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Bristol Type 167 Brabazon

The Bristol Brabazon was a government-sponsored effort intended to advance the state of the art in long-distance travel. The Brabazon was funded by the UK during the 1940s to develop a large airliner capable of non-stop flights between London and New York. Though smaller than the Spruce Goose, the Brabazon would have easily been the largest airliner of the day with a takeoff weight of 250,000 lb (115,000 kg) and a wingspan of 230 ft (70 m).

The basis of the Bristol Brabazon was the 1941-42 design work already done on a projected 100-ton bomber that, to reduce the considerable drag imposed by four engine nacelles, called for engines to be buried within the wings. This obviously entailed wings at least thick enough to accommodate the radial engine's diameter.

The cruising speed of the Brabazon was designed to be 330mph at 35,000 feet using Bristol Proteus gas turbines. However, since the airframe development was way ahead of the engine development, the first prototype, G-AGPW, was designed to house eight paired Bristol Centaurus piston engines similar to those in the Hawker Sea Fury. Each pair of engines drove counter-rotating propellers through a common gearbox. The design cruise of the Brabazon was highly competitive with the Lockheed Constellation (315mph), the Boeing Stratocruiser (340mph) and the Douglas DC-4 (, all at around 22,000 to 25,000 feet.

If successful, the Brabazon offered the opportunity to challenge American manufacturers for dominance in the commercial aviation market. Unfortunately, the ambitious design failed to receive government certification following the discovery of fatigue cracks in the propeller mountings. While the problem was certainly correctable, the UK decided to cancel further funding in the early 1950s even though 3 million had already been invested. Only one prototype had been built, and it was broken up for scrap in late 1953 after flying only 400 hours. An improved prototype with structural enhancements and turboprop engines was also under construction, but it too was scrapped after the project was cancelled.

It had been thought that airline passengers would continue to be the rich, the only ones able to afford air travel at the time. This led to a number of unrealistic requirements, and doomed the Bristol Brabazon design to carry considerably fewer passengers than it could, thereby making it too expensive to operate.

The Right Honorable John Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara (8 February 1884 - 17 May 1964) was born in England and became a British aviation pioneer. He first soloed in a French Voisin biplane at Issy-les-Montineaux, Paris, France, in November, 1908. French F.A.I. brevet #40 was issued to him under the name of Brabazon Moore, on March 8, 1910, before he became a member of the House of Lords in England. British F.A.I. Airplane Pilot's Certificate Number 1 was issued to him by the Royal Aero Club, making him the first person to be licensed in Great Britain as an Airplane Pilot. In 1909 he made the first live cargo flight by airplane, by tying a waste-paper basket to a wing-strut of his Voisin airplane. Then, using it as a "cargo hold", he airlifted one small pig.

Sir Edward Brabazon, 1st Lord Brabazon, Baron of Ardee was born circa 1548. Sir Edward Brabazon, 1st Lord Brabazon, Baron of Ardee was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) [Ireland] in 1584. He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for County Wicklow in 1585. He held the office of High Sheriff of County Stafford from 1606 to 1607. He was created 1st Lord Brabazon, Baron of Ardee, co. Louth [Ireland] on 19 July 1616. He died on 7 August 1625.

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Page last modified: 10-01-2012 19:22:42 ZULU