Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Flying Boat

I have a great affection for examples of people bravely continuing to bark up the wrong tree, long after the correct tree has become apparent. It's most interesting in the world of technology, where you get people plugging away, pushing the boundaries, and engineering to perfection something that looks, with the benefit of hindsight, to have been obsolete from the start. The products of this misguided enthusiasm are often masterpieces in their way though, just not particularly practical ones.

Today I found a fine example of this whilst cruising the internets. It was this bulbous beast, the Saunders-Roe Princess.

It was a giant propeller driven flying boat, completed a few months after the de Havilland Comet entered service and Boeing announced the design that would become the Boeing 707. It flew well enough, and was by all accounts a quite nice plane, but many saw the writing was on the wall for flying boats long before it was completed. No-one ever bought one. The company continued to take their flying prototype to airshows around the world though, seemingly in the hope that people would come round to the idea of a giant flying boat, and warm to its snub nosed charm.

Interestingly there are still plenty of people out there who see this plane as having been unfairly snubbed by the British Government and tragically ignored by an aviation industry to lazy to give it a fair hearing. I don't really see the point in such discussions though. Whilst they are pretty, and pleasing in a nautical sort of way, being able to land in almost all weathers - and not having your plane corrode like a boat - are good things too.

Mind you, If I was an evil genius, I'd definitely fly around in one of those.

oh, and this is an amazing bit of technical drawing, showing all its inside gubbins.