Category From props to jets

Convair Model 37 (XC-99 for the Air Force)

As early as 1942, the Army Air Force was inter­ested in a cargo version of the Convair XB-36 bomber, and let a contract for one aircraft in December of that year. This airplane was to share the wings, engines, tail surfaces, and landing gear of the bomber, but have an entirely new two-deck fuselage to accommodate troops and cargo. The same aircraft configured for commercial passenger carriage was an obvious spin-off and was offered to the airlines dur­ing the war.

In February 1945, Pan American World Airways ordered 15 of the commercial transports for construc­tion and delivery following war’s end. The airplanes were to be configured to carry 204 passengers and 15,300 pounds of mail, cargo, and luggage. Airspeed at cruise was forecast to come in at just under 300 mph, and range could be assumed to easily cover a 4,000-mile trip. The seating in the upper cabin was five abreast, intermixed with sleeping berths and day airplane seats. Lounges were to be located on each deck, and a spiral


staircase stood at the fore and aft ends of the cabin to connect these decks. A large galley was also planned for the airplane, and spa-like lavatories would cater to the needs of passengers.

Interestingly enough, even at this early date in the worlds advancement of aviation, the Model 37 was envi­sioned as being powered by Wright T-35 turboprop engines. Unfortunately, that powerplant did not come to fruition, and the standard Pratt & Whitney R-4360 pis­ton engines were left in place, as with the B-36 installa­tion. In the end, this design element allowed the XC-99 to be forever known as the world’s largest piston – powered cargo aircraft. As an airliner, the airplane would have been the first of the 747 style jumbo aircraft winging over the globe. The world would wait another 25 years to experience such an aircraft, however, as Pan American once again realized that bigger wasn’t neces­sarily better in the postwar environment. In the mean­time, the airline contented itself with the less ambitious Boeing Stratocruiser as its premier Clipper to span the oceans.

Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation

Stretching the basic design of an airliner airframe first began in the 1930s with the DC-1 being lengthened into the DC-2. The Constellation was the perfect can­didate for lengthening and weight increase due to the amount of power built into its Wright R-3350 engines. With the desire to accommodate either more range or more passengers (Tourist Class was becoming a reality for the airline companies), Lockheed added 18 feet 4■/ inches to the basic 749 fuselage and created the Model 1049 Super Constellation. An impressive total of 550 new design features were added to the airplane, including larger cockpit and cabin windows, larger ver­tical stabilizers, new fuel tankage, metal-covered ailerons, and a new electrical system.

Lockheed 1049 Super Constellation

Eastern bought 14 of these airplanes and TWA bought 10. The low number of total orders for this specific version indicates that the airplane was, in essence, a transitional aircraft, giving it new capabili­ties, but not being quite as advanced as later versions that would incorporate turbo-compound engines, or perhaps even turboprop powerplants such as the Allison T38 in a unique military configuration. What is significant, however, is that the Model 1049 con­firmed that getting the most from a basic design by
constantly improving it would pay huge dividends in the years immediately following this first stretch of the classic Constellation.



The zenith of luxury during the golden age of propliners was TWA’s nonstop Polar service between California and Europe aboard the Lockheed 1649A Jetstream. Ambassador Flight 870 appears ready to accept passen­gers at Los Angeles for its flight to Paris. (Mel Lawrence)




aced with serious postwar competition from irregular, non-scheduled airlines, U. S. trunk carri­ers struck back with what became known as “tourist” or “coach” service, implemented using higher-density seating or standard-configuration airplanes at off – peak hours; what many purists considered the begin­ning of the end of civilized air travel. Most of these flights featured boxed meals available for purchase in the airport terminal before boarding, multiple en-route stops, and long rides in cramped cabins.

Sleeping berths, a more common feature on pre­war aircraft, began to disappear with the advent of faster, four-engine equipment. In the United States, American Airlines and TWA retained berths on new DC-6s and Constellations for added comfort on longer domestic segments, as did United for its Hawaii service. But gradually, sleeping accommoda­
tions were removed from the Douglas types. Meanwhile, TWA’s transatlantic routes justified the berths and gave it an advantage on its longest flights within North America. At the same time, airline man­agers recognized the demand for premium service above and beyond standard first class.

