Initially I had planned to post something on the hot topic of Boeing and its unfortunate luck with the new 787 Dreamliner. However, through the course of my research, I came across an interesting historical video. One thing about research is that if you keep an open mind, you never know what you might find. Usually I write a note to remind myself to come back to it, but this time I just couldn’t resist. So I’ve pushed Boeing to the side for now and decided to share this little treasure with you. Besides, I don’t think Boeing’s problem is going to be solved between now and when I do decide to write about it.
Now you’re probably wondering, what happened on this day in aviation history? January 24, 1938 marks the first flight of the Armstrong-Whitworth A.W. 27 “Ensign”. Designed for the British airliner, Imperial Airways (later bought by British Airways), it was the largest passenger land aircraft of its time. The AW27 was a high-wing cantilever monoplane of light alloy construction. Its design consisted of a semi-monocoque fuselage and retractable landing gear with a castoring tail wheel. Its interior was divided into separate cabins; one model possessed four cabins that seated forty passengers while the other had three cabins that accommodated twenty-seven passengers on day trips or twenty passengers with sleeping arrangements for overnight travel. Only fourteen AW27s were built to which Imperial Airways flew throughout Europe and Asia. With the onset of WWII, the Royal Air Force retrofitted the airplane into the fleet for the use of ferrying RAF personnel. The final flight of the AW27 was a passenger flight from Cairo to Hurn (Dorset, England) in June 1946. No surviving AW27s exist today.
The video below includes a series of press releases from Imperial Airways boasting their new passenger aircraft’s size, luxury, and grandeur. Take note of the tire size in comparison to the people standing next to them. For its time, it was quite an impressive airplane.
Crew: 5 (captain, first officer, radio operator, 2 cabin stewards)
Capacity: European Routes – 40 passengers; Asian Routes – 27 passengers
Wingspan: 123 feet
Length: 114 feet
Height: 23 feet
Empty Weight: 35,075 lbs.
Loaded Weight: 55,500 lbs.
Powerplant: 4 x Wright GR-1820-G102A geared radial engines; 1,100 hp each
Number Built: 14
Max Speed: 210 mph
Cruise Speed: 180 mph
Range: 1,370 miles @ 5,000 feet
Service Ceiling: 24,000 feet when fully loaded
Rate of Climb: 900 feet/minute