There was one last attempt at designing a marine aircraft to keep up with
land planes and revive the flying boat as the carrier of choice. Initial
design work had begun in 1945 by the Isle of Wight company Saunders Roe,
when it was decided that the UK to America route would be best served by
flying boats. This project carried on from the pre-war attempts made by
Imperial Airways at crossing the Atlantic non-stop. The company began work
on what was hoped to become the new airliner to cross the Atlantic flying
from Southampton to New York.
Designed to carry 100 passengers and cruise at 395mph (635 kmh) the
Saunders Roe Princess was described as the finest flying boat
ever built and a rival to the greatest liners. Three were commissioned at
great expense to the taxpayer with rising costs in 1950 from the estimated
£2.8 million to £10 million. Two years later one eventually flew and the
sight according to observers was an impressive one, she ran high and proud
in the water in front of a great cloud of spray.
Despite the advanced fly-by-wire control technology on the
aircraft being ahead of its time, this wasn’t seen as enough to persuade
manufacture and the airlines decided not to order any. The flying boats
were scrapped and the only completed Princess was towed up the River
Itchen for demolition. The last hope of the flying boats proved to be
sadly out of her time. The competition was proving to be just too great
and the sight of the flying boats landing and taking off on
Southampton Water was quickly to become only a memory.