Model of Bloodhound supersonic car unveiled

Full sized model of Bloodhound SSC (Nick Haselwood) The full size, full length Bloodhound SSC model car unveiled at the Farnborough International Air Show

The British team hoping to drive a car faster than 1,000mph has unveiled a full-scale model of the vehicle.

The 1:1 replica of the 12.8m-long (42ft) Bloodhound SuperSonic Car (SSC) is the result of three years of aerodynamic study.

The model is a star turn at this year's Farnborough International Air Show.

The team has announced that aerospace manufacturer Hampson Industries will begin building the rear of the real vehicle in the first quarter of 2011.

Another deal to construct the front end with a second company is very close.

"We now have a route to manufacture for the whole car," said chief engineer Mark Chapman.

"We would hope to be able to shake down the vehicle on a runway in the UK either at the end of 2011 or at the beginning of 2012," he told BBC News.

Assuming no major issues arise from those runway tests, Bloodhound will be shipped straight to a dried up lakebed known as Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa, to begin its assault on the world land speed record.

Wing Commander Andy Green gives a tour of the Bloodhound SSC model

To claim the record, the vehicle will have to better the mark of 763mph (1,228km/h) set by the Thrust SuperSonic Car in 1997.

But the team believes Bloodhound's superior aerodynamic shape, allied to the immense power of its Falcon hybrid rocket and Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, will take the blue and orange car beyond 1,000mph (1,610km/h).

Three people who worked on Thrust are also engaged in the Bloodhound project.

They are driver Wing Cdr Andy Green, project director Richard Noble and chief aerodynamicist Ron Ayers.

The trio envisaged Bloodhound not just as another record bid but as a project that could inspire children to engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. And the Bloodhound Education Programme has announced here at Farnborough that some 1.5 million school children are now using curriculum resource materials based on the supersonic car.

Key modifications

The model car is on display at the Farnborough air show this week. The real vehicle will weigh about six tonnes, but even the polystyrene and fibre-glass replica weighs 950kg.

Visitors will be able to see in the model the key aerodynamic advances made by the design team at the turn of the year which turned Bloodhound into a driveable car.

Before this point, the car was producing dangerous amounts of lift at high speed in the modelling.

But by playing with the position and shape of key elements of the car's rear end, the design team found a solution that will manage the shockwave passing around and under the vehicle when it goes supersonic.

The effort was assisted greatly by project sponsor Intel. It was able to bring colossal computing power to bear on the lift problem.

"It's called configuration 10," said Mr Chapman. "It's very angular at the back; it's got a very narrow rear-track. Between November and March, we reduced 11 tonnes of lift to zero lift at Mach 1.3. At that point, we had the aerodynamic shape which you see in the show car. It's very stable."

Ron Ayers added: "We're now working on things like the air brakes and engine-bay cooling - detail inside the car. There's a lot of engineering to do. But as far as the outside of the car is concerned, we're pretty much done. Some work still needs to be done on the wheel fairings, the fin, the shape and size of the winglets."

Land speed record comparison

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