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There is a group on Facebook hosting a British aviation what if group build, my plan is to modify a Revell Concorde to a militarised bomber or missile carrier. I'd likely use a set of shrike missiles from a GWH Vulcan B.2 I have leftover from my Vulcan B.1a conversion and attach them somewhere a bit behind the nose wheel. I don't think a pure bomber is exactly realistic as there's really nowhere for a bomb bay to go.

 

If Concorde had been militarised, what modifications could be expected? I'm certainly going to modify the nose to be somewhat similar to the prototype nose style, but beyond that and the Shrikes I'm stuck... 

 

The three schemes I could go with would be white as per the airliners, camouflage or silver. I know darker paint schemes like camouflage can cause issues on supersonic aircraft like Concorde (see that one time one was painted blue). Could this have been dealt with on Concorde? 

EDIT: also looking at reconnaissance aircraft

Edited by Adam Poultney
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How about an ELINT model like the Sentinel? I think if the original Concorde had been militarised it wouldn't have carried any external stores as that would have ruined the top speed due to drag. I also think there would have been room for a modest bomb bay as the fuselage isn't that narrow compared to other bombers.

 

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It would have to be white to work, really, and no external stores in terms of Skybolts or similar on pylons would make sense. No point at all using that platform unless it can still go long distances at Mach 2+: unlike most aeroplanes if a Concorde can't make its speed its range is also crucified, and you'd be better off souping up a Vulcan or Victor.

 

Iron bombs or anything else free-fall from a conventional bomb bay are out for supersonic delivery and as Graham points out there is not much space  to put them unless they are really a minimal load. The baggage hold behind the nosewheel bay (space 40 below)  is about 225 cubic feet and based on the known seat pitch it's about 11 or 12 feet long. It's a long way forward of the CG and Graham's underlying point is not that the static CG might be put out when loading, but that the sudden trim shift on dropping the ordnance would cause the aeroplane to pitch up catastrophically and break up in flight. It's only a 2.5G limit airframe so needs to be handled gently at all times.

 

The aircraft has scope to pump fuel around to move the CG for the CP shift between subsonic and supersonic flight but that doesn't act as quickly as it would need to. Some kind of active fly-by-wire foreplane system might be devised to provide a corrective trim change faster than a human pilot or the conventional autopilot could.

 

4.jpg

 

Two suggestions for more credible weapons which might work:

 

1) The only place I can see to put any decent sized delivery missile in a close derivative of the existing airframe would be the passenger cabin. and deploy it out of a bomb bay arrangement in the sides or roof of the cabin. This could possibly be a rotating affair, of the Buccaneer or B-57 type. I imagine this would necessitate subsonic deployment, which rather upsets the mission profile, but there you are. It also requires a missile capable of reliably climbing away from launch before descending towards the target, but with a decent motor and a 600+ knot launch speed that should be achieveable with a minimum of wing, something pop-out like on a submarine-launched cruise missile would work fine, or possibly just a lifting body.

 

2) If you want to have a more versatile delivery bay then adopt a B-58 style pod.  It would have to be very carefully developed aerodynamically, as the B-58 pod had to be 

b58-3.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Work In Progress
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Do you want a "realistic" what-if or just a what-if ?
If a realistic one, then there would have been no bomber based on the Concorde, as by the time this flew the era of the pure high-altitude supersonic bomber was over. The only "military" mission a Concorde derivative could have fulfilled would have been high profile VIP transport and I have to say that a model in overall white with blue cheat line and red tail with 32 Sqn. markings would look quite good.

 

If you want to go for a less realistic option, then a missile carrier would make more sense than a pure bomber, but I doubt that Concorde could have really carried that many missiles. In any case these would have been missiles with some strategic capability, not certainly a tactical missile like a Shrike... yes, the Shrike was used by the Vulcan but this was for a very specific mission that nobody had planned during the career of the Vulcan.

