Jumbo Stratocruiser of the 50s was a mechanical nightmare

2001
April 25, 2021

It was the jumbo of its day but the Stratocruiser was a mechanical nightmare because of its temperamental engines!

The Boeing Model 377, dubbed the Stratocruiser, was the company’s first airliner after WW11 and it was a giant.

Based on the WW11 B-29 bomber it possessed all the speed and technical improvements available to bombers at the end of the war.

The Stratocruiser set a new standard for luxurious air travel with its tastefully decorated extra-wide passenger cabin and gold-appointed dressing rooms.

A circular staircase led to a lower-deck beverage lounge, and flight attendants prepared hot meals for 50 to 100 people in a state-of-the-art galley.

As a sleeper, the Stratocruiser was equipped with 28 upper-and-lower bunk units.

Pan American was the lead airline and began services between San Francisco and Honolulu in 1949.

Boeing only built 56 Stratocruisers between 1947 and 1950 because they were not as economical as the Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation.

For the first time, long-haul air travel had become easy, comfortable and more affordable, as Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed improved the performance of their designs to gain an edge.

Cabins featured soothing colors, wall murals, reading lights, air vents and soft curtains.

But the engines were a challenge.

The Stratocruiser was powered by four Pratt & Whitney’s R-4360-B6 Wasp Major engines that produced 3,500hp.

It had 28 cylinders in four rows, 56 manually-adjustable valves and 56 spark plugs.

However, the Stratocruiser suffered an engine failure every 158 flights.

Here is a superb video of the Stratocruiser.