2 Februar 1984, pp. 40–43.
  6. Jagdbomben- und Erdkampfflugzeug EFW N-20 ,,Aiguillon“". Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  • Haller, Ullrich. "The Swiss N-20 Jet Fighter-Bomber". Air Pictorial, July 1964. pp. 203–4.
  • Munziger, Ernst. Düsentriebwerke. Luzern: Baden Verlag, 1991. ISBN 3-85545-056-0.
  • Schürmann, Roman. Helvetische Jäger. Dramen und Skandale am Militärhimmel. Zürich: Rotpunktverlag, 2009. ISBN 978-3-85869-406-5
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