Members will have noticed that the US pages sometimes carry an earlier date than the main newsletter. This is because the US page is added to the main paper newsletter when it is circulated in the US in arrear of the UK edition, so it is actually published between UK paper editions.
MARCH 2006 NEWSLETTER US DIVISION
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JULY 2006 NEWSLETTER US DIVISION
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HERE BE GIANTS
the long term trend in air transport has been that bigger = better, history is
full of contrary examples of too big, too soon. It is possible that the A380 may
be one of these, as the rise in fuel prices and concern about emissions may
point to a return to fewer transocean flights between fewer destinations.
But this may come too late and the B787 is cleaning up in the current market
based on proliferation of city-pair services. Curiously Boeing went ahead with
the 747, the one undoubted winner in gambling on size, because it had lost out
40 years earlier in undersizing the 247 against Douglas competitors.
If there is a start point
for giant aeroplanes, (We will exclude airships , which have their own sizing
rules) it is probably the Russian designs
of Igor Sikorsky, pre WW1, notably the Ilya Mourometz. This was however little known outside Russia at the time.
It featured 4 engines, an early example of this widely adopted
configuration, and an outside “promenade deck” which was not imitated.
The Russian Artist card in the next group of cards.
used title “giant aircraft” was probably first used for the German
multi-engine bombers of WW1. Publicly known as Gothas these were built by
several companies including Zeppelin. The British response was the Handley Page series of
multi-engined bombers culminating in the 4 engined V1500 intended to bomb
Berlin. This had a take-off weight of
24,000 lbs. I will use weight as a measure of size, as span ceases to be
comparable after the introduction of wing sweep.
to be the then worlds largest, the Siemens-Schuckert RVIII was the ultimate
German bomber. It had 4 propellors driven remotely from 6 fuselage mounted
engines and weighed in at 35,000 lbs . It
never flew, being wrecked on the ground by a runaway propeller.
these cards the HP V1500 is by Tuck. The back text says “This photograph gives
an idea of the machine particularly the size of the fuselage” Its dimensions
were Span 126 ft, length 52ft. The lower
picture is an anonymous German card of the Siemens Schuckert RVII –
predecessor of the RVIIII.
the US, the little known Lawson C-4 Airliner, built in Milwaukee in
1919 had a weight of 111,000 lbs and was supposed to carry 26 although only 14
seats were ever installed. The designer was Burnelli, later to develop
flying-wing designs (see June issue). Lawson
claimed he would have 100 flying transcontinental services centred on Chicago
but the first flight with a full load proved the design to be underpowered.
A three –engined larger development totally
failed to become airborne .
of metal construction tended to increase
weights – the British built but German Rohrbach inspired
3 engined Beardmore Inflexible of 1928
weighed in at 37,000. Intended to be a
transport, it was transferred to the RAF for trials on corrosion of metal
structures. A wheel survives in a UK air
Lawson Airliner is on a card from a Milwaukee Museum. The Beardmore Inflexible
is by Real Photographs Ltd
the first “Giant” to really make a public impact was the German Dornier Do.X
12 engined flying-boat of 1924.
This was due to the combination of size, number of engines and the way it
was used to promote the revival of the German aircraft industry after WW1,
including well publicised, but not particularly successful atlantic flights.
With 12 engines and an all up weight of 115,000 it was originally fitted
with German built Bristol Jupiters but later replaced by Curtiss Conquerors.
It was built on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) also the home of Zeppelins,
but on the Swiss side due to post WW1 restrictions. It was never used in
commercial service and was finally placed in a Berlin museum where it was
destroyed by bombing. Two others were built for Italy but these also were not
is one of many German issues
1930s developments in speed overshadowed those in size.
Some cards even describe the DC-3 as a “giant airliner”, even though
the old Imperial Airways HP.42’s were larger. One odd fact is that the HP.42 s
taken over by the RAF in 1940 became the widest span biplane ever used by the
service. The DC-4E of 1938 was a relative giant at 65,000 lbs but the real
Douglas giant of the time was the B-19 bomber at 140,000 lb. which should have
flown in 1938 but actually did not
complete until 1941, so delays are nothing new. By that time production had been concentrated on the B-17 and B-24
but the B-19 provided test data which went into the subsequent B-29 and B-36. It
was finally scrapped at Davis-Monthan, Arizona in 1946.