In 1948, just a year before TWA began offering Sky Coach flights within the United States, the airline took its transatlantic service to a higher level by intro­ducing weekly, all-sleeper “Paris Sky Chief” flights between New York and Paris with a scheduled stop at Gander; westbound, it became the “New York Sky Chief.” Limited to only 18 passengers, the cabin layout included a cocktail lounge in the forward section of the main cabin. Advertisements spoke of champagne dinners and a pre-arrival hot breakfast “served in bed, if you prefer!” With the delivery of longer-range

749A Connies, TWA moved these trips from LaGuardia to the newer Idlewild Airport with its longer runways, beginning nonstop flights in November 1951, although weather conditions still dic­tated occasional en-route landings for fuel.

The upgraded flights became known as Paris and New York “International Ambassador Service,” while the Sky Chief name was reassigned to domestic first – class segments. A similar service was initiated with TWA’s new New York-to-London route, and sleeper flights were increased to twice-weekly frequencies.

The Ambassador name was carried over to domestic service with TWAs introduction of 1049 Super Constellations, referred to as “Ambassador Service in the U. S.” Although restricted to domestic flights, the 64-seat, all-first-class Super Connie cabins were equipped with eight convertible berths for use on night flights. A fold-down table in the “cozy” seven-seat lounge provided space for an elaborate snack buffet presentation.

Ambassador Service was greatly enhanced with the introduction of 1049G Super G Constellations in

September 1956, the first dual-class aircraft in the United States. Passengers seated in the noisier for­ward cabin received “Golden Banner Deluxe Coach Service” that featured hot meals for purchase, along with cocktails for sale. Meanwhile, a limited number of sleeping berths were available for Ambassador cus­tomers on night flights. In the more spacious mid­cabin “Mural Lounge,” canapes were offered from a silver serving tray, along with cocktails before an elaborate meal service with wine and champagne.

The ultimate Ambassador Service was offered aboard TWA’s Model 1649A Starliners, which were referred to as “Jetstreams,” a reference to the fact that the airplane could take advantage of high-altitude jet – stream winds, although the clever deception came from the reference to jets that were yet to arrive. TWA even featured illustrations of the airplane in its adver­tising, sans propellers, a tactic discontinued after a storm of protests from competing airlines. This air­plane, often referred to as the “Cadillac” of the Constellation series, entered service with TWA in June 1957 on transatlantic and longer domestic routes.

The airline’s 1649As were furnished with “Siesta Sleeper Seats,” perhaps the most comfortable on any airliner at the time. With pull-out footrests and deep seatback recline, the chairs were nearly as comfort­able as the sleeper berths that were also available, and provided a competitive edge, both on transatlantic and transcontinental segments. In the Mural Lounges, each 1649A featured a different colorful Marie Zamparelli wall painting representing major cities and nations served by TWA.

Perhaps the Jetstream’s greatest asset was its ability to provide reliable nonstop flights across the Atlantic in both directions, even from southern Europe. Its range was sufficient enough to allow TWA to begin nonstop flights between U. S. West Coast cities and Europe via the polar route. And while Super G Connies and DC-7s struggled to complete westbound nonstop routes across the country against heavy win­ter winds, the Jetstream flew these segments with ease.

The Ambassador moniker gave way to TWA’s “Royal Ambassador Service” in June 1961, aboard Boeing 707s across the Atlantic. Perhaps the ultimate
first-class experience at the time, it was limited to just 20 passengers and began with hand luggage delivered to the passenger’s reserved seat. A choice of seven dinner entrees included Chateaubriand carved on an aisle cart, part of a multi-course, 2Z-hour meal pre­sentation. “R/A Service,” as it was known within the airline industry, was later expanded to long-haul domestic flights and became the envy of competing airlines for the rest of the decade.

