Concorde Swirls

A record sleeve today, a first for the blog, probably not the last. Certainly not the first or the last featuring the unique shape of Concorde however.

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The record sleeve, image supplied by Dr Peter Hobbins, has a magnificent 1970 style aesthetic. The image features a test model of the Aérospatiale / BAC Concorde supersonic airliner, and features the lines that symbolise supersonic shock waves. From the internal evidence I think this may be a water, rather than an air test, but I’m not certain.

Anything else to say? It’s worth noting that when the record was released, the presence of Concorde as a supersonic machine was so widely known the shape and image needed no introduction. Of course the photograph itself has an almost modernist stained glass artistic look, despite actually being simply a technical tool for engineering, used unmodified.

The World in 1965 (34)

And on that note, here are three more of these hauntingly beautiful photographs. The image below is similar to the black and white example, which has a poorly translated online caption:

This is the wind tunnel of the French National Institute for aerospace research in France, on July 16, 1965. It shows a scale model of Concorde, going through tests in heavy wind pressure during landing phase. The tourbillions are photographed at the trailing wings. The fuselage (white circle) is illuminated, thus allowing the picture to be taken.

The inset image shows where the coloured smoke trails are originating.


Note, again, none of the images are ‘the real thing’ as they’re all scale models in artificial, controlled environments of course. The last image manages to present another view of the airflow, showing the super sonic shockwaves – note the limits of the tunnel have ‘bounced’ them back aft of the aircraft, making diamond shapes.


It’s all very pretty, yet it’s almost entirely form following a very precise, demanding function. But then so were these.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Images: Author’s collection (originally Aérospatiale / BAC), from Dr Peter Hobbins and here.

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