G-AXDN. British Aircraft Corporation Concorde 102. c/n 13522-101.


This aircraft was a pre-production model built by British Aircraft Corporation at the Filton, Bristol plant. It was entered onto the British Aircraft Register as G-AXDN (Certificate of Registration, R.10001/1) on April 16, 1969. The British Civil Aircraft Register shows it being registered to The Minister of Technology, London. However, the Register also shows that this information was crossed out and re-written as registered to The Minister of Aviation Supply, London (which is also crossed out!). A third entry in the Register shows G-AXDN as being registered to The Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry, London under Certificate of Registration, 6346. No other dates appear on this original document, although it is believed the aircraft may have been re-registered to the Minister of Aviation Supply on February 19, 1971.

It was rolled out at Filton on September 20, 1971. It flew for the time from Filton to land at Fairford under the command of Captain Brian Trubshaw and Captain John Cochrane as Co-Pilot on December 17, 1971. This has been recorded as the first flight of a British built pre-production prototype Concorde.

"Although known to many as '01' the correct designation for the aircraft was '101'. Initially designated '01', the serial number was changed to a three digit number, as the two digit number was not easily handled by the computer systems at that time. The fact that the model number for the production aircraft was to be '100' (the basic model), with '101' being allocated to French built airframes and '102' to British built airframes, were also possibly a factor why many still think of the aircraft simply as being '01'.

"The gestation period of the aircraft was so long that inevitably its design and specifications changed after the Prototype design had been frozen. Hence, the Pre-production aircraft had a different wing plan form, carried more fuel, had a higher engine standard, a 'glass' visor rather than metal one and a different intake system.

"The intake system on the British Pre-production aircraft was even different again, finally coming out very close to the final standard of the aircraft. Although the Pre-production aircraft were not actually superfluous, they were in a sense a luxury, although probably necessary to keep the momentum of the project alive! The British Pre-production aircraft operated approximately 600 hours, and the French models a little more, in truth their contribution to the whole exercise turned out to be rather less than was first intended" (Info by Peter Baker, BAC Concorde Flight Test Pilot)

Its first supersonic flight (limited to Mach 1.5) was performed on February 12, 1972. It was then returned to Filton for modifications on August 10, 1972. These modifications included the fitting of a digitally controlled, variable-geometry engine air intakes in place of the fixed ones which had been used until then. New Olympus 593 Mk 602 production standard engines were added along with new wing leading edges that improved aerodynamic performance. It returned to Fairford to re-commence the flight test programme on March 15, 1973.

It was flown to Tangier for engine intake performance trials on January 3, 1974 before returning to Fairford five days later. Further intake trials were conducted at Tangier following modification to intake control systems on March 26, 1974. During these tests, the aircraft reached the highest speed ever reached by a Concorde of Mac 2.23 (1,480 mph) at a then record height of 63,700 feet. This was later surpassed when another Concorde flew to 68,000 feet.

G-AXDN flew to the French Concorde Test Centre at Toulouse in June 1974, to take part in taxi-ing trials in specially constructed water troughs. These tests were to try various types of water defectors that would be fitted to production aircraft to prevent water from a wet runway surface being thrown up into the engine air intakes. G-AXDN also participated at the SBAC Farnborough Air Show in September 1974, flying there each day from Fairford to open the flying display.

Another notable flight occured when G-AXDN flew from Fairford to Bangor, Maine, USA, in a record time of  2 hours 56 minutes on November 7, 1974. This was the fastest ever East-West crossing of the North Atlantic, by a commercial airliner to date. She was en-route to Moses Lake, Washington State, for trials to prove the efficiency of Concorde’s de-icing system. The aircraft had been fitted with a miniature closed-circuit TV system which included a camera that was fitted to the outside of the fuselage and a monitoring station in the rear cabin. The flight from Bangor to Moses Lake took 4 hours 43 minutes, which was another record, this time for the fastest East-West crossing of the United States.

The return flight from Moses Lake to Bangor set another record time of 3 hours 50 minutes on December 11, 1974. G-AXDN arrived back at Fairford in the exact same time it took to fly the outward leg on December 13, 1974 She also visited Nairobi, Kenya flying via Cairo, Egypt, for tropical icing trials on February 26, 1975. The return flight to Fairford was carried out on March 12, 1975.

With test and development flying completed on G-AXDN, the aircraft was withdrawn from use and stored at Fairford on May 15, 1975. G-AXDN was flown back to Filton for further storage and the Fairford Flight Test Centre was closed on January 21, 1977.

In August 1977 G-AXDN was readied for her final flights to facilitate its delivery to Duxford. One engine had to be borrowed to make the aircraft airworthy once again. Tests were carried out at Filton to check that the aircraft could safely be landed and brought to a halt on the 6,000ft runway at Duxford on August 18, 1977. Its final flight operated from Filton to Duxford was under the command of Captain Brian Trubshaw and Captain John Cochrane took place on August 20, 1977. G-AXDN, now preserved and placed on display at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, U.K. was opened to the public from March 1978.

On retirement G-AXDN had flown a total of 574 hours and 49 minutes with 273 cycles. It flew a total of 168 supersonic speed cycles, with 217 hours flown at Mach 1+ and 170 hours at Mach 2+.


G-AXDN. Aerospatiale France British Aircraft Corporation - in the original livery at Duxford, date unknown.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 1926-038.)