PLANTING THE SUPERSONIC SEED

BEFORE CONCORDE

Turning supersonic jet travel into a reality required the British aviation industry to show its most innovative side. Before it morphed into an Anglo-French effort, designs emerged from manufacturers on this side of the Channel — among them, some of the most radical oTherings they had ever proposed

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A model of the Armstrong Whitworth M-wing SST study designated AWP13 (report R-261).
BARRY JAMES/ MIDLAND AIR MUSEUM

Aircraft designers and engineers had many problems to overcome in their efforts to build, fly and operate a commercial supersonic transport. There were the obvious areas of structural materials and airframe overheating, powerplants, noise and the sonic boom. But on top of these were aspects such as the new demands of maintaining a high supersonic speed over long distances, fitting in with traffic patterns, navigation at these high speeds and long-range communications. Then there was passenger comfort — for example, passing through Mach 1 had to be a smooth affair for the passengers, without any buffet or vibration to spill their drinks. Finally, all this had to be achieved while making the aircraft profitable. A most complex cocktail.

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