Bristol Britannia

Bristol Britannia

:"Bristol Britannia was also a car produced by Bristol Cars from 1982 to 1993. Infobox Aircraft
name= Type 175 Britannia
manufacturer=Bristol Aeroplane Company

caption=Royal Air Force Bristol Britannia "Spica" in 1964.
first flight= 16 August 1952
introduced= 1957
retired= 1975
primary user=British Overseas Airways Corporation
more users=Royal Air Force
number built=85
unit cost=
variants with their own articles= Canadair Argus Canadair CL-44

The Bristol Type 175 Britannia was a British medium/long-range airliner built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1952 to fly across the British Empire. Soon after production the turboprop engines proved susceptible to inlet icing and two prototypes were lost while solutions were found. By the time it was cleared, jets from France, UK and the US were about to enter service and only 85 Britannias were built before production ended in 1960. Nevertheless the Britannia is considered the high point in turboprop design and was popular with passengers, earning itself the nickname "the whispering giant" for its unusually quiet and smooth flying.Fact|date=August 2007

Design and development

In 1942, during World War II, the US and UK agreed to split aircraft construction; the US would concentrate on transport aircraft, the UK would on heavy bombers. This left the UK with little experience in transport construction at the end of the war, so in 1943 a committee under Lord Brabazon of Tara investigated the future of the British civilian airliner market. The Brabazon Committee called for four main types of aircraft.

Bristol won the Type I and Type III contracts, 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. After wrangling between the Ministry of Supply and British Overseas Airways Corporation (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 decided that only a Proteus-engined aircraft was worth working on, and the project was redrawn to allow 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, now enlarged for 74 passengers.

By the time the first prototype, registered "G-ALBO", first flew on 16 August 1952 at Filton BOAC and Bristol had dropped the Centaurus 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 without explanation, and the Air Ministry demanded the Britannia undergo lengthy tests. Further delays were caused by engine problems, mostly related to icing and the loss of the second prototype "G-ALRX" in an accident caused by a failed engine in December 1953. 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 10 ft 3 in (3.12 m) 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.

Operational history

The first public service was operated on the 1 February 1957 with a BOAC flight between London and Johannesburg. By August 1957 the first 15 Series 102 aircraft had been delivered to BOAC. The last ten aircraft of the order were built as Series 300 aircraft for transatlantic operations.

The first 301 flew on 31 July 1956. BOAC ordered seven Model 302s but never took delivery - instead they were taken on by airlines including Aeronaves de México and Ghana Airways. The main long-range series were the 310s, of which BOAC took 18 and, after deliveries began in September 1957, put them into service between London and New York. The 310 series (318) also saw transatlantic service with Cubana de Aviación starting in 1958. In total 45 Series 300s were built, the first jet-powered, albeit in turboprop form, airliner to enter regular non-stop transatlantic service in both directions.

A further 23 Model 252 and 253 aircraft were purchased by the RAF, as the Britannia C.2 and C.1 respectively. Those in RAF service were allocated the names of stars, "Arcturus", "Sirius", "Vega" etc. The last retired in 1975, and were used by civil operators in Africa, Europe and the Middle East into the late 1990s.

Most aircraft were built by Bristol at Filton Aerodrome but 15 were built at Belfast by Short Brothers and Harland.

A licence was also issued to Canadair to build a maritime reconnaissance aircraft , the Canadair Argus and long-range transport, the Canadair Yukon. Unlike the Britannia, the Argus was built for endurance, not speed, and used four Wright R-3350-32W Turbo-Compound engines which use less fuel at low altitude. The unpressurized interior was left with almost no room to move, packed with sensors and weapons. Canadair also built 37 turboprop Rolls Royce Tyne-powered CL-44 variants for the civil market similar those built for the RCAF in CC-106 Yukon guise, most of which were used as freighters Four built as CL-44-Js had their fuselages lengthened, making them the highest capacity passenger aircraft of the day, for service with the Icelandic budget airline Loftleiðir. One, a modified Guppy version, remains airworthy, but not flying. Several were built with swing-tails to allow straight-in cargo loading.

Accidents and incidents

Fourteen Type 175s were lost with a total of 365 fatalities between 1954 and 1980. The worst accident was the 20 April 1967 crash of a Globe Air Britannia, near Nicosia Airport, Cyprus, with 126 fatalities.

*G-ALRX (cn 12874), February 1954 - crashed at Severn Beach, Gloucestershire while on approach to Filton Airport. Whilst operating for the UK Ministry Of Supply, a fire broke out in the No.3 engine. The fire could not be contained so No.4 was shut down as a precaution, on approach to Filton No.1 and 2 failed, an emergency landing was made on the mud flats of the Severn Estuary. []
*Air Crash at Winkton G-AOVD 24th Dec 1958‎


eries 100

Ninety-passenger airliner with 114ft (35m) fuselage and powered by four Bristol Proteus 705;101:Prototypes, initially powered by Proteus 625, later 705;102:Production aircraft for BOAC, 25 ordered with the last ten were cancelled in favour of the 300 series, 15 built.

