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Design and construction phase

The Brabazon Project team, initially led by Leslie George Frise BSc FRAeS, was among the brightest and best of their time and by 1943 Bristol's war effort was seen to be ending. Aircraft were still being built at Filton and the several Shadow Factories around the region, so the team were eager for new projects.

Frise had done some work on a long range strategic Bomber so when invitations by the government for an airliner came in, the Bristol team were at an advantage. After some consultation BAC were given an order for two prototypes to be followed by a possible ten production aircraft, as long as other war time production was not affected.

Gas turbine engines were very much in their infancy and not at all reliable. However, piston engines had long been developed in Great Britain prior to WW2, and Bristol Aeroplane Company, engine division could be said to be a world leader in air-cooled radials. It was therefore assumed, in 1943, that the aircraft would be piston engined powered.

By November 1944 the design team had decided on a concept shape, the aircraft would have a 177 ft fuselage with a 230 ft wingspan. The successful 18 cylinder Bristol Centaurus would power it. There would be eight engines, four pairs built into the wings and driving eight paired contra-rotating propellers.

These pages explore some of the problems encountered during the construction phase.

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This is page 1 of The Bristol Brabazon - Engineering masterpiece or Great White Elephant.
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