Category From props to jets

Aircraft of the Era

Progress in aeronautics is nothing if not fast. Starting in the mid-1930s, commercial aircraft design took a huge leap skyward with the first DC-2 and DC-3, which at the time were termed the “Giant Douglas Flagships” by American Airlines. These twin-engine airliners were soon eclipsed by the four-engine Douglas DC-4E and Boeing 307, followed by the pro­duction DC-4 and Lockheed Constellation, with the Douglas DC-6 being considered the thoroughbred of that era. This significant march forward spanned a total of only 12 years, and took us from airplanes carrying 21 passengers in sometimes grueling unpressurized multi­stop transcontinental service, all the way to luxurious skyliners carrying 50 passengers in pressurized comfort spanning the great oceans, and doing so at about twice the speed of the fastest aircraft a decade earlier. Even at the intercity level, the modern new “twins” from Convair and Martin enjoyed the same speed and habit­able higher-altitude cabins as the larger aircraft. We see that the world of postwar commercial aviation enjoyed a quantum improvement from its pioneering forebears of the Depression era.

Lockheed Constellation 049 through 149

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that what started in 1936, as the modest 36-passenger Excalibur airliner from Lockheed, became the 049 Constellation only three years later, which was an airplane with a pressur­ized cabin capable of carrying 46 passengers over a dis­tance of 3,500 miles. At TWA’s behest for nine orders, Lockheed commenced with the airplane, making it the company’s largest undertaking to date. Pan American ordered 40 of the transoceanic type 149 (decreased in 1945 due to an order for the Boeing Stratocruiser). The prototype Constellation made its first flight on January 9, 1943, smack in the middle of the war. The airplane wore standard olive-drab-and-gray USAAF camou­flage and insignia. This date highlights the reason that the very advanced Constellation became available to the airlines so soon after the war. The first Constellations were actually Army Air Force C-69 transports, and prior to the war’s end, Lockheed manufactured 31 of these airframes making them available to the airlines at incredibly low prices.

High speed for the Constellation was derived from its powerful Curtiss-Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclone engines, which gave the aircraft a 25-percent boost in power versus the Douglas DC-4. The “Connie,” as the flying public knew it, also offered greater range, faster speed, higher payload capability, and a commensurate lowering of cost-per-seat-mile [the cost of moving one passenger seat over a distance of one mile] some 23 percent below the Douglas air­liner. (Note: This book chronicles the ongoing and ever-present crosstown rivalry and “back and forth” success between the designs of Lockheed and Douglas during the 1940s and 1950s. There always seemed to

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Aircraft of the Era

Despite the rapid delivery of DC-6s, United Air Lines continued to operate well-maintained but older DC-4s for sev­eral years. Mainliner Yellowstone, pictured at Oakland, California, in 1952, looks smart in the carrier’s new white crown livery. (William T. Larkins)

Aircraft of the Era

Inflight portrait of the Lockheed 049 Constellation shows the classic lines of the big Connie, triple tail and all. The outer-wing planform borrowed heavily from the lines of Lockheed’s twin-tail World War II fighter, the P-38 Lightning.

(TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)






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Aircraft of the EraThe "front office" of an early-model Constellation shows cockpit state of the art, circa late 1940s. Note fabric – covered alcohol pans above the pilot and co-pilot glare shields that were used for de-icing the inner panes of the aircraft’s windshield. Although appearing rather primitive by today’s standards, this cockpit was considered just as advanced in its day as GPS navigation and digital instrumentation are now. (Craig Kodera Collection)

Aircraft of the Era

be a competition for orders between these two Southern California airliner giants.) The 049 was also the first production transport to have hydraulically boosted controls.

Pan American began the first scheduled transat­lantic service via the Constellation on January 20, 1946, from New York to Lisbon, while the first transconti­nental service came from TWA on February 15, 1946. TWA offered one-stop service between Los Angeles and New York for a scheduled time of 9 hours 45 min­utes. This was in stark contrast to United’s and American’s unpressurized DC-4s that made two stops while crossing the United States. This advantage made TWA the leader in postwar transcontinental service, although that would dissipate one year later as the DC-6 began its work at American and United.

The 367-80: Boeing’s $15 Million Gamble


First, as previously noted, the de Havilland Comet entered service in May 1952, but was subsequently grounded within two years, after its infamous series of accidents. Second, Boeing froze the design for its new “prototype jet transport” into a sleeker configuration with four jet engines, each in their own separate under­wing nacelle, a stubbier vertical fin, and a more airliner­like cockpit design. Disguised with a deceptive “Model 367” designation (used internally by the company for its KC-97 military tanker/transport version of the Stratocruiser), this larger, faster, and more powerful design was the eightieth configuration considered. Hence, the official name for Boeing’s new jet prototype became the 367-80.

Constructed in a special walled-off and highly secure area of Boeing’s historic Renton, Washington, facility, the “Dash 80” was built in only 18 months, and was rolled out for Boeing employees and industry representatives
on May 15, 1954. This one-of-a-kind proof of concept demonstrator was unlike any other airplane ever seen at that time. Painted in a striking school-bus-yellow and chocolate-brown color scheme, the jet was 128 feet long with a 130-foot wingspan and a tail height of 38 feet. The engines were Pratt & Whitney’s new J57 turbojets, and the airplane’s main landing gear sported four wheels on each side instead of the traditional two. Anyone who saw the Dash 80 knew it was something special. What they didn’t know was that this airplane would change air travel forever by siring an entire family of jet transports that would reduce travel times between any two places on earth by a staggering 50 percent.

Christened by Mrs. William Boeing as the “airplane of tomorrow,” the 367-80 soon underwent preparation for its first flight. After a series of rigorous systems checks and taxi tests, the giant craft lifted off from Renton’s runway for the first time on July 15, 1954,

piloted by Boeings Chief Test Pilot, A. M. “Tex” Johnston. The unique thing about that first flight is that there had been no airline orders placed for the airplane whatsoever. Not one! Then, as the new prototype began to demonstrate what a large jet-powered trans­port could do, the world began to take notice. So did the United States Air Force, which was in dire need of a faster aerial-refueling aircraft to service its new fleet of jet-powered strategic bombers and tactical fighters just then entering the inventory.

Boeing quickly “put its money where its mouth was” by flying the Dash 80 on a series of impressive demonstration flights, taking any number of special industry guests and aviation luminaries for their first rides in a jet-powered aircraft. Names like USAF Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay soon graced the passen­ger roster as he evaluated the airplane for its impending role as the Air Force’s new “flying gas station,” to be known as the КС-135 Stratotanker. Excitement was building around the new jet, as the publics anticipation of flying in America’s first jet airliner grew in magni­tude. The Dash 80 was catapulted to national attention when Tex Johnston performed not one, but two barrel rolls while flying over the famed Gold Cup speed-boat races at Seattle’s Sea Fair in August 1955. Asked later by Bill Boeing why he did it, Johnston replied in his typi­cal droll manner, “I was selling airplanes.”

On one memorable demonstration flight, Johnston was told by the Boeing Field tower to remain in posi­tion on the ramp with engines running. It was a typical rainy spring day in Seattle, and Tex noticed a company car racing out to the airplane. Emerging from the back seat was a tall, slim figure clutching his raincoat tightly to his body. Rushing up the boarding stairs, the gentle­man walked into the cockpit and unceremoniously took his place in the airplane’s jump seat. Tex turned around to greet him, and shook hands with none other than Charles A. Lindbergh, acting in an advisory capacity for Pan American World Airways. According to Johnston, Lindbergh later sat in the co-pilot’s seat and even took the controls of the Dash 80 while flying over Portland, Oregon, at 600 mph. Johnston marveled at how much aviation progress had been made in the less- than-thirty-year time span since Lindbergh’s epic solo transatlantic flight in 1927!

