Concorde as a bomber

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Luath, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. Luath I like Trains

    Jun 4, 2012
    CF 105 III cockpit
    Hello all, over on the whatif forum there has been some debate and some fantastic models of the Concorde airline as a Bomber or Bomcorde. I'm not signed into whatif so I can't ask there, and I've recently started to wonder about the practicality of this idea. I unfortunately know little about aircraft physics and will have to do some reading on Concorde. So is there any merit to this idea?

    The screamingly obvious economic factors not withstanding.


    I heartily recommend for anyone who is interested in modeling alternative aircraft
  2. Just Leo Contrarian with a heart of gold

    Aug 19, 2009
    This has been said to be Concorde-like.

  3. Luath I like Trains

    Jun 4, 2012
    CF 105 III cockpit
    Damn it Leo! Now I've got drool all over my best shirt:p
  4. viewcode Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2012
    Military Concorde: brief overview

    Suggested uses include a BlueSteel/SRAM carrier, a *very* fast paratroop deployment method, an AWACS aircraft, a reconaissance aircraft: i.e. in competition with a B1, a Hercules, a 707, a SR-71. It's a tribute to the general scrumptiousness of the design that it could compete in those disparate roles.

    • One of the few aircraft ever that can do supersonic without reheat/afterburners and for a prolonged (>1hr) period of time

    • Vulnerability to SAMs,
    • Usefulness (there is always another more specialised aircraft that does a better job)
    • Range - it can *just* about do transatlantic but no further, so London-NY or London-Boston but not London-Chicago.


    Search terms:
    • XW520,
    • Arthur Gibson,
    • Bombcorde,
    • Bomcorde

  5. AndyC Shadow Secretary of State for Infrastructure Donor

    Apr 9, 2011
    Merit would be similar to that for the XB-70 Valkyrie, I guess, other than Concorde being slower and with less range.
  6. Astrodragon Coffee-seeking Dragon Donor

    Sep 24, 2008
    UK - Oxfordshire
    Or if you really want to go nuts, do a Charlie Stross and build a Tsar Bomb into the fuselage for a one-way mission.... :) :)
  7. Just Leo Contrarian with a heart of gold

    Aug 19, 2009
    The Soviet Union would have to react, arms races being what they are, until one side is broke.

  8. hairysamarian Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2011
    I have to admit, that's what came to mind for me. The damned thing was a gas-guzzler to say the least.

    Still, it seems like a plausible idea to me. A purpose-built aircraft like the Lancer would have to be better, but it wouldn't be the first time that a civilian craft had a useful military version.
  9. Ming777 ATL Aviator Donor Monthly Donor

    Apr 22, 2008
    I always wondered if say as a last ditch defense, they decided to turn an entire Concorde into a massive missile. Fly it radio controlled or automated, packed with explosive or a massive nuclear warhead...
  10. zippy Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    the blue steel / Skybolt/ ALCM launcher suggestion is valid - if the cold War had been a little hotter then the UK could have ended up with both Polaris and Blue Steel / Skybolt

    equally if the political will had been there and the Vulcan hadn't been able to cope at low level - TSR2 / F111 / interdictor concorde ?

    very fast paratroop deployment -it's a possibility; presumably with a 727 style rear belly airstair / jump ramp and a hi -lo- hi mission profile

    AWACS - perhaps not the reason the UK originally went for a Nimrod based solution was becasue of the known layout advantages for loiter time of the comet derived airframe ( i.e. the close set engines making 2 and 3 engine running much less of an issue than with a 707 type layout ) and eventually ending up with the Sentry when the AEW Nimrod program collapsed

    a strategic recon aircraft why not - could have also provided a EW /ELINT / SIGINT platform given the cabin size but again it;s the trade off of penetration vs loiter ( and hence the use of the EC135 by the US and the Comet / Nimrod R1 by the UK )
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  11. viewcode Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2012
    And you win a powerboat. But I live in Sheffield, Jim.

    Hmm, agreed. If the UK wanted to get stuff done really cheap and come up with something really useful, it'd go for the very fast paratroop option: shove a refuelling probe on the forehead, replace the forward left-hand door with a sealed unit to let the fuel pipe come thru into the passenger cabin and thence to the internal tanks, take the seats and overhead racks out, replace them with floor/ceiling rings to attach webbing to, the 'troops exit out the back doors using a telescoping pole similar to the Orbiter emergency egress method[1] to avoid the Olympus engines and wings. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, cheap as chips, 18 months max, five birds, you can put 200x5 paratroops on hostile ground anywhere on Earth in 12-24 hours and resupply them every day until they get bored. Global reach for the UK, marvellous.

