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Building Concorde

Building Concorde Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review December 2018 Title Building Concorde
Author Tony Buttler with Jean-Christophe Carbonel Publisher Crecy
Published 2018 ISBN 9780859790154
Format 264 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $35.95


The sleek, stiletto-like Concorde supersonic transport arguably remains history's most stunning Anglo-French aerospace production program.

Now the aptly Anglo-French team of Tony Buttler with Jean-Christophe Carbonel relate the spellbinding saga in Crécy Publishing's lavishly illustrated Building Concorde – available in North America from Specialty Press.

The subtitle "From Drawing Board to Mach 2" tells it all.

Contents commence with four chapters of supersonic transport design studies and production antecedents in Britain, France, and the United States.

How about Bristol's Type 198 VTOL proposal with an astonishing 30 wing lift engines? And Sud Aviation's Super Caravelle with nuclear engines? Or North American's M3000 XB-70 derivative?

A fifth chapter recaps the political and economic kabuki dance leading to Anglo-French Concorde cooperation – including stillborn efforts to include West Germany and Italy.

The subsequent sixth and seventh sections explore "a sample of the more detailed technical issues that had to be solved". And an eighth considers supporting research aircraft.

Along the way, authors explore advancements in aerodynamics, propulsion, fabrication, metallurgy, and thermodynamics required for Concorde's sustained Mach 2 performance. Curious about development of the design's distinctive "droop nose"? This superb study examines the innovation.

Comments also cover factors affecting passenger and crew – ergonomics, payload, seating, and other issues. And key project personalities naturally receive requisite recognition.

Concorde achieves testing, production, and service in chapters nine and ten. There, readers will discover that the most pessimistic plans projected 225 "Concorde sales … by 1975"!

Alas, only 16 were eventually manufactured. Just 14 of those actually saw service. And the "tragic crash and loss of Air France's F-BTSC" in 2000 sadly presaged Concorde's demise in 2003.

Despite "excellent" performance and "outstanding reliability", Concorde had finally capitulated to environmental activism, shifting circumstances, spiraling costs, and poisonous politics.

Hundreds of photos and drawings augment the account. And an informative Tupolev Tu-144 sidebar further supplements the survey.

Get the whole, terrific tale. Grab this superb, 240-page study.


With thanks to Specialty Press for the review copy.