In April 1970, TWA resurrected the Ambassador Service trademark as part of a complete makeover of its Boeing 707 and Convair 880 cabin interiors to more closely match the 747s that began joining the fleet earlier in the year. The identity, which extended to both first class and coach, later expanded to the air­line’s 727s as well.

Although the “new” Ambassador Service was well received, it could not match the individualized attention that cabin crews were able to give their cus­tomers on the longer flights of the pre-jet era, when there was time for leisurely meals, making up sleeping berths, and offering passengers breakfast in bed.


This aft-looking picture shows TWA’s luxurious 1649A Jetstream first-class "Starlight Lounge." Artist Marie Zamparelli was commissioned to create murals representing different cities and countries served by the airline, to adorn the lounge-cabin sidewall. (TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)



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Darts Over The Hudson. Viscount Airlines’ Vickers Viscount over Manhattan in 1958. (Craig Kodera)




he age of turbine-powered commercial aircraft offi­cially begins with new foreign-built turboprop regional airliners replacing the stalwart piston-powered transports of the time. Although the world’s first – generation jetliners are making their appearance, they are still months away from certification for passenger use. The airline industry is preparing for an impending change as the world awaits the beginning of an exciting new era in travel.

"Jet Powered"

If you lived in Small Town, USA, in 1958 and were worried that the jet revolution would pass you by, you shouldn’t have been. The local service carriers that sup­ported such cities with airline service had a big surprise for customers, with airplanes like the twin-turboprop Fairchild F-27. Whether for business or family trips, the wonder of turbine aviation in the late-1950s was a
breath of fresh air for communities with travelers tired and beat-up from flying on what seemed like “ancient,” stuffy, old DC-3s. On route segments to larger cities, the four-engine Vickers Viscount brought turbine – powered flight to modern commercial aviation, and the Bristol Britannia ruled the transoceanic skies.

Turboprops were exciting: the sounds, the smell of kerosene, the speed. There was an overall impressiveness

Impact on the Industry from the Turbofan’s Advances

Perhaps the most significant added benefit of tur­bofan engines was the propitious drop in noise levels to

Impact on the Industry from the Turbofan's Advances

What is a propeller-driven DC-6B doing in this chapter on fanjets? Making the point that some airplanes are almost irreplaceable, Northeast flew its DC-6Bs on shorter inter­city routes up and down the Washington-New York-Boston corridor until 1966. Despite the airline hav­ing new twinjets and turboprops flying by the late 1960sf nothing could beat the sheer economic advantage of the reliable Douglas propliner on those shorter; commuter stage lengths. (Mike Machat Collection)

the point where cumbersome external noise suppressors were no longer required. With the cooler fan exhaust literally shrouding the hot core section gases as they exited the tailpipe, the painful roar of the engine was mitigated to much more acceptable sound levels around airports, and even when the aircraft were flying over them at higher altitudes. From a purely power stand­point, the fanjet JT3D produced up to 18,000 pounds of thrust compared to the “straight” turbojet JT3C’s

12,0 pounds.

Around the country, initial public perception indi­cated that the first turbojet-powered airliners had earned an unenviable reputation for being much louder than the piston-powered aircraft they replaced. As a result, restrictive rules were imposed requiring some – times-complex, noise-abatement procedures, particu­larly on takeoff. The new generation of turbofan – powered jetliners combined the attributes of lower overall-engine-noise levels with improved thrust levels and the ability to climb more steeply on takeoff, thus becoming “good neighbors” wherever they flew.

Bristol Type 167 Brabazon

Perhaps most ambitious within the Luxury Airliner category of contestants, Bristol’s Brabazon Mark One airliner was a true behemoth in all regards. The aerody­namic answer to the question of more passengers and more range was, in those days of World War II and immediately thereafter, to simply take a given, typical airplane shape along with the ratio of its parts, and inflate them. For instance, if you need more lift to carry
all that new payload, simply design a giant wing to do so. Or a bigger fuselage and tail group to handle more passengers. Fience the Brabazon was a very large air­craft in all proportions. So large, in fact, that Bristol had to lengthen the runway at its Filton works, which necessitated the destruction of an entire village in order to build on to the pavement. Also, two new production hangars were constructed to produce these giants. The wing camber was so thick and high that a man could easily walk upright through the center wing area had it been open, and each wing had a bumper on its under­side tip to absorb the inevitable runway impact during a crosswind operation.