On October 16, 1955, with William Boeing and other VIP guests on board, Johnston flew the Dash 80 from Boeing Field in Seattle to Washington D. C., reaching a top speed of 620 mph and arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in only 3 hours 48 minutes. The fact that this flight established a new U. S. coast-to – coast cross-country record did not go unnoticed by the world’s airlines, and orders for a slightly larger produc­tion version of the new jet, called the 707, started com­ing in to Boeing in impressive numbers.

Boeing’s first airline order was from Pan American when its President, Juan Trippe, ordered 20 of the new jets. American’s C. R. Smith ordered 30, and then came Continental and Braniff orders. Surprisingly, the first foreign air carrier to order the 707 was Belgium’s Sabena, followed by Air France. Bringing up the rear in this initial batch was TWA with its pivotal order for 8 of the new jetliners, bringing the total 707 order book to 81 airplanes. Although this will be covered in more detail later, it should be mentioned that by this time, rival manufacturer Douglas Aircraft, still king of the airliner builders, had recorded 124 orders for its similar­looking, but yet-to-be-flown DC-8 Jetliner.

For awhile, it appeared that Boeing would never be able to break the decades-old stigma of being in Douglas’s shadow as an airliner builder, but when BOAC, Lufthansa, El Al, and Air India lined up to order longer-range versions of the 707, Boeing’s tally grew to 145 before the DC-8 ever flew, and the race was on. As we will see later, both of these jetliners evolved into larger and more improved airplanes, but once Boeing gained the advantage and pulled ahead of Douglas, there was no turning back. With its Dash 80, Boeing literally “bet the company” that this revolutionary new aircraft would eventually become a commercial success, and it will be considered for all of history to be one gutsy $15 million gamble that paid off quite handsomely.


mercial jet travel would be like for the privileged pas­sengers who would someday fly aboard a later produc­tion version of the airplane.

As with any radical new design, countless engi­neering studies resulting in numerous aircraft concepts are winnowed down to a smaller number of final con­figurations from which the actual prototype design is chosen. Emerging from this design process in October 1950 was the Boeing Model 473, an airliner featuring a double-lobed and truncated Stratocruiser-type fuse­lage. Swept and tapered vertical and horizontal stabi­lizers from the B-47 were mounted on the rear fuselage, while double-podded engines were slung from its swept wing at mid-span, one pod per side. Similar in size to the largest DC-7s and Constellations of the time, this distinctive new design looked arrest­ing to the casual viewer but somehow appeared “not quite ready for prime time.”

Conceived from the outset as more of a marketing study than an actual “hard” design concept, the 473 was to have a gross weight of 135,000 pounds and a cruising speed of 500 mph at 40,000 feet. This was unheard-of performance for its day, especially with Britain’s Comet still two years away from entering passenger service. Cargo capacity of the 473 was to be 5,000 pounds distributed in two separate lower-fuselage baggage compartments, one fore and one aft of the wing. Powerplants were to be four unspecified turbojets in the 9,500-pound-thrust category, and with its military – type drag chute, the airplane was intended to be able to operate from existing runways at any major airport in the world.

By 1954, however, two major developments had a profound effect on the future of commercial air travel.


This airplane’s shape didn’t just suggest the Jet Age, it was the Jet Age. With design features such as a rakish 35-degree swept wing and podded turbojets lifted directly from Boeing’s new B-47 strategic bomber, the Model 367-80 prototype, or “Dash 80” as it came to be known in industry circles, epitomized jet travel, and left Britain’s formerly cutting-edge de Havilland Comet in the dust. Cruising high in the stratosphere at almost transonic speed, the Dash 80 symbolized what com-




  The 367-80: Boeing's $15 Million Gamble

This chart graphically shows the fuel cost and time advantage of the Model 473 over existing propeller – driven airliners. Although this particular airplane was never produced, the writing was on the wall for a new generation of jet-powered transports to take the airline industry to its next level. (Craig Kodera Collection)


The 367-80: Boeing's $15 Million Gamble

Artist’s rendering of the Model 473 in flight shows the influence of Boeing’s С-97/Stratocruiser with its similar­looking nose section and double-lobe fuselage. Engine pod design was lifted directly from the B-52 Stratofortress. (Craig Kodera Collection)


The 367-80: Boeing's $15 Million Gamble

Model 473 Inboard Profile shows the passenger cabin arrangement to best advantage. Considering that airlin­ers of this time period carried a payload of about 50 passengers, this concept must have seemed gigantic by comparison. (Craig Kodera Collection)


The 367-80: Boeing's $15 Million Gamble

Impending Introduction of the Jets

Even though the first turboprops were entering service and using existing airports without any major problems, airline and airport planners wisely realized that the next generation of pure-jet airliners would require a host of new and improved airport features to
safely and effectively accommodate their operations. In addition to the obvious need for longer runways and safety overrun areas, the larger jetliners would require more ramp space for turning and parking, plus wider taxiways and runways to keep their outboard nacelles from hanging out over adjacent grass areas full of potentially engine-damaging debris.



Impending Introduction of the JetsImpending Introduction of the Jets

Nicely showing the evolution and progress in airport terminal design is this series of photographs depicting terminals at Los Angeles and New York International Airports. Passengers gather at the ticket counter at LAX in 1952. (Craig Kodera Collection)

Several years later, the terminals did not look all that different as this American Airlines Captain checks in at the ticket counter in February 1961. Type for flight information board in background was set by hand, one letter at a time! (Craig Kodera Collection)

Impending Introduction of the Jets

Overhead view of LAX in November 1959 shows the very beginning of the integration process as the new jets entered airline fleets. Note the position of the 707 parked at the end of one of the terminal fingers, away from the gaggle of propliners lined up at the original airport concourses. A United DC-8 can be seen parked under a main­tenance hangar overhang at lower left. (Craig Kodera Collection)

Impending Introduction of the Jets

Newly designed airport infrastructure was also planned with novel features such as blast fences to keep ramp vehicles from being blown over by jet exhaust. Fully enclosed moveable “jet bridges” designed to shield passengers from the weather would be attached directly to terminal buildings, completely eliminating the need for passengers to be exposed to the elements. After all, it was rather hard to sell luxurious jet service when passengers were being drenched while walking

from the gate across a rain-soaked red carpet and up slippery metal boarding stairs to the airplane.

In anticipation of serving both the aircraft and passengers of the Jet Age, airline terminals themselves moved upscale. Large two – and even three-story com­plexes with floor-to-ceiling dark-tinted plate glass windows and arched or cantilevered roof structures were designed to replace simpler terminal buildings with their cinder-block walls, chain-link fences, and

Quonset-hut extensions. In most cases, this new modern look was referred to by the marketing forces of the day as being the “Airport of Tomorrow” to foster even more excitement at the thought of futuristic air travel by jet.

