Vintage: Concorde first supersonic passenger jet (1960s)

Vintage: Concorde first supersonic passenger jet (1960s)


The origins of the Concorde project date to the early 1950s, when Arnold Hall, director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) asked Morien Morgan to form a committee to study the supersonic transport (SST) concept. The group met for the first time in February 1954 and delivered their first report in April 1955.

At the time it was known that the drag at supersonic speeds was strongly related to the span of the wing.[N 1] This led to the use of very short-span, very thin rectangular wings such as those seen on the control surfaces of many missiles, or in aircraft like the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter or the Avro 730 that the team studied. The team outlined a baseline configuration that looked like an enlarged Avro 730.

This same short span produced very little lift at low speed, which resulted in extremely long take-off runs and frighteningly high landing speeds. In an SST design, this would have required enormous engine power to lift off from existing runways, and to provide the fuel needed, “some horribly large aeroplanes” resulted. Based on this, the group considered the concept of an SST infeasible, and instead suggested continued low-level studies into supersonic aerodynamics.

UNITED KINGDOM – SEPTEMBER 09: Farnborough Air Show Exhibition In United Kingdom On September 9Th 1962 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

FRANCE – AUGUST 22: First Arrest Test For The Concorde Prototype 001 At Toulouse In France On August 22Nd 1968 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

UNITED KINGDOM – SEPTEMBER 01: Bristol Filton; Hm The Queen Elizabeth Ii And Concord Supersonic Airliner Model At The British Aircraft Corporation In September 1966. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

UNSPECIFIED – OCTOBER 01: British Aircraft Corporation, Concorde New Cockpit Construction On October 1963 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

A wooden mock up of the supersonic aircraft ‘Concorde’ at Filton in Bristol, England, October 24, 1963. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

A team of designers examining the interior of Concorde, April 1964. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A model line up of the various designs suggested for the shape of Concorde, the eventual deign is at the far end of the row. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Cleaners at work on the prototype supersonic airliner Concorde 002, at the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) works at Filton, Bristol, 30th January 1967. (Photo by Ron Moran/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Cleaners at work on the prototype supersonic airliner Concorde 002, at the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) works at Filton, Bristol, 30th January 1967. (Photo by Ron Moran/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 08: Toulouse Blagnac International Airport, Concorde Aircraft, Vibration Tests On September 8Th 1967 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)


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