The best kept secret
of the cold war is now revealed!
One of the best kept military secrets is the one about the Concorde’s military
cousin. It has always seemed odd that a supersonic airliner would be developed
just to build as few as 20 of them. The cost of such a project could never have
been justified by the profits to be made. Now we have the explanation.
The British supersonic bomber project TSR-2 was cancelled in 1965. This was
because of a joint project with France: A Mach 2 bomber. The BAC-Aerospatiale
Conqueror. To conceal this an airliner was developed as a cover story. This was
40 BAC Conqueror was secretly built. Several new squadrons was raised, one was
the 1557 Squadron.
In fact the RAF sponsored the manufacturing of the airliners. They were crewed
by RAF pilots since this was a way to have the flight training without revealing
the secret of the Conqueror. The Soviet Union did find out about the planes but
they would not admit openly that the enemy had the possibility to deliver a
nuclear bomb over Moscow so they put lot of efforts and money in counter
After the collapse of the Soviet Union both Great Britain and Russia was all too
happy to be able to dismantle these expensive weapon systems. The death for the
civilian Concorde was the dismiss of the last of the RAF Conqueror as the RAF
had no use in sponsoring the British Airways Concorde's any more.
There are suspicions that the same arrangements was made in France between Air
France and the French Air Force but no facts of this has been found so this is
still just speculations that the French Air force also had around 40 planes.
images below to see larger images
The pilots served on
the British Airways Concords as pilots but there was always A-bomb equipped
Conqueror's ready to start. Whenever these planes needed to be airborne it was
always done in bad light conditions and the planes would be marked as British
Airways planes to maintain the secret of their existence.
In an interview
Squadron Leader William E. "Billges" Johns tells the story about how
the squadron got its name:
-"I was a part of the first Conqueror squadron and someone apparently
thought it would be humorous to name the squadron 1557. The distance between
London and Moscow was 1557 miles and since this was during the cold war Moscow
was of course one of the main targets for the squadron.
The Concord was meant to be in service with the B.O.A.C. Corporation (British
Overseas Airways Corporation) and we pilots would be employed by them as a
cover. Because of this we took the BOAC Speed bird logo and doubled it. The
colours became red and blue on a white circle. I guess we wanted to connect to
the colours of the Union Jack.
The government merged the BOAC and BEA companies in to the British Airways
before the Concorde was delivered so we pilots flew for the B.A. instead. Our
devise was: "SPEED AND FORCE".
I used an Airfix kit
that I found second hand very cheap. It was old so the decals wasn't the best. I
thought that I could use it for this project. It was a simple build, all I
needed to do was to build the bomb bay and add some bombs.