The Type 167 was named after Lord Brabazon, an influential aeronaut cum aviation booster who chaired the committee that bore his name during World War II. That group of men laid the groundwork for all the future postwar airliners that Britain should produce, with differing specifications for differing roles. The largest airplane would be the transatlantic flag carrier. Thus, as Bristol embarked on the building of the great international airliner in March 1943, it seemed only appropriate to name it for its founding mentor.

The Brabazon had a wingspan of 229 feet, cruised with its low-speed airfoil shape at a stately 250 mph, and could carry up to 180 pampered passengers in com­partmentalized style on two separate decks. Bristol and British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) liked to compare the interior of the airplane to that of a lux­ury salon railway car, offering a lavish 200 square feet of luxury space per passenger (in the 100-passenger


configuration) so as to help them survive the inter­minably long flights across the North Atlantic. As with the other aircraft we are discussing in this section, the Brabazon was striving to be the “last word” in air travel in the late 1940s. Features included a cinema, lounge, bar, and ladies’ dressing room, not to mention impecca­ble British service.

Among the advanced features of the Brabazon, all flight controls were 100-percent hydraulically powered, and it was the first airplane to be so designed. The dual Bristol Centaurus engines per each nacelle were actually buried inside the wing, each at an angle to a central driveshaft turning contra-rotating propellers. Production aircraft, starting with the Mark Two air­
frame, were to be even more advanced powered by Proteus turboprop engines.

Putting this airplane into context, it first flew in 1949, just after the de Havilland Comet made its maiden flight. The contrast could not be more stunning, and served a harbinger of things to come for the “Brab” as BOAC lost all interest in the airplane. British European Airways (BEA) wanted to fly the one-and-only air­frame (the never-fully-completed number two aircraft was scrapped) on its service to Paris, but fatigue prob­lems associated with the propeller mountings and an overall flight time limitation of 5,000 hours scotched the idea of revenue passenger flying. By October 1953, the Mark One airframe was broken up for scrap as well.

Convair 340

Jolted into reality by the large Martin orders, Convair began marketing the improved Model 240A, later renamed the 340, which not only leapfrogged the 404’s attractiveness, but blunted a potential threat from Convair’s East Coast rival.

The Model 340 stretched the 240 design by 4 feet 6 inches, increasing seating capacity to 44 passengers. Its wingspan was lengthened by 13 feet 11 inches, allowing nearly double the 240’s fuel capacity, up to 1,900 gal­lons. Upgraded engines completed the package, which drew a 30-airplane order from United Air Lines, later growing to 55. The Model 340 “Cosmopolitan” enjoyed wide acceptance from the airline industry, both

Convair 340

United flew the largest fleet of Convair-Liners; 55 Model 340s served the carrier for more than 12 years without incurring a single passenger fatality. Mainliner Omaha awaits customers at its San Diego birthplace. (Jon Proctor)
in the United States and overseas. Supplementing the 209 civil versions built, the U. S. Navy and Air Force purchased an additional 102.


Подпись: United Air Lines retained a large Viscount fleet after the 1961 merger with Capital and kept the type in service through the end of the decade. N7428 is pictured here awaiting its passengers on a brief stopover at Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1968. (Thomas Livesey Collection)

By Mike Machat

The businessman from Hartford and veteran air­line traveler boarded the stairs and stepped through the oval door of the brand-new, factory – fresh red-and-white Capital Airlines Viscount parked on the ramp at Newark Airport. Strapping into his seat, he noticed the size of the window— about twice that of the Constellations he was used to flying in, and oval as well. As the slim, four-bladed Dowty-Rotol propellers started turning, the familiar smoky, coughing engines start and piston-induced vibrations he usually felt at this moment were replaced by almost complete silence and a new smooth hum. Then the rising note of turbine whine
slowly grew into a shrieking cacophony emanating from the aircraft’s slim nacelles housing its four Rolls-Royce Darts.

