Category From props to jets

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

Подпись: This is the exact scale model of the so-called DC-7 to have been used by Pan American World Airways in its postwar transatlantic operations. With a wingspan greater than the height of a 16-story building, the new airplane would have been seven times the size of a DC-3. The new Clipper was to have carried 108 passengers and a crew of 10 at speeds of more than 300 mph, offering lower seat-mile costs than ever before. (Craig Kodera Collection)

Original Douglas DC-7 (C-74 for the Air Force)

During the war years, Pan American World Airways was preparing for the day when hostilities would end and it could reclaim its vaunted position as leader of the world’s international air lines. One of the first of its new “Super Clipper” aircraft ideas sprang from the Douglas C-74 Globemaster cargo aircraft being designed as part of the logistics and supply net­work for the U. S. Army Air Force.

The Globemaster was a large airplane, which suited Pan Am’s style of service quite elegantly. It would carry 108 passengers plus a crew of 13, and could fly nonstop from New York to points in South America, its intended routing. The cabin was to be divided into two sections, one accommodating 36 passengers, and the other 72. An onboard fully powered galley for hot meals was on the list, as were the typically grand dress­ing rooms and toilets expected on a Pan Am Clipper.

Pan American announced an order for what was to be known as the Douglas DC-7 on October 23, 1944: a commitment for 26 aircraft at a cost of $40 million. This was a staggering amount of money and airplanes in the mid-1940s, but as was typical of the airline and Juan Trippe who ran it, nothing was ever done in a small way at Pan Am.

Unfortunately, although the C-74 was built in one short production run and contributed years of great service with the Air Force, the “DC-7” never made it
into the Pan American fleet owing to the fact that the airline reevaluated its service level requirements. Gigantic and spacious luxury just wasn’t profitable in the postwar climate, and the airline began its landplane service with the Douglas DC-4 and Lockheed Constellation instead.

Enjoy Red Carpet service on United Air Lines’ DC-7s…nation’s fastest airliners, nonstop coast to coast!


You can look forward to “red carpet* service when you travel on one of United’s deluxe DC-7s like "‘the Hollywood*’ or “the Continental. It’s in keeping with the luxury you enjoy every mile of the way on the nation’s newest, fastest and most comfortable airliners!

On United’s DC-7s you relax in deep, richly upholstered seats •.. you’re served beverages, and delicious, full-course meals prepared by United’s famous chefs… there are games, magazines, music… other service “extras” in the famous Mainliner® manner.

Cruising at 365 m. p.h. in the smooth upper air, you enjoy the added comfort of improved soundproofing, automatic pressurization, and air conditioning that keeps the cabin ever-fresh.

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lor the iinest service in air transportation, ily United’s great Mainliner fleet. For reservations, call or write United or an Author­ized Travel Agent.







Ш Мяв I me limr—ti 89 C/ftes






Серг. 1954, United Air lines


Enjoy Red Carpet service on United Air Lines’ DC-7s...nation’s fastest airliners, nonstop coast to coast!

Enjoy Red Carpet service on United Air Lines’ DC-7s...nation’s fastest airliners, nonstop coast to coast!

Representing the peak of modern American illustration were the famed, colorful airline ads of the 1950s. Painted by such commercial illustration legends as Joe Henninger and Ren Wicks, these glorious vistas often showed pas­sengers boarding a sleek, giant, modern airliner with the ever-present red carpet and stanchions standing at the ready. Here we see the typical ad showing a bird’s-eye view of a United DC-7 deplaning its happy passengers on an equally typical beautiful sunny day. Note the bevy of press photographers taking pictures of the Hollywood movie stars who were sure to be aboard. (Mike Machat Collection)

best speeds production commercial aircraft of the time could muster were in the 300-mph-plus range. This was a more-than-200-mph differential between military and civilian airplane types! (Of course, had the Republic Rainbow actually been consummated, speeds would have been half this.) And if one includes the fighter air­craft in the inventory or in flight test in 1954, the once – elusive speed of sound was being easily exceeded on a daily basis, and advanced experimental aircraft were now attaining more than twice that speed.

As tantalizing as these now-shattered limitations were, reality within the airline boardrooms dictated an attitude that was something entirely different. The pre­vailing thinking was that jet propulsion was too much of everything: too radical, too dangerous, too undepend­able, too fuel consumptive, and too expensive. “Best to leave all this risk taking to those jet jockeys in the mili­tary, and if you want to know why we think this way, just look across the pond at Britain’s travails with their Comet,” said the airline mavens. Flying in the strato­sphere and utilizing kerosene blasting out of a pipe was just too dangerous for commercial applications. The air­lines had just spent a decade and a half, and lots of adver­tising dollars, convincing people that airline flying was safe and dependable. No risks for us, thank you, said the airline bosses. Boeing, however, had other ideas.

