The Boeing 314 Clipper was a United States long-range flying boat produced by the Boeing Airplane Company between 1938 and 1941. One of the largest aircraft of its time, it used the massive wing of Boeing's earlier XB-15 bomber prototype to achieve the range necessary for flights across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Twelve Clippers were built; nine were brought into service for Pan Am.
|Boeing 314 Clipper|
|A Boeing 314 flying low|
|Role||Flying boat airliner|
|Manufacturer||Boeing Airplane Company|
|First flight||June 7, 1938|
|Primary users||Pan American World Airways|
British Overseas Airways Corporation
United States Navy
Pan American had requested a flying boat with unprecedented range that could augment the airline's trans-Pacific Martin M-130. Boeing's bid was successful and on July 21, 1936, Pan American signed a contract for six. Boeing engineers adapted the cancelled XB-15's 149 ft (45 m) wing, and replaced the 850 hp (630 kW) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engines with the 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) Wright Twin Cyclone. Pan Am ordered six more aircraft with increased engine power and capacity for 77 daytime passengers as the Boeing 314A.
The huge flying boat was assembled at Boeing's Plant 1 on the Duwamish River in Seattle, and towed to Elliott Bay for taxi and flight tests. The first flight was on June 7, 1938, piloted by Edmund T. "Eddie" Allen. At first the aircraft had a single vertical tail, and Allen found he had inadequate directional control. The aircraft returned to the factory and was fitted with the endplates on the ends of the horizontal tail in place of the single vertical fin. This too was found to be insufficient and finally the centerline vertical fin was restored, after which the aircraft flew satisfactorily.
The 314 used a series of heavy ribs and spars to create a robust fuselage and cantilevered wing, eliminating the need for external drag-inducing struts to brace the wings. Boeing also incorporated Dornier-style sponsons into the hull structure. The sponsons, broad lateral extensions at the waterline on both sides of the hull, served several purposes: they provided a wide platform to stabilize the craft while floating, they acted as a gangway for boarding and exiting, and they possessed intentional shaping to contribute additional aerodynamic lift in flight. Passengers and their baggage were weighed, with each passenger allowed up to 77 pounds (35 kg) free baggage allowance (in the later 314 series) but then charged $3.25 per pound ($7.2/kg) (equivalent to $58 in 2018) for exceeding the limit. To fly the long ranges needed for trans-Pacific service, the 314 carried 4,246 US gallons (16,070 l; 3,536 imp gal) of gasoline. The later 314A model carried a further 1,200 US gallons (4,500 l; 1,000 imp gal). A capacity of 300 US gallons (1,100 l; 250 imp gal) of oil was required for operation of the radial engines.
Pan Am's "Clippers" were built for "one-class" luxury air travel, a necessity given the long duration of transoceanic flights. The seats could be converted into 36 bunks for overnight accommodation; with a cruising speed of 188 miles per hour (303 km/h) (typically flights at maximum gross weight were flown at 155 miles per hour (249 km/h)) in 1940 Pan Am's schedule San Francisco to Honolulu was 19 hours. The 314s had a lounge and dining area, and the galleys were crewed by chefs from four-star hotels. Men and women were provided with separate dressing rooms, and white-coated stewards served five and six-course meals with gleaming silver service. The standard of luxury on Pan American's Boeing 314s has rarely been matched on heavier-than-air transport since then; they were a form of travel for the super-rich, priced at $675 (equivalent to $12,000 in 2018) return from New York to Southampton. Most of the flights were transpacific, with a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong via the "stepping-stone" islands posted at $760 (equivalent to $14,000 in 2018). The Pan Am Boeing 314 Clippers brought exotic destinations like the Far East within reach of air travelers and came to represent the romance of flight. Transatlantic flights to neutral Lisbon and Ireland continued after war broke out in Europe in September 1939 (and until 1945), but military passengers and cargoes necessarily got priority, and the service was more spartan.
