Which brings me to the second thing you might note about Bloodhound LSR, in that instead of its old blue and orange, it’s now white, in a ‘your company name here’ kind of way, the project having been rescued from administration by Ian Warhurst, former owner of turbocharger company Melett, eight days into a retirement he abandoned late in 2018.
Since then, things have moved – if you’ll pardon the expression – quickly. The autumn test programme was only put into place last July. Here, in the words of Bloodhound LSR’s chief engineer, Mark Chapman, and Green, a former fighter pilot and the team’s mathematician, is what Bloodhound is, how you run it and how you drive it.
What is it?
At 13.5m long, Bloodhound is about three times the length of a normal family car. “The front third is an all-carbonfibre monocoque,” says Chapman, “which houses the driver safety cell and also the high-test peroxide tank,” fuel for the rocket that will be supplied by Norwegian company Nammo. To date, Bloodhound has been run with a Rolls-Royce Eurojet EJ200 engine borrowed (literally; the owners will want it back) from a Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet. That provides around 20,000lbf of thrust. The monopropellant rocket is expected to add up to another 9000lbf.
Behind the front section is a “steel and aluminium lower chassis that holds the fuel tanks, and on top of that we’ve got a titanium and aluminium chassis, which houses the jet engine and also mounts the fin”.
Thrust SSC used two engines, side by side, which negated roll (which we’ll come to later). “The reason Bloodhound is as narrow is to reduce the frontal area,” says Chapman, “to drive that drag down to as low a number as possible.” Overall width is about 2.5m, but “as front track goes, it’s still pretty narrow. It’s not a very wide car.”
The bodywork is mostly stressed, and since the car’s 2009 inception under Richard Noble, there have been a few key changes: “The jet and the rocket have switched over, and the fin has got a lot bigger.”
At conception, the jet was mounted beneath the rocket because it’s heavier, but when the rocket’s thrust kicked in, it would have pushed Bloodhound nose-down. There were adjustable winglets at the front to counteract that but “we couldn’t find a way of making that system fail-safe,” says Chapman, “so if you swap the jet and the rocket over, because the rocket is a lot narrower, you can mount it a lot lower to the ground, so how they are now, they pretty much straddle the centre of gravity”.
Because the huge aluminium wheels aren’t engine driven, Bloodhound doesn’t need downforce to create grip. In fact, lift neutrality and minimal drag is optimum. “The anomaly is that you generate an increasing amount of downforce until about Mach 0.6, or about 400mph or 500mph,” says Chapman. “Then from Mach 0.6 upwards, downforce starts to reduce, and when you get to about Mach 1, there’s no downforce, and supersonic it starts to generate lift at the back, so you need rear winglets.