The Bristol Britannia was a medium to long range British turboprop aircraft that first flew on 16 August 1952. Due to problems found during testing it entered service much later, on 1 February 1957 with BOAC.

Compared to the piston aircraft of the day, the Britannia was far quieter. This gave rise to its nickname, The Whispering Giant. Unfortunately, it entered service just a year before jet aircraft started flying in numbers. As a result, only 85 were eventually built.

Bristol Britannia Video

Following on from last weeks video on the Airbus A300, we stay in Europe with the Bristol Britannia. This short news video runs for just over a minute and shows the original delivery of the aircraft to BOAC.

An embarrassing part of the history is when one of the aircraft had to make a forced landing. At the time it was being demonstrated to the Dutch airline KLM. Naturally this did not convert into a sale!

Technical problems with icing in the engines as well as electrical system issues were eventually resolved. An extended range version of the Bristol Britannia was later developed, called the 310 series.

This enabled flights from London to New York, as you can see from the picture at the top of the post. Eventually replaced by jets, the last Britannia’s saw service as cargo haulers through to the 1990s.

Overall Thoughts

British aviation history is usually a story of technical triumph and commercial failure and the Bristol Britannia is no exception. Had it entered service in the early 1950s, it probably would have sold a lot better and have seen service with many more airlines.

Even so, the aircraft is one to note and it eventually did what it was supposed to do. Did you ever fly in a Britannia? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Bob Parrick via