Equally critical to the 314's success was the proficiency of its Pan Am flight crews, who were extremely skilled at long-distance, over-water flight operations and navigation. For training, many of the transpacific flights carried a second crew. Only the very best and most experienced flight crews were assigned Boeing 314 flying boat duty. Before coming aboard, all Pan Am captains as well as first and second officers had thousands of hours of flight time in other seaplanes and flying boats. Rigorous training in dead reckoning, timed turns, judging drift from sea current, astral navigation, and radio navigation were conducted. In conditions of poor or no visibility, pilots sometimes made successful landings at fogged-in harbors by landing out to sea, then taxiing the 314 into port.
The first 314 flight on the San Francisco-Hong Kong route left Alameda on February 23, 1939 with regular passenger and Foreign Air Mail Route #14 service beginning on March 29. A one-way trip on this route took over six days to complete. Commercial passenger service lasted less than three years, ending when the United States entered World War II in December 1941.
The Yankee Clipper flew across the Atlantic on a route from Southampton to Port Washington, New York with intermediate stops at Foynes, Ireland, Botwood, Newfoundland, and Shediac, New Brunswick. The inaugural trip occurred on June 24, 1939.
The success of the six initial Clippers had led Pan Am to place an order for six improved 314A models to be delivered in 1941, with the goal of doubling the service on both Atlantic and Pacific routes. However, the fall of France in 1940 caused some doubt about whether the Atlantic service could continue; passenger numbers were already reduced due to the war, and if Spain or Portugal were to join the Axis, then the flights to Lisbon would be forced to stop. Pan Am began to consider reducing their order and, in August 1940, reached an agreement to sell three of the six under construction to the United Kingdom. The aircraft were to be operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation and were primarily intended for the UK – West Africa route, as existing flying boats could not travel this route without stopping in Lisbon. The sale made a small net profit for Pan Am – priced at cost plus 5% – and provided a vital communications link for Britain, but was politically controversial. In order to arrange the sale, the junior minister Harold Balfour had to agree to the contract with no government approval, leading to stern disapproval from Winston Churchill and lengthy debate by the Cabinet over the propriety of the purchase. Churchill later flew on the Bristol and Berwick, which he praised intensely, adding to the Clippers’ fame during the war.
At the outbreak of the war in the Pacific in December 1941, the Pacific Clipper was en route to New Zealand from San Francisco. Rather than risk flying back to Honolulu and being shot down by Japanese fighters, it was directed to fly west to New York. Starting on December 8, 1941 at Auckland, New Zealand, the Pacific Clipper covered over 31,500 miles (50,694 km) via such exotic locales as Surabaya, Karachi, Bahrain, Khartoum and Leopoldville. The Pacific Clipper landed at Pan American's LaGuardia Field seaplane base at 7:12 on the morning of January 6, 1942, completing the first commercial plane flight to circumnavigate the world.
Pan Am's Clipper fleet was pressed into US military service during World War II, and the flying boats were used for ferrying personnel and equipment to the European and Pacific fronts. The aircraft were purchased by the War and Navy Departments and leased back to Pan Am for a dollar, with the understanding that all would be operated by the Navy once four-engined replacements for the Army's four Clippers were in service. Only the markings on the aircraft changed: the Clippers continued to be flown by their experienced Pan Am civilian crews. American military cargo was carried via Natal, Brazil to Liberia, to supply the British forces at Cairo and even the Russians, via Teheran. The Model 314 was then the only aircraft in the world that could make the 2,150-statute-mile (3,460 km) crossing over water, and was given the military designation C-98. Since the Pan Am pilots and crews had extensive expertise in using flying boats for extreme long-distance over-water flights, the company's pilots and navigators continued to serve as flight crew. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to the Casablanca Conference in a Pan-Am crewed Boeing 314 Dixie Clipper.