American Airlines’ new terminal facade at New York’s Idlewild Airport was the largest single-frame mosaic ever con­structed when it was finished in 1960. This structure, along with other inde­pendently constructed terminals for Eastern, United, Pan Am, and TWA comprised the "terminal city" concept at Idlewild. The terminal also featured separate upper and lower entrance roadways for departures and arrivals, respectively. (Mike Machat Collection)

Impending Introduction of the Jets

Inside the new terminal, a roomy grand concourse housed ticket counters and flight information, putting passenger boarding gates within an easy walk at either end. Aircraft nosed into the gates and were connected to the building by short enclosed jet bridges that kept passengers warm and dry at all times. (Mike Machat Collection)


Larger Jetliners in the late-1960s

Although public perception is that the Boeing 747 was the first airplane called a Jumbo Jet, that distinction technically goes to the McDonnell Douglas Super-60 family of advanced DC-8 jetliners. Douglas engineers at Long Beach created the world’s first 250-passenger air­liner by adding more than 37 feet to the original DC-8 fuselage, and then developing three versions of this new larger airplane by combining different engine, engine pylon, and wingtip designs to meet various airline requirements.

The first stretched model, the DC-8-61, simply added a longer fuselage to the existing DC-8-55 wing and engines. The DC-8-63 became the “Cadillac of DC-8s” by combining the -61 fuselage with a longer wing, new “flow-through” nacelles for its uprated fan – jet engines, and sleeker “cut-back” pylons for improved aerodynamics and drag reduction. By shortening the new longer fuselage and utilizing the Series 63 wing and engine configuration, the DC-8-62 was born, offering such ultra-long-range routes as New York to Hawaii nonstop for the very first time. Flown by United, Delta, Eastern, and National, plus Braniff, Air Canada, and a host of international carriers, the DC-8 Super-60 series brought a new paradigm of lower seat-mile economics to airline operators and passengers alike, setting the stage for the next big step in airliner development.

Responding to a U. S. Air Force request to develop a new giant jet airlifter, Boeing, Lockheed, and Douglas pushed the envelope of aircraft construction to new heights with the CX-HLS Program. General Electric and Pratt & Whitney did likewise for powerplant devel­opment. Standing for “Cargo Experimental, Heavy Logistics Support,” this new mammoth aircraft was to be able to carry outsize loads on its main cargo deck, with accommodations for up to 90 passengers or relief crewmembers in compartments housed in an upper deck. A new generation of high-bypass turbofans would provide a then-staggering 25,000 pounds of thrust each to lift this beast into the air.

Although Lockheed won the CX-HLS contract with its C-5 Galaxy powered by General Electric

Larger Jetliners in the late-1960s

Ushering in the era of affordable air transportation for the masses, Boeing’s 747 entered service in 1970. The dream of Pan American’s Chairman, Juan Trippe, Pan Am and Boeing once again led the way to the next paradigm in commercial jet airliners, just as they did 12 years earlier with the Boeing 707. (Jon Proctor)

engines, all five companies involved managed to parlay their newly acquired design expertise into the creation of giant new engines and airframes suitable for com­mercial passenger use.

First off the mark was Boeing with its impressive new 747 designed to the specifications of launch cus­tomer Pan American. More than 230 feet long and with a wingspan of 196 feet, this four-engine Goliath carried up to 400 passengers in mixed-class configuration with an exclusive upper-deck lounge located above the for­ward fuselage, accessible via a regal-looking spiral stair­case. Entering passenger service in 1970, the 747 went through the inevitable teething problems for integrating so large an airplane into the existing air-travel infras­tructure. It emerged, however, as a highly successful air­liner that provided affordable air travel to the masses and drove the basic cost of flying down to unheard-of levels. With more than 1,400 produced to date, the 747 soldiers on as the pioneering design that helped create the new age of affordable international air travel we somewhat take for granted today.

McDonnell Douglas entered the commercial jumbo-jet sweepstakes by complementing rather than competing with the 747. Responding to the needs of American and United for a widebody jet that could operate out of smaller airports like New York’s LaGuardia, yet still carry 275 passengers on medium – to long-range stage lengths, McDonnell Douglas came up with a three-engine design called the DC-10. The new jetliner proved to be popular with the traveling public, but suffered a series of design-related accidents that tarnished the proud Douglas name. The DC-10 also became the Air Force’s newest tanker named the KC-10 Extender, of which 60 were built, in addition to the 446 commercial DC-lOs produced in Long Beach. Production ended with a follow-on design, a stretched, re-engined, glass-cockpit-equipped jetliner called the MD-11.

Last, but certainly not least in this trio of airliner titans was the Lockheed L-1 Oil. The only jumbo jet to officially have a name, the L-1011 carried on Lockheed’s stellar theme with the clever moniker TriStar. Considered a more advanced aircraft than the DC-10 from a systems standpoint, the TriStar was capa­ble of Category III instrument landings and featured a center engine mounted in the aft fuselage fed by a streamlined S-duct air inlet. The L-1011 was ordered by TWA, Delta, Eastern, and Air Canada when McDonnell Douglas’ senior management refused to negotiate the price of its DC-10 for these same airlines. In so doing, McDonnell opened the door to intense competition from its cross-town rival. However, only 250 L-101 Is were built, and they were the last commer­cial aircraft produced by what is now the Lockheed Martin Company.

Douglas DC-6

Beginning in 1944, designers at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica were working toward a stretched and pres­surized improvement of their then-current DC-4/C-54. The key to this stretch was the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine. As we saw above with the Constellation, and indeed as would be seen for the decades following this time period, engine advancement and the proper mating with the appropriate airframe would literally make or break an aeronautical design.

The DC-6 (later known as “the straight-6”) incor­porated many firsts for an airliner, and learned lessons from the first Constellations, thus refining the air travel “product” even further. For instance, the DC-6 had the first cabin heated by radiant heat in the cabin walls and floor; no-fog passenger windows; electric de-icing of

Douglas DC-6

the wings, tail, and propellers; it was the first airliner to be air conditioned both in the air and on the ground; and it featured a cabin, which was pressurized automat­ically depending on altitude. The DC-6 boasted that a selected cabin temperature could be maintained within 3 degrees Fahrenheit because of the advanced heat – ing/air conditioning in the airplane.

One competitive aspect of the DC-6/Constellation duel was each airplane’s fuselage design. Lockheed created a beautiful and aerodynamically inspired curvaceous body for its airliner, and claimed lower drag and higher speeds (with a slight addition in lift). Douglas continued with its utilitarian approach to cabin design, and because it chose a cylindrical “tube” for its airplane, realized far more capability in terms of space and its utilization. It could also be argued that a constant-section cylinder is easier to adapt to a stretch and, therefore, easier to expand upon to grow the airframe (which we will indeed witness later). It is subjective, of course; we believe the early cabin interiors of the Douglas airplane had a more luxurious feel to them versus the Constellation, due to the use of a constant-diameter fuselage and cabin.

The DC-6 began life much like the 049: as a trans­port for the military services. The assigned number for the design was YC-112A. It flew for the first time on February 15, 1946 (a year after the Constellation entered airline service), and began flying in commercial service for American Airlines on April 27, 1947. This was also the day when United Airlines inaugurated its own DC-6 service. American had ordered 50 of the airplanes, United 35. American’s aircraft had accommodations for sleeper berths and the telltale small berth windows at the top of the fuselage. American’s config­uration was fifty passengers by day, or 24 by night using the berths.

As noted, the previous competitive edge enjoyed by TWA and its Constellations had, by September 1947, been replaced by the tripartite division of traffic across the United States that was pretty much in place prior to the war. The breakdown was as follows: American Airlines, 47 percent; TWA, 37 percent; and United Airlines, 16 percent.

A total of 175 DC-6s were built by Douglas before production ended in 1951.

