Concorde — the Rise and Fall of the Supersonic Airliner by Jonathan Glancey www.atlantic-books.co.uk £20. Hardback, 309 pages, colour ilustration
How welcome it is to see a specialist book from someone who can write — Jonathan Glancey was for many years the architecture and design correspondent of the Guardian and Independent newspapers and is the author of a number of books, including Spitfire. He is also a pilot.
Thus what might appear to be yet another book on this widely exposed aircraft is actually one very much worth reading. Jonathan Glancey sets the facts that we all perhaps think we know in a wider historical context that allows more sense to be made of the decisions that led to the Concorde programme and shaped its development.
There are also the things we — or at least this reviewer — didn’t know. To pick one at random: Concorde’s planned takeoff weight rose from a planned 270,000lb to 400,000, 175,000 of this being the basic aircraft mass (engines, 52,000lb and airframe, 123,000). It was lifting approximately 1.3 times twice its weight — which is impressive enough — but what is astonishing is that of the total 225,000lb load, 200,000 was fuel. Concorde may not have made economic sense (although it was certainly profitable to BA) but the author’s enthusiasm is catching: when all is said, what a magnificent achievement it was to transport people at a sustained crusing speed no jet fighter could match. PW