After the war, several Clippers were returned to Pan American hands. However, even before hostilities had ended, the Clipper had become obsolete. The flying boat's advantage had been that it didn't require long concrete runways, but during the war a great many such runways had been built for heavy bombers. New long-range airliners such as the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-4 were developed. The new landplanes were relatively easy to fly, and did not require the extensive pilot training programs mandated for seaplane operations. One of the 314's most experienced pilots said, "We were indeed glad to change to DC-4s, and I argued daily for eliminating all flying boats. The landplanes were much safer. No one in the operations department... had any idea of the hazards of flying boat operations. The main problem now was lack of the very high level of experience and competence required of seaplane pilots".
The last Pan Am 314 to be retired, the California Clipper NC18602, in 1946, had accumulated more than a million flight miles. Of the 12 Boeing 314 Clippers built three were lost to accidents, although only one of those resulted in fatalities: 24 passengers and crew aboard the Yankee Clipper NC18603 lost their lives in a landing accident at Cabo Ruivo Seaplane Base, in Lisbon, Portugal on February 22, 1943. Among that flight's passengers were prominent American author and war correspondent Benjamin Robertson, who was killed, and the American singer and actress Jane Froman, who was seriously injured.
Pan-Am's 314 was removed from scheduled service in 1946 and the seven serviceable B-314s were purchased by the start-up airline New World Airways. These sat at San Diego's Lindbergh Field for a long time before all were eventually sold for scrap in 1950. The last of the fleet, the Anzac Clipper NC18611(A), was resold and scrapped at Baltimore, Maryland in late 1951.
|NC18601||314||Honolulu Clipper||1939–1945||Successfully landed 650 miles east of Oahu after losing power in two engines while flying for the US Navy on November 3, 1945. Aircraft mechanics from the escort carrier Manila Bay were unable to repair the engines at sea. The seaplane tender San Pablo attempted tow into port; but the flying boat was damaged in a collision with the tender and intentionally sunk on November 14 by perforating the hull with 20mm Oerlikon gunfire after salvage was deemed impractical.|
|NC18602||314||California Clipper||1939–1950||Sold to World Airways after the War and was scrapped in 1950.|
|NC18603||314||Yankee Clipper||1939–1943||Started transatlantic mail service. Crashed on February 22, 1943, when a wing hit the water during a turn on landing at Lisbon, Portugal. A total of 24 of 39 on board were killed.|
|NC18604||314||Atlantic Clipper||1939–1946||Purchased by the US Navy in 1942, but operated by Pan Am; salvaged for parts.|
|NC18605||314||Dixie Clipper||1939–1950||Started transatlantic passenger service, later sold to World Airways. First presidential flight for the Casablanca Conference. Scrapped 1950.|
|NC18606||314||American Clipper||1939–1946||Later sold to World Airways. Scrapped 1950.|
|NC18609||314A||Pacific Clipper||1941–1946||Temporarily named California Clipper to replace 18602 that was being moved to Atlantic service, renamed Pacific Clipper in 1942. Later sold to Universal Airlines. Damaged by storm and salvaged for parts.|
|NC18611||314A||Anzac Clipper||1941–1951||Sold to Universal Airlines 1946, American International Airways 1947, World Airways 1948. Sold privately 1951, destroyed at Baltimore, Maryland 1951.|
|NC18612||314A||Cape Town Clipper||1941–1946||Sold to US Navy 1942, American International Airways 1947. As the Bermuda Sky Queen she ditched at sea on October 14, 1947. After the rescue of all passengers and crew she was sunk by the United States Coast Guard as a hazard to navigation.|
|G-AGBZ||314A (#2081)||Bristol||1941–1948||Originally NC18607, sold to General Phoenix Corporation, Baltimore as NC18607 in 1948|
|G-AGCA||314A (#2082)||Berwick||1941–1948||Originally NC18608, sold to General Phoenix Corporation, Baltimore as NC18608 in 1948. This aircraft flew both Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook (Minister of Aircraft Production) back to the United Kingdom in mid January, 1942 after the British Prime Minister's extended stay in the United States following Pearl Harbor. Churchill was the first head of government to make a transatlantic crossing by plane.|
