Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Misc. Forums > Aviation History and Nostalgia
Reload this Page >

BOAC London - Singapore early 50s

Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

BOAC London - Singapore early 50s

Old 10th Sep 2004, 21:58
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
BOAC London - Singapore early 50s

Is there a web forum either this one or one in England where there might be air crew on line who flew the London Singapore route in say 1952.
When I was a kid in grade school our family flew there to live and back just before the Comet came along. I have dim and exciting memories of the trip - on Statocruisers I think (sleep on the plane in a pull down berth) and wanted to e mail someone who flew it. Interested in the exact route (what stops btw Cairo and Karachi? for example) etc

thanks

ed hardwicke
Charleston SC USA

Last edited by edwardh1; 11th Sep 2004 at 11:23.
edwardh1 is offline  
Old 15th Sep 2004, 14:05
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: LHR
Posts: 170
BA Museum website

http://www.bamuseum.com/ might be a good first place to start.

Mark.
BikerMark is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2004, 19:31
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 137
I think the far east route in the 1950s was The Argonaut and Constellation routes, and eventually giving way to the Britannia.
The Stratacruiser was normally reserved for the north Atlantic routes, and the crews were known as the North Atlantic Barons.
Towards the end of the 1950s I understand the Strat was used also on some West Africa routes.
I could be wrong though as the 1950s was just before my time
Brit312 is online now  
Old 17th Sep 2004, 01:17
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
Thanks
where would folks be who would know?

I e mailed the museum but have not heard.
edwardh1 is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2004, 14:37
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Cornwall, UK
Age: 73
Posts: 20
BA to Singapore

Hi - and thanks to BikerMark for the link to the BA Museum. Whilst I cannot add anything about the route itself I lived at RAF Tengah between 1949 and 1950, and was often taken to see my "own" Connie G-ALAN - looking at the BA Museum site what did I see again, 6 days from my 58th birthday as well, but my old Connie in all it's glory. I have a photo taken in June 1949 of myself, my sister and my mother standing just behind it with the registration clearly marked on top of both wings G-A & LAN. cheers - Allan
allan125 is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2004, 20:24
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,460
I have here in my collection the BOAC timetable for August 1952 which I think could answer these points.

Singapore airport was still Kallang then. BA (their flight prefix even then) had 4 Canadair Argonauts a week from London, plus 2 a week from Hong Kong, and also 3 faster Lockheed Constellations a week going through to Australia.

The outbound timetable for the Connies, flight BA 704, was:

London 0930 Day 1
Zurich 1200/1300
Beirut 2130
....Nightstop
Beirut 0945 Day 2
Karachi 2030/2300
Calcutta 0530/0645 Day 3
Singapore 1545
....Nightstop
Singapore 0800 Day 4
Jakarta 1030/1130
Darwin 2000/2245
Sydney 0700 Day 5

Cairo (and many other points) were done by the Argonaut schedules.

All times local. Baggage allowance 30 kgs to Singapore, 40 kgs if going through to Australia.

Fare London to Singapore 352/16 shillings return. One class only.

The same timetable has the new Comet 3 times a week to Johannesburg, while there are 22 transatlantic flights a week, Stratocruisers and Constellations. The BOAC fleet was very mixed at this time, there are even a few Hermes still about. I suspect you remember the Stratocruisers from the transatlantic sectors.

Earlier timetables in my collection still have the Far East route done by flying boats !

edwardh1, PM me if you would like a scanned image of the timetable when I get back to the UK in a week's time.
WHBM is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2004, 12:41
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 312
Further to what WHBM says, the aircraft with the pull down bunks were the Constellations as the Argonauts were never so fitted. The Stratocruisers never appeared outside the Atlantic routes apart from a brief operation to West Africa in 1958 and 59. This was to counter growing criticism that BOAC was abusing its monopoly position on the colonial cabotage routes and giving the newly emerged Nigeria Airways ( then WAAC) and Ghana Airways outdated equipment when they started long haul services to London. The Stratocruisers then gave way to Britannias. Sadly the Stratocruisers never ventured further east, although en route to Nigeria and Ghana they did give the citizens of Rome an interesting alternative service to London in competition with BEAs offerings.
Between London and Singapore, the Constellations and Argonauts soldiered on until the arrival of the Britannia 102s in March 1957 although these only had a life of just over 2 years on the route until the arrival of the Comet 4s from June 1959. The 50s were an incredibly fast moving decade with BOAC fleets such as the Hermes 4, Comet 1 and DC 7C lasting only 2 to 4 years at best and in contrast the Argonaut spanning from being in the passenger fleet at the same time as the York right through to within a month or two of the 707.
Skylion is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2004, 17:39
  #8 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
Cairo and the Argonauts ring a bell in my brain so perhaps that was our route in the fall of 52.

