Max Holste MH-1521 Broussard
Fifties French Army Utility Monoplane
Era: Jet Age
Gift of Jack T. Helder
Location: Mounted outside
In the 1950s, French aeronautical engineer Max Holste (1913-1998), owner and operator of Avions Max Holste, designed the MH-1521 Broussard as a response to requirements set forth by the French Army. Requirements dictated that Max improve upon an early 1950s model by making it larger and giving it more power. Max's addition of a 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney radial engine improved on his early model by doubling its power. Built for liaison and observation and designated the MH-1521 (MH for, well, Max Holste!), Max's lightweight, six-seat utility monoplane took the name Broussard, which means man of the bush.
The French Beaver for Better or Worse
Some claim that the Broussard's resemblance to another aircraft earned the monoplane a nickname. When compared to the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, the Brossard displayed enough similarities--both aesthetically and in terms of ability--to earn the moniker "the French Beaver." Others claim that some saw the Broussard as a Beaver knockoff and referred to it derisively as "the French Beaver."
An Ace Advocate
Pierre Closterman, a WWII ace, French war hero, and Max Holste's dear friend, heartily backed the Broussard's development. This, Pierre undertook at the political level. With the ace's help, Max's Broussard prototype flew on November 17, 1952. The French Army approved. Civil and military production commenced in June 1954 and resulted in 363 Broussards by the end of the 1950s.
Pilots appreciated the Broussard's good handling capabilities. The braced high-wing monoplane features fixed tail wheel landing gear, a twin tail design, and a nose-mounted Pratt & Whitney R-985 radial piston engine supplies its 450 horsepower. The 1958 design of a later variant, the MH-1522, sought to upgrade stall performance. To meet this goal, the MH-1522 relied on full span leading edge slots and double-slotted trailing edge flaps. In time, Max supersized the aircraft when he created a Super Broussard, which sat 23 passengers!
The Broussard in Service
When used in military service, the Broussard served as an Army cooperation aircraft. Because of its short field performance capabilities and ground fire resistance, the Broussard succeeded as an air supply and air evac for the wounded as well as providing observation and artillery spotting. Broussards provided Army cooperation during the Algerian War (1954-1962). While an effective observation and air evac plane, its loud radial engine and big propeller got in the way on approach. Algerian guerrillas heard the monoplane coming in advance of other planes. Despite that, the Broussard continued to serve into the 1980s with official French Army retirement in the 1990s. During its four-decade run, the Broussard could be seen in the skies over Argentina, Benin, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, France, the Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Portugal, Senegal, and more.
The Air Zoo's Broussard
Donor Jack T. Helder, a self-taught pilot, bought this MH-1521 Broussard to fly to the different sites at which he worked throughout Michigan. When accepting the Broussard into its collection, the Air Zoo travelled to Jack's barn in Zeeland to disassemble the aircraft for transportation back to Kalamazoo. The Broussard--built for such utility use as an air ambulance with room for six--is no small plane. Thus, its size gave the transport crew a challenge. But the Air Zoo got the French plane home safely. They chose to leave the aircraft as they had found it--as a cool "barn find"--in lieu of restoring it to the Air Zoo restoration standards. Our Broussard may be seen along the pathway between our two buildings, just outside the northeast corner of the Flight Innovation Center.