|G-AGCB||314A (#2084)||Bangor||1941–1948||Originally NC18610, sold to General Phoenix Corporation, Baltimore as NC18610 in 1948|
None of the dozen 314s built between 1939 and 1941 survived beyond 1951, with all 12 being scrapped, scuttled, cannibalized for parts, or otherwise written off. Underwater Admiralty Sciences, a non-profit oceanographic exploration and science research organization based in Kirkland, Washington, announced in 2005, at the 70th Anniversary of the first China Clipper flight in San Francisco, its plans to survey, photograph, and possibly recover the remains of the hulls of two sunken 314s: NC18601 (Honolulu Clipper), scuttled in the Pacific Ocean in 1945; and NC18612 (Bermuda Sky Queen, formerly Cape Town Clipper), sunk in the Atlantic by the Coast Guard in 1947. UAS has also spent significant time at Pan Am reunions and with individual crewmembers and employees of Pan Am conducting videotaped interviews for the mission's companion documentary. However, as of 2014, no search or recovery had been attempted, with the most recent news from 2011 suggesting that the company was still in need of at least US$8 million to get the plan under way.
Data from Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser was a large long-range airliner developed from the C-97 Stratofreighter military transport, itself a derivative of the B-29 Superfortress. The Stratocruiser's first flight was on July 8, 1947. Its design was advanced for its day; its innovative features included two passenger decks and a pressurized cabin, a relatively new feature on transport aircraft. It could carry up to 100 passengers on the main deck plus 14 in the lower deck lounge; typical seating was for 63 or 84 passengers or 28 berthed and five seated passengers.
The Stratocruiser was larger than the Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation and cost more to buy and operate. Its reliability was poor, chiefly due to problems with the four 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines and structural and control problems with their propellers. Only 55 Model 377s were built for airlines, along with the single prototype.Boeing Model 306
The Boeing Model 306 was the designation for a series of aircraft drafted in 1935 that achieved neither design nor production status. They included the Model 306 bomber, Model 306 flying boat, and Model 306A airliner.Bombay Clipper
Bombay Clipper is a 1942 aviation drama film directed by John Rawlins and stars William Gargan and Irene Hervey. The film features Maria Montez in an early role. Turhan Bey also appears.
Bombay Clipper was based on the exploits of oceanic flyers, flying for Pan American World Airways.China Clipper
China Clipper (NC14716) was the first of three Martin M-130 four-engine flying boats built for Pan American Airways and was used to inaugurate the first commercial transpacific airmail service from San Francisco to Manila in November 1935. Built at a cost of $417,000 by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland, it was delivered to Pan Am on October 9, 1935. It was one of the largest airplanes of its time.
On November 22, 1935, it took off from Alameda, California in an attempt to deliver the first airmail cargo across the Pacific Ocean. Although its inaugural flight plan called for the China Clipper to fly over the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (still under construction at the time), upon take-off the pilot realized the plane would not clear the structure, and was forced to fly narrowly under instead. On November 29, the airplane reached its destination, Manila, after traveling via Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam, and delivered over 110,000 pieces of mail. The crew for this flight included Edwin C. Musick as pilot and Fred Noonan as navigator
The inauguration of ocean airmail service and commercial air flight across the Pacific was a significant event for both California and the world. Its departure point is California Historical Landmark #968 and can be found in Naval Air Station Alameda.
Although each clipper that joined the Pan American fleet to serve on their Trans-Pacific routes was given an individual name, collectively they were known as the China Clippers.
