THE SUPER GUPPY!!

September 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 On arriving at Bruntingthorpe Airfield to view the Cold War Jets Collection (highly recommended and to be featured on here at some point), I enquired about whereabouts on the site I would find it. The guy on the gate asked, in a friendly manner, "Do you know what a Super Guppy is?", "Yes!", I replied as confidently as I could  to avoid sounding ignorant, at the same time thinking "Do I?". I must have pulled it off, as the answer was "Well ,head for that and you can park there". Something in the depths of my brain told me that the Super Guppy was a large aircraft, but nothing prepared me for this behemoth!. The thing was immense, in fact I wouldn't be too surprised if it could be seen from Space. It turns out this was probably the most concise and straightforward set of parking directions that I will ever hear, as there was no way that this beast was ever going to leave your sight as you headed towards it.

This massive and cool aircraft is actually a Super Guppy Turbine, a turbo-prop plane built by Aero-Spacelines and bearing some impressive vital statistics. It's 143 feet long, 48 feet high, and has a wingspan of 156 feet. It weighs 46 tonnes and can carry approx. 25 tonnes of cargo. The cargo compartment is 111 feet x 25 feet x 25 feet, apparently large enough to hold the Olympic pole vault event.

There were only five of these magnificent giants built, four are preserved and one still works for N.A.S.A, carrying parts for the International Space Station. This one, F-BTGV, serial number 0001 (!), and the first of the Super Guppy Turbines, first flew on the 24th August 1970, and from 1971-1995 was used by Airbus Industries to carry parts for the Concorde and Airbus production programmes and, as you might guess, we're not talking window frames and seat covers, more like wing components and actual fuselages.

To get these in and out the whole of the front of the plane actually semi-detaches, swivels to the side and the cargo compartment is completely open, normally revealing some slightly bewildered and shaken Olympic pole vaulters.

It's a pretty serious aircraft and the only one in the U.K, have a look at the pictures with the light plane in, if this thing got peckish it wouldn't stand a chance. Standing near it, it's very impressive in it's size and scale, and on that note i'm afraid it's time for some more statistics, so here we go!. It is powered by four turbo-prop engines with a range of 1986 miles and a top speed of 288 m.p.h, and has a maximum cruising height of 25,000 feet and a crew of four. Though it has a sort of benevolent appearance and looks like the kind of plane the Michelin Man would bounce happily across clouds to wave hello to, it is based on the C-97J Stratocruiser, which can trace it's lineage back to the B-29 Superfortress, the type of aircraft that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even without knowing about it's distant cousins, I still would't have messed with the Super Guppy..

There is a wealth of information about the Super Guppy on the Internet meaning that the next person who comes up to me in the street and asks me if I know what a Super Guppy is (admittedly this doesn't happen that often) will probably regret it when I hit them with a barrage of facts. For these ones, I only had to go to www.allaboutguppys.com, and www.superguppy.co.uk, this last one is about the plane in the pictures and has a wicked aerial view of it.

I think that's about enough Super Guppy related stuff for now...

Cheers,

Ian

P.S Just one more, the Super Guppy was not the only aircraft in the Guppy series, there was also the Mini Guppy and the Pregnant Guppy!


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