Bristol Brabazon

The Bristol Type 167 Brabazon was a large British piston-engined propeller-driven airliner designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company to fly transatlantic routes between the UK and the United States. The type was named Brabazon after the Brabazon Committee and its chairman, Lord Brabazon of Tara, who had developed the specification to which the airliner was designed.While Bristol had studied the prospects of developing very large aircraft as bomber aircraft prior to and during the Second World War, it was the release of a report compiled by the Brabazon Committee which had led the company to adapting its larger bomber proposal into a prospective large civil airliner to meet the Type I specification for a very large airliner for the long-distance transatlantic route. Initially designated as the Type 167, the proposed aircraft was furnished with a huge 25 ft (8 m)-diameter fuselage containing full upper and lower decks on which passengers would be seated in luxurious conditions; it was powered by an arrangement of eight Bristol Centaurus radial engines which drove a total of eight paired contra-rotating propellers set on four forward-facing nacelles.

Bristol decided to submit the Type 167 proposal to meet Air Ministry Specification 2/44; following a brief evaluation period, a contract to build a pair of prototypes was awarded to Bristol. At the time of its construction, the Brabazon was one of the largest aeroplanes ever built, being sized roughly between the much later Airbus A300 and Boeing 767 airliners. Despite its vast size, the Brabazon was designed to carry a total of only 100 passengers, each one being allocated their own spacious area about the size of the entire interior of a small car. On 4 September 1949, the first prototype conducted its maiden flight. In addition to participating in a flight test programme in support to intended production aircraft, the prototype made high-profile public flying displays at the 1950 Farnborough Airshow, Heathrow Airport, and the 1951 Paris Air Show.

However, the Brabazon was unable to attract any firm commitments for the type due to the high cost per seat mile compared to the alternatives. Being unable to attract any orders, the aircraft was a commercial failure. On 17 July 1953, Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Supply, announced that the Brabazon had been cancelled due to a lack of military or civil orders for the type. In the end, only the single prototype was flown; it was broken up in 1953 for scrap, along with the incomplete turboprop-powered Brabazon I Mk.II.