Up to speed: Bloodhound SSC begins to look the part

This month, BLOODHOUND SSC's Conor La Grue explains why watching paint dry on a supersonic car is anything but boring.

Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship, Bloodhound SSC project
Conor La Grue, head of commercial, procurement and supplier sponsorship, Bloodhound SSC project

During the last few days of May progress on Bloodhound SSC took another leap forward. This time it was cosmetic, but that speaks volumes about the stage we have now reached in the build.

The monocoque has been evolving over a very long time, but now it was time to finally get it painted.

Thanks to 3M we had access to a state-of-the-art spray booth at 3M’s training and development centre at Atherstone. And thanks to Akzo Nobel we are using the very latest technology in aerospace coatings – all expertly applied by Simon Evans of Paint by Simon.

In the next few weeks all the rest of the big bits of car will get painted. For any aircraft or car build, seeing what you’ve designed and constructed with colour on it is a great moment – it changes your view entirely and signals the start of a new stage in the build.

High performance, lightweight paint

The Akzo Nobel paint is the very latest in super performing aerospace coatings, which is able to meet the challenge of big variations in temperature and pressure as well as being very, very tough. And it’s ultra-lightweight too.

It’s going to be interesting to see just how tough the paint actually is – there is no more challenging application than Bloodhound to test our partners’ products!

Planning the final assembly

As we start to plan the final assembly stage, the last few key parts of the suspension are nearing completion.

The paint being used for BLOODHOUND is able to withstand big variations in temperature and pressure as well as being very, very tough and ultra-lightweight.
The paint being used for Bloodhound is able to withstand big variations in temperature and pressure as well as being very tough and ultra-lightweight.

The most dramatic of these are the rear uprights, which are some of the most complex machined parts we have had made, with a huge number of features held to very tight tolerances.

The first of these uprights will shortly be shipped to us and we can then start to work towards getting the car onto its wheels for the first time.

That will mean we will soon be lifting the car off the surface table and starting the final build on very special axle stands on the floor of the workshop.

Bringing up the rear

The rear delta has also progressed quickly during May, with Terry from Bloodhoud and Royal Air Force 71 Squadron again showing us just how skilled they are by quickly getting both delta assemblies to the stage that we could offer them up to the back of the car.

People often ask what keeps the car on the ground. Ultimately, it’s all about managing shock waves and no car part works harder to accomplish that than the rear delta. So it’s nice to see all these parts come together and be right first time.

Fitting out the Car

Once the big bits are finished they can be populated with all the gear that brings the car to life. The good news is that the fin and the delta are close to their final build stage and then the control systems team will have access to populate them with all manner of sensors and looms. It’s fantastic – if slightly unbelievable – that they will effectively be completed before the end of June.