The Boeing Model 307 Stratoliner was an American commercial transport aircraft that entered commercial service in July 1940. It was the first to offer a pressurized cabin, allowing it to cruise at an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,000 m), well above many weather disturbances. The pressure differential was 2.5 psi (17 kPa), so at 14,700 ft (4,480 m) the cabin air pressure was equivalent to an altitude of 8,000 ft (2,440 m). The Model 307 had capacity for a crew of six and 33 passengers. The cabin was nearly 12 ft (3.6 m) across. It was the first land-based aircraft to include a flight engineer as a crew member (several flying boats had included a flight engineer position earlier). In addition to its civilian service it was also flown as the Boeing C-75 Stratoliner by the United States Army Air Forces, who used it as a long-range cargolift aircraft.
In 1935, Boeing designed a four-engine airliner based on its B-17 heavy bomber (Boeing Model 299), then in development, calling it the Model 307. It combined the wings, tail, rudder, landing gear, and engines from their production B-17C with a new, circular cross-section fuselage of 138 in (351 cm) diameter, designed to allow pressurization.
The first order, for two 307s (named Stratoliners), was placed in 1937 by Pan American Airways. Pan Am soon increased this to six, and a second order for five from Transcontinental & Western Air (TWA) prompted Boeing to begin production on an initial batch of the airliner. Pan Am received its initial order and TWA received its order, but only one of the second batch of four Pan Am aircraft was delivered before war intervened and put a halt to civil aircraft production.
National origin United States
First flight December 31, 1938
Introduction July 4, 1940 with Pan American Airways
Primary users Transcontinental & Western Air
Pan American Airways
United States Army Air Forces
Number built 10
Developed from Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
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The Army returned its five C-75s to TWA in 1944, which sent them back to Boeing for rebuilding. Boeing replaced the wings and horizontal tail with those from the B-17G, while more powerful engines were fitted and the electrical system was replaced with one based on the B-29 Superfortress. Passenger capacity was increased from 33 to 38. The total rebuilding cost to TWA was $2 million; the five aircraft re-entered passenger service on April 1, 1945. Although TWA was committed to the larger and faster Lockheed Constellation, it kept the Stratoliners until April 1951.
The B-29 was the progenitor of a series of Boeing-built bombers, transports, tankers, reconnaissance aircraft, and trainers. The re-engined B-50 Superfortress became the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop during a 94-hour flight in 1949. The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter airlifter, which was first flown in 1944, was followed in 1947 by its commercial airliner variant,
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