SR Princess First Flew on 22 August 1952
In the first experiment of its kind, three double-bubbles, pressurized-fuselage flying boats were built but of these three, only one eventually took to the air. Named the G-ALUN, it was the largest flying boat in its time with a gross weight of 330,000 lb. (149,685 kg). The prototype, G-ALUN, first flew on 22 August 1952 piloted by Geoffrey Tyson.
Ten Bristol Proteus 600/610 turboprop powerful engines were used to power this impressive flying boat that was in the air for no more than 100 hours and had an estimated performance of 360 miles per hours at 32,500 feet with a range of 5,720 mi (4,971 nm; 9,205 km) – That was quite a feat in 1952!
Largest all-Metal Flying Boat Ever Constructed
At that moment of time the SR Princess Flying Boat was the largest British flying boat aircraft built by Saunders-Roe, based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. It was also considered at that time as the largest all-metal flying boat ever constructed. The Princess was a real beast, coming in at 42.1m in length, with a staggering 66.9m wingspan and measuring 17m tall. Empty, she weighed 190,000lbs (86,184kg) and had a maximum take-off weight of 345,025lbs (156,500kg) – Similar to a Boeing 767-300.
Designed for Comfort
The G-ALUN had the capacity to carry 105 passengers and had very spacious and comfortable sleeper cabins across two decks with grand bathrooms and pressurized hull. It had stand-up bars, fine seats and an impressive lounge. The G-ALUN was designed to link Britain with countries in the Far East and had the capacity to handle a 15-hour flight. However, despite all the impressive features and statistics, the Princess was doomed from the outset. Land based jets were already being designed to run more economically, and the flying boat Princess could not compete and was, therefore, abandoned.
SR Princess Broken up for scrap in 1967
Aggressive marketing efforts followed but the fact that it’s operating costs were projected to be so high, that it drove off prospective buyers who might have otherwise considered buying this giant Flying Boat, for their respective line of operations.
The huge costs associated with its massive hull and ten engines proved to be a deterrent it was also found that the airframes had corroded. Finally, even BOAC, who was the original buyer of the G-ALUN, gave up on the venture of project Princess and closed the books. The Government of Britain and BOAC eventually chose the De Havilland Comet over the Princess and the latter never got a chance to claim to be the jewel of the skies, all three Saunders-Roe SR.45 Princess – built at a cost of £10m – were broken up for scrap by 1967, generating a rather paltry £18,000.
The Giants – Flying Boats