A potential candidate could have been the AGM-69 SRAM, a weapon that would have suited well a type with high speed and relatively small load carrying capability. This missile was an important part of the US bomber fleet arsenal and the development timeframe would fit well with a Concorde derivative. 1/144 SRAMs are available from OzMods.

With the SRAM being a relatively small missile, it could be possible to imagine some sort of external conformal bay, maybe one at each wing root. This would allow to carry the missiles while retaining a low drag. Alternatively some sort of semirecessed carrying system could be designed, in the style of the AN-52 arrangement under the Mirage IV

Another option would be an external pod B-58 style, and this has just been proposed while I typed, so have a look at the previous post.

In any case, there's the matter of what to do with the room now available in the fuselage.. and the answer would probably be to turn it into a giant fuel tank. This may have required strengthening the structure and consequently the landing gear. Really some structural strengthening would have likely been required anyway as generally bombers are designed for higher dynamic loads than airliners, so a beefier landing gear would make sense.

Another change could be moving to a 4-men crew in individual ejection capsules, again B-58 style. This on a 1/144 scale model would just result in some new panel lines.

 

It is debatable which colour scheme would have been the most "probable".. overall white makes sense as this is very well suited to continuous operation at M2 and high altitude. A similar scheme was supposed to be used on the B-70 and the later B-1A was also supposed to wear a similar scheme. At the same time other supersonic bombers were operated in natural metal while other supersonic aircraft were camouflaged with no problem.  Said that, the only military aircraft to actualy operate for long time at high speed and altitude was painted black overall...

 

All the above is of course just some random thought, the truth is that a bomber derivative of the Concorde would have been a uselessly expensive and stupid idea...

Even had the RAF wanted to have a supersonic bomber, the best option would have been to design a new one based on the experience gained with the Concorde program

 

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Being an :clif: I recall an RAF Yearbook in the 60's I am sure (maybe very early 70's) with an article by J W R Taylor with an artists sketch of a militarised Concorde with Blue Steel Missile (s?) underslung.  I can see the problems as posted above with such a payload.  The concept I think was to dash to a stand off position outside SAM/ Air defence threat and fire in stand off missiles like the B-52 - only get there faster.

 

Assuming the cabin is stripped out would a bay with a rotary dispenser like the B-1 be possible?

 

Generally airliners don't make adequate bombers due to design limitations FW200 anyone?

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43 minutes ago, Adam Poultney said:

Didn't the B58 carry some weapons on wing hardpoints? also the engine pods would have created huge drag. surely a Concorde could manage the same

A Concorde could fly with stuff hung under it but only subsonically and therefore with vastly reduced range, at which point the Victor hands it its P.45. Any airframe which is massively optimised to cruise at in excess of Mach 2 for long distances becomes pointless if you try to make it into a subsonic bomb truck

Edited by Work In Progress
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Started an Airfix 1/72 Concorde when it first came out in 2004 as an SR.1 of 543 Squadron , theory being supersonic dash to and from target area with high-subsonic radar/photo reconnaissance run.     Printed my own unit badges for the tail and finished in a high gloss DSG/Dark Green over LAG with a retractable radome under the fuselage forward of the wing and scabbed on camera fairings aft result was rather big and impressive looking but the parts and joints were almost short-run quality.    

 

Got as far as painting and decaling but recall having problems with the wheels being very fragile and never got round to drilling out the axles and replacing with steel rod , really should get it down from the loft and finish the job although possibly by this time the rubber tyres provided by Airfix will have perished.

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1 minute ago, Des said:

Started an Airfix 1/72 Concorde when it first came out in 2004 as an SR.1 of 543 Squadron , theory being supersonic dash to and from target area with high-subsonic radar/photo reconnaissance run.     Printed my own unit badges for the tail and finished in a high gloss DSG/Dark Green over LAG with a retractable radome under the fuselage forward of the wing and scabbed on camera fairings aft result was rather big and impressive looking but the parts and joints were almost short-run quality.    

