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BOAC Stratocruisers across the Atlantic

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BOAC Stratocruisers across the Atlantic

Old 19th Apr 2020, 06:36
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BOAC Stratocruisers across the Atlantic

Those of us brought up on turbine powered aircraft had it easy compared with these. Does anyone have similar stories to post?

More Speedbird Strats
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Old 19th Apr 2020, 07:18
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The 1955 film 'Out of the Clouds' dealt mainly with Stratocruiser Ops out of Heathrow; when 'Capt' James Robertson Justice has to div back to Heathrow with an engine problem, he is given a talkdown using PAR for his landing and the phraseology used by the controller is little different from that still used for talkdowns nowadays.
I can remember my parents taking us to 'London Airport' several times in the early '50s and watching 'Strats' doing power checks from the public viewing areas, firstly northside, then across the runway whilst the Central Area was still being built (and before the tunnel was built when you were 'marshalled 'across the taxiway and runway) then later still from the brand new 'Queens Building'.
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Old 19th Apr 2020, 17:26
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Originally Posted by Bergerie1 View Post
Those of us brought up on turbine powered aircraft had it easy compared with these. Does anyone have similar stories to post?

More¬ Speedbird¬ Strats
My dear old Dad was a BOAC Navigator after the war, before becoming a pilot. He was a Stratocruiser navigator for a while and rated his time on the Stratocruiser as a Navigator as some of the best of his career.

I can't find his logbook as i write, but I know it contains such gems as "turned back at 40 West due headwinds" and on one occasion, an Eastbound crossing of some 16 hours out of New York has "record crossing" in the remarks. Can't recall where they landed though, probably Prestwick.

Post-war Britain, with rationing etc., was an austere place. Luxury goods, alcohol and tobacco were in short supply and expensive. Leaving New York, he once told me the Navigator would get in hours early to go through all the flight planning permutations, trying to ensure either the quickest trip, or if there was any chance they could make it direct. Lots of involvement from the Captain, lots of options explored. No organised track system in those days, weather ships en route, pressure pattern flying, intense briefings from the Meterologist, face to face no less. Then, the Irish opened the duty free shop in Shannon - the world's first.

After that he reckoned, no Stratocruiser ever flew past Shannon without stopping. Giving each Skipper a bottle of Scotch before departing New York would have saved a fortune!

Pan Am had one ditch beside a Pacific weather ship after engine problems meant it couldn't make the West Coast of the US with fuel remaining. I also believe, the Propeller caused enormous problems as many or more than the complex "corncob" radials engines., wasn't it Electric and with a Magnesium hub? Prone to runaways and fires?

As for the hinged fin: the 707 had the same feature and I'd be surprised of he 737 didn't have it too. I once saw a Monarch 720 outside their old black hangar at Luton, (northernmost corner of the apron, besides the Britannia ops block. Both gone now I believe) the 720's fin was folded flat on top of the right hand stabiliser in order to get it in the hangar.

Closest I've ever been to one since chldhood: the Musess de l"air et Espace at Le Bourget. They used to have a KC-97 parked outside. Magnificent machine.



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Old 19th Apr 2020, 19:22
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Originally Posted by BSD View Post
As for the hinged fin: the 707 had the same feature and I'd be surprised of he 737 didn't have it too. I once saw a Monarch 720 outside their old black hangar at Luton, (northernmost corner of the apron, besides the Britannia ops block. Both gone now I believe) the 720's fin was folded flat on top of the right hand stabiliser in order to get it in the hangar.
A folding vertical stabilizer sounds like an accident waiting to happen ...

Does anyone have a photo of one ?


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Old 19th Apr 2020, 19:57
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How about a KC-135? The B-52 uses the same system.

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Old 19th Apr 2020, 20:11
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Dave, I've got some time on the 737 and as far as I'm aware.it didn't have a folding fin. However, I'm always learning and someone could surprise me
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Old 19th Apr 2020, 20:38
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Originally Posted by Herod View Post
Dave, I've got some time on the 737 and as far as I'm aware it didn't have a folding fin. However, I'm always learning and someone could surprise me
I was equally unaware of a folding fin on any Boeing jet airliner.

I'm strugging to get my head around the image of folding a 720's fin to get it into the hangar. Clearly, as can be seen from the KC-135 photo, fin attachments aren't designed to be capable of supporting the weight of the fin when it's folded (hence the crane).

So I'd be fascinated to know how you move an aircraft into a hangar once the fin is folded ...
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Old 19th Apr 2020, 21:01
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
Clearly, as can be seen from the KC-135 photo, fin attachments aren't designed to be capable of supporting the weight of the fin when it's folded (hence the crane).
Unless that's how you get it back up? This is all news to me as well. Amazing the things you learn on this page!
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Old 19th Apr 2020, 21:20
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Originally Posted by jensdad View Post
Unless that's how you get it back up?
You mean using a crane, as opposed to all standing on the h/stab and heaving?

Nice video of a KC-135 fin being folded here: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/356002/fin-fold
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Old 19th Apr 2020, 23:25
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Hmmm . . . prime need for getting the tail in for servicing: the folding fin.


One of no the most convincing, UFO story I've ever seen was an BOAC Stratocruiser's captain, crew and some passengers seeing an object with orbiting satellites that IIRC went inside the 'mother ship'. My words. I've kept the article for decades but put somewhere in the last move. It was published in a science magazine but the only Google I can find now is the one that looks more than a tad schoolboyish.