What transpired when the prototype XB-47 was pulled out into the Seattle sunshine for the first time in late 1947 was nothing less than the standing of the avi­ation world on its proverbial head. This included the airline business as well, for every aspect of engineering that Boeing pioneered with its revolutionary Stratojet (which begat the even larger B-52) was transferred to its Model 367-80 prototype jet transport and the 707 jet­liner. As a matter of fact, all basic high-Mach-number transports from the B-47 onward have been shaped to include the basic tenets developed in Seattle all those many years ago. That single airplane was absolutely transformational in nature.

In 1950, William Allen, Boeing’s president, and his Chief Engineer for Preliminary Design, Maynard Pennell, visited the Farnborough Airshow in England to view the de Havilland Comet for the first time. After the fly-by in the afternoon, Allen asked Pennell what he thought of the English jetliner. “Its a very good air­plane,” Pennell responded. “Do you think we could build one as good?” asked Allen. “Better,” said Pennell. “Much better.” And they did.

From the point in May 1954 when the Dash 80 was rolled out at Renton, Washington, until the first jetliner revenue flight in late 1958, airline trepidation would slowly but inexorably start crumbling, bit by bit, just

Enjoy Red Carpet service on United Air Lines’ DC-7s...nation’s fastest airliners, nonstop coast to coast!

President William Allen and the Boeing board of directors literally bet the company with a decision in 1952 to launch the 707 jet transport. Employees and the media gathered at the company’s Renton, Washington, plant to witness the prototype Model 367-80 rollout on May 15, 1954. (Boeing/Jon Proctor Collection)


like a sand castle in the surf, until finally, outright enthusiasm was the order of the day in those staid boardrooms. But you can’t run an airline operation without passengers. What did the folks at home think about all of this?

The postwar period, especially in the United States, was filled with one breakthrough or broken record after another. Pilots were already flying in jets or rocket-powered airplanes. Space travel was on everybody’s mind, the Air Force and Navy leading the way in both instances. Cars that flew, houses that were smart enough to clean themselves and cook for us — everything futuristic was now within our grasp.

Of course we should be flying coast-to-coast in jet­liners! Of course we should link the continents by over­flying great bodies of water at high speeds and altitudes with the reliability and simplicity that the turbine engine promised. Even linking city centers via jet-powered heli­copters was just around the corner. It seemed everything we could imagine, we could do. The age of optimism had coupled with the age of speed, and air travelers couldn’t wait to experience the jetliner. The airlines were begin­ning to lay the foundation to indulge these yearnings, and the world was ready to enjoy The Next Great Thing: the Jet Age.

In the meantime, however, passengers would have to be content with wide seats and lovely meals in airlin­ers, which were taking 9 or 10 hours to cross the coun­try, and with a stop or two at that. What a study in contrast between those futuristic articles we read in LIFE, POST, or Collier’s, and the realities of commer­cial aviation at the time.

Vickers Viscount

Whenever a new technology is introduced, there is always the inevitable first and best model, or brand, or demonstrator. In the new postwar world of turbine- propeller aviation, the Vickers Viscount was that leader, and the one to beat.

In answer to the Brabazon Committee’s 2B outline request for a commercial transport capable of carrying 24 passengers at 280 mph over a distance of 700 miles, Vickers responded with a proposal called the VC-2 Viceroy. This design used four of the new Rolls-Royce Dart engines, and after BEA took a strong interest in the concept, the capacity was increased to 32 passen­gers. The prototype airplane was known as the 630, and its first flight took place in July 1948.

The prototype was seen absolutely everywhere, at first showing off at the Farnborough displays, com­monly flying with three of four engines shut down,

then after its type certificate was granted in 1950, offi­cial sales tours and proving flights were initiated.

As the capabilities of the Dart engine grew, so did the Viscount. (The name Viscount was exchanged for Viceroy after the independence of India from the British Empire.) Employing the new Dart RDa3 Mark 504 powerplant in the 700-series airplane, the 50-percent increase in power allowed the fuselage to be lengthened by 6 feet 8 inches, and the wingspan to increase by nearly 5 feet. First flight took place on August 28, 1950. The range of this larger aircraft was now nearly 1,000 miles. The passenger load increased once again, this time to somewhere between 40 and 53 seats, and this ultimately refined design was now the production standard with which to begin the Viscount assembly line.

Airline passenger service first began with BEA and a 701-series Viscount on April 18, 1953, on a flight from London Heathrow to Rome, Athens, and Nicosia. Because the last leg was under contract to Cyprus Airways, that line holds the distinction of being second in the world to carry passengers on a Viscount. Even as this new groundbreaking service was starting, just a few days prior BEA had signed a contract for the new, larger Viscount 802, capable of carrying 70 passengers at 325 mph.