Douglas DC-6

Manufacturer’s Dilemma: Turboprop vs. Turbojet

Despite the success of Boeing’s prototype jet trans­port, not everyone in the airline industry was convinced that turbojets were the ultimate answer to airliner development…. Jet engines explode! Jet engines use too much fuel, and they might even catch surrounding airport structures on fire. They are unreliable and uneconomical, and will cause a fortune to be spent on lengthening runways and expanding terminal facilities. The answer is no, we’re not going to fly airliners pow­ered by jet engines!

So went the thinking in the U. S. airline industry immediately after World War II. And why not? The Jumo and BMW axial-flow turbine engines that came out of Germany after the occupation had been years ahead of their time as far as known metallurgy and materials were concerned. These engines lasted, if the fighter squadron was even lucky enough, perhaps 100 flying hours at best before they totally disintegrated.

In England and via license in the United States, centrifugal-flow jet engines seemed to be the answer to those reservations, with the possible exception of catch­ing on fire. Their ruggedness and simplicity made them more viable powerplants, and the military was anxious, if not simultaneously full of trepidation, at the thought of putting them into routine operational use.

As mentioned previously, the notion of using new turbojet engines for commercial airline applications were pipe dreams more than reality prior to 1950, although the wonderful Avro Jetliner would probably have changed all that (see Chapter 1 sidebar “Avro Jetliner: The Other First Jet,” page 17). The de Havilland Comet 1 almost did by 1952. And in 1954, at the introduction of the Dash 80 from Boeing, the tide was finally starting a slow turn in favor of pure jet airliners.

By the late-1940s, however, it was becoming apparent to airplane industry observers that postwar England had warmly embraced jet power, in all its forms. Eventually, from 1948 to 1958 no fewer than 10 different airliner designs came off the drawing boards either incorporating or anticipating the use of turbo­prop engines. Existing airplanes were also modified with turbine-propeller engines either experimentally or as operational upgrades. Why did they utilize turbo­prop technology to this extent? England was the leader in pure-jet technology, so why were they dithering with propellers (or airscrews, as they were called in that country)?

Well, the answers to these questions are many. Foremost was that jet engines at the time were just too underpowered to carry enough weight, and hence pro­vide enough payload and range for an airliner. Being underpowered also meant using long runways. (Most piston propliners of the era required as little as 2,500 feet of runway for takeoff while jets would easily require twice that.) Jet engines also took an appreciable amount of time to come up to full-power RPM from flight idle settings (known as “spool-up” time for the axial-flow designs). Pilots had to really anticipate the need for power far in advance. Unlike the piston engine, there was no instantaneous surge of thrust from the jets when one moved the throttle forward, which is never a safe situation in an airplane.

Enter the turbine-propeller combination. In a tur­boprop package, the jet engine is linked to a propeller via a reduction gearbox. The jet engine is typically spin­ning at a constant 100-percent rpm, while throttle con­trols are actually changing only the pitch of the blades, therefore allowing for the all important instantaneous thrust applications by the pilot. The added thrust of turbine efflux combined with the strong and immediate pull of the propeller makes up for the lack of thrust coming from an early pure-jet engine alone. Additionally, the air being moved over the wings from the propeller also adds an appreciable amount of self­generated lift. These obvious advantages were not lost on engineers and airline bosses alike, and it became a natural course of action for the world’s airlines, and hence their suppliers, to seriously consider turboprop powerplants.



Modern Finnish architect Eero Saarinen created what is considered to be his masterpiece with this ground­breaking design for a terminal building that seemed to fly right off the ground. Located at New York’s Idlewild Airport as the crown jewel of its Terminal City loop, the concrete TWA "bird" terminal is seen here in front and rear elevation. (Jon Proctor Collection)


By Mike Machat


s a young airliner enthusiast growing up on Long Island during the 1950s, a trip to New York International Airport (then called Idlewild, and now JFK) was even better than going to Disneyland because real jet airliners were making their proud debut here by the end of that decade, turning the air­port into a virtual fantasyland of its own. A new, ulti­mate “Airport of the Future” was being built to accommodate the needs of air travel in the burgeon­ing Jet Age, and the revolutionary concept of each major airline having its very own distinctive terminal building was utilized in the creation of “terminal city,” a two-mile circle of individual buildings creat­ing a veritable skyline of airport architecture.

Located on either end of Idlewild’s new International Arrivals Building (IAB) on the airport’s southern flank were the brand-new terminals of both U. S. international flag carriers, with Pan American World Airways’ open-air umbrella-style building on the west side, and Trans World Airlines’ swooping “concrete bird” terminal on the east. These strategic locations allowed both airlines to disembark interna­tional passengers at the IAB for U. S. Customs pro­cessing, and then after towing the aircraft over to their respective terminals next door, they would service the aircraft and board passengers for new departing flights.

TWA’s magnificent terminal was designed by the renowned Finnish architect Eero Saarinen as a “living sculpture” to look like a giant bird poised for takeoff. Days after its official opening ceremonies on May 28, 1962, I visited the airport as a young teenager, full of anticipation at seeing what was, at that time, probably the world’s most futuristic and revolutionary piece of
industrial architecture. I stood there, staring up in awe at the brand-new building —a bit more diminu­tive in size than I’d originally expected, but visually stunning, none the less, in all its gleaming white con­crete and deeply tinted glass.

Walking inside that terminal for the first time was like entering a space station. Vast expanses of white hand-laid miniature circular tiles complemented by fire-engine-red upholstered furnishings led to large, airy waiting areas, curving ticket counters, posh restaurants, and a space-age information desk with flight information displayed in a pod seemingly hov­ering overhead. Most intriguing to me, however, was the tubular entryway to the satellite gate area. In the pre-security age of the early 1960s I simply strolled out to see the airplanes through this softly lit, Muzak – filled, red-carpeted passageway that looked as if it could have very possibly led to a waiting Martian spaceship.

I gazed longingly at the upstairs Lisbon Lounge Bar where such legendary personalities as Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner sat waiting to board their flights to exotic locales all over TWA’s route system. Pope Pius IV was also there during his October 1965 visit to New York, and one can only imagine the col­orful stories of celebrities, movie stars, show-business legends, and heads of state, all of whom traveled through this terminal when it was new. And as if all this wasn’t futuristic enough, New York Airways Sikorsky S—61 helicopters shuttled TWA passengers from this terminal to yet another bustling fantasy – land—the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and 1965.

In retrospect, the future turned out a bit differently than we’d expected back then. Those atom-powered supersonic flying cars and helicopter jetpacks never quite materialized, but gave way instead to personal
computers, cell phones, BlackBerry Smartphones, and GPS. More amazingly, TWA’s first 707-131s car­ried only 111 passengers, yet were flown by a crew of four. They were powered by four turbojet engines that sported a voracious appetite for JP-4, and were deafening to boot. By comparison, the last Boeing 757 to depart this terminal in 2001 flew on two tur­bofan powerplants that each produced more than twice the 707 engine’s thrust. That airplane carried 178 passengers flown by two pilots, and was far more quiet, fuel-efficient, and ecologically friendly than anything ever dreamed of during the 707’s inaugural era.

Подпись: Photo of actual TWA terminal building showing the graceful bird-like shape seemingly touching down for a landing. Although no longer used as an active passenger terminal today the pioneering structure is still there, now preserved as a historical landmark. (Jon Proctor Collection) With air travel being such an entirely different experience today, we will simply have to remember the glory days of DynaFan-powered StarStream 707s pulling up to the jetways, with passengers dining in the Paris Cafe and celebrities having one last drink at the Lisbon Lounge before jetting off to Europe, Africa, or the Far East. Now, as an integral part of JetBlue’s stunning new JFK terminal, the former TWA “Terminal of Tomorrow” still stands silently in solemn tribute to the dawning of the Jet Age.

