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Lost Classics

Aviation history, as one visitor to this site commented, is full of milestones and millstones. Here you will not see anything as successful as the SR-71 Blackbird, the Harrier or the venerable DC-3. Most of the following aircraft were outstanding in some way, all the same, and went nowhere in most cases because of ill-timing or questionable political decisions.

BRISTOL BRABAZON - British Cabinet, optimistically for 1943, asked for a study into what airliners Britain should build post-war. Bristol's response, the immense Brabazon, virtually an airborne ocean liner, incorporated innovative features and spacious luxury for passengers. It claimed to be the country's largest land plane, designed to fly from London to New York.

SAUNDERS-ROE SR.53 & SR.177 - A 1953 proposal for a mixed-power interceptor was developed by Britain for the RAF and Royal Navy. A short-sighted political decision decreed that Britain's last manned fighter would be the Lightning. This reduced the service use of what could have been a most flexible aircraft to uneconomical production numbers.

AVRO ARROW - Avro Canada produced, at the end of the 1950s, one of the most advanced interceptor fighters of its time, capable of becoming the country's main defence fighter. The government instead decided it would rely on a surface-to-air missile whose warheads were four years from completion.

BAC TSR.2 - In almost every respect the TSR.2 advanced low-level attack and reconnaissance aircraft was ahead of other aircraft in the same category, and it looked capable of holding its own for decades. One view, from its homeland, was that unfortunately, it was born in the wrong country.

BOEING 2707-200 SST - As jet airliners proliferated, designs for supersonic airliners for transatlantic and other long haul passenger routes were produced in Europe and the USSR, and the US joined the race with a Mach 3 design. The Boeing SST concept was developed from a far-sighted company project of the 1950s.

NORTH AMERICAN XB-70 VALKYRIE - The Valkyrie represented a massive quantum leap in structures and aerodynamics, and was designed to replace the B-52. Only two prototypes were built, at a cost of $1,500M, making them among the most expensive aircraft built to that time, in the late 1960s.

SUKHOI T-4 (SU-100) - Seen as a Russian XB-70, the SU-100 was a supersonic bomber design with state-of-the-art features, and which introduced a fly-by-wire control system. Technical difficulties left the SU-100 as a single complete prototype and two incomplete aircraft.


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