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1

Boeing 747

When the Boeing 747 entered service in 1970 it was by far the largest, heaviest, most powerful airliner the world had ever seen. With a tail as high as a six-storey building and a wing wide enough to park more than 40 family cars on, it could carry three times as many passengers as the Boeing 707, which was then still the […]

2

Curtiss CR-3

Cheated for the 1923 Schneider Trophy contest, the Curtiss CR-3 proved itself the fastest seaplane racer of its day. In the early 1920s American Glenn Curtiss had developed sleek landplane racers, powered by his outstanding CD-12 in-line engine. The US Navy converted two of these beauties into floatplanes, which were entered as CR-3s for the Schneider race, held that year in England, […]

3

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

The gargantuan Lockheed Galaxy transport aircraft is incredible for its sheer size. Ever since the four-engine C-5A was first delivered to the US Air Forces Military Airlift Command in December 1969 it has dwarfed just about every other aeroplane around. Its vast cargo bay can accommodate two main battle tanks, six attack helicopters, or around 260,000lb of supplies. Access is through huge doors that […]

4

North American XB-70 Valkyrie

When it was rolled out on 11 May 1964, the first prototype of North American’s XB-70 six-engine Mach 3 strategic bomber was the most expensive, most powerful, longest, and heaviest aeroplane ever built. It had six engines housed in a box structure beneath the delta wing, In flight, the wingtips could be lowered up to 65 degrees to contain the airflow under […]

5

Lockheed Constellation

Known affectionately as the “Connie”, the Lockheed Constellation was the most graceful of the great four-engine propliners that opened up intercontinental air routes in the immediate postwar years. With its flowing contours and distinctive triple tail, it had a supremely elegant exterior to match its stylish passenger accommodation. Designed by Kelly Johnson, the Constellation originated in 1939 with a request from TWA for a […]

6

Northrop YB-49

Throughout his career, imaginative American designer Jack Northrop believed that the ultimate in aircraft development would be a “flying wing”, with neither fuselage nor tail. DuringWorldWar II his company developed the massive XB-35 all-wing piston-engined bomber, but by the lime it flew in 1946 the jet era had arrived. Northrop then built two jet – powered versions of the bomber, designated YB- […]

7

Hughes H-4 Hercules

In 1942 American millionaire and aviation enthusiast, Howard Hughes, and ship-builder, Henry Kaiser, were jointIy awarded $18 million of US government funding to build a “flying liberty ship”. This was to be a huge flying boat capable of ferrying American soldiers and military equipment across the Atlantic, free from the threat of German U-boats. Kaiser withdrew from the project when it […]

8

Boeing 314

The Boeing 314 “Clipper” flying boat was probably the most luxurious passenger aeroplane ever built, This stately giant was created for Pan American, who wanted an aircraft to carry wealthy passengers in comfort and style on transoceanic routes. Boeing married the wings and tailplane of their prototype XB-15 long-range bomber with a massive whale-shaped hull to make a flying boat of breathtaking […]

9

Planes for travel and fun

Commercial airliners underwent huge changes during the late 1960s and early 70s. The year 1969 saw the introduction of the world’s first wide-body jet, the Boeing 747, as well as the maiden flight of the supersonic Concorde. One proved much more influential than the other: Although few supersonic jets have been builtt wide-body carriers have become extremely popular. They include the Douglas […]

10

The influence of war

From 1914 to 1918, World War I resulted in the transformation of aircraft from slow, frail vehicles into agile, capable fighting machines. The governments of the world began to see the military potential of air power, leading to tremendous progress, particularly in the fields of engine technology  and aerodynamics. Although Wright Aircraft had produced the first military airplanes in 1908, […]