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Larger ramp areas with a variety of different gate configurations were being built for the first time, and the grand interiors of these new terminals bore more than a casual resemblance to the large spacious shopping malls also making their first appearance in America. Depending on the size of the airport, these impressive new structures either housed many airlines collectively, or individual carriers by themselves in a cluster of sepa­rate new buildings. These grand assemblages were linked together by sweeping circular roadways, and were envisioned as being great new “terminal cities.”

The aforementioned blast fences were more than just a convenience, as jet exhaust waves would prove to be a formidable hazard for unprotected vehicles and personnel in close proximity. Also, before enclosed and elevated jet bridges protected people boarding or deplaning jetliners, unsuspecting passen­gers could be blown over or lose their carry-on lug­gage crossing an unprotected ramp while walking out to board their jet.

By the mid-1950s, airport studies performed in con­junction with aircraft manufacturers were conducted to measure and extrapolate data for new jetliner flight – and ground-operation manuals. These studies revealed the need to cope with surprisingly strong amounts of jet exhaust blast. For instance, the four turbojets of a parked Boeing 707 spooled up to 80-percent power to move the aircraft off its tires’ flat spots and begin for­ward turning motion on the ramp would produce an

Manufacturer’s operating manual shows the turning radius and ramp clearances necessary for safe ground operations with the Douglas DC-4/C-54 aircraft. Clearances for wingtips, tail, and propeller discs were critical in avoiding potentially dangerous situations for both the aircraft and ground crew. (Courtesy of John K. Lewis via Mike Machat Collection)

Подпись: Chart from the Boeing 707 operating manual shows an added element of danger with the jet's exhaust blast being a factor in turning clearances. It is evident that the concept of enclosed jet bridges for passenger loading and unloading had not been thought of when this artwork was created in 1956. (Mike Machat Collection) exhaust velocity of nearly 30 mph at a distance of more than 100 feet behind the airplane.

Exhaust temperature was another dangerous factor, with heat of as much as 700 degrees F emanating from the engine exhaust aperture, diminishing to 150 degrees F at the tail of the airplane. Jet exhaust velocity at full takeoff power was measured at a formidable 1,000 feet per second at the exhaust cone of the engine nacelle. At that velocity, unprotected cars driving on a perimeter road behind a jet
at full takeoff thrust would be blown over like a child’s toy. The front of the jet engine also posed a potentially fatal hazard to ramp personnel with overpowering suc­tion from the air intake replacing spinning propeller blades as the number-one ground safety threat.

Fueling the new jetliners would also be a different experience for ground handlers. The days of placing ladders against wing leading edges, then climbing up and walking out on top of the wing while trailing a fuel hose and nozzle would soon be ending. The first big advance for fueling the big jets was underwing fueling capability, meaning that two men, each operating a 6,000-gallon F-6 fuel tanker truck, could hook up underwing hoses and fuel the entire airplane in one con­tinuous operation. This was a welcome change for ground crewmen having to walk around on top of the wings, opening fuel-tank caps and then filling one tank at a time on a Constellation or DC-7.

Further advances would eliminate the fuel truck altogether, as underground pipes fed fuel stored in large airport fuel-tank “farms” to valves and hose hook-ups located in the ramp itself just below the parked air­plane’s wings. This way, ramp fueling personnel could plug hoses from these outlets into small mobile pump­ing units and then connect those directly to the under­wing attach points of the jetliners, thus reducing the amount of large vehicles needed to service the airliner.

Speaking of vehicles, new types of ground equipment would also supplement, and in some cases eliminate


Graphically demonstrating the transition period from props to jets, we see a TWA Boeing 707 at Chicago-O’Hare surrounded by a sea of ground equipment as listed on page 99. Manually pushed boarding stairs exposed to the elements soon gave way to fully enclosed and extendable jet bridges attached directly to the terminal building. (Jon Proctor)



































This schematic shows the proper location relative to the airplane of all the ground equipment necessary for the new 707. Compare this layout to the photograph (on page 98) of an actual TWA 707 being serviced at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. (Mike Machat Collection)

altogether, standard prop-era ramp vehicles such as elec­trical power carts, lavatory trucks, and baggage-handling tugs. Engine-water trucks would be required to pump aboard the alcohol and distilled water mix for water – injected takeoffs. Galley delivery trucks the size of small moving vans would back up to the airplane, their aft sec­tions rising to the height of the cabin floor, to deliver meals and other galley provisions directly into the cabin. Large galley loading doors designed into the airframe would define how differently the new jets would be oper­ated from all the other airliners that had come before.

These new galley doors were located fore and aft on the right-hand side of the airplane at main cabin floor height. Also on the right-hand side but below the cabin floor were large forward and aft baggage doors that allowed baggage and freight to be loaded aboard con­veyer belts angled up to the open baggage bay. Ground power connections were also located on the right side of the jetliner’s nose to facilitate ramp personnel oper­ating safely away from passengers loading on the left side of the airplane.

As originally intended before the jets entered ser­vice, each airplane would be surrounded by an armada
of ground vehicles upon arrival at the gate and while being turned around for its next flight. A typical fleet of ground vehicles and service apparatus required for handling the new jets parked at a terminal was expected to include:

• External power cart

• Forward lavatory service truck

• Aft lavatory service truck

• Forward baggage bay cargo and baggage conveyer truck

• Aft baggage bay cargo and baggage conveyer truck

• Engine-oil and generator-drive filler service

• Ground tug for towing or pushing on the ramp

• Potable-water service truck

• Right wing F-6 tanker truck

• Left wing F-6 tanker truck

• Forward door passenger-loading ramp truck

• Aft door passenger-loading ramp truck

• Ground air-conditioning truck

• Water-injection service truck

• Truck for engine “air-starts”

Подпись:Commercial Avation’s Transition to the Jet Age 1952-1962

A large part of aviation’s popularity in the 1950s was due to the conve­nience offered for even inner-city travel. Los Angeles Airways began 10-passenger Sikorsky S-55 helicopter service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 22, 1954. Having replaced the smaller Sikorsky S-51 car­rying mail and passengers around the vast L. A. basin, the S-55s proved to be a boon to local commuting and were later upgraded to turbine-powered 28- passenger Sikorsky S-61s in 1962. (Los Angeles World Airports)

The East Coast counterpart of L. A. Airways was New York Airways (NYA), linking that metropolis’ three major air­ports with downtown Manhattan. Commuter service was provided using twin-rotor 15-passenger Vertol 44s. NYA also upgraded to jet-powered helicopters in the early-1960s using 25-passenger Boeing-Vertol 107s. Note flotation gear mounted on the big Vertol’s landing struts to ensure passenger safety when flying over the open waterways of New York City. (Mike Machat Collection)


The de Havilland Comet 4’s massive flaps gave it slower approach and landing speeds. This more powerful and stretched version of the original Comet 1 resurrected the proud de Havilland name after suspension of Comet ser­vice following a rash of fatal accidents from 1952 to 1954. (Allan Van Wickler Collection)


Подпись: Unlike on the BOAC Stratocruisers and DC-7Cs that preceded it, the Comet 4's interior was virtually noise and vibration free. According to BOAC ad copy in 1958, the Comet 4 offered passengers a "fusion of speed and rock-like stability [yielding] an impression of being suspended comfortably in space." Interior configuration shown here featured 16 first-class sleeper-seats in the forward cabin and 43 tourist seats aft. (Craig Kodera Collection)

By the mid-1950s, airport management staffs and their in-house planners and designers had begun to look at the special needs of the new breed of jet-powered air­liners. At this stage, however, the very first seedlings of these new ideas were just beginning to sprout. As we will see, by the time the new jets actually entered com­mercial service several years later, more refined and effective advancements would be incorporated into air­line operations and modern airport design.