Acceleration on takeoff was dazzling by compar­ison to a DC-7 or a Constellation, but with a stately 315-mph cruise speed, actual times en route were not all that different from the Viscount’s piston-powered counterparts. The flying experience itself, however, was another story, for the ride was noticeably smoother, it was quieter inside the cabin, and the trip was less fatiguing. Although not as fast or as large as the soon-to-come turboprop Electra from Lockheed and the Bristol Britannia from England, the Viscount nevertheless set the stage for the age of turbine – powered regional-service air travel.

about them, and an importance to the use of this new powerplant that changed commercial aviation forever. The turbine engine now connected Main Street in your town, to the bustling thoroughfares of big city America and beyond.

Convair 990

American Airlines’ Chairman C. R. Smith saw the advantage of turbofan power early on, from both an economic and a competitive point of view. In August 1958, he ordered 25 Convair Model 30 jetliners from General Dynamics for $100 million. Commercially marketed as the 600 and later renamed the 990, this follow-on version of the 880 was to be 139 feet 6 inches long with a maximum takeoff weight of 240,000 pounds and powered by General Electric CJ-805-21 “ducted fan” engines to give it a speed advantage over the Boeing and Douglas jetliners already on order. With Pratt & Whitney’s turbofan engine development run­ning 18 months behind General Electric, the new Convair jet was only offered with GE powerplants.

A distinctive design feature unique to the 990 was the appearance of four anti-shock bodies mounted on the upper trailing edge of its ultra-thin wing. Resembling large inverted canoes, these pods utilized the same new “area rule” aerodynamic technology that greatly enhanced the performance of supersonic mili­tary jets. For the 990, this served to optimize the air­craft’s lift/drag ratio at speeds above Mach.80. Additionally, these “speed pods” served as supplemen­tal fuel tanks located optimally close to the airplane’s center of gravity.

Convair engineers did a masterful job of evoking the look of speed in their new jetliner. Swept back 39 degrees at the leading edge, the 990’s wing planform


bespoke superior Jet Age performance, which became a major selling point of the airplane. With the ability to offer 635-mph Blue Streak coast-to-coast nonstop flights 45 minutes faster than the competition, American’s managers planned to configure the 990 in an all-first-class layout, with 707s to carry coach passen­gers on the plebian “slower” flights.

General Electric upgraded the existing CJ-805 design that powered the Convair 880 by adding a fan and turbine on the engine’s rear end, saving develop­ment time and allowing a higher bypass ratio. By pulling additional air around the basic engine and exhausting it at low velocity through a double-jet noz­zle, the production GE CJ-805-23 improved operating efficiency by up to 40 percent over the non-fan model, creating 16,100 pounds of thrust.

Convair executives went ahead with the 990 based solely on American’s order, which included a guaran­teed 635-mph speed and the ability to operate between New York’s LaGuardia and Chicago Midway Airports. It was a particularly bold move, especially considering the attractive purchase contract that included an inflated $22.8 million credit on the trade-in of 25 DC-7s instead of a down payment. Although launch customers normally receive generous discounts, this contract would require a long 990 production run to spread out the costs.

Additional customers proved to be elusive and Convair lost significant orders from Pan Am, Continental, and other customers. In fact, American was the only U. S. buyer, along with a handful of air­planes purchased by Swissair, Varig, and Garuda. Failure to build a prototype aircraft took a heavy toll on General Dynamics when wind tunnel tests failed to dis­close significant design problems. Fixing them nearly
resulted in an order cancellation from American Airlines. It was saved by long wait times at Boeing and Douglas and American’s need for more jet equipment. Convair granted even deeper discounts on the order and accepted cancellation of five airplanes.

