BAE archives unearth designs by British engineers

The Fighter Jet Take-off Platform design. Picture: PA
The Fighter Jet Take-off Platform design. Picture: PA
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INVENTIONS designed by British engineers in the 1960s have been brought to life in a display more in keeping with an ­episode of Thunderbirds.

The forgotten designs, which have been unearthed in BAE Systems’ archives, include a hyper­sonic space-plane capable of travelling at five times the speed of sound, a jeep that leaps over enemy blockades and a commercial aircraft able to take off and land vertically in densely populated cities.

BAE has used animation to show how the projects might have looked if developed ­further, with many worthy of a place in the fleet of International Rescue in the Thunderbirds ­science-fiction television series of the era.

The display coincides with the opening of a new centre to celebrate BAE’s heritage at its military aircraft factory in Warton, Lancashire. It has more than one million historical documents and artefacts in its stores.

The unique designs were produced by engineers in BAE Systems’ predecessor companies, including English Electric, Hawker Siddeley and the British Aircraft Corporation.

BAE’s heritage manager, Howard Mason said: “Although 50 years have passed since these extraordinary designs were first put to paper, we can see how some of the technologies and ideas were developed over time and put to use now in aircraft like the F35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

Mr Mason hopes the examples of forward-thinking will still inspire young people who are considering a career in engineering and pondering the “endless possibilities” of what could be designed.

• The designs can be viewed here