Aviation Historian 33
K.Hayward - "A melancholy story of delays, dissapointments and retardations..."
Initially designed to the Committee’s Type IV specification for a high-speed jet-powered mail plane, de Havilland’s D.H.106 was the most ambitious of Britain’s commercial aircraft ventures in the immediate post-war period. Named Comet in December 1947, the prototype, G-5-1 (later G-ALVG), made its first flight on July 27, 1949.
A Bristol mechanic inspects the tail of the Bristol Brabazon prototype, G-AGPW, the largest passenger landplane in the world, in September 1950.
Construction of the Brabazon Committee’s eponymous Type I transatlantic airliner began at Bristol’s Filton factory in October 1945. The prototype, G-AGPW, did not make its maiden flight until September 4, 1949, when the company’s chief test pilot, A. J. “Bill” Pegg, took the eight-engined giant on its first 25min flight.
In 1950 the rear section of G-AGPW’s cabin was furnished with 30 BOAC reclinable seats. The Brabazon was conceived as a luxurious transatlantic airliner - but, as test pilot Wally Gibb opined, “that wasn’t what the airlines wanted; they wanted to ram as many passengers as possible into the tube and give ’em lunch on their laps”.
Renowned British artist Terence Cuneo painted this magnificent portrait of the Bristol Brabazon taking off from Filton, for inclusion in the company’s brochure for the behemothic airliner in January 1950. Don’t bother to look for Cuneo’s signature mouse - he did not start incorporating these into his paintings until a few years later!
By some margin the most successful of the designs that could trace their heritage back to the Brabazon Committee, the Vickers Viscount turboprop was the result of a mating of state-of-the-art aircraft design and cutting-edge powerplant technology for the Committee’s Type IIB (i) category. The prototype, G-AHRF, made its first flight on July 16, 1948.
The D.H.95 Flamingo was de Havilland’s first stressed-skin all-metal aircraft; it made its maiden flight on December 22, 1938. A typically elegant de Havilland design, the handsome high-wing twin-engined monoplane could carry up to 17 passengers and offered similar performance to that of the contemporary Lockheed 10 Electra.
Designed to the Committee’s Type VB specification for a Dragon Rapide replacement, the same company’s D.H.104 Dove prototype, G-AGPJ - seen here with original fin - made its first flight at Hatfield on September 25, 1945, just six weeks after the defeat of Japan. Like the Viscount, it was a success, with nearly 550 built.