Did you know that the Bristol Britannia was the first long-range jet-prop airliner in the world? It was built as part of the drive to reconstruct the civil aviation industry of Britain after World War II, when the focus at the Bristol Aeroplane Company had been chiefly on bomber production.

Bristol Aeroplane Company
United Kingdom
1952 to: 1960
US$1.9 million (1957)
4x Bristol Proteus 765
4,450 horsepower
Max Cruise Speed:
345 knots
639 Km/h
Approach Speed (Vref):
Travel range:
4,640 Nautical Miles
8,593 Kilometers
Fuel Economy:
Service Ceiling:
28,000 feet
Rate of Climb:
2220 feet / minute
11.28metre / second
Take Off Distance:
Landing Distance:
Max Take Off Weight:
83,915 Kg
184,999 lbs
Max Landing Weight:
Max Payload:
28,000 Kg
61,729 lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity:
8,070 gallon
30,548 litre
Baggage Volume:
Seats - Economy / General:
146 seats
Seats - Business Class:
Seats - First Class:
Cabin Height:
Cabin Width:
Cabin Length:
Exterior Length:
37.87 metre - 124.24 feet
Tail height:
11.43 metre - 37.50 feet
Fuselage Diameter:
3.7 metre - 12.14 feet
Wing Span / Rotor Diameter:
43.36 metre - 142.26 feet
Wing Tips:
No Winglets


Like others in the British Airline Collection, the Bristol Britannia was designed in response to the Brabazon Committee specification. In that case, it was the Type III that matched with the BOAC requirement called Medium-Range Empire.  

The first production aircraft, the Series 100, was bought by BOAC, which ran fifteen aircraft. Different developments culminated in the 300 series, with higher fuel capacity for a long-range operation that allowed them to run non-stop flights in both directions over the Atlantic.

In addition, BOAC ordered eighteen of the long-range aircraft, selected Series 312s, and started services between New York and London in December 1957. 

Later on, eighty-five aircraft of all models were sold. The final and last recorded Bristol Britannia flight was in 1997. The fundamental design was licensed to Canadair, who created twelve CL-44 Yukon Freighter aircraft, thirty-three CL-28 Argus Aircraft for the Canadian military,  as well as twenty-seven CL-44-D4 civil freighter and civil passenger aircraft. 

Orders and Deliveries

Eighty-five Bristol 175 Britannia aircraft were designed, which involves those sub-contracted by Short Bros. and Harland LTD in Belfast. In addition, Canadair created thirty-three Argus and an overall 39 Yukon and CL-44D. Even though it had experienced problems in its engine icing, the aircraft, later on, proved itself to be robust and safe in service. 

The aircraft’s limited production mirrors the emergence and success of jet engine airliners throughout the 1950s, most particularly the Boeing 707 that ruled long-distance passenger routes.  


The Bristol Britannia was initially designed to have Centaurus piston engines, range, and economy considerations resulted in the redesign of the aircraft with turboprops. The very first flight was made by prototype 101 G-ALBO in August 1952. 

Nonetheless, technical issues, especially with the engine air’s ice intakes, resulted in delays in the launch of Bristol Britannia into airline service until February 1957. 


The design of the Argus maritime patrol as well as the anti-submarine warfare aircraft was optimized for endurance on long-range patrol and utilized four Wright R-3350-32W Turbo-Compound engines which utilized less fuel at very low altitude. 


In service, the stunning Bristol Britannia was marketed as The Whispering Giant. Extended developments were provided for all passenger-cargo (Bristol Britannia 250), cargo (Bristol Britannia 200), and all passengers operations (Bristol Britannia 300). 

BOAC retired its fourteen early Bristol 175 Britannia and Bristol Britannia 100 aircraft in November 1962, after five years of service.

The Bristol Britannia Series 253. C.Mk1 XM496 Regulus is now located in the heart of Gloucestershire at Costworld Airport close to Kemble and can be visited on the public open days. It was the last Bristol Britannia to fly. The restoration of The Whispering Giant has been a labor of love for all the people who’ve taken XM496 from being strapped to a restored, even though unflyable aircraft. 

Want More of This?
We'll send you our latest and best content straight to your inbox
Featured Image

All Bristol Aeroplane Company Aircraft

More Like This
Sukhoi Su-80
Passenger Turbo Props
Sukhoi Su-80
Cessna Grand Caravan
Passenger Turbo Props
Cessna Grand Caravan
Cessna Grand Caravan EX
Passenger Turbo Props
Cessna Grand Caravan EX
British Aero BAe Jetstream 41
Passenger Turbo Props
British Aero BAe Jetstream 41
Antonov An-140
Passenger Turbo Props
Antonov An-140
Beechcraft 1900
Passenger Turbo Props
Beechcraft 1900