In the end, the modified 990, designated the 990A, could not match its original guarantees and the type entered service with American on March 18, 1962, between New York and Chicago, but using Idlewild and O’Hare Airports; the LaGuardia and Midway plans had been long-since canceled by the type’s redesign. Instead of a single, premium-class cabin, 57 coach seats were installed, along with 42 in first class plus a four-place lounge. American’s only 990 transcontinental flights operated briefly from San Francisco to New York. Unable to complete the seg­ment against prevailing winds, the 990 flew only the eastbound segment.

Swissair ordered the airplane’s overseas version named Coronado, which beat American’s 990s into reg­ular service by nine days, and kept its fleet in operation for 12 years. Except for a three-year stint with Middle East Airlines, second-hand 990 fleets served mostly charter outfits and travel clubs for several years but were eventually taken out of service when stiffer noise rules went into effect.

Only 37 990s were built, resulting in massive finan­cial losses. Combined with the 880 shortfall, General Dynamics wrote off $425 million on the program, by far the largest loss of any corporation at the time.

de Havilland/Hawker Siddeley H. S. 121 Trident I

Although not technically a “fanjet,” the Trident still deserves mention. Having first flown in January 1962, this novel airliner provides us with a peek into the

Convair 990British European Airways became the first operator for the Hawker Siddeley Trident with a 24-airplane order. The advanced tri­jet first flew on January 9, 1962. (BAE Systems)

future. It was a smaller airplane than the popular four – engine intercontinental jetliners of the time, and was quite a technologically advanced aircraft as well. Although the Trident may not have been a success when compared to other first-generation jetliners that pre­ceded it, this airplane indeed served as a harbinger of things to come.

The Trident story is fraught with frustration, for had the original 1958 design concept been frozen and heralded into production, such legendary airliners as the Boeing 727 might never have reached production. How can we make such a bold assumption? Simply stated, this aircraft was originally to be a short – to medium-range airliner powered by three Rolls-Royce RB.141 Medway “by-pass” turbojets producing 14,000 pounds of thrust each. The original Trident would have weighed between 130,000 and 150,000 pounds at take­off and carried 110 passengers over routes of up to

1,500 miles in length. (These were the approximate specifications of the Boeing 727, only five years before that aircraft entered service!)

As happens in modern industrialized societies, an insidious combination of politics and corporate wran­gling can combine to put a stranglehold on progress, and the Trident succumbed to just this type of industrial “perfect storm.” Originating manufacturer de Havilland was caught in the maelstrom of British aerospace consolidation, orchestrating a merger with Fairey and Hunting to form a new company called Airco. Combined with this series of events was the
insistence of launch customer BEA on having the new tri-jet be reduced in size, weight, and capacity to become a 107,000-pound, 80-passenger jetliner. BEA then ordered 24.

This pivotal change was enacted to make the air­plane more suitable for the specific needs of BEA at the expense of overall world market appeal, and Britain’s airliner industry never recovered from this stumble. Many months of critical timing and market advantage were squandered as design changes were contemplated and then adapted. The Airco merger became moot when de Havilland became a component of the Hawker Siddeley Group. Now powered by three 10,400-pound – thrust Rolls-Royce RB.163 Spey by-pass turbojets, the smaller Trident I finally flew for the first time on January 9, 1962, and slowly reached production and operational status by the end of 1963.

As the worlds first airliner to be certified for “zero-zero” autoland operations (precursor to today’s full Category III landing capability), the Trident dis­tinguished itself as an airplane that represented the future of commercial aviation. Although larger stretched models were subsequently produced and were ultimately successful within the small market niche, the Trident was quickly relegated to the back pages of airliner prominence. As with many other British transports, the diminutive tri-jet from Hatfield was soon outdone by stronger competitors from the United States, which once again emerged victorious in world markets.



The Avro Jetliner first flew in August 1949, and missed its chance to corner the short – to medium-haul civilian turbine market. Only one prototype flew and it was scrapped seven years later. (Jon Proctor Collection)



he world of aeronautical advances is littered with unrequited aircraft and ideas which all share one aspect in common: they are the perfect machines for their moments, but seemingly unexplainably, are never allowed to come to fruition and flourish. The Avro Canada C-102 Jetliner is perhaps the most notable and melancholy of these superb aircraft underachievements.