    Of course, it won't go like that. So we'll turn it into a Blue Steel/Skybolt launcher. It'll be too expensive and go over budget.... :mad:
  12. FlyingDutchman Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2007

    ? You're kidding right?

    Of all the things one could use the Concorde for and for which it wasn't designed, the 'fast paratroop' option is probably the least needed, the least practical, the least likely and the most costly, considering anybody can see the Concorde is completely unsuitable for that because:

    - it's too fast (you'll scatter your paratroops over 3 different countries and the chance of injuries is massive);
    - no rear ramp for fast egress (you'll scatter them over yet more countries), the pole is a neat idea, but designed to exit a handfull of people, not 60ish heavily-laden paratroops as quickly as possible;
    - max 128 passengers (which equals to what 60ish paratroops at most, which is equal to what a cheap, versatile C-130 carries);
    - cost;
    - not versatile;
    - no refueling possible yet, so that'll need to be developed too, which'll cost you;
    - it'll need to be redesigned for depressurization etc, opening a big door during flight isn't exactly in the original design specifications;
    - I must have missed the need for a superfast paratroop carrier :p

    Furthermore, designing an aircraft for dropping paratroops isn't as easy as it might seem. The C-17 had bucketloads of issues and wasn't cleared for paratroops untill after quite a delay and quite a lot of cost, and unlike the Concorde, the C-17 was actually designed to carry paratroopers.

    The only possible use for the Concorde would be as a missile carrier, but even that's fraught with problems. I'd rather use the VC-10 for that, which would actually be a cheap, usefull conversion. However, the UK chose never to use them for that, despite buying quite a few on the cheap in the '80s.
  13. zippy Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    i caqn see your concerns

    Hi-Lo-Hi mission profile negates parts of that - the difference being the speed and range is potential far greater

    - it;s not too fast if your paradrop is undertaken as a speed similar to that of other airframes - concorde is perfectly capable f behaving like a subsonic jetliner

    - hence my suggestion of a 727 style rear airstair / ramp which would achieve similar through put to normal side door static line ops - the big tailramp is great for equipment / supplies / 'display' free fall but not essential

    - depressurisation would only be an issue for high level drops - but most military parachuting is not HALO or conventional free fall it;s static line ...
  14. viewcode Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2012
    All we need is a big saw and some pliers. I'll make the tea.

    I agree that a tail ramp would be better but there is a fuel tank[1] behind the rear bulkhead and for military spec pprune reckon you'd need to fit a auxiliary power unit, poss in the tail. So there may not be room for it.

  15. viewcode Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2012
    Yes, I am kidding...and no I am not... :)

    Being less glib for a moment, if the question is "how do I transport paratroops?" you are correct: the answer is not "retrofit concordes". However, if the question is "Here are 5 concordes. BA don't want them any more. The RAF can have them for free. What can it do with them, assuming a very low development budget?", then one of the viable answers is "transport paratroops with them"

    The air-to-air refuelling bit is easyish: weld probe to front (which is a big pipe with a valve on the front), replace front door with sealed unit, feed pipe from probe into cabin thru sealed unit. Then to internal fuel tanks via cabin floor. External skin not penetrated, so no problems.

    The speed issue is perhaps untractable. Concorde stall speed is ~180knots and I think throwing somebody out of an airplane at that speed is difficult. However, I think (cross fingers) that's the same problem the Shuttle had when post-Challenger it had to develop an emergency egress procedure (the telescoping tube)[2] and it seems to work.

    Decompression? Open door at low level (the hi-lo-hi profile Zippy mentioned), close it before getting outta Dodge.

    Cost? Petrol is cheaper than milk. Very few structural changes equals low cost.

    Need? Probably not much, but you know they're gonna drool when they see them.

  16. viewcode Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2012
    I see bare bricks, strip down the floorboards, perhaps some matting. Let's go to Ikea

    Incidentally, if you want to see what a civilian airliner looks like when you adapt it for (quasi)military use and strip out everything inside, you get this YouTube[3] of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a former (American Airlines?) civilian 747

  17. Luath I like Trains

    Jun 4, 2012
    CF 105 III cockpit
    Viewcord I just want to thank you for the mine of information you've provided here.