Anyway, since the idea that the Brabazon failed because it was predicated on "prewar standards of luxury" came up:
(If it's random enough, it doesn't need a segue.)
Or. . .
I thought I'd do a bit about these big planes. As you can see, all except the B-36 had double decks. Interesting. Lots of space! You get the picture.
Actually, you may not:
This might seem like a narrow range of safety options, but a few nearby fields would suffice to cover the need for a diversionary landing. (And since the aircraft would only have to land, and would not have to take off loaded, they could be much less substantial than the main fields.) It was only if the Brabazon couldn't fly its planned route, and had to divert to Iceland or Gander due to weather, that field qualities became critical. When it became clear at a fairly late stage in its development that this was a possibility, the Brabazon was given a four-wheel bogie that allowed it to land on any field that could take a Stratocruiser---
Since BOAC, amongst other airliners, actually bought the Stratocruiser, it makes a good point of comparison. With a maximum takeoff weight of "only" 148,000lbs, comes closest to anything like practicality. At a direct operating cost of $2.45 per passenger mile, the Stratocruiser achieved paying economy on very long routes. Since it could not make a direct Atlantic crossing, that might seem like a deal breaker, and all I can add is, thank God for Hawaii!
So here's another look at the figures of merit from that article on big American bombers, from "Favonius's" destruction of the B-36:
The B-35/41 is standing in here for the Avro Vulcan and Atlantic airliners that will zoom like a Sabre jet!
The Stratocruiser doesn't appear here, although the militarised version, the B-50, does. The B-50 has a higher speed than the Stratocruiser (394mph is the actual Air Force claim), but you will quickly notice that the cruising speed claims are all over the map. Wikipedia has the Stratocruiser cruising at 305mph. The B-50's claimed range of 5800 miles at an operating altitude of 28,000--30,000ft is based on a mission profile that assumes that it will climb to higher and more efficient altitudes and speed up as fuel is consumed, so the cruise speed is an average, at best.
Continuing a comparison of the Stratocruiser with the Brabazon, we can see that the British flagship is down on power. With an auw of 135,000lbs and 14,000hp for the Stratocruiser, compared with 290,000 and 21,200 for the Brab, giving a power loading of 9.6lb/hp for the B-50/Stratocruiser, significantly lower than the 13.7 of the Brabazon. Things are not looking good for the Brabazon, even before we take into account the former's constant problems with the gearing between those mighty Wright Turbo-Compounds and the airscrews. Although the step-down from the coupled Centaurus engines to the airscrews is not so great, there is a great deal more in the way of gearing to go wrong.
Leaving that aside, I promised that I would talk about luxury. What does luxury look like in the air? Like this!
|That's a lot of interior space, for whatever reason.|
Anyway. Where was I? This whole thing about "luxury." Curiously, this is not what Mr. Masefield says:
So what's going on? Not to drag this on any further, it's that the reason that the double-bubble two-deck fuselages show up on all of these white elephants is that it is the only way to build a pressurised fuselage big enough to take up the space between the engines and the undercarriage. The space isn't a design ambition. It's an embarrassment. This is even more true of the flying boats, which have a fixed minimum interior space due to the boat hull configuration.
(. . Uhm, Empire, Caribbean, flying boats?
So if you're wondering, dear air passenger, as you rest beside the weary road, where the golden age of air travel has gone, it was never an attitude, because luxury wasn't a design requirement; but rather an emergent property.