on that route was there a Karachi stop then direct to singapore? or were there stop(s) in India?
edwardh1 is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2004, 20:21
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,460
edwardh1, I'm back in the UK at the weekend and will look it up.
WHBM is offline  
Old 6th Oct 2004, 23:08
  #10 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
Thanks.

on our flight we had a engine fail - i think on the karachi - singapore leg and they landed "somewhere in india" ---where would that have been? and worked on the engine all day - we spent the night there not planned .

how was maintenance handled - were there enough techs and parts out there to fix things?
edwardh1 is offline  
Old 8th Oct 2004, 20:32
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,460
Cairo and the Argonauts ring a bell in my brain so perhaps that was our route in the fall of 52.

on that route was there a Karachi stop then direct to singapore? or were there stop(s) in India?
As promised ....

This makes things easy because of all the BOAC Far East schedules that year there is only one that combines Cairo, Karachi, Singapore and Argonauts.

BA 780

London 2130 Tu
Rome 0150/0250 We
Cairo 0930/1030 We
Basra 1600/1700 We
Karachi 0035/0235 Th
Delhi 0650/0750 Th
Calcutta 1140/1240 Th
Rangoon 1645 Th
.... nightstop
Rangoon 0800 Fr
Bangkok 1025/1125 Fr
Singapore 1600 Fr

As you will see Karachi to Singapore was not only not nonstop, but was 36 elapsed hours including a nightstop and several others. You must have been very tired by then ! All the Eastbound Argonaut schedules nightstopped in Rangoon.
WHBM is offline  
Old 9th Oct 2004, 00:36
  #12 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
basra

wonder what the basra airport looked like in 1950s?
I need to do some web searching.
Iremember a place with electricity but no refrigeration - is that possible? lots of sand, a fuel stop??????
edwardh1 is offline  
Old 9th Oct 2004, 06:38
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: East Anglia
Posts: 183
This one late 50's, if it helps, 'twas Airwork too but under the tailplane in very small letters B.O.A.C. could be seen.

My flight log records this journey:
By Hermes G-ALDC of Airwork
25/01/1958 Dep Blackbushe to Brindisi, Italy 6.00 hours
26/01/1958 Dep Brindisi to Ankara, Turkey 4.05 hours Damaged undercarriage on snowy runway, 4 nights in Ankara hotel
02/02/1958 Dep Ankara to Basrah, Iraq 4.00 hours
02/02/1958 Dep Basrah to Karachi, Pakistan 5.45 hours overnight stop at Minnewallis (sp?) hotel
03/02/1958 Dep Karachi to New Delhi, India 2.55 hours Prime Minister Nehru inspecting the PAF whilst there
03/02/1958 Dep New Delhi to Calcutta, India 3.25 hours
03/02/1958 Dep Calcutta to Krung Thep, Bangkok, Thailand 4.25 hours
04/02/1958 Dep Bangkok to Paya Lebar, Singapore 4.30 hours

I still retain the original Flight Information sheet, the pilot was Captain Talbot, Air Hostess were Miss Adams and Miss Irwin we were then (on issue of info) at Zakho on the Turkish/Iraq border at a height of 11500 feet 205 ground knots 236 MPH

I recall Basrah being extremely hot even in February and at that time of the day too. I'm fairly positive that the engineers wore white overalls at our staging stops and that the passenger steps were in BOAC livery
John (Gary) Cooper is offline  
Old 9th Oct 2004, 14:47
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,460
Just as I've got the 1949 BOAC timetable out as well (only 3 years before the original question), here is a detail from the last summer of flying boat operations to the Far East. Service to Singapore had stopped by then, but you could still go right round to Japan. No real night flying. 8 days for the trip ! Believe crews stayed with the aircraft for several days, and were slipped at Karachi and Hong Kong.