There is Pathe news interviewing the crew which I hadn't seen until c 2012 I recall the captains saying far from being frightening, it gave a feeling of wellbeing.
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 02:20
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Originally Posted by BSD View Post
Closest I've ever been to one since chldhood: the Musess de l"air et Espace at Le Bourget. They used to have a KC-97 parked outside. Magnificent machine.
If you're ever in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you can have lunch or dinner sitting in an actual KC-97 at a place called "The Airplane Restaurant". It's near the C-Springs airport.
I had lunch there a couple months ago - it was pretty good and even the wife thought it was pretty cool to have lunch sitting in an old KC-97.
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 02:37
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BSD ... started my BOAC career as a trainee Nav. on Strats. any chance that I might have flown with your dad ? When did he finish as a Strat Nav. ?

I also believe, the Propeller caused enormous problems as many or more than the complex "corncob" radials engines., wasn't it Electric and with a Magnesium hub? Prone to runaways and fires?
Not on the crew, but I remember a tale of a crew having a No. 3 engine runaway prop. one night, and their fear that it would fall off and hit the fuselage with disastrous, possibly fatal, results?

The Flt/Eng moved into the Nav.compartment behind the main flight deck to observe the wayward prop with the Aldis signal lamp that was still carried in those days - in the event of VHF loss and the need to use visual light signals to get ATC circuit and landing signals from the airport tower, I kid you not ! - to better keep his eye on the prop hub which was glowing red and getting hotter and hotter, and when he figured that it was about to separate used the intercom to shout "NOW", at which the Capt. put the aircraft into a fast, and steep, left bank. This threw the prop. safely over the top of the fuselage.

Unbelievably this subsequently happened to the same Captain at a subsequent date, but he was experienced this time !
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 07:37
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Some more images of a B-52 fin folding here: https://www.barksdale.af.mil/News/Fe...d-fix-and-fly/
Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
I'm strugging to get my head around the image of folding a 720's fin to get it into the hangar. Clearly, as can be seen from the KC-135 photo, fin attachments aren't designed to be capable of supporting the weight of the fin when it's folded (hence the crane).
I think that the crane is there to support the weight during the process, as for how it is supported when it's folded, I cannot answer that question. I cannot point to the source right now but I'm pretty sure I've read in various places that the early, larger fins on the 707 family supported the fin folding so that it could fit into the hangars of those days, or perhaps even as a result of its military pedigree in the C-135 programme.
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 07:53
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Re folding fins.
The Saab 37 series had folding fins.
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 09:18
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Monarch B720’s sat in the hangar at Luton for a month or so, on a big check, with the fin ‘folded over’ unsupported. I suspect the earlier photo of a US KC135 (post #5) had either been just lowered, or about to be lifted by the attached crane. Unless Boeing had changed the system for the US military.
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 09:25
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At Luton the B720 fin was folded down and rested on the horizontal stab. to allow the aircraft to be pushed into the northeast side of hangar 1/2. There was a large girder supporting the valley of the roof where the two hangars were joined together and this was too low for the fin to pass under. A BAC 1-11 would go under.
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 10:23
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Originally Posted by mustbeaboeing View Post
Monarch B720’s sat in the hangar at Luton for a month or so, on a big check, with the fin ‘folded over’ unsupported. I suspect the earlier photo of a US KC135 (post #5) had either been just lowered, or about to be lifted by the attached crane. Unless Boeing had changed the system for the US military.
Looking at some more fin photos on the Net, it appears to be more a question of geometry rather than weight.

Here's another view of the KC-135 fin folded, captured from a USAF video:



You don't need to be an engineer to work out that, if the crane is removed without any other means of support, the fin will continue to hinge downwards until it clobbers the tailplane. Hence the crane in the photo is continuing to take the load to keep the fin horizontal (actually in this instance as a preliminary to complete removal of the fin to replace the rudder).

This photo, on the other hand, of 720 OY-DSK before it was impounded and broken up at Luton, appears to show how MAEL got round the problem:



Rather than defying gravity, you can just discern between the base of the fin and the fuselage what appears to be some kind of pad which, in conjunction with the pin attachments for the fin, maintains it in a more-or-less horizontal plane with a reasonable amount of clearance from the tailplane - it's clearly not resting on it.

The photo from Flickr rather unhelpfully claims that it was taken on October 2010 (which is obviously nonsense), so it's not clear whether the 720 in question ever flew again after the photo was taken.



We're still no nearer knowing whether the 707 shared the 720's ability to fold the fin. Given the close relationship between the two types, it might seem a reasonable assumption - but on the other hand, wth many more 707s built, it has so far proved impossible to track down photographic evidence.

Any offers?
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 12:45
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Wow! Neat pictures of folding fins.

ExSp33dbrid - sent you a private message. Meantime, That engineer would have had a real incentive to call "Now" at just the right time. Getting it wrong I guess would have meant seeing the prop come to join him at the Navigators station!!!

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Old 20th Apr 2020, 14:59
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FWIW, the Nav station on the USAF C97 was actually behind the Capt. seat on the aft part of the flight deck. It was not like the Connie which had the Nav sation located outside of the cockpit. Carry on please
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Old 20th Apr 2020, 16:02
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Originally Posted by jensdad View Post
Unless that's how you get it back up? This is all news to me as well. Amazing the things you learn on this page!
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