Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Thanks to SquareSpace for making this video possible.

  • More on that after this video.

  • With a wingspan greater than a Boeing 747's, this was

  • the largest aircraft ever built by Britain.

  • More a flying oceanliner than plane, it had sleeping cabins, a dining room, a cocktail

  • bar and lounge.

  • Even a 23 seat movie theater.

  • And if it had been the 1930's, when transatlantic crossings were pretty much always by boat,

  • it might've been a hit.

  • But this lumbering super-sized piston airliner was being introduced for the 1950's, when

  • the first jets were already taking to the skies.

  • After a massive development effort, Britain was stuck with a plane that nobody wanted,

  • designed for an era that no longer existed.

  • In the midst of the Second World War, with battles raging across the globe, the British

  • began to worry.

  • Not just about the war, but what happens after.

  • Because as soon as victory was assured, Britain would almost certainly begin losing a different

  • kind of battle; one for the future of their aviation industry.

  • Because the Americans had a whole range of military transports which they could easily

  • redesign into airliners after the war.

  • But Britain's industry had been focused on building bombers, so they could dish it

  • back to Germany.

  • But these bombers couldn't easily be redesigned into airliners.

  • So Britain came up with a plan.

  • They'd design a whole range of cutting edge airliners, completely from scratch.

  • Some, were incredibly ambitious.

  • Like building the world's first jet powered airliner.

  • But the way Britain really planned to get ahead of the Americans, was to build the world's

  • largest Commercial Transport.

  • An enormous luxury-liner of the skies, which they'd name the Brabazon.

  • It would have true transatlantic capability.

  • Able to fly non-stop from London to New York against prevailing eastern winds.

  • In the 1940's, this would have been quite the feat.

  • Transatlantic flights were almost always done in stages to allow for refueling.

  • The task of building this behemoth was assigned to The Bristol Aeroplane Company.

  • And its development was given the highest priority, over all the other planned airliners.

  • But the Brabazon wasn't just going to push the limits of airliner size and range.

  • This plane was also going to redefine luxury.

  • Because, although the Brabazon would have been large enough to seat over 300 passengers,

  • it was only ever intended to carry between 50 and one hundred.

  • And some felt even that was too many.

  • Because comfort was the highest priority, in luxury class each passenger was allotted

  • an incredible 283 cubic feet of space.

  • The less fortunate would have to settle for 212.

  • There would be private sleeping compartments, a dedicated dining room.

  • A kitchen for preparing fine meals.

  • A cocktail lounge and bar for schmoozing.

  • And of course, no flight is complete without a movie.

  • But on this plane.

  • we're talking about an actual movie theater with seating for 23.

  • The Brabazon was also fitted with cutting edge innovations.

  • A fully pressurized, air conditioned cabin.

  • Electric engine controls, and high-pressure hydraulics to operate its massive control

  • surfaces.

  • But getting this 130 tone, fully loaded behemoth to make it all the way from London to New

  • York.. in one shot, wasn't going to be easy.

  • Every effort was made to save weight.

  • A custom, lighter, non-standard aircraft skin was used.

  • It's enormous wing housed more than 16 thousand gallons of fuel, and eight of the most powerful

  • piston engines available.

  • And their arrangement was, well, complex

  • Nothing instills confidence over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean like a pair of 18 cylinder

  • supercharged engines, each connected by a drive shaft to an overstressed gearbox, which

  • then drives a pair of contra-rotating propellers.

  • And for all the incredible complexity.

  • the 8 engines produced barely enough power to get this enormous plane off the ground,

  • and give it a cruise speed of only 250 miles per hour.

  • What the Brabazon really needed was more powerful turboprop engines.

  • But these wouldn't be ready in time.

  • So a decision was made to finish the first brabazon with piston engines, and begin building

  • a second one using a new turboprop being developed by Bristol.

  • In late summer 1949, the first Brabazon rolled out of it's enormous hanger to make its

  • first flight.

  • It's interior hadn't yet been finished.

  • But the Brabazon proved it's airworthiness to awestruck crowds, attracting enormous praise

  • from the press.

  • But what it didn't attract was a single airline.

  • The problem was, the Brabazon wasn't really designed to compete with any other airliners.

  • Instead, it was going steal away wealthy passengers away from ocean liners.

  • And in 1943 that might've been a solid plan.

  • But by 1949, the number of aircraft making regular transatlantic flights, had grown dramatically.

  • BOAC, later known British Airways, had worked closely with Bristol to develop the Brabazon.

  • And in the end, even they didn't want it.

  • By the time the Brabazon made its first flight, the airline had already begun purchasing Boeing

  • Stratocruisers for their transatlantic flights.

  • A plane that carried up to a 100 passengers, with half as many engines, and nearly half

  • the weight.

  • And the Comet, the first jet airliner to enter service, beat the Brabazon to the skies, making

  • its first flight several months earlier.

  • The Comet didn't fly far as the Brabazon, nor did have a cocktail lounge.

  • But it flew nearly twice as fast.

  • And that was far more appealing for passengers who could afford the tickets.

  • For the next three years, the Brabazon lumbered around Britain and Europe, making high profile

  • appearances and wowing crowds with its size.

  • But few airlines showed any interest in the enormous complex plane.

  • Meanwhile, back in Britain, the second Brabazon sat half finished as Bristol struggled to

  • develop more advanced turboprops.

  • By 1953, it was clear that Britain was parading around a giant white elephant.

  • After 6 million pounds spent on it's development,

  • the program was cancelled. And the Brabazon, and it's half finished turboprop successor were

  • sold for their weight in scrap.

  • And remarkably, just 9 months later, Boeing unvaild it's Dash 80.

  • A jet powered airliner that would become the 707, bringing a transatlantic crossing down

  • to as little as 7 hours.

  • Despite introducing new innovations, many of which influenced the future of aviation,

  • the Brabazon's driving philosophy was outdated.

  • New disruptive technologies and a completely new generation of airline passengers, not

  • the same ultrarich ones from the 1930's, meant that the Brabazon never really stood

  • a chance.

  • Maybe you've got big ambitions to launch a business, or maybe you've been thinking

  • about something more modest, like a side hustle.

  • Whatever you do, a good website is key to getting you or your idea out there.

  • So, make your next move with SquareSpace's all-in-one platform for building stunning

  • websites, online stores, portfolios, or whatever else you've got going on.

  • With their seamless easy domain registration, you'll literally have a site up in minutes.

  • After that, you've got an incredible range of beautiful award-winning templates to help

  • you impress.

  • Start building your website for free at squarespace.com/mustard, and when you're ready to launch your website,

  • use the code mustard for 10% off your first purchase.

Thanks to SquareSpace for making this video possible.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US transatlantic britain bristol plane enormous piston

The Largest Aircraft Ever Built By Britain: The Bristol Brabazon

  • 5 1
    joey joey posted on 2021/05/30
Video vocabulary