Although a Sikorsky S-42 flying boat was used on the initial proving flights, it had insufficient range to carry passengers along the route. Consequently, the passenger service was started with Martin M-130 flying boats:
China Clipper (NC-14716) October 1935
Philippine Clipper (NC-14715) November 1935
Hawaiian Clipper (NC-14714) March 1936
Later the larger Boeing 314 Clipper flying boats were assigned to the route:
Honolulu Clipper (NC-18601) January 1939
California Clipper (NC-18602) January 1939
Pacific Clipper (NC-18609(A)) May 1941
Additional clippers were assigned to the Trans-Atlantic and South American routes operated by Pan-American.
Considerable effort was put into preparing for the inauguration of the first Trans-Pacific route. The relatively short range of the aircraft meant that hotel, catering, docking, repair, road and radio facilities had to be put in place at the intermediate stops along the route, particularly on the virtually uninhabited islands of Wake and Midway. Nearly a half a million miles were flown along the route before any paying passengers were carried.
The clippers were, for all practical purposes, luxury flying hotels, with sleeping accommodation, dining rooms and leisure facilities in addition to the usual aircraft seating. On early flights, the crew outnumbered the passengers. As a result the price of a return air ticket say San Francisco to Honolulu was $1700 (equivalent to about $29000 in 2018). In comparison, a brand-new Plymouth automobile cost about $600 in the late 30's.China Clipper flight departure site
The China Clipper flight departure site is listed as California Historical Landmark number 968. It is the site from which Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) initiated trans-Pacific airmail service on November 22, 1935. A flying boat named China Clipper made the first trip, and the publicity for that flight caused all flying boats on that air route to become popularly known as China Clippers. For a few years, this pioneering mail service captured the public imagination like the earlier Pony Express, and offered fast luxury travel like the later Concorde.Corregidor (1943 film)
Corregidor is a 1943 American war film directed by William Nigh and starring Otto Kruger, Elissa Landi and Donald Woods. The film is set in December 1941 through May 1942 during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Corregidor opens with the following written dedication: "Dedicated to the heroes of the United States and Philippine Armed Forces, and the American Red Cross." The film closes with a poem about Corregidor written and narrated by English poet Alfred Noyes.Desperate Cargo
Desperate Cargo is a 1941 American film directed by William Beaudine and based on the 1937 Argosy magazine serial Loot Below by Eustace Lane Adams. The film stars Ralph Byrd and Carol Hughes. The supporting cast includes Julie Duncan and Jack Mulhall.Double-deck aircraft
A double-deck aircraft has two decks for passengers; the second deck may be only a partial deck, and may be above or below the main deck. Most commercial aircraft have one passenger deck and one cargo deck for luggage and ULD containers, but only a few have two decks for passengers, typically above a third deck for cargo.Honolulu Clipper
Honolulu Clipper was the prototype Boeing 314 flying boat designed for Pan American Airways. It entered service in 1939 flying trans-Pacific routes.
Like other long range Clipper aircraft in Pan-Am it aided US military during World War II. In service with the US Navy it made a forced landing 650 miles east of Oahu on 3 November 1945 and when the subsequent salvage attempt was abandoned, the Honolulu Clipper was deliberately sunk by gunfire.
Passengers flying aboard the aircraft over its service life of 18,000 flying hours included Clare Boothe Luce, Eddie Rickenbacker, Thomas Kinkaid, Chester Nimitz, and Peter Fraser.Juan Trippe
Juan Terry Trippe (June 27, 1899 – April 3, 1981) was an American commercial aviation pioneer, entrepreneur and the founder of Pan American World Airways, one of the iconic airlines of the 20th century. He was instrumental in numerous revolutionary advances in airline history, including the development and production of the Boeing 314 Clipper, which opened trans-Pacific airline travel, the Boeing Stratoliner which helped to pioneer cabin pressurization, the Boeing 707 and the Boeing 747 which introduced the era of jumbo jets (evolved from Air Force bombers, tanker and transport design, respectively). Trippe's signing of the 747 contract coincided with the 50th anniversary of Boeing, and he gave a speech where he explained his belief that these jets would be a force that would help bring about world peace.Pacific Clipper
The Pacific Clipper (civil registration NC-18609(A)) was a Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat famous for having completed Pan American World Airways' first around the world flight in December 1941-January 1942; it was also the first commercial plane flight to circumnavigate the world.Short S.26
The Short S.26 G-class was a large transport flying-boat with non-stop transatlantic capability. Three aircraft were built for Imperial Airways, subsidised by the Air Ministry in anticipation of military use. All three were impressed into military service.Short Solent
The Short Solent is a passenger flying boat that was produced by Short Brothers in the late 1940s. It was developed from the Short Seaford, itself a development of the Short Sunderland military flying boat design, which was too late to serve in World War II.