In the new post-World War II world of 1946, Sir Roy Dobson of A. V. Roe Aircraft in the United Kingdom had a vision of England’s Commonwealth partner Canada becoming a leader in the world of aeronautics astride the North American continent. He pledged assistance and financing to the Canadian Victory Aircraft Company, who manufactured Avro aircraft under license for the war. The firm was to be of Canada and for Canada. One of the first leading-
edge projects envisioned was an intercity small – and medium-range jetliner tailored, of course, to the spec­ifications of the nation’s leading carrier, Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA).

The original specifications called for a payload of 32 passengers, with power supplied by two Rolls – Royce axial-flow turbojet engines. However, since Rolls would not release the engine (which subse­quently became the Avon) in 1949, Avro was forced to utilize four lower-thrust Derwent centrifugal-flow engines in their final design. What Avro came up with was an outstanding airplane which met or exceeded every one of TCA’s many requirements, promising a safe, simple, and reliable airliner for medium-range work. Passenger carriage was up, as was range and performance, and the Jetliner was really becoming something special.

Подпись: Howard Hughes posed for fellow aviator Don Rogers in front of the Avro Jetliner at the Hughes Culver City, California, airfield in April 1952. This is reportedly the only color photograph ever taken of the camera-shy recluse. Captain Rogers was Avro Canada's chief test pilot. (Don Rogers via Bill Mellberg) Being not much more than a DC-3 size airline at the time, and following the planning negotiations with Avro, it did not take long for TCA to realize it was in over its head with the Jetliner. They made it clear through many obfuscating excuses that they did not want to be the first airline in North America to fly jets, that responsibility being a bit too much for the line. Unfortunately, political considerations from Ottawa and the powerful Minster C. D. Howe, Minister of Trade (Minister of Everything, as Canadian wags called him) insisted upon keeping Trans-Canada Air Lines as an advisor to the project, and a public pronouncer on the quality of the air­plane. It was an airplane they neither wanted, nor wanted promoted, and this was just the beginning of the many sad ironies for the Jetliner.

Now that TCA was no longer the dictating force for the design of the Jetliner, Avro was finally set free to approach U. S. and European airlines. Meanwhile, the prototype aircraft had been taking shape in Malton and made its first flight on August 10, 1949. This date was a mere two weeks after the de Havilland Comet 1 made its maiden flight as the world’s first jet-powered airliner. It seemed then that the UK and Commonwealth partners were about to steal a march on the world’s airlines.

The Jetliner now could carry 40 to 50 passengers, and flight testing showed the airplane could cruise at 450 mph. The Jetliner made the rounds with the North American airlines, and the first bite for an order came from National in July 1950 and its bigger – than-life president, Ted Baker. From American Airlines engineer to Avro employee came Dixon Speas, so enamored of the Jetliner that he became Avro’s U. S. sales representative. Speas lit the fuse on the skyrocket that was Jetliner sales.

When all was said and done, the tally looked like 30 airplanes for the following carriers: National (10) and TWA (20). American, United, Swissair, and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) were strongly leaning in the same direction. Surprisingly, the U. S. Air Force also decided it liked the Jetliner for navigator and bom­bardier training and perhaps aerial refueling, and was placing an order for 20 of the jets. As Jim Floyd, the project engineer for the Jetliner said in his wonderful book on the airplane, “The world was Avro’s oyster.”

Not happy with this tremendous success, C. D. Howe asserted himself into the process once again and forced Avro to stop working on the C-102, favoring shop space being utilized for the CF-100 interceptor. The Korean War theoretically influ­enced his decision, as did the size of the order from Avro’s largest customer, the Canadian government.


Jim Floyd, however, felt that Avro could have indeed managed both the Jetliner and CF-100 pro­grams, but such was not the case. Enter now one Howard Hughes.

