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Model 314 Clipper Flying Boat

As airplane travel became popular during the mid-1930s, passengers wanted to fly across the ocean, so Pan American Airlines asked for a long-range, four-engine flying boat. In response, in 1938 Boeing developed the Model 314, nicknamed the "Clipper" after the great oceangoing sailing ships. The Model 314 Clipper was an 82,500-pound flying boat capable of lifting twenty-five passengers and a few hundred pounds of mail between Newfoundland and Ireland.

The Clipper used the wings and engine nacelles of the giant Boeing XB-15 bomber on the flying boat's towering, whale-shaped body. The installation of new Wright 1,500 horsepower Double Cyclone engines eliminated the lack of power that handicapped the XB-15. With a nose similar to that of the modern 747, the Clipper was the "jumbo" airplane of its time.

When it made its appearance this flying-boat was the largest civil aircraft in service. It outstripped all rivals in size, with twice the size of the Sikorsky S-42 and outweighed the Martin M-130 China Clipper by 15 tons. The 14-cylinder double-row Wright Cyclones were the first to use 100-octane fuel. The Boeing 314, the finest flying boat to go into regular commercial service, weighed 40 tons, and the first batch cost $550,000 per aircraft. It had a central hull and adopted the wing and engine assembly of the experimental Boeing XB-15 4 heavy bomber. In the place of the traditional floating stabilizers at the wingtips, sponsons mounted on the sides of the hull were used. The sponsons were based on the formula developed by the German engineer Claude Dornier and incorporated into such aircraft as the Dornier Do X and Dornier Do 18. The sponsons also contained fuel tanks, the capacity of which (together with those situated in the wings) totaled almost 3,525 gallons (16,000 liters).

The Model 314 had a 3,500-mile range and made the first scheduled trans-Atlantic flight June 28, 1939. By the year's end, Clippers were routinely flying across the Pacific. Clipper passengers looked down at the sea from large windows and enjoyed the comforts of dressing rooms, a dining salon that could be turned into a lounge and a bridal suite. The Clipper's 74 seats converted into 40 bunks for overnight travelers. Four-star hotels catered gourmet meals served from its galley.

Boeing built 12 Model 314s between 1938 and 1941. A Boeing 314 was Pan American planned to inaugurate transatlantic services in the spring of 1939. At the outbreak of World War II, the Clipper was drafted into service to ferry materials and personnel. Few other aircraft of the day could meet the wartime distance and load requirements.

Pan American Airways had at least four Boeing 314 four-engine flying boats providing thrice weekly service between New York and Lisbon. They were normally designated with names preceding the word Clipper [eg, Yankee Clipper, Dixie Clipper, and American Clipper]. Hap Arnold had been present in Washington in 1939 when Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt christened Yankee Clipper, the first of the genre.

On 19 December 1940 Carl A. Spaatz, the US Army Air Corps' chief planner, departed from Portugal by the Pan American Airways Yankee Clipper, a Boeing Model 314 flying boat, arriving in New York the next day, after a then-typically exhausting low-altitude flight across the North Atlantic. Among the remaining eighteen passengers on board was a certain Lieutenant Commander Minoru Genda, the departing assistant air attach at the Japanese Embassy in Great Britain, who had served in London since March 1939. It is not known - and is probably unlikely, given the state of American-Japanese relations - whether the men talked, aside, perhaps, from a perfunctory hello. But Genda, like Spaatz, had also come away from London convinced that Germany would lose the Battle of Britain, that, in fact, it had already lost when it failed to immediately prosecute an air campaign after Dunkirk. A zealous advocate of air power in the mold of a naval Billy Mitchell, Genda, within a year, would be formulating his own air assault, the attack on Pearl Harbor, as the principal planner of the Imperial Japanese Navy's air arm.

Boeing built 12 Model 314s between 1938 and 1941. The Model 314 had a 3,500-mile range and made the first scheduled trans-Atlantic flight June 28, 1939. By the year's end, Clippers were routinely flying across the Pacific. Clipper passengers looked down at the sea from large windows and enjoyed the comforts of dressing rooms, a dining salon that could be turned into a lounge and a bridal suite. The Clipper's 74 seats converted into 40 bunks for overnight travelers. Four-star hotels catered gourmet meals served from its galley.

The United States contracted in August 1941 to purchase one of Pan American's four-engine Clippers, leasing the plane back to Pan American which then operated it for the AAF. Only one trip, that a survey flight, was completed over the US-West African route prior to Pearl Harbor but the fleet was increased after December 1941 and regular service established.

With the success of the Boeing 314, Pan American ordered another six aircraft with the designation Boeing 314A. The 314A was considerably improved-it had a carrying capacity of 77 daytime passengers, increased engine power, and increased fuel capacity of nearly 1,000 gallons (4,500 liters). The first of the Boeing 314A aircraft flew as a prototype on March 20, 1941, but with WW II in full swing, only half the order went to Pan American. Three models were bought by the British government and allotted to BOAC for use as transport aircraft.

At the outbreak of World War II, the Clipper was drafted into service to ferry materials and personnel. Few other aircraft of the day could meet the wartime distance and load requirements. In mid-December 1941, when the War Department desperately sought to expand its force of fourengine transport aircraft, the only such airplanes in military service included the eleven B-24s used by the Ferrying Command, plus one Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat purchased from Pan Am in August. The only other large, four-engine transports available numbered fifteen, all in civil airline service, including Pan Am's eight additional Clippers and two Martin M-130 flying boats. TWA had five land-based Boeing 307 Stratoliners, a land-based transport equipped with a pressurized cabin, making it one of the most advanced transports of the era. The government bought them all under a national emergency decree, and parceled them out to the services. The two Martin flying boats and five Clippers went to the Navy; the Army received the three remaining Clippers.

One, if not the most famous of the Clippers was named Dixie, NC-18605 which inaugurated trans-Atlantic passenger service, on 29 June 1939 from Port Washington, New York, then to Horta, Lisbon, and Marseilles. She was purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1942, but continued to be operated by Pan Am. The first airplane flight of a US president took place on 11 January 1943. The plane was a Pan American flying boat, the flight was from the Dinner Key Seaplane Base in Miami to the Casablanca Conference in northern Africa. On January 14, 1943, President Roosevelt arrived at the Casablanca Conference, to meet with Churchill and Stalin during the height of WW II, thus becoming the first in-office president to fly, and the 314 Dixie Clipper the first presidential airplane. President Roosevelt celebrated his birthday in the flying boat's dining room. After the War she was sold to World Airways and later scrapped in 1950.

Engines: Four (4) 1,600 hp (1,192 kW) Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone (1,192 kw), 14 cylinder, air-cooled, radial engines.

Wing Span: 152 ft. (46.33 m.)

Length: 106 ft (32.31 m.)

Max T.O. Weight: 84,000 lb. (38,102 kg.)

Max level speed: 199 mph (320 km/h)

Cruising speed: 184 mph (296 km/h)

Range: 5,200 miles (8369 km)

First flight: June 7, 1938

Ceiling: 19,600 feet

Accommodation: 10 crew, 74 passengers



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