BO 900

Plymouth flying boat

Southampton 1100 Sa
Augusta (Sicily) 1900 Sa

Augusta (Sicily) 0900 Su
Alexandria 1515 Su

Alexandria 0700 Mo
Bahrain 1700/1800 Mo
Karachi 0145 Tu

Karachi 0800 Tu
Calcutta 1600 Tu

Calcutta 0600 We
Rangoon 1100/1200 We
Bangkok 1500 We

Bangkok 0800 Th
Hong Kong 1645 Th

Hong Kong 1000 Fr
Shanghai 1500 Fr

Shanghai 0800 Sa
Yokohama (Tokyo) 1630 Sa
WHBM is offline  
Old 11th Oct 2004, 21:44
  #15 (permalink)  
Death Cruiser Flight Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Vaucluse, France.
Posts: 615
Post

The Argonaut, or DC-4M2, was a classic Canadair hybrid. Derived from the DC-4, but pressurised, it had square DC-6 cabin windows and had 1760 h.p. RR Merlin engines instead of the 1450 h.p. P & W R-2000s of the DC-4. Max takeoff weight was 80900 lb. In BOAC, it was configured either in 40 seat 'Majestic' or 54 seat 'Coronet'. Normal crew complement was 7: captain, first officer, navigating officer, radio officer, two stewards and a stewardess. The Argonaut, like the DC-4, didn't carry a flight engineer. It entered service with BOAC in 1949 and soldiered on until 8 April 1960. One wonders why BOAC favoured the Argonaut over the bigger, faster, sleeker Constellation. That said, the only bad thing I ever heard about it was that fitting the crossover exhaust manifold was a nightmare, especially with the hot sun beating down. (edwardh1, your 'unsheduled engine change' please note! Delhi? Calcutta? At either place and all round the other routes, BOAC had an army of people and spares.)

A fuel flight plan for BA165 G-ALHF Cairo - Khartoum is shown in the book Airline Pilot by Eric Leyland (long since out of print). 880 n.m. stage length, 4.20 flight time, at FL135/140, 8000 lb. fuel consumption, loadsheet fuel 14840 lb., planned take-off weight 80000 lb. The number of pax is 54, so 'HF was in Coronet (tourist) config. Planned time of climb to FL135 is 49 minutes (!) at an average TAS of 171 kt. Initial cruise TAS is 197 kt., increasing to 211 kt. by top of descent, at which point the TAS increases to 221 kt. for the last 20 minutes.

There was no weather radar in them thar days, of course. I can personally attest to being frightened rigid on my first ever flight, in a BOAC Argonaut, in June 1953. Somewhere over France, en route Heathrow - Tripoli, eventual destination Accra, we entered a CuNimb. For what seemed for ever, we were flung around, to the accompaniment of vivid lightning flashes and the clattering of the ice coming off the props and hitting the fuselage. Eventually, we came out the other side, calm was restored and the business of serving dinner got under way. What a welcome to flying! No soothing words from the captain on the p.a. The Argonaut didn't have one of those either. As was the custom, he did eventually pay a visit, resplendent in his four (three and a half? three?) gold bars, wings and medal ribbons.

Ah, the Hermes 4! In contrast to the Argonaut, it entered service with BOAC on 7 August 1950. All 19 were gone by 1 October 1953. As early as August 1952, BOAC were passing some on to Airwork. Apparently it was: " ... the biggest Heap that anyone ever flew, that it built up an unenviable reputation among passengers for monstrous irregularity and non-appearance, and that it did more damage in its ludicrously short operational life to BOAC's reputation than all the other aeroplanes we ever owned put together." (Horizon - The Magazine of BOAC Flight Operations September/October 1966.)

Gosh! That said, the Hermes was gratefully received by Airwork and then Britavia. They were operated on trooping flights to Africa and the Far East. 11500 feet over Zakho, eh? I suppose that's as high as the Hermes could climb with all those 68 people aboard. I'll bet there was double and treble checking of the navigation. Just north of that position, the MSA is shown as 13.1, rising to 16.0 in the Baghdad FIR and the MEA on the airway is FL195! Interesting to note that between them, Airwork and Britavia wrote off five Hermes (Calcutta, Orleans, Sicily, Blackbushe and Karachi) although with what loss of life isn't mentioned.
Georgeablelovehowindia is offline  
Old 11th Oct 2004, 22:30
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: London
Posts: 507
<<
Interesting to note that between them, Airwork and Britavia wrote off five Hermes (Calcutta, Orleans, Sicily, Blackbushe and Karachi) although with what loss of life isn't mentioned.
>>

Fatalities were, respectively : zero, zero, 7, 7, zero. Perhaps it could have been a lot worse, as occupants were respectively : 64, 70, 57, 80, 72. Never knew the Hermes could take quite so many !
Golf Charlie Charlie is online now  
Old 12th Oct 2004, 00:39
  #17 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
food and water

dumb question but where did the food and water come from?