This is not from a postcard although several exist.
was superseded as the largest US aircraft by the Convair B-36 and its cargo
equivalent the XC-99. The B-36 initially had 6 piston engines but later models
added 4 jets. Weight was 370,000 lbs showing the order of magnitude technology
advances arising from WW2. It was the
first “giant” since the WW1 bombers to enter service in any numbers and was
the mainstay of the US nuclear bomber force until the arrival of the all-jet
of the double – deck passenger derivative the XC-99 was built. A civil version
was 204 seats was proposed and formed the basis of the Pan American “Future
Clipper” postcard set of the mid-1940s, which in many ways foresaw the 747.
Stored out of service in a variety of locations, it has now been restored
for the USAF museum in Dayton.
B-36 on Plastichrome P691 & a PanAm XC-99
based Future Clipper card
from the B-19 to the B-36 ignores one of the most controversial giants, the 8
engined Hughes Hercules wooden flying boat. The
title “spruce goose” was originally an insult.
of what its all-up weight would have been vary from 300,00 to 400,000 lbs. The
story of its disputed first flight and subsequent storage is well known. For a
long time displayed with the Queen Mary at Long Beach it is now at McMinnville,
near Portland OR. Many cards
featured the Long Beach location but , for a change, here is the Hercules in its
current location – this is a Web download, not a postcard.
WW2, the cult of giant took firm hold in the UK with proposals for large
landplane and flying boat designs which became the Bristol Brabazon and Saro
Princess. The Brabazon had 8 engines
driving 4 propellors in an arrangement which harked back to the Ww1 german
giants. Centaurus props were fitted to
the prototype but Proteus turbo-props were intended for the later Brabazon 2. In
practice only the one was built. The
hangar and runway at Filton built for the Brabazon later served for Britannia
and Concorde assembly and flight. The
Brabazon flew in 1949 and, at an all up weight of 290,000 lbs was the largest
landplane ever built in the UK. Both
prototypes were broken up in 1953.
Brabazon photo card
water based equivalent the Saro Princess did use the Proteus turboprop in a
similar coupled configuration with 8 coupled engines and two singles. It did not
fly until 1952 by which time BOAC had abandoned flying boat services. The three
prototypes, only one of which flew were stored at Calshot
until 1967. The second and third aircraft were cocooned before launch and
towed direct from the slipway to Calshot. At
330,000 the Princess was the absolute largest ever UK built heavier than air
retrospective Princess photo cards. 1952 launch in the BBC-Hulton plain back
series & over Farnborough by Pamlin
left to the Soviet Union to realise the concept of the giant turboprop with the
Tupolev Tu-114 which entered service in 1961, 4 years after first flight.
At 363,000 lbs it outweighed both the British designs and unlike them
went into service on Aeroflot routes both transatlantic and transcontinental.
Artist Card by Banister for Salmon &
Aeroflot Tu-114 issue
back to the military, the B-36 had proved the viability of the large bomber, so
it was natural that Boeing would plan for a “Jet B-36” as a development of
their 6 jet B-47. The result was the 8 jet B-52 which first flew in 1952 and in
developed versions, remains in USAF service today with the prospect of many more
years to come. Developed versions weighed 488,000 lbs.
of large aircraft led Boeing to consider a leap in size for its development of
the 707 airliner. As they say, the rest is history with the Boeing 747 being by
far the most successful launch of an aircraft whose size outstripped any
equivalent in current service. The
initial series weighed in at 710,000 lbs which has reached 870,000 lbs in the
later Model 400 and will go further with the proposed -800.
The -400 outweighs the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy military freighter which took
the USAF contract which Boeing had thought might be the fall-back position if
the airliner 747 was unsuccessful and which determined the high cockpit layout.
Galaxy was in turn outweighed by the Soviet, now Ukrainian Antonov An-124 which
now has something of a monopoly on civil airfreighting of very heavy or
unusually shaped loads.
on After the battle P315, C-5 Galaxy by Baumann, Switzerland and An-124 in joint
Heavylift/Volga-Dnieper colours – by Dennis for Heavylift.
in turn gave rise to the Antonov 225 six-jet, designed originally to piggy-back
the Soviet space shuttle but now,
after a period in storage, back operating in the heavy freight charter market
– it was actually in Manchester a few weeks back. At 1,322,000 lbs it outweighs the A.380 (1,235,000)
and is currently the worlds largest aircraft.
– non postcard picture below.