Considerable interest for or about the Viscount was also stirring in North American airline boardrooms, and to satisfy the regulatory bodies of Canada and America, Vickers drew up the 724-series airplane. Capital Airlines immediately ordered 60 airplanes, an absolutely gigantic number in 1954! This then became the production standard airframe and was known in
general as the 700D. The D model had Dart 510 engines. Capital introduced the Viscount to passengers in the United States in July 1955. Trans-Canada Air Lines, which operated 34 of the new turboprops, holds the honor of making the first Viscount flights in North America by virtue of beginning service on April 1,1955.

By 1956, more than 200 Viscounts had been ordered. The British finally had a world-beater airliner design, which was selling beyond wildest expectations. Passenger acceptance was off the charts as well, what with the fast, smooth, and fairly quiet behavior of this airplane. The large vertical oval windows were part of the joy of flying in a Viscount, as one could see everything!

In short, the Viscount was indeed a truly stunning development within the airline world. Capitalizing on that success, Vickers made the seemingly inevitable decision to stretch the airframe. As mentioned above, BEA was the instigator for a higher-capacity airplane, and initially liked the 801 series, which was a whopping 13 feet longer than the 700 and could carry up to 86 fares. Sober consideration prevailed, and the 802 was born to take the place of the 801, with a mere 46-inch extension of the fuselage. Moving the fore and aft bulk­heads allowed for the large increase of cabin space, in spite of the small external stretch, and 68 of these air­planes wound up being delivered to six carriers.

Although the 802 was a simple stretch of the 700, which meant more passengers over a shorter or same distance, the final Viscount type, the 810, really was the penultimate development of the design. The same size as the other 800 airplanes, the 810 was matched up with the new Dart 525 engines, which allowed for an

Vickers ViscountVickers Viscount

As Great Britain was the first with a turbojet-powered transport, so it was again with the world’s first produc­tion turboprop transport—the inimitable Vickers Viscount Although smaller than the Lockheed Electra that would come later, the Viscount entered service with BEA in 1953 and brought the advantages of faster and smoother turbine power to the world’s airlines well before the big jets later in that decade. (Vickers/Mike Machat Collection)

Capital Airlines became the first Viscount operator in the United States, flying more than 60 of the type from 1955 until its merger with United Air Lines six years later. The forty-second airplane was delivered from Vickers’ Weybridge, England, factory in September 1956. The new turboprop was a solid hit with passengers when it first entered service, despite the shrill note of its Rolls-Royce Dart engines. (Jon Proctor Collection)

impressive 17-percent increase in maximum gross take­off weight. This then translated into nearly doubling the aircrafts range —and now the Viscount really had something to it.

In the United States, the premier operator of the final version was Continental Airlines. It started com­mercial operations in May 1958, and owned 15 Viscounts. Overseas, it was Lufthansa and Austrian fly­ing the 810, among several other airlines worldwide. When all was said and done, with the last delivery of a Viscount to China’s CAAC in 1964, the airplane carried the distinction of being Britain’s most successful airliner in terms of number built and sold. Final score: 60 oper­ators in 40 different countries, and more than 150 second-hand operators as well.

Bristol Britannia

The Bristol Britannia was one of the great short­fall stories of British commercial aviation. It was an airplane with so much promise, but a case of bad breaks and ultimately poor timing nipped this beauti­ful airliner in the bud.

Beginning life as the chosen design to satisfy the Brabazon Committee’s Type 3 airline transport, the orig­inal series 100 Britannia was far different than the pro­duction machine. The initial design only needed to meet the requirement for 1,500-miles range and around 32 passengers. As with everything in the postwar period the airframe grew until the type was redesigned for

BOAC to “175 standard,” which translated to carrying 90 passengers over 2,740 mile.

Another crucial and fateful design change was made prior to the first metal being cut: replacing the Centaurus piston engines with Bristol’s Proteus turbo­prop powerplants. Herein lay the diminution of the Britannia as the years passed.

First flight of the aircraft took place in August 1952 with a 101-series airplane. One other prototype flew in December 1953, and the first airline service began on February 1, 1957. (We mention the beginning and end­ing numbers to highlight the enormous lag time until service entry.) The flight-test program was dogged by a few problems, but most notably, the Proteus engines were completely unreliable and prone to an unusual icing condition, which would, in eventual progression, “suffocate” the engines and lead to inflight shutdowns. The problem was eventually diagnosed and a suitable fix was designed, but much valuable time had been lost in the interim.

