'Whispering Giant', the Bristol Type 175 Britannia was a
medium/long-range airliner built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in
1952 to fly a number of air routes across the British Empire. Soon
after entering production the engines proved unusually susceptible to
icing, and two prototypes were lost while solutions to the problems
were found. By the time it was cleared through testing the US-built jet
airliners were about to enter service, and only eighty-five Britannias
were built before production ended in 1960. Nevertheless the Britannia
is often considered the high point in turboprop airliner design.
In 1942, during World War II, the US and UK agreed to split
responsibility for aircraft construction; the US would concentrate on
transport aircraft while the UK would concentrate on their heavy
bombers. This would leave the UK with little experience in transport
construction at the end of the war, so in 1943 a committee met under
the leadership of Lord Brabazon of Tara in order to investigate the
future needs of the British civilian airliner market. The Brabazon
Committee delivered a report calling for the construction of four main
"Types" of aircraft.
Bristol won both the Type I and Type III contracts, soon delivering
their Type I design, the Bristol Brabazon in 1949. The initial
requirement for the Type III, C2/47, was issued by the Minister of
Supply for an aircraft capable of carrying 48 passengers and powered
with Bristol Centaurus radial engines. Turboprop and compound engines
were also considered, but they were so "new" that Bristol could not
guarantee the performance specifications with these engine types. After
wrangling between the Ministry of Supply and BOAC over costs, the
go-ahead was given in July 1948 for three prototypes, although the
second and third were to be convertible to Bristol Proteus turboprops.
In October, with work
already underway, BOAC changed their mind and decided that only a
Proteus-engined aircraft was worth working on, and the project was
redrawn to allow for both turboprop and piston aircraft. BOAC purchased
options for 25 aircraft in July 1949, the first six with the Centaurus
engine and the rest with the Proteus, and now enlarged for 74
By the time the first prototype flew on August 16, 1952 BOAC and
Bristol had dropped the Centaurus version as the turboprop Proteus had
shown such promise. The Britannia was now a 90-seater and BOAC ordered
15 of these Series 100s. In 1953 and '54 three de Havilland Comets
disappeared with no explanation, and the Air Ministry demanded that the
Britannia undergo a lengthy series of tests. Further delays were caused
by a series of engine problems, mostly related to icing. This delayed
the in-service date until February 1957, when BOAC put their first
Britannia 102s into service on the London to South Africa route, with
Australia following a month later.
Bristol then upgraded the design as a larger transatlantic airliner for
BOAC, resulting in the Series 200 and 300. The new version had a
fuselage stretch of 10ft 3 in (3.12m) and upgraded Proteus engines, and
was offered as the all-cargo Series 200, the cargo/passenger (combi)
Series 250, and the all-passenger Series 300.
The first 301 flew on July 31, 1956. BOAC ordered seven Model 302s but
never took delivery of them - instead they were taken on by several
other airlines including Aeronaves de México and Ghana Airways. The
main long range version was the 312, of which BOAC took 18 and, after
deliveries began in September 1957, put them into service between
London and New York. In total 45 Series 300's were built, the first
airliner to enter regular non-stop transatlantic service in both
Royal Air Force Bristol Britannia in 1964A further 23 Model 252 and 253
aircraft were purchased by the RAF, as the Britannia C.Mk 2 and C.Mk1
respectively. Those in RAF service were commonly allocated the names of
stars, "Arcturus", "Sirius", "Vega" etc. The last of these were retired
in 1975, and were used by civil operators in Africa, Europe and the
Middle East into the 1980s.
A licence was also issued to Canadair to build the type as a maritime
reconnaissance aircraft and transport, the Canadair Argus. Unlike the
Britannia the Argus was built for endurance, not speed, and so used
four Wright R-3350-32W Turbo-Compound engines which use very little
fuel (although it is perhaps surprising that it did not use the Napier
Nomad, an even more efficient turbo-compound designed expressly for
this role). The interior was left with almost no room to move,
completely packed with various sensors and weapons.
CL-44D-4 - Four 4270kW (5730shp) RollsRoyce Tyne 515/50 turboprops
driving four blade variable pitch propellers.
CL-44D-4 - Max cruising speed 647km/h (349kt), cruising speed 621km/h
(335kt). Service ceiling 30,000ft. Range with max payload 4625km
(2500nm), range with max fuel 8990km (4855nm).
CL-44D-4 - Operating empty 40,345kg (88,952lb), max takeoff 95,250kg
CL-44D-4 - Wing span 43.37m (142ft 4in), length 41.73m (136ft 11in),
height 11.18m (36ft 8in). Wing area 192.7m2 (2075sq ft).
Flightcrew of two pilots and one flight engineer. CL-44D-4 - Max single
class seating for 160 passengers (or 189 in the CL-44J). Max payload
A total of 27 civil CL-44s built (including four CL-44J and one CL-44-O
conversions), and 12 military CL-44-6 designated CC-106 Yukon. Today
only seven CL-44 still exist whereoff maximum three are airworthy.