From 1927 to 1931, Jean-Jacques Barré, then lieutenant at the Technical Section of Artillery, collaborated, in a
private capacity, with Robert Esnault-Pelterie's work on liquid rocketry. From 1931 to 1932, he assisted Esnault-Pelterie
who worked under Ministry of War contract.
Appointed to the Gun Powder Commission in 1933, he was prevented from resuming his studies on rockets until 1935. Until the beginning of the war, he worked on an anti-aircraft weapon project called "shell-rocket". It was a 16 kg unguided rocket launched from a mortar, 120 mm in diameter and 1.80 m long. Powered by benzotoluene and nitrogen peroxide, its engine had to deliver a 700 daN thrust.
In December 1940, the Technical Section of Artillery was reconstituted clandestinely in Lyon under the name "Central Service of Markets and Stores Surveillance". Barré was appointed there and he proposed the development of different types of rocket powered weapons but also sounding rockets.
In July 1941, the Ministry of War ordered the development of 22 liquid rockets camouflaged under the name "gazogenerators". These missiles, codenamed EA 1941, had to be capable of sending a 25 kg payload to a distance of 100 km. Barré came back to the propellants that had given satisfaction to Esnault-Pelterie: liquid oxygen and petroleum ether. The tanks were concentric, the liquid oxygen being at the centre. The nitrogen pressure-fed engine, had to deliver a 10 kN thrust.
Static tests were first achieved in 1941-42 at the camp of the Larzac (3) then in Vancia (4), in the suburb of Lyon. In spite of failures, thrusts between 6 to more than 8 kN were obtained. Flight tests were foreseen in Algeria, and a part of the equipment had been sent to Oran, when the Allied landing in North Africa interrupted the program.
After the liberation, the equipment was gathered - including the one that had been stored in Oran - and the flight tests were programmed at the La Renardière range, close to Toulon. The rocket weighed about 100 kg and was 26 cm in diameter and 3.13 m long. Stabilised by 3 fins, it was launched from a 16 m long ramp.
The first launch, on March 15, 1945 was a partial success. The following day, the second was a failure. On July 6, 1945, three launches were done of which two were partial successes with ranges of 10 and 60 km. The last two launches failed in July 1946.
Eole (EA 1946 / EA 1951)
The Ballistics and Aeronautical Research Laboratory (LRBA) had been created in Vernon on May 17, 1946, by the Weapons Studies and Manufactures Directorate (DEFA). Jean-Jacques Barré resumed his works there on rocket propulsion and designed a rocket called EA 1946, initially intended to improve the knowledge in this field, but also to finalise a long range ballistic missile (300 kg to 1000 km). This rocket, quickly renamed EOLE (Vehicle using Liquid Oxygen and petroleum Ether), was derived from the EA 1941. It had to be 80 cm in diameter, 11 m long and to weigh 3.4 tons at takeoff. The configuration with concentric tanks as with the EA 1941 was kept as well as the nitrogen pressure supply system. The engine had to develop 100 kN thrust.
Static tests started in February 1949 in Vernon. The first one was relatively satisfactory but the second, in January 1950, ended in the explosion of the test bed. It was suspected that the mixture petroleum ether - liquid oxygen could be hypergolic.
Petroleum ether was therefore replaced by alcohol in a new version of the rocket named EA 1951 or EOLE (Vehicle using Liquid Oxygen and Ethyl alcohol). The tank arrangement was also modified: now in tandem instead of concentrically.
The first static test took place in December 1950; it was followed by 6 others until September 1951, then by 3 others with complete vehicles, between March and October 1952. Thrusts higher than 90 kN were obtained.
The nominal thrust of 100 kN - with plans to increase to 140 kN - was insufficient to assure a launch stability for a rocket weighing more than 3 tons. Two solutions were under consideration: addition of an auxiliary propulsion providing 240 kN during 0.5 s (composed of two solid motors wrapped around Eole) and use of a cable system (rotating drum table) derived from the one used for Véronique.
None of these systems was ready at the expected date of the first flight tests. It was therefore decided to launch lightened vehicles with a propellant capacity reduced to 2/5 of the nominal one. The takeoff mass was only 1788 kg of which 1090 kg were propellants. The rocket was unguided but stabilised by 3 triangular fins. It was launched from a 21 m long ramp supported by a metallic lattice tetrapode.
Two flight tests took place in November 1952 from Hammaguir. Both ended in failure, the fin arrangement being destroyed at the time of crossing the sound barrier.
The Eole project was cancelled in December 1952, as well as all LRBA work with liquid oxygen. The storable propellants, easier to use for missile propulsion, would be used in fact on all French liquid sounding rockets as well as on the first stage of the different versions of Diamant.
EA rockets launch log
|15 Mar 1945||LRN||EA1941 #1||Technology||F, in flight|
|16 Mar 1945||LRN||EA1941 #2||Technology||F, on pad|
|06 Jul 1945||LRN||EA1941 #3||Technology|
|06 Jul 1945||LRN||EA1941 #4||Technology|
|06 Jul 1945||LRN||EA1941 #5||Technology||S, 60 km range|
|18 Jul 1945||LRN||EA1941 #6||Technology||F, on pad|
|18 Jul 1945||LRN||EA1941 #7||Technology||F, on pad|
|22 Nov 1952||HMG||EA1946 #1||Technology||F, in flight|
|24 Nov 1952||HMG||EA1946 #2||Technology||F, in flight|