Boeing Stratocruiser the opulent jumbo liner 1947-1961
At the end of WWII, the bottom fell out of the bomber business and Boeing needed to shift production to commercial aircraft to survive. Rather than design a new airliner, Boeing modified the C-97 Stratofreighter, a derivative of the B-29 Superfortress bomber. The Boeing Stratocruiser inherited a hefty bomber frame and the spacious and comfortable interiors of the pre-war glamourous Boeing flying Boats. The end result was a jumbo luxury liner flying above the weather at 30,000 feet with a 4,000-mile range and a speed of 340 mph.
In the spring of 1953, our family of five traveled from Paris to New York on a Pan Am Boeing Stratocruiser. I was nine at the time and fascinated by this big airliner. Sixty years later I still have fond memories of that journey and have included a few of them in the pages below.Larry Driscoll
Step on board for the Boeing Stratocruiser experience.
James Bond and the Boeing Stratocruiser
Author Ian Fleming was familiar with the Stratocruiser. He flew frequently flew BOAC’s Monarch Service from London to New York on to his home In Jamaica. In two of his books, he places James Bond on a Stratocruiser
The flight deck
The Stratocruiser flight deck
It’s interesting to note that it took a crew of 5 to fly 50 passengers across the Atlantic on a Stratocruiser when today, a pilot and co-pilot can fly 290 passengers on the same route in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Why the difference?
The Stratocruiser required a flight crew of a minimum of five because it had had little, or no, systems automation. The correct operation of aircraft primary systems (engines, fuel), navigation, alternate, communication, electrical, hydraulic, oil, etc.), required manual manipulation of 100 to 200 switches and buttons, and monitoring of multiple gages.
In addition, prior to taking off the crew had to complete multiple (and complex) normal, abnormal, and emergency checklists rapidly and efficiently.
I had a front seat view of the flight deck on our flight to New York. At the Shannon refueling pit stop, The captain stepped out leaving the flight deck door open. I stood at the entrance staring in, amazed at the mind-boggling array of dials, switches, levers.
Boeing Stratocruiser at a glance
AIRLINES THAT FLEW THE BOEING STRATOCRUISER
|Pan American World Airways|
|British Overseas Airway Corporation|
|American Overseas Airways|
BOEING STRATOCRUISER AT A GLANCE
|Take-off speed||132 mph|
|Maximum take-off weight||142,500 lbs.|
|Passengers||55 – 114|
|Power per engine||3,500 hp|
|Maximum cruising speed||339 mph|
|Service ceiling||33,000 ft|
|First flight||August 7 1947|