 

Got as far as painting and decaling but recall having problems with the wheels being very fragile and never got round to drilling out the axles and replacing with steel rod , really should get it down from the loft and finish the job although possibly by this time the rubber tyres provided by Airfix will have perished.

mmmmm that's an idea... PR Concorde.... 

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3 minutes ago, Des said:

Started an Airfix 1/72 Concorde when it first came out in 2004 as an SR.1 of 543 Squadron , theory being supersonic dash to and from target area with high-subsonic radar/photo reconnaissance run.     

this makes a lot of sense as a role, as would any sort of ELINT role which could be done with very low profile sensors - although what would be the benefit of dropping out of supersonic flight for the data gathering? You wouldn't drop subsonic with an SR-71, cause that's when you get shot down as well as losing your range.  

 

Concordes don't dash or sprint, they are not Phantoms or Lightnings. They are marathon runners which run at incredibly high speed for very long distances. Any time when they are not doing that they are at a serious disadvantage over other types

Edited by Work In Progress
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I didn't say that there wasn't such a space, just pointing out that any bomb bay would have to go where there was.  There wouldn't be all that much extra weight in role equipment, and as most of it would be sensors they would be clustered in or around the nose, pulling the cg forward so the further aft the bombbay the better.  The nose baggage bay is far too far forwards.  It may well be possible to find a fuel bay in the centre-section that could be otherwise used, with additional fuel fore and aft in the unwanted cabin space.  A good cutaway should offer evidence for such a possibility.  Or go for a pod, as suggested above, but then you'd have to area-rule the fuselage, and it wouldn't be Concorde any more.  Remember the Buccaneer's rotating bomb bay.

 

The problem with Shrikes is that they require a clear view ahead for their sensors, so would have to be held clear of the airframe on some kind of trapeze - again, not supersonic.  Assuming they could launch supersonic... which maybe so.  

 

It may be a WIF, but there's a bit more fun in creating a feasible one than a WTF.

 

Is there anything in Chris Gibson's book on postwar RAF bombers about military Concorde variants?  There may be some ideas there.  (If not, plenty of other WIFs.)  Or perhaps in at least some of the various Concorde books?

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1 minute ago, Giorgio N said:

Do you want a "realistic" what-if or just a what-if ?
If a realistic one, then there would have been no bomber based on the Concorde, as by the time this flew the era of the pure high-altitude supersonic bomber was over. The only "military" mission a Concorde derivative could have fulfilled would have been high profile VIP transport and I have to say that a model in overall white with blue cheat line and red tail with 32 Sqn. markings would look quite good.

 

Giorgio has hit the nail on the head there IMHO.  Even the US dropped the high level high speed concept at around that time.  It does not stop a Wiff though - after all we have them for RAF Angel Interceptors from Captain Scarlet !!

 

I disagree with Giorgio though that a Concorde all white in RAF markings would look "quite good".  It would look fantastic.  Pity it never happened.

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1 minute ago, Work In Progress said:

this makes a lot of sense as a role, as would any sort of ELINT role which could be done with very low profile sensors - although what would be the benefit of dropping out of supersonic flight for the data gathering? You wouldn't drop subsonic with an SR-71, cause that's when you get shot down as well as losing your range. 

Was thinking of the Victor SR.2 mission which provided maritime radar reconnaissance and with a suitable scabbed-on array possibly being ahead of the game (for the UK at least) at that time and a fixed conventional radar being problematic aerodynamically I imagined a retractable radome being used at subsonic speed when I built it.

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If your going WHIF - what about an expanded ELINT role where it was capable of dropping a few of these (or comparable)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_MQM-105_Aquila

I know the idea was to get F-4s into the target zones with one of these underwing, then loiter out of the range of AA defenses whilst these little drones laser designated targets. Much lighter, could be deployed within an aeroshell at supersonic/high altitudes, and still gives you a cool "payload"

EDIT - found cool drawing by Arthur Gibson of proposed militarized Concorde.

