Marcel Bloch (1892-1986) was one of the most successful French aircraft designers and industrialists both before and after World War II, under two different names. Starting his first aircraft company, the Société des Avions Marcel Bloch, in 1929, he produced fighter and bomber aircraft for the French Air Forces until just before the Second World War. Being Jewish, he was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp by German occupiers during the war. In 1949, Bloch changed his name to Marcel Dassault, adopting the code name used by his brother in the resistance. The new name was derived from “d’assault,” meaning “for attack.” With his revived company accordingly renamed Société des Avions Marcel Dassault, Dassault oversaw the production of the most innovative military aircraft in France, and among the most innovative of any country, from the 1950s to his death.
Dassault was transformed by a series of mergers beginning in the 1960s, when it acquired rival Breguet Aviation, the combined company being called Dassault-Breguet. A substantial part of Dassault came to be owned in 1998 by Aerospatiale, which later merged into Airbus. The Dassault company, however, still exists as an independent entity and manufactures the Falcon line of business jets as well as manned and unmanned military aircraft.