Supersonic Transports

As mentioned earlier, everyone in the airline indus­try fully expected to see the start of supersonic airliner service by the end of the 1960s. Both Boeing and Lockheed had impressive multi-hundred-passenger designs on the drawing boards; with the Boeing 2707 featuring a variable-geometry swing wing, and Lockheed’s Model 2000 showing a raked double-delta planform. Both these mammoth machines echoed the lines of North American’s radical six-engine XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 strategic bomber, which first flew in 1964. Unlike the Valkyrie, however, neither U. S. com­mercial Supersonic Transport (SST) ever made it past the mockup stage.

As public awareness of environmental problems associated with SSTs rapidly grew, the airplanes began to experience a reversal of fortunes. Provisional orders from the world’s major airlines fell by the wayside as the rising drumbeat for ending America’s SST develop­ment became too loud to ignore. In 1971, the Nixon Administration officially brought the U. S. Supersonic Transport program to a halt. Public concerns about the negative impact of such an aircraft, with its jarring sonic booms supposedly killing wildlife and high-altitude exhaust eroding the ozone layer, completely overshad­owed whatever speed advantages any SST would be able to offer for a very small percentage of the traveling public. The factors of economics and passenger capacity won out over speed and technical supremacy once again.

That same year in Europe, however, a graceful and elegant-looking new airplane took to the air called sim­ply, Concorde, the world’s first and only successful supersonic airliner. Great Britain and France realized a decades-long dream to develop and fly such an aircraft, having studied the idea of a European-built SST as early

Supersonic Transports

Supersonic Transports

Supersonic TransportsThe work of one of the true masters of modern American^illustration, this

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epic Ren Wicks painting shows an imaginary inaugural gala for TWA’s majestic new 707 complete with Hollywood premier searchlights.


n remembering the seemingly magical time when jet airliners first entered commercial service in October 1958, it is important to note that for the better part of the first year of operations, there was only one U. S.-built jet airliner flying, and only three U. S. flag or domestic carriers using it. That airplane was the Boeing 707. Hence, if you were standing on an observation deck at New York, Los Angeles, Paris, or London, this would be the only American jetliner you would ever see. Moreover, in certain U. S. cities celebrating the beginning of jet service at the time, there might be only one airline flying there in a 707.

For those of us standing by an airport chain-link fence in 1959, watching landing approaches on Aviation Boulevard at LAX in California or Rockaway Boulevard at New York’s Idlewild, the sce­nario might be something like this: Seeing a four – engine propliner with red-white-and-blue propeller tips gleaming in the afternoon sunlight would signal the approach of a United Air Lines DC-7 Mainliner. Next would be a red-striped triple-tail Trans World Airlines Super-G Constellation, followed by a regional airline’s twin-engine Convair Liner. All typi­cal fare for dedicated airport brethren of the time.

Then, someone in the crowd would excitedly exclaim, “Look, there’s a jet!” Wisps of smoke on the horizon would signal the approach of a jetliner that could only be a brand-new Boeing 707. Would the plane belong to Pan American, TWA, or American Airlines? As the aircraft came into view, the bright red – orange nose of the latter airline became visible, and soon, all 135,000 pounds of sleek bare-metal whistling tonnage would scream overhead with the wail of a thousand banshees. Unlike the national mood only a few years later, no one ever seemed to mind the noise. After all, it was a jet.

During a typical afternoon of airplane spotting, one might see only one or two 707s for every ten or twelve propliners, but the experience was well worth the wait. Another new sound often accompanied these swept – wing giants as they soared overhead only seconds from touchdown. It was an eerie sound with a ghost-like “wooosh” that would linger overhead after the plane flew by, and then, just as quickly as it appeared, would swiftly dissipate. On cloudy days you could actually see the cyclonic tube of air that created this sound. It was the turbulent vortices emanating from the jetliner’s wingtips as they sliced through the air at then-unheard – of approach speeds of nearly 150 mph.

…this magnificent new Jet airplane. Yes, this is the newest, largest,

and fastest Jetliner in the skies today. And its longer range assures non-stop flights over the Atlantic —in both directions. Even on the ground, every line of the TWA пшкомтшиш BOEING 707 — inspires confidence… and tells you here is the ultimate in travel speed and comfort. You notice at once the swept back wings… the absence of propellers on the four great pure jet engines and above all —the majestic size of this totally different plane!


Supersonic Transports

Another facet of this new era in transportation was the marketing of these airplanes to the general public. Dramatic artwork and vivid color photography was incorporated into new brochures produced to create a sense of excitement and glamor for this dramatic new mode of air travel. Reflecting the 1950’s genre of com­mercial illustration, images of cavernous passenger cab­ins occupied by handsome, well-dressed men and stylish women graced the pages of these brochures. Illustrations or photos of lavishly prepared foods being served to attractive passengers flying in the sumptuous cabin of a new jetliner conjured up images of elegant dining aloft while flying in the stratosphere at close to the speed of sound.

As mentioned earlier, one of the premier American illustrators of the day was Ren Wicks, founder of the world-renowned commercial art studio, Group West. As personal artist to TWA’s Howard Hughes, Wicks was tasked with creating the trend-setting artwork that brought TWA’s Boeing 707 to life years before the air­plane entered passenger service. Wicks flew to all of TWA’s major cities and photographed their respective skylines and cityscapes from helicopters to acquire the detailed reference material deemed so essential in achieving the realism seen in his artwork.

We, the authors, are honored to present these Ren Wicks images as contained in TWA’s original 1959 Boeing 707 promotional brochure. They capture, in every sense of the word, the spirit of wonderment that pervaded the public consciousness about this burgeoning era of jet – powered commercial flight. From spacious cabin interiors to detailed flight galleys, to modern stylish lavatory decor—it’s all here. Representing the Boeing 707 Intercontinental model is an original 1960 Lufthansa brochure for its Rolls-Royce Conway-powered 707-420, the first airliner in history to feature a wooden beer stein onboard for the First Class Senator Service.

Augmenting these beautiful brochures is a series of 16 photographs of 707s in various models and color schemes from, with few exceptions, the very first years of 707 service. You will note that this book is dedicated to the memory of Terry Waddington, a star member of the marketing and sales team for McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California. Terry was also a slide collector who amassed a sizeable archive of 35mm imagery from around the world that was second to none. By special arrangement, the Waddington estate has made these slides available to us, and we present them here in Terry’s honor. We hope that through these historic orig­inal images, the Boeing 707 will once again come alive.





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Appearing more like the passenger cabin aboard a much larger aircraft, this 707 forward lounge featured all the amenities of luxury and elegance aloft. Note the relative scale of the people compared to the airplane.

Supersonic Transports

Just as a full-width mirror enhances the overall size of any room, this 707 lavatory looks absolutely spacious with ample shelf space and ultra-modern appointments and fixtures. A new jet airliner had to be impressive.

Supersonic TransportsSupersonic Transports

Подпись: Following the rule that the peak use of illustration is to depict something unattainable in a photograph, artist Ren Wicks uses vertical stripes to symbolize the different time zones that are easily traversed by the 707.

