On March 2, 1969, the legendary Concorde took to the skies for the first time. It instantly became an icon of design and had a performance that was way ahead of its time. With a take-off speed of 250 mph and a cruising speed of 1350 mph (roughly twice that of standard passenger jets today), it could fly from London to New York in just under three and a half hours instead of eight hours (which was standard at the time).
The newly released #10318 LEGO Icons Concorde set features a detailed replica of the world’s most famous supersonic commercial passenger airplane. Just like the real-life Anglo-French passenger jet, the LEGO version has a tiltable droop nose, functioning landing gear, a retractable tail bumper wheel, delta wings with movable elevons, and hinged upper and lower rudders. It also features an accessible seating area with a stand for display in flight, takeoff, and landing modes.
In the video below, Concorde pilot Jacky Ramon, LEGO designer Milan Madge, and LEGO element designer Yoel Mazur discuss the history of what is considered one of the greatest engineering and design feats of the 20th century, and how the world’s most celebrated airliner came to life with LEGO bricks.
Milan and his team went through dozens of iterations of the model, often with the help and support of the Airbus Heritage team who have access to all the Concorde archives. Together, they’ve crafted a precise model that includes the tiltable droop nose, functioning landing gear, retractable tail bumper wheel, and delta wings with movable elevons and hinged upper and lower rudders.
“Concorde is a special aircraft for many reasons,” says Milan. “Even if you’re not aware of the engineering, you know the sleek, flowing silhouette that is just instantly recognizable. It’s a design icon.”
Despite its unique look, the Concorde’s original design was for function, not form. And the function the original engineers were going for was essentially one thing: speed. “The powerhouse of the aircraft are four enormous Olympus engines mounted underneath the wings,” continues Milan. “They are captured in the LEGO set with all the different air intakes and exhausts.”
And, of course, you can’t talk about Concorde without talking about the wings. The shape is called a Delta wing from the Greek letter Delta (Δ). “The wing is something we spent a lot of time on,” says Milan. “The whole midsection of the aircraft is built sideways, so the brick studs are not in their usual orientation. That allowed us to create a strong wing, and it also allowed us to get a smooth underside to the LEGO model.”
This is important because this model has a display stand that renders the underside visible. And almost as exacting as the engineers on the actual Concorde, Milan and the team paid attention to every part of the set, including the stand. “We wanted the stand to enhance the idea that Concorde was weightless. So we created a thin stand with a subtle curve in it, and a print in a new format that looks like an etched brass plate.”
Integrating the landing gear was another challenge, due to the thinness of the wing. “We wanted the model to have landing gear, but the landing gear was thicker than the wing.”
Fortunately, Milan’s experience, including designing another engineering wonder, the #10283 LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, came in handy. “The experience on the Space Shuttle helped a lot. On the Concorde, we wanted to make a gearbox that would allow us to drop and raise the gear simultaneously.”
To do this, Milan and the team had to create a mechanism that stretched almost the full 41.5 inches of the set that would lower the three sets of landing gear at different speeds, all housed in the very narrow fuselage, without getting in the way of the interior. When we asked Milan how they did it, he couldn’t help but laugh. “With great difficulty!”
Even though it’s on a small scale, the interior is also nicely detailed and looks almost as comfy as the real aircraft. It even has a couple of tiny toilets!
As you can see in the video, the #10318 LEGO Icons Concorde is massive. The set comes with 2,083 pieces and the plane measures over 6 in. (15 cm) high, 41.5 in. (105 cm) long and 17 in. (43 cm) wide. In the following video, JANGBRiCKS shares his own review and opinion about the set.
What do you think? How do you like the LEGO version of the Concorde? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
And you might also like to check out the following related posts: