Designed by a team headed by Pierre Satre, the Sud Est Caravelle was one of the most innovative and original jetliners of the fifties. With a nose section resembling that of the De Havilland Comet* it had the unique feature of engines mounted in pods at the rear end on each side of the fuselage. It made its first flight on 21 April 1955 and soon orders came in from Air France and Scandinavian Air Service (SAS). Also other European airline companies like Alitalia, Swissair, Sabena and Finair ordered the Caravelle for their European net and it soon became a very familiar sight in the European skies. Later, it was more or less sold on a world-wide scale, including the U.S.A.

CaravelleIn total 280 Caravelles were manufactured before production was stopped in 1973. Unfortunately the market was not very favorable any longer with second-hand Caravelles and new types like the Douglas DC-9 as competitors. Caravelle versions with new more fuel efficient (and less noiser!) engines never progressed beyond the prototype stage!

Personally I can remember the Caravelle very well from its frequent visits of Schiphol airport. The plane was not only famous for its very steep starts, but it was also notorious for the enormous lots of noise the Rolls Royce Avon jet engines produced!

There is an excellent historical website dedicated to the Caravelle with high quality colour shots of almost all 280 built and that’s why we keep it here short and simple! Just have a look; it’s worth it:

The nostalgic photo slideshow presents almost a hundred mostly original works or airline promotion pictures in the old-fashion black and white style and without any further Photo-shopping improvements…..

We see a selection of photos ranging from the first prototype with the complete Sud Est team posing at the foreground (a photo embargoed until after 1st flight!) until one of the late production types.

All photos are arranged on their construction number.


Chillon, J. ; Dubois, P. and Wegg, J.
French post-war transport aircraft
Air Britain 1980
ISBN 0 85130 078 2

· In fact the front fuselage sections from the first batch of Caravelles were manufactured by De Havilland!

Nico Braas