Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

The Stratocruiser had the same B-29 parts married to a bulbous fuselage. It had accommodations for between 55 and 100 passengers.

Every so often an aircraft appears which does more for aviation than its limited production numbers would indicate. This was certainly the case with the Stratocruiser, for only 55 were produced.

Its development began in 1944 with the first flight of a military aircraft, later named the Stratofreighter. This was a large-capacity transport of striking design, although it embodied the wings, engines, tail unit, undercarriage and other components of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber. Over several years, huge numbers were built, many becoming refuelling tankers and serving right up to the present time with the United States Air Force and others.

The Stratocruiser was simply a civil airliner version of the Stratofreighter. It had the same B-29 parts married to the bulbous fuselage, and had accommodation for between 55 and 100 passengers or 28 sleeping berths and five seats. All versions featured a lower-deck lounge and bar, an innovation which, combined with a long range and high speed, made the Stratocruiser a very popular airliner.

As with many great American aircraft, the Stratocruiser was first introduced into service by Pan American World Airways, in 1949, on North Atlantic routes. Pan American owned eventually about half of all Stratocruisers built, although five other airlines operated the type. BOAC took delivery of its first aircraft in the same year as Pan Am, and began transatlantic services in December. They remained as flagships on the Atlantic run until forced out of service by the first generation of long-range Boeing 707 jet airliners.

An usual feature of this aircraft was that due to the poor weight distribution, landing was by the nosewheel first. The Stratocruiser had probably the most reinforced nosewheel of all time!

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser
Wing span: 141 ft 3 in (43.05 m)
Length: 110 ft 4 in (33.63 m)
Height: 38 ft 3 in (11.66 m)
Wing Area: 1,769 sq ft (164.34 sq m)


Empty: 83,500 lb (37,875 kg)
Maximum T/O: 145,800 lb (66,134 kg)


Maximum Level Speed: 375 mph (604 km/h) @ 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Cruising Speed: 340 mph (547 km/h) @ 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Service Ceiling: Above 32,000 ft (9,755 m)
Maximum Range: 4,200 miles (6,759 km)
Four Pratt & Whittney R-4360 Wasp Major, 3,500 hp (2,610 kw),
28 cylinder, air-cooled, radial engines.