One cannot overstate the role Howard Hughes played in nearly resurrecting the C-102. Hughes loved the Jetliner and wanted TWA to fly 20 to 30 of the airplanes on its routes. He worked with Convair in San Diego to license build the airplane for all cus­tomers, which meant TWA would have received their first aircraft in May 1954 (equipped with either Allison J33 or Pratt & Whitney J42 engines). The U. S. government quashed the idea after much wrangling with Hughes and Avro, disallowing Convair from utilizing any factory space for production, since the company was ramping-up for its own new intercep­tor program, the delta wing F-102.

Hughes then told Avro that he would personally finance the building of the airplane in Canada if Avro could arrange the space. When Howe discovered this, he was furious, and said “no!” in no uncertain terms. The entrepreneurial approach and gutsy leading-edge leadership of an American visionary was the last chance for the Jetliner, and all that was now extin­guished by a single bureaucrat who had nothing but antipathy from the near beginning for this wonderful airplane. After seven years of development, the Jetliner was officially dead.

Operating as a camera ship and chase aircraft for other Avro projects, the Jetliner flew on until November 1956 when time and lack of spare parts caught up with it, and the order was given to scrap the airframe. (The number two aircraft was also destroyed, having never flown and reaching only half completion when the stop order came.)

How much history Avro made with their Jetliner! An excellent airplane for the times, the C-102 could really have put Canada on the map of world-class lead­ers in aviation production and development. Don’t for­get that it was this same firm that only a few years later designed the futuristic delta twinjet CF-105 Arrow fighter/interceptor. Continuing the cruel fate of gov­ernment intervention, Avro also saw that magnificent airplane killed just as it was proving its pedigree. It seems that free markets just didn’t matter to the Canadian government in the 1950s, much to the detri­ment of air forces, airlines, and passengers worldwide.

The transition from props to jets was tumul­tuous in the early fifties. But had there been an Avro Jetliner fleet plying the routes of America’s and Europe’s airlines in dependable comfort in those transformative days, that transition would have occurred much faster and more effortlessly than it later did, with commerce and economic growth exploding nearly half a decade earlier. Now that would have been quite a world!



ver the pioneering country in aviation circles, Great Britain launches an exciting new era in commercial aviation with the world s first turbojet-powered airliner, the magnificent de Havilland Comet. With this

gleaming new mode of transportation, the future of air transport was in good hands. Unfortunately, fate and technology intervened, and triumph turned to tragedy in less than two years.

Подпись: Rare art image of the elegant de Havilland Comet 1 in BOAC livery. (Mike Machat Collection)

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

Essentially a prewar design, Boeing’s Model 377 was hatched from its military Model 367, designated the C-97 for cargo work, and KC-97 as an aerial tanker. It utilized the B-29 Superfortress wing and engines and answered Pan American Airways’ performance requirement first circulated among aircraft builders in 1941. The carrier was looking to replace its flying boats with a landplane capable of carrying a 17,500-pound payload for 5,000 miles at 375 mph.

The result was one of the most luxurious airliners of the postwar era, with a cruising speed of 340 mph, a maximum payload of 25,000 pounds, an absolute range of 4,600 miles, with a ceiling altitude of more than 33,000 feet. Its Pratt & Whitney 28-cylinder, R-4360 Wasp Major engines were the most powerful ever built for commercial use but would ultimately prove to be troublesome, as were its propellers. Pan Am placed a $25 million launch order in December 1945 for 20 airplanes.

The “Strat” first flew on July 8, 1947, and entered airline service with Pan Am on April 1, 1949, between

Boeing 377 StratocruiserBoeing 377 Stratocruiser

The mighty Model 377 Stratocruiser, Boeing’s first commercial airliner effort since the Model 307 Stratoliner, was brought about by mating the military B-50 Superfortress wings, engines, and tail planes to a twin-lobe fuselage. Though loved by passengers for its luxurious interior cabin, the Stratocruiser proved to be complicated to maintain and expensive to operate. In the end, only 56 civil versions were built. (Boeing/Jon Proctor Collection)