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Designer Barnes Wallis first investigated variable geometry (VG) for aircraft in 1943, patenting the "Swallow" concept in 1954. Wallis' main contribution to VG aircraft was the load bearing pivot, but his early designs featured a futuristic "arrowhead" shape and wing mounted engines that were not adopted in practice. This overall configuration was applied to a range of designs, including a ramjet powered aircraft, tactical and strategic nuclear bombers and an airliner. The airliner design shown here would have had a capacity of 100 passengers and three crew.

Illustrations of the design are shown below. Click the images to open a full-resolution image.

Buttler, T, British Secret Projects: Jet Bombers Since 1949, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd, 2003

The cockpit of the larger Swallow designs was circular in plan view and retracted into the fuselage to reduce drag at cruise speeds.

Engine installation in the Swallow designs was in simple pods, but complex rotating connections would have been required for systems.

The Swallow airliner would probably have served the same trans-Atlantic routes as Concorde, but perhaps its futuristic lines might have seen other skies...

© Rachel Pawling, 2015
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