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Big PropJets - The Turboprops that took on the Jets

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  • Big PropJets - The Turboprops that took on the Jets

    ~~There's no justice for the turboprop! More fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than the turbojet and turbofan it has been effectively banished pretty much from the start of its days to second-line duties, commuters and military transports - arenas where sex (and speed) don't need to sell the ticket. For with its exposed prop it is cursed to look like the piston engines that came before it. In the mainline area only the Viscount can really be said to have been a success with later types largely sales failures or when successful mainly for third level operators.

    Yet passengers even today equate props with 'old' and this can even be seen in the RJ revolution whereby almost all commuter airlines raced to become jet only even when the cost of props was better. This was surely a factor in the failure of MDD's prop-fan MD80 too.

    The success of the jet however wasn't an obvious thing and during the 50s many people in the industry saw good sized turboprops as the natural next step from the piston. Vickers sensibly tried to build on their Viscount success whilst Lockheed decided to go with the prop over the jet. Meanwhile in USSR their relatively primitive jet engines and lack of consumer focus enabled the creation of two turboprop designs.

    Following my Vanguard thread I thought I'd look at these competing prop designs which in the end didn't really compete with each other but competed against the first fuel thirsty noisy jets. Here are some stats:

    Turboprop Comparison data by rstretton, on Flickr

    The Britannia (like the TU-114) was really a long-haul plane so I'll exclude that type from now on but the other four were all designed for short-medium haul services.

    The AN-10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonov_An-10) was the passenger version of the AN-12 and over 100 saw service with Aeroflot into the early 1970s. It was an odd design with poor cargo space and lots of wasted passenger room in the bulbous fuselage. The range was pretty pitiful but it could operate into unprepared strips. The IL-18 and Vanguard were roughly comparable (the IL-18D was the long haul version hence the good range) but as you can see the Vanguard carried more people at a faster speed. It was kind of like an early attempt at the Airbus A300B4 I think - ordinary range but high capacity for moving lots of people on European sectors. The Electra meanwhile was the smallest but had longer range. You've got to think that if the Vanguard had been a US design it would have sold a lot more than 44 aircraft!

    Anyway compared to the first medium range jet, the B720 which was larger, they compare quite well except for range and speed. Certainly the economic case for operating Vanguards seems quite good from these stats to me.

    But it was not to be and instead most operators found themselves writing prop-jet (with prop in tiny letters) on the side of their new turboprop fleets! Occasionally there are still articles about the space for a big prop but unless there is a radical change in fuel prices I can't see a large prop design ever re-emerging and certainly not for the fleets of major airlines.

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr

    The Vanguard and the IL-18:

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr

    The Vanguard and the Electra:

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr

    Big Turboprops of the 1960s by rstretton, on Flickr


    --
    http://yesterdaysairlines.weebly.com/

  • #2


    Count me as not paying attention to the difference between turboprop & turbojet
    --

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    • #3
      I always enjoy reading your history segments. You manage to cover a lot of underreported topics with great interest.

      Perhaps because these three had varying careers I had never thought to compare them. But you're right, they are contemporaries are were probably intended for similar markets from the onset.

      These posts are the reason I purchased a little Fairchild F-27A


      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for sharing.

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