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  • Thanks to SquareSpace for making this video possible.

  • More on that after this video.

  • With a wingspan greater than a Boeing 747's, this was

  • the largest aircraft ever built by Britain.

  • More a flying oceanliner than plane, it had sleeping cabins, a dining room, a cocktail

  • bar and lounge.

  • Even a 23 seat movie theater.

  • And if it had been the 1930's, when transatlantic crossings were pretty much always by boat,

  • it might've been a hit.

  • But this lumbering super-sized piston airliner was being introduced for the 1950's, when

  • the first jets were already taking to the skies.

  • After a massive development effort, Britain was stuck with a plane that nobody wanted,

  • designed for an era that no longer existed.

  • In the midst of the Second World War, with battles raging across the globe, the British

  • began to worry.

  • Not just about the war, but what happens after.

  • Because as soon as victory was assured, Britain would almost certainly begin losing a different

  • kind of battle; one for the future of their aviation industry.

  • Because the Americans had a whole range of military transports which they could easily

  • redesign into airliners after the war.

  • But Britain's industry had been focused on building bombers, so they could dish it

  • back to Germany.

  • But these bombers couldn't easily be redesigned into airliners.

  • So Britain came up with a plan.

  • They'd design a whole range of cutting edge airliners, completely from scratch.

  • Some, were incredibly ambitious.

  • Like building the world's first jet powered airliner.

  • But the way Britain really planned to get ahead of the Americans, was to build the world's

  • largest Commercial Transport.

  • An enormous luxury-liner of the skies, which they'd name the Brabazon.

  • It would have true transatlantic capability.

  • Able to fly non-stop from London to New York against prevailing eastern winds.

  • In the 1940's, this would have been quite the feat.

  • Transatlantic flights were almost always done in stages to allow for refueling.

  • The task of building this behemoth was assigned to The Bristol Aeroplane Company.

  • And its development was given the highest priority, over all the other planned airliners.

  • But the Brabazon wasn't just going to push the limits of airliner size and range.

  • This plane was also going to redefine luxury.

  • Because, although the Brabazon would have been large enough to seat over 300 passengers,

  • it was only ever intended to carry between 50 and one hundred.

  • And some felt even that was too many.

  • Because comfort was the highest priority, in luxury class each passenger was allotted

  • an incredible 283 cubic feet of space.

  • The less fortunate would have to settle for 212.

  • There would be private sleeping compartments, a dedicated dining room.

  • A kitchen for preparing fine meals.

  • A cocktail lounge and bar for schmoozing.

  • And of course, no flight is complete without a movie.

  • But on this plane.

  • we're talking about an actual movie theater with seating for 23.

  • The Brabazon was also fitted with cutting edge innovations.

  • A fully pressurized, air conditioned cabin.

  • Electric engine controls, and high-pressure hydraulics to operate its massive control

  • surfaces.

  • But getting this 130 tone, fully loaded behemoth to make it all the way from London to New

  • York.. in one shot, wasn't going to be easy.

  • Every effort was made to save weight.

  • A custom, lighter, non-standard aircraft skin was used.

  • It's enormous wing housed more than 16 thousand gallons of fuel, and eight of the most powerful

  • piston engines available.

  • And their arrangement was, well, complex

  • Nothing instills confidence over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean like a pair of 18 cylinder

  • supercharged engines, each connected by a drive shaft to an overstressed gearbox, which

  • then drives a pair of contra-rotating propellers.

  • And for all the incredible complexity.

  • the 8 engines produced barely enough power to get this enormous plane off the ground,

  • and give it a cruise speed of only 250 miles per hour.

  • What the Brabazon really needed was more powerful turboprop engines.

  • But these wouldn't be ready in time.

  • So a decision was made to finish the first brabazon with piston engines, and begin building

  • a second one using a new turboprop being developed by Bristol.

  • In late summer 1949, the first Brabazon rolled out of it's enormous hanger to make its

  • first flight.

  • It's interior hadn't yet been finished.

  • But the Brabazon proved it's airworthiness to awestruck crowds, attracting enormous praise

  • from the press.

  • But what it didn't attract was a single airline.

  • The problem was, the Brabazon wasn't really designed to compete with any other airliners.

  • Instead, it was going steal away wealthy passengers away from ocean liners.

  • And in 1943 that might've been a solid plan.

  • But by 1949, the number of aircraft making regular transatlantic flights, had grown dramatically.

  • BOAC, later known British Airways, had worked closely with Bristol to develop the Brabazon.

  • And in the end, even they didn't want it.

  • By the time the Brabazon made its first flight, the airline had already begun purchasing Boeing

  • Stratocruisers for their transatlantic flights.

  • A plane that carried up to a 100 passengers, with half as many engines, and nearly half

  • the weight.

  • And the Comet, the first jet airliner to enter service, beat the Brabazon to the skies, making

  • its first flight several months earlier.

  • The Comet didn't fly far as the Brabazon, nor did have a cocktail lounge.

  • But it flew nearly twice as fast.

  • And that was far more appealing for passengers who could afford the tickets.

  • For the next three years, the Brabazon lumbered around Britain and Europe, making high profile

  • appearances and wowing crowds with its size.

  • But few airlines showed any interest in the enormous complex plane.

  • Meanwhile, back in Britain, the second Brabazon sat half finished as Bristol struggled to

  • develop more advanced turboprops.

  • By 1953, it was clear that Britain was parading around a giant white elephant.

  • After 6 million pounds spent on it's development,

  • the program was cancelled. And the Brabazon, and it's half finished turboprop successor were

  • sold for their weight in scrap.

  • And remarkably, just 9 months later, Boeing unvaild it's Dash 80.

  • A jet powered airliner that would become the 707, bringing a transatlantic crossing down

  • to as little as 7 hours.

  • Despite introducing new innovations, many of which influenced the future of aviation,

  • the Brabazon's driving philosophy was outdated.

  • New disruptive technologies and a completely new generation of airline passengers, not

  • the same ultrarich ones from the 1930's, meant that the Brabazon never really stood

  • a chance.

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The Largest Aircraft Ever Built By Britain: The Bristol Brabazon

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    joey joey に公開 2021 年 05 月 30 日
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