Originally anticipating a large swell of orders from the world’s major airlines, Bristol contracted with Short Brothers in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to utilize their production facilities as a second assembly line. As the engine problems dragged on this became less a necessity, but the 250 series was built on that line with a forward cargo door and a standard load of passengers aft.

The late-development series of the airplane was the 300. Sporting a longer fuselage with greater range, the

Vickers Viscount

The only North American customer to operate Bristol’s magnificent Britannia was Canadian Pacific, which used the type on its long-haul Pacific flights. Empress of Vancouver is seen here at its namesake airport. (Mel Lawrence)




Vickers Viscount


The Canadian-built CL-44 served with Flying Tiger Line, as evidenced by N229SW, which was acquired in a merger with Seaboard & Western. A novel feature of this Britannia variant was the swing tail that opened 90 degrees for rear fuselage cargo loading and unloading, (via Paul Nowaske)

“Big Britannia” could now carry 114 passengers over a huge 4,100-mile range. BOAC flew the 312 on routes that included London Heathrow to New York, but the airline eventually encircled the globe with its fleet of Britannias. Canadian Pacific and El A1 also utilized the 310 Britannia with its long intercontinental legs.

Perhaps two of the most fascinating Britannia air­line orders that never materialized were from Capital and Northeast. Both were avid Viscount operators that needed additional passenger carriage and nonstop range for their premier routes and, therefore, looked to the British and their lead in turbine-propeller development for the answer. The Britannia fit the bill perfectly: long range and high capacity in the 300, and a luxurious ride
to boot! Bristol produced the first aircraft for both carri­ers, even painting the airliners in each company’s respec­tive colors, with the Northeast airplane looking especially stunning in its midnight-blue-and-white liv­ery. But for reasons of financial health and the cold real­ity of the Britannia simply being the wrong aircraft for those airlines at that particular time, the orders were can­celed and the airplanes were placed with other carriers.

The Bristol Britannia was known as “The Whispering Giant,” and the name was quite apt. This elegant and efficient airplane might have reached a great pinnacle in airline history, but alas, fate was just not kind to the big, graceful airplane from Filton. Only a mere 85 Britannias were built.

"By-Pass" Turbojets and First-Generation Turbofans

The turbofan engine was a significant leap forward in the early jet era. Its design was the logical evolution of conventional jet engines, adding a larger propulsion fan to the basic core to provide substantially greater thrust and greatly reduced fuel burn that in turn allowed more range.

Rather than just settling for the turbine section of an engine powering one set of axial-flow compressors and producing anemic thrust levels, Rolls-Royce engi­neers added another low-pressure compressor section, independent of the first, and ducted the additional air around the core of the engine. This exhaust was routed around the combustion chamber and exited the engine along with the hot core exhaust through the same tailpipe. This helped cool the engine, all the while cool­ing the jet effluent and lowering the decibel level as well. The by-pass ratio of air in Rolls-Royce’s Conway, its first “by-pass” engine, was only a tiny 0.3. The later Spey model increased this to 0.6. It was a win-win com­pared to a straight turbojet, but obviously not the per­fection of a true turbofan.

Rolls-Royce’s introduction of the 17,500-pound – thrust Conway as the world’s first commercial by-pass engine, spurred Pratt & Whitney to get with the pro­gram and take the ratio of their JT3C up to an amazing 1.5. They accomplished this by using a separate fan

"By-Pass" Turbojets and First-Generation Turbofans

"By-Pass" Turbojets and First-Generation Turbofans

section on the first compressor. This then became the JT3D, the worlds first true operational turbofan jet engine. By-pass turbojets, however, represented a sig­nificant bridge, or transition, from the turbojet to the turbofan, and played an integral part in aviation power – plant history.

Not to be left out, General Electric took its 11,200- pound-thrust CJ-805-3B turbojet (civil version of its military J79 engine as used on the Convair 880) and added a separate fan section on the aft end of the hot engine core, using a ducted “flow-through” nacelle that shrouded the entire engine. This proved to be a more aerodynamically streamlined engine structure than hav­ing a wider nacelle on the forward fan section only (Boeing 707) or a tapered nacelle with mid-section fan

Boarding ramp view of the Caravelle 10B’s Pratt &

Whitney JT3D engine nacelle showing the unique ovaloid air intake shape. These new 18,000- pound-thrust fanjet engines gave the vener­able Caravelle a new lease on life, and it soon found success with European charter carriers that used the aircraft to carry revenue passengers well into the 1980s. (Mike Machat)

exhaust (Douglas DC-8). Thus, the 16,100-pound – thrust GE CJ-805-23 turbofan was created, as was tested on the Sud Caravelle, and used operationally on the Convair 990. (Later models of the Caravelle used advanced versions of the Pratt & Whitney JT3D.)

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.