In a day and age when inflight service was the core of any airline’s existence, a well-equipped and fully stocked galley was as essential to the overall passenger experience as a high-tech cockpit was to the pilots.

Supersonic Transports

Lufthansa’s new Boeing 707-420 rolls out of the company’s Renton facility on a typically rainy day in Seattle. This larger "Intercontinental" version of the 707 carried more passengers and flew farther than the 100-series.

Supersonic Transports

Replacing the passenger’s view of oil-splattered radial engine cowlings was this impressive vista of sleek turbojet engine nacelles connected by slim pylons to a swept wing. The wingtip probe was a radio antenna.

Supersonic Transports
In today’s world of $8 snack boxes, it may be difficult to fathom the thought of Lufthansa’s Senator Service, and sumptuous meals being served at your seat. Inflight dining had all the amenities of five-star international cuisine.

Supplying delicious food and all the accoutrements was the responsibility of an Airline’s Chief Chef. Although perhaps not onboard every flight, this enthusiastic cook looks every bit the part of TV chefs today.

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Continental’s "Golden Jet" service on the 707 literally set the standard for competition within the airline industry early in the Jet Age. Special custom-built motorized boarding ramps (lower right) were used to protect passengers from the elements before the advent of enclosed jetways. Shown here at Chicago’s O’Hare, 707 Golden Jets brought jet transportation to other Midwestern cities not served by jetliners at the time. (Jon Proctor)

Pan American and Trans World Airlines were the largest Boeing 707 operators. Arriving at the International Arrivals Building (IAB) at New York’s then-ldlewild Airportf Pan Am 707-321 carried the name Jet Clipper Splendid. Note the array of aircraft visible in the background, from an Air France 707-320 at the gate to a turboprop National Lockheed Electra, Pan Am DC-8, and even a classic American Douglas DC-6B taxiing in the distance. (Jon Proctor)

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Braniff ad execs liked to refer to their "Big Jets/’ as reflected by the large red "-227" seen on this aircraft’s aft fuse­lage. Combining the domestic body and more powerful engines from the 300-series, the -227 was unique to Braniff. The aircraft could fly faster than its 707-100 counterparts, and was able to carry heavier payloads out of "hot and high" airports such as Mexico City as well. This "Big Jet" is shown at Dallas’ Love Field. (Robert Proctor)

Supersonic Transports

Initially operating Rolls-Royce Conway-powered 707s, BOAC later acquired Pratt & Whitney turbofan models. Featuring the stylish new "speedbird" logo seen in metallic gold on the tail, the airline adopted a slightly modified livery from the midnight blue-and-ochre delivery color scheme seen on page 126. Note BOAC logos on the forward engine pylons, a carry-over from the airline’s Comet 4 "slipper" fuel tank markings. (Jon Proctor Collection)


Supersonic Transports

Air India also opted for Rolls-Royce Conway engines on its initial fleet of Boeing 707 Intercontinentals. Named Gauri Shankar, VT-DJJ is seen here in a handsome modified 707 color scheme being prepared for departure at Zurich, Switzerland. Although technically a turbojet, the Rolls-Royce Conway was known as a "bypass" engine, offering slightly higher thrust. It served as a precursor to the true turbofan engine. (Jon Proctor Collection)

Supersonic Transports

Sabena Belgian World Airlines became an international 707 operator offering transatlantic service beginning in January 1960. This airplane’s handsome color scheme, seen here at Orly Airport in Paris, was adapted directly from the design used on the airline’s Douglas DC-7C intercontinental propliners before delivery of its 707s. The 707-320 carried 165 passengers and had a cruising speed of 600 mph. (Jon Proctor Collection)

El Al operated a weekly New York-Tel Aviv "nonstop" with its Rolls-Royce-powered Intercontinental 707s, but most trips stopped both ways at London’s Heathrow Airport, where this picture was taken. Wearing a revised color scheme designed in 1971 for the airline’s new Boeing 747 jumbo jet, this 707 serves as a nice example of how the airplane’s classic lines look good even in more modern colors. (Jon Proctor Collection)




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Подпись: 11Ш1Supersonic Transports

Supersonic TransportsSouth African Airways (Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens), was known for luxurious in-flight services on its three 707-344s. ZS-CKC is seen here on push-back at London-Heathrow. Like other carriers, SAA later took advantage of Pratt & Whitney turbofan-powered Boeings, which were better suited to the airline’s high-altitude destinations. The 707- 300B series offered maximum gross takeoff weights of 330,000 pounds. (Jon Proctor Collection)

Supersonic Transports

An original DC-8 operator, Eastern acquired 720s for short – to medium-range routes, chiefly on the U. S. East Coast and to Puerto Rico. Using both passenger boarding doors, N8712E awaits customers at West Palm Beach. The air­craft’s attractive "arrowhead" motif was Eastern’s ninth variation of its original jet color scheme designed for the DC-8 in 1960, and was applied to many of Eastern’s older propliners as well. (Jon Proctor)

Supersonic Transports

After leasing two 707s to enter the Jet Age, Western concentrated on turbo-fan-powered 720s, which were ideally suited for its route structure on the West Coast, across the Mountain region, and to Mexico. An updated "Indian Head" livery debuted on the type. N93152 is seen here being pushed back from the gate at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Note Beechcraft "commuter" at lower right. (Jon Proctor Collection)

Supersonic TransportsSupersonic Transports5AUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES

In December 1961, Saudi Arabian flag carrier Saudia acquired two 720Bs originally built for Ethiopian Airlines, for use on flights between the Kingdom and destinations in Europe and North Africa. Showing the airline’s dramatic change to jets, 720s replaced Convair 340 twins and DC-6As. The second 720 aircraft is seen here resting between flights at London-Heathrow, wearing its second distinctive dark green-and-gold livery. (Jon Proctor)

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Beginning 707-328 service in January 1960, Air France added Pratt & Whitney turbofan models as it built up a large fleet of the Boeing jets. Chateau de Dampierre is shown here arriving at Boston’s Logan International Airport, and was later retired and placed on permanent display at Le Bourget Airport in Paris. Fittingly, LeBourget was the des­tination of Pan American’s inaugural 707 service in October 1958. (Jon Proctor Collection)

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One of the first charter airlines to acquire newly manufactured jetliners, World Airways used convertible 707-373Cs worldwide, including civilian flights, military "MAC" charter, and cargo services. Shown in World’s attractive red- and-white livery, a passenger flight arrives at Manchester, England. The 707-300-series’ 143-foot wingspan can be seen here. Passenger capacity for MAC flights could reach 165. (Jon Proctor Collection)

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Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first U. S. president to fly in a jet-powered aircraft, using a Boeing 707-120 operated by the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). This rare and historic photograph shows the turbofan-powered VC-137C (707-320B) Air Force One as it landed at San Diego on June 6, 1963. President John F. Kennedy was aboard the aircraft that day, barely five months before his tragic assassination. (Jon Proctor)

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Colombia’s national carrier Avianca received its first Boeing jet, a 720B, in November 1961, and acquired several new and second-hand examples before upgrading to intercontinental 707-359Bs, including HK-1402, seen here at the International Arrivals Building at New York’s JFK in May 1968. It is interesting to note the use of mobile board­ing stairs at a time when most Jet Age airports had more modern jetways. (Jon Proctor Collection)

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Air Portugal was a relatively late customer for the 707, beginning service with the type in early 1966. CS-TBG, named Fernao de Magalhes, was one of the last commercial 707s to roll off the assembly line, and was delivered to TAP in March 1970. A total of 1,010 707s were built for the world’s airlines and the military from 1958 to 1991. Military 707s flew for the U. S. Air Force, the Navy, NATO, and several foreign air arms. (Jon Proctor Collection)

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Lockheed Constellation 649 through 749

By May 1945, Lockheed had begun updating the basic Constellation design, with a weight increase as the number-one attribute of this “new” airplane. Over the ensuing years Lockheed basically pioneered the use of step-increases in overall weight capabilities, thus allowing expanded roles for the airframe in a larger market. Through the redesign effort the “new type” Constellation, as Eastern Airlines referred to it (649/749), was actually a 50-percent-change baseline airplane. Now that the Wright 3350 “BD-1 ” version of the engine was available at 300 bhp more than the orig­inal installed in the 049s, the airplane could be enhanced noticeably. Faster airspeed and greater pay – load performance, plus better inside soundproofing (to match the DC-6), better heating, ventilation, and cooling set the new-series Constellations apart from the originals.

