What do you get when you take a de Havilland Comet nose, French aerodynamic ingenuity and design plus Rolls-Royce Avon engines? The stunningly beautiful Sud Aviation Caravelle.
Entering service in 1959 with Scandinavian Airlines, the Caravelle was the first short-medium range jet aircraft produced. It was in production through to the early 1970s and there are some unique features of this aircraft which make it particularly interesting.
Those Caravelle Windows
Windows on the Caravelle are a curved triangle shape. These afford the same view downwards while being smaller than conventional windows. They look pretty good, I must say.
No other aircraft that I can think of has windows that are this shape. For some reason they really work in the context of this aircraft. From the picture above, there doesn’t seem to be any window blinds. Anyone know more? Actually, maybe they had curtains!
Horizontal Stabiliser Location
Most commercial aircraft with rear mounted engines have the horizontal stabiliser or tailplane located at the top of the fin. On the Caravelle, this is located about half way down the fin, which is called a cruciform tail.
Apparently this arrangement better protects the aircraft from a deep stall which can be a problem with some T-tailed aircraft. I think it looks pretty good!
United Airlines Caravelle
European manufactured aircraft histories before the advent of Airbus are always an interesting read. Any order from an airline based in the USA is considered the holy grail and a validation of the product. It is the same with the Caravelle.
United Airlines ordered and operated 20 aircraft, with the first entering service on 14 July 1961. Some of the flights were businessman’s specials which were men only flights. Try doing that today and see what happens!
A total of 282 Caravelle’s were delivered and the aircraft flew for airlines such as Air France, Finnair, Air Inter and Alitalia to name but a few of the many operators.
I have always thought the aircraft looks particularly pretty, especially in the photo at the top of this post. It’s one of those total romance of flight type pictures in my mind.
Have any of you been on a Caravelle or have any comments? Feel free to leave them below. Thanks for reading!
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Featured image and Stirling image by Kjell Nilsson via airliners.net.
Window image by Ola Carlsson via airliners.net.
United Airlines Caravelle by Jon Proctor via Wikimedia Commons.
I flew the Caravelle once on Air France from LHR to ORY around 1973/4. I was 8 or 9 y/o at the time but I still clearly remember staring out those distinct window for the whole flight. Barely looking away to grab my drink and whatever we may have had to eat if anything. If and when I forget that experience I know it’s time for the nursing home!
I can imagine the feeling – when I took my first flight, I felt the same way. It was mainly window staring but I do remember the meal, though mainly just the details as opposed to the food. Haha – cross fingers you never forget it! Thanks for the comment!
May be a myth that I heard this aircraft may land engines off like a glider
Interesting, I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the comment!
I travelled on an Air France Caravelle in 1959 and an Alitalia one in 1965. Great aircraft but I found a lot of uncomfortable braking in mid air, prior to landing, causing great turbulence. I don’t think the Caravelle could reverse thrust, so could that be the reason why??
Interesting, I was not aware of that. I’ll have to check it out to see what the story is. You’re very lucky to have had the opportunity to go on the Caravelle! Thanks for the comment!
It was claimed in a documentary on the Caravelle that Pan Am purchased it because they had asked de Havilland for an American-engined version of the Trident, and DH refused.
That’s interesting. Pan Am didn’t operate the Caravelle though so I’d say they likely chose an American aircraft instead.
Here are some pictures of the Caravelles that Pan Am did not operate. Oddly, someone painted “Pan Am” on them…
You mean, “here is one single picture of a Pan Am Caravelle” which someone has edited in Photoshop to put it into Pan Am colours. The other two pictures are screenshots from Microsoft Flight Simulator. Pan Am didn’t operate the Caravelle and that’s that.
Good catch on the Photoshop. The documentary must have referred either to United or a Pan Am threat to buy the Caravelle.