The first Solent flew in 1946. New Solents were used by BOAC and TEAL, production ending in 1949. Second-hand aircraft were operated until 1958 by a number of small airlines such as Aquila Airways.Sikorsky VS-44
The Sikorsky VS-44 was a large four-engined flying boat built in the United States in the early 1940s by Sikorsky Aircraft. Based on the XPBS-1 patrol bomber, the VS-44 was designed primarily for the transatlantic passenger market, with a capacity of 40+ passengers. Three units were produced: Excalibur, Excambian, and Exeter, plus two XPBS-1 prototypes.Tarzan's New York Adventure
Tarzan's New York Adventure (a.k.a. Tarzan Against the World) is a 1942 black-and-white adventure film from Metro Goldwyn Mayer, produced by Frederick Stephani, directed by Richard Thorpe, that stars Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. This was the sixth and final film in MGM's Tarzan series and was the studio's last Tarzan feature until 1958's Tarzan's Fight for Life. Although Tarzan's New York Adventure includes scenes set New York, as well as the customary jungle sequences, it is yet another Tarzan production primarily shot on MGM's back lots.Twin tail
A twin tail is a specific type of vertical stabilizer arrangement found on the empennage of some aircraft. Two vertical stabilizers—often smaller on their own than a single conventional tail would be—are mounted at the outside of the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer. This arrangement is also known as an H-tail, as it resembles a capital "H" when viewed from rear - these were used on a wide variety of World War II multi-engine designs that saw mass production, especially on the American B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell bombers, the British Avro Lancaster and Handley-Page Halifax heavy bombers, and on the Soviet Union's Petlyakov Pe-2 attack bomber.
A special case of twin tail is twin boom tail or double tail where the aft airframe consists of two separate fuselages, "tail booms", which each have a rudder but are usually connected by a single horizontal stabilizer. Examples of this construction are the twin-engined Lockheed P-38 Lightning; Northrop P-61 Black Widow; Focke-Wulf Fw 189; the single jet-engined de Havilland Vampire; cargo-carrying Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar and the little known Transavia PL-12 Airtruk.Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone
The Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 (also called Twin Cyclone) was an American radial engine developed by Curtiss-Wright and widely used in aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s.Yankee Clipper
Yankee Clipper can refer to:
A clipper ship in United States service
The nickname of Joe DiMaggio, a Major League Baseball player
Yankee Clipper, a Pan American Airways Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat
Yankee Clipper, The Apollo 12 command module
Terry "Yankee Clipper" Hoitz, a fictional character played by Mark Wahlberg in the 2011 film The Other Guys
Yankee Clipper (train), passenger train service between New York City and Boston, run by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
Yankee Clipper, special-event passenger train service to Yankees–East 153rd Street (Metro-North station)
Yankee Clipper (Harbor Cruise), a special-event NY Waterway service
The Yankee Clipper (film), a 1927 maritime adventure film
American Aviation AA-1 Yankee Clipper, a light aircraft in the Grumman American AA-1 series
The 1938 New England hurricane, a powerful hurricane that struck Long Island and New England in September of that year
Boeing military aircraft
|Patrol and surveillance|
Boeing aircraft model numbers
|Army/Air Force sequence|
|Revived original sequence|