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1

Douglas DC-3

The most famous piston-engined airliner of all time, the DC-3 was tough, versatile, and economical – a masterpiece of functional design. It was an enlarged version of Douglas’s already successful DC-2, produced in response to a request from American Airlines president, C.R. Smith, for an aircraft to offer comfortable overnight travel. By increasing the length and girth of the DC-2’s fuselage, Douglas made room for […]

2

McDonnell Douglas DC-10

Held in affectionate regard by pilots and engineers, the DC-10 was “fun to fly, roomy, and quiet”. Yet this impressive pioneer of the three-engined, widebody airliner endured troubled beginnings. A series of accidents in the 1970s and 80s had unfortunately tarnished its reputation; however, only one of these accidents was due to a design deficiency, and this had been rectified in most DC -1 […]

3

Airbus A380

Cllaimingtobe the most spacious and advanced airliner ever built, the Airbus A380 is the world’s first triple-decked “superjumbo” jet. The only true competitor to the Boeing 747, it has been developed in response to grow ing airport congestion and overburdened air traffic control systems. There are two models, the A380-800 seating up to 555 passengers, and the -800F freighter. The cockpit is set between the […]

4

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 […]

5

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 […]

6

Bristol Brabazon

The Bristol Brabazon airliner was a gian of an aircraft larger even than a Boeing 747. It was also in many ways a strikingly advanced design for its day. Yet, commercially, this huge piston-engine airliner was a total failure for the British aircraft industry. The aircraft was named after Lord Brabazon of Tara, who headed a committee that produced a government report on […]

7

Ryan NYP

In 1927 airmail pilot Charles Lindbergh decided to compete for a $25.000 prize offered for the first person to fly non-stop between New York and Paris. Ryan Airlines of San Diego, California, agreed to build him an aeroplane in 60 days for $6.000 ($10,580 with the engine included). The New-York-to-Paris (NYP) aircraft was based on Ryan’s M.2 high-wing monoplane, but was specially adapted to accommodate greatly […]

8

Concorde

The world’s only successful supersonic passenger carrier, Concorde was an airliner of unsurpassed elegance and a miracle of engineering. It was able to carry 128 passengers at twice the speed of sound, and once seemed to embody the future of commercial aviation. The British and French governments agreed to build Concorde in November 1962 in the belief that airlines would inevitably want the fastest […]

9

Lockheed Vega

The stylish Lockheed Vega was a charismatic aircraft that scored high on both looks and performance. Designed by Jack Northrop for the Lockheed Aircraft Company, it was a fast, high-winged monoplane with room for six passengers. The Vega owed its exceptionally clean lines to its smooth semi monococque plywood fuselage, built in two halves in a concrete mould, and its cantilever wing free […]

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, […]