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  • Bristol Brabazon

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    Description

    The Bristol Type 167 Brabazon was a British large propeller-driven airliner designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company to fly transatlantic routes between the UK and the United States.

    General Information

     The type was named Brabazon after the Brabazon Committee and its chairman, Lord Brabazon of Tara, who had developed the specification to which the airliner was designed.

     

    Initially designated as the Type 167, the proposed aircraft was furnished with a huge 25 ft (8 m)-diameter fuselage containing full upper and lower decks on which passengers would be seated in luxurious conditions; it was powered by an arrangement of eight Bristol Centaurus radial engines which drove a total of eight paired contra-rotating propellers set on four forward-facing nacelles.

     

    Despite its vast size, the Brabazon was designed to carry a total of only 100 passengers, each one being allocated their own spacious area about the size of the entire interior of a small car. On 4 September 1949, the first prototype conducted its maiden flight. In addition to participating in a flight test programme in support to intended production aircraft, the prototype made high-profile public flying displays at the 1950 Farnborough Airshow, Heathrow Airport, and the 1951 Paris Air Show.

     

    However, the Brabazon was unable to attract any firm commitments for the type due to the high cost per seat mile compared to the alternatives. Being unable to attract any orders, the aircraft was a commercial failure. On 17 July 1953, Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Supply, announced that the Brabazon had been cancelled due to a lack of military or civil orders for the type. In the end, only the single prototype was flown; it was broken up in 1953 for scrap, along with the incomplete turboprop-powered Brabazon I Mk.II.

     

    For details of design, development and variants, click here.

     

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    Here is a colourised film of the Brabazon giving a demonstration flight.

     

     

     

    Specifications

    Seats:
    Crew: 6–12 Capacity: 100 passengers
    Length:
    177 ft (54 m)
    Wingspan:
    230 ft (70 m)
    Height:
    50 ft (15 m)
    Wing Area:
    5,317 sq ft (494.0 sq m)
    Wing Loading:
    54 lb/sq ft (260 kg/sq m)
    Empty Weight:
    145,100 lb (65,816 kg)
    MTOW:
    290,000 lb (131,542 kg)
    Fuel Capacity:
    13,650 imp gal (16,393 US gal; 62,054 l)
    Powerplant:
    8 × Bristol Centaurus 18-cylinder air-cooled radial sleeve-valve piston engines, 2,650 hp (1,980 kW) each paired, driving contra-props through combining gearboxes.
    Vne:
    Maximum speed: 300 mph (480 km/h, 260 kn) at 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
    Cruise Speed:
    250 mph (400 km/h, 220 kn) at 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
    Range:
    5,500 mi (8,900 km, 4,800 nmi)
    Rate of Climb:
    750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)
    Service Ceiling:
    25,000 ft (7,600 m)

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    It must have flown over Edinburgh at some stage since I remember my Mother taking me out to the street to see it fly over. I was born in 1947 so must have been very young if it was broken up in 1953!

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    What a tragedy that a grand dame of the skies like her was broken up for scrap.  Didn't it ever occur to them - "Hey, this plane is one of a kind and unique in so many ways - maybe we should park her in a museum for future generations"?

     

     

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    If Britain had done that with every one of a kind single example aircraft they built, the country wouldn’t have enough museum space to house them! Tragedy, true, but RAF Cosford isn’t a bad attempt at saving unique machines.

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    It had de-icing problems too I think. Not surprising seeing it had piston engines. They probably had them for range( Good fuel economy)  He thumps the nose wheel down a bit hard. I reckon she'd be a bad thing in a crosswind. No banking allowed  there. Did it ever visit Australia? The  big losses on a project like that would have been  the last thing Britain needed when trying to pay off a large war  debt.. Nev

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