Dassault Falcon 20/200 (Mystère 20/Fan Jet Falcon)

The Falcon 20 was among the first generation bizjets. In the United States it was first known as the Fan Jet Falcon, whilst in the rest of the world it was marketed as Mystère 20. Later the now well-known name Falcon was adopted, and this marked the start of a whole family of business jets.

Like many bizjets the Falcon 20 has low mounted swept wings and engines attached to the rear fuselage. The disntinctive characteristics of the Falcon 20 are the seven flat cockpit windows, large oval cabin windows and the horizontal stabilizer in a V-shape, so with a significant dihedral, about halfway the vertical fin. Moreover, the Falcon 20 has double wheels on all legs.

The typical Dassault early Falcon style cockpit windows on the Falcon 20. Also note the large oval cabin window.

To keep the horizontal stabilisers clear of the jet exhaust it was placed halfway the vertical fin. It has a significant dihedral.

Different versions

The different versions of the Falcon 20 can be recognised by the following elements:

  • the shape of the engine nacelles
  • the shape of the dorsal fin
  • the width of the leading edge slats
  • the bottom of the fuselage
  • the presence of a cargo door

Mystère 20, Falcon 20C, Falcon 20D & Falcon 20E

The prototype of the corporate jet was called Mystère 20. This was powered by Pratt & Whitney JT12 engines, in narrow nacelles without specific characteristics.

The prototype was followed up by production versions C, D and E, all with two General Electric CF700 engines, which can be recognised by the ring in the air intakes, separating the core and fan flows. The nacelles also have a tab at the back. They also have leading edge slats outside the wing fences only. The C, D and E models differ only in exact engine type, fuel capacity, maximum take-off weights and a few small things. In addition, the Falcon 20E should have a different rudder, but the difference is apparently rather subtle...

The Canadian armed forces had the Falcon 20C in service as CC-117 and CE-117.

A full view of a Dassault Falcon 20E of the Spanish air force.

Falcon 20s up to the E variant have leading edge slats only outboard of the wing fence. Also note the 'tab' at the rear of the nacelle.

On this photo the ring in the air intake, typical for the CF700 engine, is partly visible.

Falcon 20CC

Especially for an Australian customer Dassault made a version of the Falcon 20 for operations on non-paved runways. For this purpose, the Falcon 20CC features larger, low-pressure tires. To ensure that the drag would not increase - the gear did not completely fit in the fuselage - an additional fairing body was fitted to the underside of the fuselage.

A full view of the Falcon 20CC.

Detail of the streamline body under the fuselage of the Falcon 20CC.

Falcon 20DC

The Falcon 20 was the aircraft that helped Federal Express to grow in the early 1970. As Dassault had several unsold aircraft, the Falcons were delivered originally as passen­ger aircraft with windows. FedEx had them converted with a large cargo door and the windows replaced by metal plugs. Subse­quent orders were dealt with the same way. 

Later other Falcon 20s were converted to cargo planes as well, but they did not receive the Falcon 20DC designation.

A Falcon 20DC, with the large cargo door clearly visible, as is the location of the original cabin windows.

Falcon 20F

In order to distinguish this version the slats need to be extended. On the Falcon 20F they cover the entire wing leading edge, while on the older versions they start just outside the wing fences.

The slats of the Falcon 20F cover the entire wing span.

Falcon 20G

Replace the General Electric CF700 engines by Garrett ATF3s and you get the Falcon 20G. These engines can be recognised by a large plug back of the engine.

Most of the Falcon 20Gs were delivered to the US Coast Guard as HU-25, described separately below.

The Falcon 20G retains the small dorsal fin but has the ATF3 engines with a big conical plug at the back of the nacelle. (photo: Henk Wadman)

Here is a detail photo of the ATF3 engine's big conical plug at the back of the nacelle on a HU-25, the USCG version of the Falcon 20G.

HU-25A Guardian

The first and original version of the Guardian has the nearly same external appearance as the Falcon 20G. An additional feature is a large observation window in place of the first cabin window, on both sides.

The HU-25A is externally the same as the Falcon 20G, except for the large obervation window. (photo: Trevor Bartlett)

HU-25B Guardian

The HU-25B was the pollution control version for the US Coast Guard. It was equipped with a side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) under the right forward fuselage. All were converted HU-25As.

HU-25B with a SLAR bar beside the forward fuselage. (photo: United States Coast Guard/WikiMedia)

HU-25C & HU-25C+ Guardian

To make room for a new search radar the nose had to be enlarged a bit. Therefore the HU‑25C has a slightly more pointed nose than the other HU-25 models. Also it has a FLIR pod under the forward fuselage. Behind it is a streamline body.

The HU-25C+ has an improved radar and FLIR, but we have not found any external differences compared to the HU-25C.

A HU-25C with its more pointed nose than original Falcon 20s. The FLIR pod is hardly visible here.

Detail of the HU-25C nose and FLIR pod.


The final subtype, the HU-25D, has the same FLIR pod as the HU-25C+, but a normal nose shape around a new radar.

The HU-25D has a normal nose, but includes the FLIR with streamline body under the fuselage.

Falcon 20C-5, D-5, E-5, F-5 & Falcon 20-5

The CF700 engines produce quite some noise, so Dassault developed a re-engine programme. In the beginning, TFE731-5AR engines were used and the Falcon 20s that are equipped with this version received “-5” after the type designation. Later, and even now, the TFE731-5BR is utilised. Falcon 20s with -5BR engines are simply known as Falcon 20-5. In general, you can recognise Falcon 20s equipped with the new engines by the larger diameter engine nacelles, without the “tab” at the back and with a single exhaust at the end. Of course, in addition the previously mentioned differences apply. But a Falcon 20-5 cannot be distinguished from a Falcon 20C-5/D-5/E-5/F-5.

The slats are retracted so you cannot see that this Falcon 20F-5 was formerly a Falcon 20F.

Detail of the larger diameter nacelles of the TFE731 engines, without the characteristic tab at the back of the nacelle.

Falcon 200

The Falcon 200 has ATF3 engines like the Falcon 20G, but also has a shorter dorsal fin with an air inlet. The original designation of the subtype was Falcon 20H.

A Falcon 200 showing its full span slats, a feature introduced with the Falcon 20F.

The air intake in the short dorsal fin is the way the recognise the Falcon 200, together with the plug at the back of the ATF3 engines.

Confusion possible with

Dassault Falcon 50

falcon 50

Especially when you only see the front of the aircraft you might mistake a Falcon 50 for a Falcon 20. The forward fuselage is essentially the same. However, in normal cases the third, centre engine is an easy recognition point, as are the horizontal stabilisers with anhedral instead of dihedral.

HS125/BAe125 series

hawker 800

The Hawker family is the most similar aircraft to the Dassault Falcon 20 series. It also has a cruciform tail, but the horizontal stabilisers are mounted higher, about a third from the top. Also the cabin windows are rectangular, the cockpit windows are different, next to a lot more differences.

Dassault Falcon 10

falcon 10

The Falcon 10 is clearly derived from the larger Falcon 20. The Falcon 10 is shorter with three or four cabin windows, has different cockpit windows and one wheel on the nose landing gear.