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The Bristol Brabazon - Engineering masterpiece or Great White Elephant

Bristol Brabazon - Type 167

In the dark days of World War 2, a British Cabinet committee met under the chairmanship of Lord Brabazon of Tara. They were to explore and advise upon what Britain's post-war airliner needs would be, a task which at first sight may appear to have been rather optimistic.

Following a 1942 Anglo-American agreement on aircraft production it divided the load of military aircraft construction between Britain and the US. This left Britain unable to develop transport aircraft, which was part of the package assigned to America. So, in something like self-interest, the committee planned for a time when Britain might recover lost ground.

The requirement was for a luxurious aircraft capable of flying from London to New York and able to carry around 100 passengers.

This was a challenge for the time, and would tax the budding designers who, especially at Bristol, were looking for new projects to fill the void left after designing the current fighter-bombers. These aircraft were gaining a name for themselves worldwide. The expertise was there as was the willingness to succeed and the realisation of the workforce that their future could be at stake.

Brabazon painting from 1950