 

C2FKUR4WgAADpKy.jpg

Edited by Kushan_Farsight
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A chap called Arthur Gibson did both a three view drawing and an artist impression

 

Heard it said that supersonic manned bomber aircraft in the UK died with the Avro 730

 

 

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ALCM carrier? There was a proposition some 30 to 35 years ago to convert B747 to carry and launch an insane number (70 or so IIRC) of cruise missiles. Much too many for Concorde but she could easily carry five or six AGM-86 missiles. So, does beefed up internal structure, bomb bay doors built at predetermined C. G. for launching speed, and missiles suspended from ceiling and traveling on rails to a launching point so not to disturb aircraft's trim too much sounds realistic enough? Cheers

Jure

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9 minutes ago, Jure Miljevic said:

ALCM carrier? There was a proposition some 30 to 35 years ago to convert B747 to carry and launch an insane number (70 or so IIRC) of cruise missiles. Much too many for Concorde but she could easily carry five or six AGM-86 missiles. So, does beefed up internal structure, bomb bay doors built at predetermined C. G. for launching speed, and missiles suspended from ceiling and traveling on rails to a launching point so not to disturb aircraft's trim too much sounds realistic enough? Cheers

Jure

 

The problem is that the AGM-86 is s subsonic missile and would not benefit from being carried and launched by a supersonic aircraft. If we want to accept the added expense of a supersonic carrier aircraft like a Concorde, then the missile must benefit from being launched at such speed. A supersonic ALBM or ALCM would  work well, assuming the type selected could be launched at supersonic speed or modified to do so.

The drawing posted above is very nice, I have some reservations regarding the caption though.. a relatively inexpensive deterrent manned bomber ??? A militarised Concorde would have likely been a very expensive thing !

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One serious question about that proposal is what makes a Concorde (tiny, very expensive, scarce) a better ACLM carrier than a 747 (abundantly available, vast, cheap)

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8 minutes ago, Work In Progress said:

One serious question about that proposal is what makes a Concorde (tiny, very expensive, scarce) a better ACLM carrier than a 747 (abundantly available, vast, cheap)

Supersonic flight to target. I assume it would be acting in a first strike capacity to take AA and Radar out before larger strategic bombers arrived on the scene.

Secondly it may not be the best thing for commercial air travel if every 747 off the edge of soviet airspace was considered a potential threat! 

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6 minutes ago, Kushan_Farsight said:

Supersonic flight to target. I assume it would be acting in a first strike capacity to take AA and Radar out before larger strategic bombers arrived on the scene.

Secondly it may not be the best thing for commercial air travel if every 747 off the edge of soviet airspace was considered a potential threat! 

 

That would be a mission in part similar to that of the FB-111.  A type that was much smaller than a Concorde.

Speaking of size, the Concorde was not really a small aircraft. The B-1, that could be considered one of the larger strategic bombers, is some 15 m shorter than a  Concorde and with wings swept aft has a similar wingspan.

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2 minutes ago, Kushan_Farsight said:

Supersonic flight to target. I assume it would be acting in a first strike capacity to take AA and Radar out before larger strategic bombers arrived on the scene.

Secondly it may not be the best thing for commercial air travel if every 747 off the edge of soviet airspace was considered a potential threat! 

1st point: that is a good one to raise because we have not taken it into consideration so far. By the time the first Concorde flew in  March 1969 the RAF was already quitting the business of being the strategic nuclear arm of the British armed forces, handing over to the Polaris submarine fleet in July the same year, replacing the nuclear role of the V-force. So first strike in the context of strategic nuclear exchange was already by a means far faster and less interceptable than any Concorde. 

 

2nd point: They already were, because all the tankers on which western air power depended, and many of the recon types  that kept an eye on the Soviet Union, looked exactly like airliners (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_007 )

 

And all of this brings out a big truth of military procurement, which supplies the answer to the question "why was there never a military Concorde" as well as the answer to many similar questions. When you are specifying bombers the starting point is not "can we do something cool with airframe X?", it is "we want to deliver this weapon to this target under these assumed circumstances - what sort of delivery system do we need to do that?"

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