I want to draw everyone’s attention, if I may, to what I consider to be one of the most remarkable aircraft projects ever undertaken; it is no
whizz-bang jet fighter or super secret stealth weapon, but it is just as remarkable as any of those in its own way.
This aircraft was the SARO P.192 flying boat and although the concept looks like wild, drug induced, flight of fancy by its designers, it was a
genuinely serious proposal and was designed at the behest of shipping line P&O who saw that the coming of fast jet transports was going to cripple
their business. Of course this plane never got built and P&O survive to this day, but this was seen as the future for them at the time and is by a
long way the biggest and most ambitious aircraft ever seriously undertaken in Great Britain.
Some of you may have never heard of SARO, so, very briefly, the name is an acronym of ‘Saunders Roe’, the company was originally known as ‘S E
Saunders’ after its founder but, in 1928, it was bought out by John Lord and Alliot Verdon Roe (founder of Avro) and it was renamed accordingly with
its telegraphic address of ‘Saro’ soon being accepted as the company name.
Among the companies better known products are the Skeeter helicopter and the SR/A-1 which was the world’s first (and only) jet fighter flying
After the war Saro set about staking its claim for the post war large flying boat transport market, which it had not yet become apparent would never
materialise, they were 50% partners in the Short Shetland which was to have replaced the RAF Sunderland and BOAC Solent boats and it also had its eyes
on the future with the largest flying boat ever built and flown in Britain, the ten engined Princess (see pic below).
In conjunction with developing the Princess Saro was also considering the next generation and designed the Duchess accordingly, without going into too
much detail suffice it to say that, apart from it being a flying boat, the design parameters of the Duchess were directly comparable to the 707 and
DC-8 transports of just a few years later. It might look silly now, but at the time it was felt there really would be a market for flying boat
transports going forward into the future and TEA of Tasmania were actually negotiating an order at one point.
This then in the background to why the following design was created and the spec’s are remarkable. The P.192 (to be known as the Saro Queen, but
never officially named) was required by P&O to seat up to 1,000 passengers, more even that the A380!) and to do so in comfort, in addition it was to
include bars, dining rooms and lounges for the elite passengers. To meet this demand Saro created a huge design with six passenger compartments on
five decks, it was to be powered by 24 (twenty four) Rolls Royce Conway engines (four of which were ample for the 707 and VC-10) and to be able to
maintain cruise with up to six of them shut down for maintenance. As can bee seen from the pictures they were mounted within the wing but well
outboard so as to avoid the spray from the hull. The wings were deep enough for the engineers to be able to carry out maintenance standing up while
the aircraft was in flight.
Here are the basic specs;
All up weight 1,500,000lb
Powerplants 24 x Rolls Royce Conway turbofans each rated at 18,500lb thrust = total thrust 444,000lbs
Max Accomodation 1,000 passengers + freight
multi-deck accommodation layout
Of course the money to produce this leviathan was never forthcoming and there are many sound engineering reasons why such a project would not have
worked, but to me the mere concept of it is enough to take your breath away.
[edit on 13-3-2006 by waynos]
[edit on 13-3-2006 by waynos]