I ask because many flying public people in the US (and some flight crews I hear) will only drink bottled water (nothing from the planes tanks?) . I bet there was not too much bottled water around then - so where did the passenger drinking water come from and was it kept in plane tanks or in seperate bottles/jugs?
same on food - I remember the food as really great - was any of it cooked aboard?
edwardh1 is offline  
Old 12th Oct 2004, 13:12
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 6,460
One wonders why BOAC favoured the Argonaut over the bigger, faster, sleeker Constellation. That said, the only bad thing I ever heard about it was that fitting the crossover exhaust manifold was a nightmare,
There was a lengthy article in Propliner magazine a while ago by an ex-Argonaut skipper which described several interesting little features of the aircraft ! I'll look up the reference when I have some time. Apparently the noise on the flight deck was such that many long-time Argonaut crews developed hearing problems in later years.

Pesumably in those days the various base engineers had all been experts in Merlins since they were in the RAF in WW2, which did seem to be relatively unburstable in comparison to the US-built radials, particularly the Wright ones (Pratts being better), and very particularly the various Wright models put on the Constellation (once described as "a good 3-engined aircraft" after its tendency to get in-flight shutdowns ! Possibly away from main bases it just was not viable (the DC-7 used the same engine). Notable the Wright-powered Connie and DC-7 disappeared very quickly when jets came, the Pratt-powered DC-4, DC-6 and Convairs lasting much longer.

Part of the reason the Argonaut soldiered on so long was all the troubles with its successors:

Hermes - heap of junk.
Comet 1 - the well known withdrawl from service
Britannia - years of development delays.
WHBM is offline  
Old 12th Oct 2004, 16:28
  #19 (permalink)  
Death Cruiser Flight Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Vaucluse, France.
Posts: 615
Yes, Merlins made a lovely noise, but not when you were sat between them, for hour after hour. On each occasion I flew on the Argonaut, my ears were still buzzing two days afterwards!

I wonder if another reason why the Argonaut lasted until the Britannia finally came into service, was that the much more widely ordered Constellations were easier to sell on. The only other airline to operate the Canadair was TCA, where it was known as the North Star.

In addition to the Wright Cyclones on the Constellation, the P & W Wasps on the Stratocruiser were also troublesome. The Strat was often seen limping in on three, perhaps having had to turn back from well out in the Atlantic. PanAm ditched one in the Pacific with a prop which wouldn't feather, the drag making all the PNR and ETP fuel calculations irrelevant. The ditching, next to a ship, was so skilful that the only fatality was an unfortunate dog in the hold, as I recollect.

As regards, the food served aboard, yes it was of amazing quality. You also have to remember that in Britain we were just coming out of food rationing and the stuff served up in restaurants was generally dire. The meals were prepared in flight kitchens. BOAC had its own catering unit at LHR, right up to fairly recent times. Down route, the job was usually contracted to a local hotel, the quality of whose preparation was subject to regular checks. The meals were heated up on board. On the Argonaut, the pantry units were either side of the main passenger entrance door and were discreetly covered during boarding and disembarking. You have to take your hat off to the cabin crew who delivered the service out of that confined working space.

All the water came from an onboard tank, which was replenished at each stop from a bowser clearly marked Potable Water. This also was subject to regular quality checks and treatment, if necessary. Again, you have to remember that this was the fifties. We didn't know to drink wholesome water in the quantities that we do now and I'm sure that most water drunk aboard was either as tea or with whisky! The previously mentioned Cairo - Khartoum fuel plan has an allowance of 173 lb. for domestic water discharged overboard at the rate of 40 lb/hr. This would be from the two washroom sinks and pantry unit and isn't permitted nowadays.
Georgeablelovehowindia is offline  
Old 13th Oct 2004, 02:24
  #20 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Charleston , south carolina usa
Posts: 23
about the water

the reason I asked about the water is that my wife and I rent sailboats sometimes in the caribbean - BVI, St Martin, Grenadines, and over the years we have stopped drinking the water out of the "ship's tanks" because when you think about it they are very hard to keep clean- on a boat you would have to pump them out - maybe on a plane just drain them?

Anyway, about a month ago some agency in the US checked about 200 commercial planes water and found about 20 of them (water tanks) contaminated with bacteria - a problem really to me. Not much progress in 50 years huh?
So that is why I asked .
Was the water then in rangoon or Bagdhad at the airport drinkable ?
edwardh1 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.