eries 200

All cargo variant with a 124ft 3in (38m) fuselage, BOAC had an option for 5 later cancelled, none built.

eries 250

Similar to the 200 series, but mixed passenger and freight.;252:Originally ordered by the Ministry of Supply but delivered to the Royal Air Force, as the Britannia C2. Fitted with a heavy duty floor and cargo door, three built.;253:Passenger/freight variant for the Royal Air Force, designated Britannia C1. Capacity for 115 troops or equivalent in cargo, 22 built. Aircraft later sold on the civil market as freighters designated Series 253F.

eries 300

Passenger only version of the 200 series, capable of carrying up to 139 passengers. Medium-fuel capacity.;301:One Filton-built company prototype.;302:Belfast-built production, ten ordered by BOAC but cancelled in favour of 305, two built and delivered to Aeronaves de Mexico.;305:Five Belfast-built 302s modified for longer-range but with limited take-off weight due to thinner fuselage skin and lighter landing landing gear. All modified to other variants.;306:One former Series 305 leased to El Al pending delivery of last Series 315.;307:One former Series 305 and one 306 for troop charters.;307F:1960's conversion of 307 to freighter (both converted).;308:Two former 305s ordered by Transcontinental in 104-passenger configuration. ;308F:1960's conversion of 308 to freighter (both converted).;309:One former 30 ordered by Ghana Airways.

eries 310

As 305 series, but with strengthened fuselage skin and undercarriage. Long-range fuel capacity and was originally known as 300LR.

;311:One prototype originally known as a 300LR;312:Production aircraft for BOAC, 18 built.;312F:1960s conversion of 312 to freighter (five converted).;313:Production aircraft for El Al, 4 built.;314:Production aircraft for Canadian Pacific, six built.;317:Production aircraft for Hunting-Clan Air Transport in 124 passenger trooping configuration, two built.;318:Production aircraft for Cubana, four built.;320:Variant for North American market, order for Trans World Airways not concluded, two built were completed as Series 324s.;324:Two proposed Series 320s built for Canadian Pacific Series.


Civilian operators

*Aerotransportes Entre Rios
*Transcontinental SA;BEL
*Young Cargo;BDI
*Centre Air Afrique;CAN
*Canadian Pacific;CUB
*Air Faisal;GHA
*Ghana Airways;IDN
*Indonesian Ankasa Civil Air Transport;IRL
*Aer Turas
*El Al;KEN
*African Cargo Airlines
*African Safari Airways;LBR
*Liberia World Airways;MEX
*Aeronaves de Mexico;ESP
*Air Spain;SUI
*Globe Air;ARE
*Gaylan Air Cargo (United Arab Emirates);UK
*Air Charter
*BKS Air Transport
*Britannia Airways
*British Eagle
*British United Airways
*Caledonian Airways
*Donaldson International Airways
*Hunting Clan
*International Air Services
*Invicta International
*Lloyd International Airways
*Monarch Airlines,
*Redcoat Air Cargo
*Transglobe Airways;ZAI
*Domaine de Katale
*Katale Air Transport
*Transair Cargo

Military Operators

*Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment
*Royal Air Force
**No. 99 Squadron RAF
**No. 511 Squadron RAF


;Britannia 101 ("G-ALRX"):Forward fuselage is on display with the Bristol Aero Collection at Kemble Airfield, England.;Britannia 308F ("G-ANCF"):Removed from Kemble, and reassembled in early 2007 in Liverpool, England. Under restoration on the former airside apron behind the Crowne Plaza Liverpool John Lennon Airport Hotel, which was the original terminal building of Liverpool Speke Airport.;Britannia 312 ("G-AOVF"):On display at the Royal Air Force Museum, RAF Cosford, England in Royal Air Force Air Support Command colours as "XM497".;Britannia 312 ("G-AOVT"):On display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, England in Monarch Airlines colours.;Britannia C.1 ("XM496") "Regulus":On display at Kemble Airfield, England in RAF colours.

pecifications (Bristol Britannia)

Aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
length main=124 ft 3 in
length alt=37.9 m
span main=142 ft 3 in
span alt=43.6 m
height main=37 ft 6 in
height alt=11.4 m
area main= ft²
area alt= m²
empty weight main=82,500 lb
empty weight alt=37,400 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main=185,000 lb
max takeoff weight alt=84,000 kg
engine (prop)=Bristol Proteus 765
type of prop=turboprops
number of props=4
power main=4,440 hp
power alt=3,410 kW
max speed main=397 mph
max speed alt=345 knots, 639 km/h
cruise speed main=357 mph
cruise speed alt=310 knots, 575 km/h
range main=4,270 mi
range alt=3,710 nm, 6,870 km
ceiling main=24,000 ft
ceiling alt=7,300 m
climb rate main=2,220 ft/min
climb rate alt=11.3 m/s
loading main=
loading alt=
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=

ee also

*Canadair Argus, Canadair CL-44/Yukon, Conroy Skymonster
similar aircraft=
* Ilyushin Il-18
* Vickers Vanguard
* Lockheed L-188 Electra

see also=
* List of aircraft of the RAF


External links

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