DALLAS — Marcel Ferdinand Bloch, born in Paris on January 22, 1892, decided early on to pursue a career in aviation after witnessing a Wright aircraft fly around the Eiffel Tower.

In 1913, Bloch obtains a degree in aeronautical engineering and one year later joins the “Laboratoire de Recherche Aeronautiques” (Aeronautical Research Laboratory), where, with Henry Potez, another prominent figure of early French aviation, he creates the “Societé d’Etudes Aeronautiques” (Company of Aeronautical Studies) and develops a military observation aircraft, the SEA IV, destined for the French Air Force.

Bloch-Dassault obtains orders for 1,000 units but, at the end of World War I, stops production at only 100.

Bloch MB.200 in flight circa 1933. Photo: By Unknown author, Public Domain

Marcel Bloch Aircraft Company

Photo: Hall of Fame Repository: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive San Diego Air & Space Museum

Marcel Bloch-Dassault is not active in the aeronautical world until 1931, when he creates the “Societé des Avions Marcel Bloch” (Marcel Bloch Aircraft Company) and opens a factory in Courbevoie, employing 700 workers. The factory is nationalized in 1936 and taken over by SNCASO, a mixed-capital concern, and Marcel Bloch-Dassault becomes its CEO.

At the same time, he creates a new company, the “Societé Anonyme des Avions Marcel Bloch” (Marcel Bloch Aircraft Company Ltd.), which designs aircraft for SNCASO. During the pre-war period, the aeronautical industry grows exceptionally, and the SNCASO, under the direction of Marcel Bloch-Dassault, goes from 1,500 to 7,000 workers. A new factory is created at Chateauroux Airport bringing their total number to six.

Marcel Bloch-Dassault left his post as SNCASO CEO at the beginning of 1940, followed by a difficult personal period in his life.

He is arrested, put on trial, and incarcerated several times, and, in 1944, he is finally arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he remains until 1945 and the end of World War II.

In 1946, he changes his name from Marcel Bloch to Marcel Bloch-Dassault and subsequently to Marcel Dassault.


Marcel Dassault won a few contracts to supply a new fleet of jet fighters to the French Air Force in the years following the end of World War II.

His company becomes “Generale Aeronautique Marcel Dassault” (General Aeronautics Marcel Dassault-GAMD) and starts producing its first jet fighter, the Ouragan in 1949. It is, followed by the Mystere family of fighters from 1952, and the Mirage from 1956 to 1966, all produced along with the Falcon business jet beginning in 1963.

In 1971, GAMD takes over Breguet Aviation and starts producing the Alpha Jet, still flown by the “Patrouille de France”, the Jaguar in cooperation with BAe, the civil airliner Mercure, while the Falcon biz jet evolves into its own family of aircraft. Marcel Dassault had created an industrial complex, both military and civil, centered on aviation, electronic, and information technology. He escapes nationalization by gifting 26% of its shares to the French government.

On May 28, 1971, the Dassault Aviation Mercure took to the air for the first time from Bordeaux-Merignac Airport (BOD). Dassault Aviation Chief Pilot, Jean Courot, co-pilot Jerome Resal, and test engineer Gerard Joyeuse were onboard the May 28 maiden flight.

The Mercure project was pushed by the Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC), the French Civil Aviation Authority. Marcel Dassault observed that, on a global basis, many routes were short-leg flights, but no aircraft were adapted to this type of traffic. This opinion gave more credence to the program’s inception.

Marcel Dassault was also involved with the press and owned a weekly magazine, Jours de France. He also became involved in politics when he became a senator at first and a deputy for the Alpes-Cote d’Azur circumscription.

With a capital of US$1.28bn (€1.07bn or ₣7bn), he became the first French billionaire in 1985.

This content was originally published here.