29th. November 1962 - The birth date of CONCORDE. That day, in London, representatives of?
29th. November 1962 - The birth date of CONCORDE. That day, in London, representatives of the British and French Governments signed an agreement for the joint development of a supersonic airliner.
Setting the scene for this agreement were five years of independent research in the two countries. Five year that led BRITISH AIRCRAFT CORPORATION and SUD-AVIATION, to the same basic conclusions about supersonic airliner design.
Keynote of the agreement is equality. SUD-AVIATION does rather more of the airframe work than BRITISH AIRCRAFT CORPORATION. BRISTOL SIDDELEY does more of the engine then SNECMA. But overall there is a fifty-fifty sharing between Britain and France. In work, in costs, in revenue.
Now, in wind-tunnels and laboratories, the tempo of CONCORDE research speeded up. Scientists and engineers intensified their quest for solutions to design problems. They tested thousands of samples of materials, for example probing into their structure and behaviour with modern techniques of metallography and crystallography.
CONCORDE, like all supersonic airliners, will operate in wide extremes of temperature. So, cycles of heat and cold continued day and night for months on end prove the strength and integrity of the chosen material, RR.58.
Other laboratory experiments reproduced the effects of kinetic heating on exterior paintwork or the effects of 40,000 hours of wear on seating fabrics.
Photographic analysis, using polaroid light, pin-pointed the stresses that pressurisation forces exert on welds.
There was no end to the ingenuity of the research teams, no limits to their patience.
And at the service of the men, were the machines. Large capacity computers in Britain and France did much of the mathematical spade-work of CONCORDE research.
Analogue computers were widely used. This one is measuring and recording the drag forces at various points on the aircraft wing during a simulated flight.
Wind-tunnel investigations led up to what might almost be called test-flights in miniature. With this model, aerodynamicists could study CONCORDE performance in every phase of flight - From take-off to landing. So, step by step, the way was cleared for the making of CONCORDE.
In drawing-offices at Toulouse and Bristol the design of the aircraft was designed - down to the last rivet.
Then, from the drawings, full-scale mock-ups of CONCORDE were made in wood, so that engineers could solve - in advance - all the intricate problems of installing the aircraft systems and controls. a wooden engine in a wooden hull, but an essential stage on the road to building the real thing.
Spring 1964. The start of cutting metal. From solid metal billets the first components for Concorde began to take form.
In this process - sculpture milling - 90 per cent of the original material is machined away, to be salvaged and used again. The method is costly but faster than any other, and the structural integrity of the parts it produces can be guaranteed
Magnetic control of the machining operations ensures maximum speed and maximum accuracy - however complex the component.
Chemi-etching, another advanced technique, is used to produce components like this panel. Forming is done by successive immersions in acid. During immersion, the parts that will finally stand out in relief are protected.
And to match automated production methods - automated inspection.
Soon in British and French factories, the first components to come off the machines were assembled into fuselage sections - not for the prototype aircraft, but for use at test specimens. These sections were up to fifty feet in length and, for structural testing, were fitted with thousands of strain gauges and miles of electric wiring.
This enormous test piece, had to be moved to the C.E.A.T. research centre at Toulouse by night in a special transport convoy.
For fatigue testing, cyclic loadings are imposed on the specimen to simulate the stresses and strain of actual flight.
Heat is a main ingredient in the structural tests, as it will be in the CONCORDE'S working life.
In this test, infra-red heaters reproduced the supersonic cruise environment while the mechanical loadings reproduced the aerodynamic and pressurisation forces acting on the structure. Jets of liquid nitrogen were used to cool the structure down suddenly - as it will be cooled when the aircraft decelerates for the descent.
For air-conditioning tests, another fuselage section was encased in a high-altitude chamber. To check the efficiency of the cabin cooling system, thermo-couples took the temperature of the metal passengers.
In October 1965 the first flight-type, Olympus 593, engine was completed.
A British research centre began testing the functioning of the CONCORDE's variable-geometry-engine air intakes. The engine air intakes automatically adjust the rate of air-flow, to match the varying requirements of the engine during flight.
A French centre undertook research on the other end of the power-plant - the variable geometry exhaust system-testing its retractable silencers and thrust reversers.
The long process of proving power plant performance and reliability was well underway.
By January 166, B.A.C. and SUD-AVIATION factories were producing actual components for the two prototypes. Large sections of fuselage and wing - recognisable pieces of an aeroplane - took shape in the assembly jigs. This was section 18, a centre fuselage and wing component. The number not only identifies the section but indicates its position in the final assembly.
Elsewhere men worked on sections 12, 14, 20, 24, 10 - and all the other pieces in this vast pattern of anglo-french collaboration.
For eighteen months, manufacture of the 24 main components of CONCORDE went ahead. They were built in duplicate, one for each prototype, and they were built on schedule.
From Toulouse and Filton, from Saint-Nazaire and Weybridge from Preston and Bouguenais, the completed sections moved by road and sea to the two final assembly points.
7th April 1966. Section from Saint-Nazaire fits into place on the Toulouse assembly jig.
29th April 1966. Section 14 leaves Marignane for Toulouse.
With four sections in place, the shape - and the scale - of CONCORDE began to merge. One could walk under the wing, see the under - carriage bay.
From this viewpoint one could imagine the long perspective of the aircraft cabin.
By 31st August, CONCORDE 001's fuselage had grown to well over 100 ft. in length.
That day, the aircraft's tail fuselage section 24 arrived from Preston. Precision engineering on both sides of the channel produced the expected result - the perfect matching of the French-built and British-built components.
At the beginning of September, an Olympus engine, mounted beneath a specially adapted Vulcan bomber, started its 250 hours subsonic flight test programme.
At Filton, sections 16 and 18, lately arrived from Toulouse, were already part of the 002 assembly.
15th October. 001's flight deck section, built at Weybridge was positioned on the jig within hours of arriving at Toulouse.
Not far away, in the CONCORDE flight simulator, another cockpit had been built. The simulator, one of the most advanced in the world, has been designed to re-create the actual conditions in which CONCORDE pilots will have to work.
An analogue computer analyses the pilot's actions and transmits the data to a digital computer. Using this data the digital computer furnishes the pilot with an immediate simulation of the aircraft response to his manoeuvres. For take off and landings, closed-circuit television gives the pilot a visual representation of the airfield.
The simulator can set up all the operational and weather problems that the pilot is ever likely to meet. With it, pilots will master CONCORDE flying techniques long before they take the aircraft off the ground.
In February 1967 assembly of 002 was well advanced at Filton.
And 001 in the SUD-AVIATION hangar at Toulouse was nearly complete as an airframe structure. The next stage was the installation of aircraft systems and controls.
Although much has been done, there is still much to do. In the years ahead as in years past, the skill, the faith, the work of thousands of men and women in Britain and France will go ???.
The making of the CONCORDE.