One of the more interesting aspects to the added utility of the 649/749 series was the use of an external
cargo-carrying pod, which was slung under the center – line of the fuselage at mid-wing. This was known as the “Speedpak” and could carry 8,000 pounds of additional cargo. Lockheed sold 75 Speedpaks, mainly to Eastern, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), and TWA, for use on 049, 649, and 749 airframes. (As an aside, Eastern paid $850,000 for each 649 it purchased —quite a hefty amount in 1948!)

The first of the 749s went to Air France in April 1947. The 749 had additional 565-gallon fuel tanks installed in the outboard wings, which increased its range by 1,000 miles while allowing it to carry the same payload as the 649. This was the overwater version of the Constellation that became the gold standard of the short bodies, which allowed it to find wide acceptance with far-flung overseas airlines such as BOAC, Qantas, and South African. The 749/749A was also the model of the Constellation that remained in service the longest, on routes both around the world and in the United States.

Air France also provided its passengers flying between Paris and New York the unique Golden Parisian service on 749 sleeper aircraft. The usual 24-passenger sleeper seating eventually gave way to a
16-passenger layout, which provided the kind of legroom one could only find on a ship, or in one’s own living room! Such was intercontinental air travel during the early postwar years.

Lockheed Constellation 649 through 749

Подпись:Lockheed Constellation 649 through 749A cocktail lounge located at the front of the 749A Constellation passenger cabin provided a casual atmosphere for passengers awaiting dinner, or makeup of their sleeping berths, on TWA’s nonstop Ambassador Service from New York to London.

Purser Russ Robins and a hostess prepare to offer champagne to their guests. (TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)

Decisions, Decisions

In Britain, turboprops already ruled the airways, from the small Miles Marathon to the gigantic Saunders-Roe Princess flying boat. Short or long range, these new hybrid engines flew on them all. In America, many major aircraft manufacturers were contemplating and developing their own turbine-propeller-powered airframes. There was the giant XC-132 cargo carrier from Douglas, and even Boeing’s first B-52 strategic bomber design concept was a turboprop! All existing airplanes were being designed around future turboprop powerplants (as noted in the sections on Lockheed’s Constellation series). But these same companies were also concurrently thinking pure jet, which brings us to the DC-7D.

As early as 1952, Douglas had secretly established a jet-engine airliner study group. For public consump­tion, however, and that of the airline chiefs, Douglas later offered rather half-heartedly what everyone con­sidered a stopgap airplane powered by RB.109 turbo­prop engines from Rolls-Royce. The aircraft was based on the DC-7C airframe, but had a swept vertical stabi­lizer and a 40-inch fuselage stretch. C. R. Smith at American was interested, but at the urging of Art Raymond, Vice President of Engineering at Douglas, Donald Douglas made the decision to skip the turbo­prop and go directly to pure jet power. The result of that pivotal decision was the DC-8.

Facing all the other airliner manufacturers at that time was the very same choice Don Douglas had to

Decisions, Decisions

Remember the Republic RC-2 Rainbow shown on page 11 in Chapter One? This design concept was resurrected in the mid-1950s as a veritable "last gasp" from the com­pany to attempt to harness the commercial airliner mar­ket. Looking like a cross between various aircraft designs from Vickers, Fokker, and Potez, the Turboprop Rainbow never left the drawing boards at Farmingdale. (Cradle of Aviation Museum Archives via Mike Machat Collection)

make. Should they play the game by putting off the inevitable transition to pure jets and produce a turbo­prop airliner? If they did, they had to realize that the market was going to be medium to small at best. There was, therefore, every reason to believe that supplying such an airplane would be a money-losing proposition. And yet, if the manufacturers jumped right to jets with all their inherent risks, would the airlines be willing to jump with them?

In the meantime, minds were made up at American and Eastern Air Lines to ask for bids on a clean-sheet – of-paper turboprop design, with Lockheed’s Electra emerging as the winner of that competition. This suited Lockheed who had lost a “promised” contract for the Air Force’s new four-engine jet tanker, which steered them directly to the consolation prize of turboprop power. By mid-1955, American had signed on for 35 Electras while Eastern ordered 40.

While Boeing had flown its Dash 80 prototype and Douglas was planning its own new DC-8 Jetliner, air­lines that wanted to hedge their jet bets bought Electras as well to “complement” their pending pure-jet fleet. Marketing logic dictated that the intermediate technol­ogy of the turbine-propeller would be just fine for fly­ing from New York to Chicago, or even all the way from New York to Los Angeles, just in case the jets didn’t quite work out. As an aside, Western Airlines with its new route authority to Hawaii a few years later was quite willing to use Electras rather than buy or lease the 707. For Western, the Electra was the wonder

Decisions, Decisions

On the West Coast another stillborn concept was envi­sioned but then abandoned when Douglas decided to forge ahead with a pure-jet airliner called the DC-8. By not building the interim Douglas DC-7D Turboprop shown in this concept rendering, Douglas left the task of building America’s only turboprop-powered airliner to Lockheed with its Electra design. (Craig Kodera Collection)

airplane of the era; such was its economy of operation, flexibility, and quasi-jet-like speed. Western did not order pure jets until 1960.

Once all was said and done in the saga of the tur­boprop in America, things turned out pretty much as expected. The British supplied the first round of air­planes: Viscounts to Capital and Northeast, where Britannias were also nearly a reality for both carriers. The Electra was built for the second round of equip­ment upgrades, delivering a larger airplane with greater range. With only 170 aircraft produced, however, the Electra program ultimately lost money, as predicted. At the smaller-size end of the spectrum, Fairchild license – built the twin-engine F-27 turboprop from Fokker for local service airlines, with a total of 129 coming from its Hagerstown, Maryland, plant.

By 1959, the surprising quality, reliability, and ready acceptance by passengers of the pure jets, com­bined with a sudden reality that more airline seats were needed in the market, accelerated the arrival of shorter – range jetliners such as the Caravelle, 720, 727, and finally, the DC-9 in the mid-1960s. This negated the need for further large turboprop designs, and early-on stifled sales of the Electra (and in Britain, the Vanguard). The F-27 soon became a victim of its own success in stimu­lating new traffic at the small airlines, for it rapidly became too small, and larger equipment was ordered rather than more of the basic F-27.

Truly niche aircraft, the turboprops of the 1950s provided a valuable transition, or “bridge,” in the pro­gression from props to jets. But the window of oppor­tunity was quite small, and for one manufacturer, Lockheed, the decision to spurn pure jets would have competitive ramifications for years to come, completely changing the dynamics of the market and its players in the new world order of commercial jet airliners.