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!

Overall Thoughts

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.