The Concordes That Weren’t: A Collection of 1960s Westway Models from Airlines That Ordered the Supersonic Jet
As everyone knows, the Concorde was only ever operated by two Airlines, British Airways and Air France. Back in the mid 1960s, expectations within the airline industry were very high that the Concorde and super sonic jet travel was the way of the future. At the time, the newest jets flying were single aisle inter continental transports like the Vickers VC-10, Boeing 707 and DC-8. Even the widebody 747 was still on the drawing boards and a few years away from its first maiden flight.
Both the Americans and Europeans were positioning themselves as the leaders in cutting edge airline building. So much so that Boeing had two irons in the fire back in the mid 1960s. They had their 747 project as well as their Boeing “SST Super Sonic Transport” project running in parallel, while the French-British consortium BAC-Aerospacial were in full speed mode developing their faster than sound jetliner called the Concorde.
Executives from the world’s leading airlines of the day were all of the opinion that faster than sound travel for passenger craft made sense, as passengers would demand the latest and greatest aircraft. This mentality was born from the recent experience in upgrading from prop transports to jet transports. So it seemed only logical that faster than sound was the next logical progress from sub sonic jet transport.
This line of thought resulted in many international flag carrier airlines actually signing letters of intent and placing contingent orders for the faster than sound jet transports that were on the drawing boards in the mid 1960s. The orders were contingent on the aircraft actually being built, and operating cost guarantees.
In order to sell the concept of super sonic jet travel to the airlines, the Anglo-French builders of the Concorde had Westway Models of the UK make a series of 1/72 plastic and fiberglass executive models in the liveries of all the perspective airlines. These amazing models were used as sales pieces and given to the airline executives to show what the Concorde would look like as decorated in each airline’s livery of the day.
For collectors of professional aircraft models, these are very special pieces that are really rare collectors items today. So very few of these models survived the 50 years since they were made, and the few that do exist are secure in private collections with very few examples every appearing on the used model market. Some might say these models are rare as hen’s teeth.
The world’s most comprehensive collection of prospective airline customer 1960s airline proposal models of Concorde can be found on display at the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, UK. The models are actually inside the fuselage of the former British Airways Concorde that permanently resides at the museum, and access to the aircraft is by way of a special “Concorde Experience” onboard film and tour that is sold as an add-on the museum’s general admission, which is highly recommended! To visit Brooklands and not go on board their Concorde for the film would be a terrific missed opportunity for any hard-core airline buff. And of course this will allow access to the wonderful collection of proposal airline Concorde models, that cannot be seen anywhere else.
As well know, none of the proposal airlines went on the accept delivery of a Concorde as the operating costs and development delays were simply too much of a burden given that the super sonic jet industry was rapidly sidelined by the advent of widebody jetliners including the 747, L-1011 and DC-10 … and eventually the Airbus A300. These very special Concorde proposal models are a reminder and memory of what might have been, but sadly wasn’t.