Bristol Freighter

From Academic Kids

The Bristol Freighter (Bristol Type 170) was an aircraft conceived by Wing Commander Taffy Powel who opened a fascinating and innovative chapter in British aviation. A keen and impatient traveller himself, Powel realised that by adapting the design of the Bristol 130 Bombay bomber, he could fly passengers with their cars from Britain to continental Europe. The aircraft he conceived was the Bristol Freighter and it allowed motorists to take their cars abroad from Britain. On the July 7, 1948, Powel's Silver City airline made the first ever British flight with a car, from Lympne in Kent to Le Touquet on the northern coast of France. A service was also started from Lydd Ferryfield airport, also in Kent. Both services were resounding successes and a larger derivative the Bristol Superfreighter was soon developed. In turn that was replaced by a British conversion of some Douglas DC-4 airliners known as the ATL-98 Carvair.

As ferries became faster and were supplemented by hovercraft and hydrofoils capable of carrying civilian vehicles, the economics of carrying small numbers of cars by air became uncompetitive so the Carvairs were not replaced and the airlines based around that concept faded from the scene, being taken over by others mainly focused on passenger traffic rather than cargo.

In New Zealand SAFE Air (Straits Air Freight Express) moved rail freight from Wellington (the North Island) to Blenheim (the South Island), and back, using the Bristol Freighter reconfigured to accept palletised cargo loaded on patented cargons that were mechanically loaded as a unit from devices that were electric-motor powered via screw-jacks. The loader accepted pallets from horizontal-tray road vehicles and then raised them to allow loading into the nose of tail-wheeled aircraft.


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