Russia's Concorde and more at the Technik Museum Sinsheim

Here are the only supersonic airliners, the Tu-144 and Concorde, side by side, plus hundreds of other planes, cars and tanks.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
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Technik Museum Sinsheim

Kudos to the designers of the Technik Museum Sinsheim for creating a sense of energy and excitement with the seemingly soaring aircraft.

For the full story behind this tour, check out Civilian supersonic: Exploring Russia's Tu-144 and the Concorde at the Technik Museum Sinsheim.

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Birds on the roof

The Concorde and Tu-144 side by side, poised for takeoff but secured to the roof.

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Soviet spinner

The Kamov Ka-26 and its clever coaxial rotors.

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This Swiss F+W C-3605 is a little newer than most of the vehicles in this building, dating from the early '70s. However, it was developed from a WWII-era variant of the Bf 109.

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One of the legendary Russian T-34 tanks.

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The Junkers Ju 52/3m first flew in 1930, but some were still flying into the '80s.

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Fast bomber

A rare Heinkel He 111

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The de Havilland Venom was developed from the Vampire, one of the first postwar jet aircraft. The de Havilland Aircraft Museum has many of his innovative designs, and we did a full tour.

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One of the only remaining, and complete, Junkers Ju 88 multirole aircraft. It was one of the most produced German aircraft of WWII. This example was restored after being found in a Swedish lake. 

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Hard to miss

Being obvious is the point with this Sherman tank, which offered protection for observers at shooting ranges.

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This is a Soviet SU-100 tank destroyer common toward the end of WWII. Tank destroyers typically had less armor, but bigger guns, for their role in hunting enemy tanks.

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If not for a clutch

Damn, that's one hot Lamborghini.

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A Canadair CL-215 water bomber sits atop the main building.

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From the roof

Opposite, you can see the CL-215 and an East German Su-22.

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Climb in, slide out

You can climb inside almost all the rooftop aircraft. The metal tube in the center is a slide that brings you back down to the first floor, if you want. On the right is an Ilyushin Il-14.

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This specific Il-14 flew with Bulgarian Air Transport.

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A crew of four would fly between 26 and 32 passengers.

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By far the strangest aspect of the soaring aircraft at the museum is walking through them at extremely canted angles. Here, inside a Junkers Ju 52/3m like you saw earlier, the camera is horizontally level with the ground. In most cases the cabin is tilted in two dimensions, to one side and vertically.

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The high-viability, and probably high-temperature, cockpit of the Ju 52/3m.

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Supersonic sisters

The only place in the world with these two aircraft.

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By far the more successful of the two, the Concorde flew passengers for 27 years.

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This example, the F-BVFV, flew with Air France and is still in that airline's livery. Note the curved wing.

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All Concordes were powered by Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 engines capable of 38,050 pounds (169.3 kilonewtons) of thrust each.

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To the sky

Top speed was around Mach 2.04, or 1,354 miles per hour (2,179 km/h).

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Small seats

The cabin is famously small: four smallish seats across. Time was the luxury here, though you did get superlative service.

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A product of the '70s, even the Concordes still flying in the 21st century had an antiquated flight engineer station and almost all analog instruments.

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Certainly one of the most elegant shapes to ever fly.

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In comparison, the Tu-144 is a little chubbier and blockier.

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Short service

Epically unreliable, the Tu-144 only carried passengers, and them rarely, in the years between 1975 and 1978.

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To help offset the nose pitching down when the elevons were angled downward, the Tu-144 has small retractable canards located behind the cockpit. Like the Concorde, the nose would droop for landing.

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The Kolesov RD-36-51 engines were beasts, capable of 45,000 pounds (246 kN) of thrust each.

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Earlier Tu-144s used even more powerful, but far thirstier, Kuznetsov NK-144 engines, limiting range severely.

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The Tu-144 wasn't flown to the museum; it arrived from Moscow via barge and truck.

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Having been long been fascinated by this plane, getting to go inside was a big thrill for me. The angle was quite steep and it's hot inside, so it was quite a climb up to the cockpit.

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The 144 was enough wider than the Concorde to have a three-two seating layout, fitting up to 140 passengers. Most of the seats have been removed to make it easier for visitors to move around.

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Windows 3.1

These are easily the smallest windows I've ever seen on a passenger aircraft. Smaller even than those on the Concorde, which are already pretty small. A paperback book would cover them.

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3 up front

Like most airliners of the era, it had a crew of three.

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The flight engineer station, with duplicate throttles.

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Into the blue

The Tu-144 didn't work well, but given the limited resources and more rudimentary technology, it's impressive it worked at all.

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The building underneath the Tu-144 and Concorde houses the majority of the museum's car collection. This midengine and midseat beauty is an Alfa Romeo Aerodinamica Spider from 1935.

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A bevvy of beautiful Ferraris, plus Lamborghini's first SUV, the LM002.

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A Miura from 1970 in eye-catching orange.

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Only a handful Vector W8s were made, and they weren't exactly known for build quality or reliability. Even today they're fantastic-looking. It's about as wide as a modern SUV, but it's so flat it seems wider. It was only available with a three-speed automatic.

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Dream cars

On the right is an entirely original, and yet still immaculate, 356 SC from 1964. The Aston Martin DB6 is from a year later.

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40 forever

An F40, still epic after all these years.

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Another Italian

Hanging above these Ferraris, Lambos and Jags is a lowly Fiat. Well, not lowly. The Fiat G.91 first flew in the '50s and some were in service until the 9'0s.

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Front engine

A Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw with the cover removed so you can see its front-mounted engine.

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This is the very first car sold by Lamborghini, a 1964 350 GT chassis number 0105.

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Your eyes aren't deceiving you, that's a six-wheel F1 car, the Tyrell P34.

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This humble motorcycle, in front of a P1800E, is a Hercules W-2000. It's one of the only bikes to be powered by a Wankel rotary engine.

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From the other side of the wall

This is the Trabant P50, built in East Germany in the late '50s and early '60s. The body is a fiber-reinforced plastic, sort of like a combination of fiberglass and Formica, made from recycled materials. It was a terrible car, but on the bright side, you only had to wait 10 years on average to get one.

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A car needs a name

A 1957 DKW Sonderklasse, aka the 3=6, aka the F93, aka several other names. DKW was one of the several companies that merged to eventually become Audi.

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NSU was another predecessor for Audi, and this is probably its most famous, or rather infamous, car: the Ro 80. One of the few sedans to use a Wankel rotary engine, the car initially was unreliable, even for the era.

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Crazy turbo

A truly bonkers car, the Renault 5 Turbo was a homologation special that resulted in a few hundred road cars superficially similar to their commuter hatchback counterparts but with a turbocharged engine mounted where the rear seats should be.

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My favorite car ever, the Lancia Stratos. This one raced in 1976.

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Mini motor

This little guy is an 850-liter, 24-cylinder, 12,428-horsepower MAN Schiffsmotor. German WWII destroyers would have six of these each.

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One of 57 6x4 Mercedes-Benz W31 command cars built in the '30s. This one was used by Nazi leaders during their occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia. 

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Bugatti blue

This Bugatti Type 37 was owned and raced by royalty, Prince Georg Lobkowicz.

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Auf wiedersehen

So ends a long and awesome day exploring the Technik Museum Sinsheim. This MiG-23 at the entrance cleverly points the way into the parking lot. I, however, had taken the train. There's a station conveniently across the street.

For the full story behind this tour, check out Civilian supersonic: Exploring Russia's Tu-144 and the Concorde at the Technik Museum Sinsheim.  

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