Civilian Jetliners of Alternate History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by George Carty, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. George Carty Member

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    In OTL, jet airliners were developed during the US/Soviet Cold War, and Soviet jetliners were noticeably different in design to Western ones:
    • Many airports in the Soviet Union had only dirt strips rather than hard runways. This meant that Soviet airliners often had much bulkier landing gear than their Western counterparts. The Boeing 727 had 6 tyres in total, while the Tupolev Tu-154 (the Soviet equivalent of the 727) had 14 tyres, as many as the far larger Boeing 777.
    • Poor Soviet runways also made rear-engined configurations more attractive, as this made it easier to design powerful high-lift devices for the wings, enabled a shorter (and stronger) landing gear, and reduces the risk to the engines from foreign object damage. However, because Soviet autopilot technology was inferior to the Western technology, the Soviets tended to go for anhedral wings so as to eliminate the need for a yaw damper.
    • The Soviet Union did not develop high-bypass turbofan engines until the 1980s. This is because Soviet engine design was biased towards military aircraft -- where fuel consumption is less of an issue -- and also because the Soviet Union was a big oil producer (like the United States at time) while lacking the US car culture, which made oil far more plentiful there.
    • Due to a lack of radio navigational aids, some older Soviet jet transports (like the Tu-134) had glass noses reminiscent of WWII bombers, for visual navigation.

    How would jetliner design differ in a world with considerably different geopolitics to OTL?

    • British designs, including the Comet and the cancelled VC-7 (designated by the RAF as V-1000), often had engines buried in the wings (as did all three of the V-bombers), unlike the American practice of underslung podded engines. Perhaps if Britain was stronger post-WWII, some other countries may adopt this configuration for a while. However, it would clearly be utterly impractical once high-bypass engines come on the scene.
    • A German Empire in the mid-20th century (either Second or Third Reich) would probably be more concerned about fuel economy than either the US or SU OTL, as (unless it conquered the Caucasus) it would have no oil supplies of its own. Could this mean earlier high-bypass turbofans, or even mass adoption of propfans?
    • If China or Japan was a major power in the mid-20th century, perhaps the dense population of those countries would make large/size and or short-field requirements important. Perhaps they may develop a huge turboprop aircraft similar to the OTL Antonov An-22, but for airline use.
    • If there was a Muslim great power at the time when jet airliners were developed, I'd expect their designs to be similar to OTL Soviet ones, as a lot of the requirements would be similar.

    Any thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  2. jlckansas Well-Known Member

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    Also cargo aircraft. Look at the C130 in a civilian airliner mode and used as a cargo hauler for the rough field use in the less developed parts of the world. It would be used in Alaska, Western and Northern Canada, Mexico, and Africa. Using it, or its derivatives in airliner mode, not just cargo handling would improve the rough field capabilities for the west.
     
  3. docfl dazed and confused

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    The herk was offerd as a civlian model. IRC it was the L1000
     
  4. David S Poepoe Banned

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    Canada's Avro Jetliner C-102. It could have established Canada as a major producer of passenger jet planes - for a few years.
     
  5. anon_user anonymous member

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    Fokker was proposing a jet airliner to enter production as early as 1949; Breda-Zappata developed a four-prop transatlantic airliner in the same period. Have an isolationist US in the postwar era, and you'd get some interesting airliners out there.

    If you wipe away the '70s oil shock, or better yet the economic crisis of the '70s itself, the L-1011 probably does reach sufficient sales to be profitable for Lockheed. SST might make it, though I'm not sure supersonics would've really been viable. Lockheed's civil aviation bureau surviving would be interesting - might they have tried to break into the short-haul airliner market at some point?

    If you just push the '70s oil shock into the '80s, on the other hand, propfans look even more attractive than they did for that brief window in the late '80s. Look at the MD-94 and the 7J7.
     
  6. The Dude Banned

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    Boeing- the best. Sorry to disappoint you all. (My grandfather worked for Boeing.:D)
     
  7. usertron2020 Tolstoyan

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    There is only the one great Boeing. They have already absorbed pretty much all the rest of the world's commercial passenger aviation. The only ones left are the rickety propped up government run Potemkin villages, like AirBus.:D
     
  8. JJDXB Well-Known Member

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    I think you missed out France. The Caravelle etc...

    Since Britain made the first real passenger jet, if they had enough funds to longer tests and fix the problem with the metal fatigue, then they could have a monopoly for a while.

    In any case, a European company and Boeing continue will have a bitter rivalry, be it solely British or in a consortium like Airbus Industrie.
     
  9. bobinleipsic Well-Known Member

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    I just looked at the Breda design: What a pretty aircraft! Too bad it was a failure.

    bobinleipsic
     
  10. alphaboi867 Member

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    There's always the Convair Model 37. It was a prop design, but jet variants were proposed. First class would've consisted of private cabins (like on a train or zeppelin).

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    Dreyfuss_Convair37.jpg
     
  11. JJDXB Well-Known Member

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    Airbus concepts anyone?

    [​IMG]

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    And the Coup de Grace:

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    The return of embedded engines!
     
  12. Alexius Airship Janissary General

    Re British jets: The planned but unbuilt Comet 5 did have engines under the wings (I think), despite the fact that low-bypass turbofans such as the Conway did fit in the wings of some aircraft (Victor B2). Later British jetliners had their engines mounted on the tail- I think the BAe 146 was the only British airliner actually built which had jet engines mounted under the wings, and that is a strange aircraft in other ways.
     
  13. NothingNow Banned

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    Not really. It just makes more sense as a Military design than a Civillian one.

    the Tu-114's layout would make sense for a commercial competitor to Jet Airliners.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Workable Goblin Banned

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    Well, Japan was a major power (of sorts) during the mid-20th century, and what they ended up doing was using 747s as commuter aircraft! :eek::cool:

    Ah, so that's why the L-1011 failed--but then, why did the DC-10 succeed? :confused: Is there any way to preserve McDonnell Douglas?

    The thing is, the West doesn't really need that size of aircraft for rough-field operation (and C-130s were available for civilian use). We just have too good an airport infrastructure where most people live, thanks to WWII.
     
  15. George Carty Member

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    By "major power" I mean one significant enough to have indigenous airliner manufacture, such that its aircraft could be specially tailored to its needs. Of course the economies of scale in airliner manufacturing may make this unlikely, as shown in OTL by the failure of the Trident (too specific to BEA) and the current global Boeing/Airbus duopoly. :(
    The DC-10 had more sales (although it was still a money loser) because it wasn't clobbered by the terrible technical problems suffered by the RB211 engine during its development (the General Electric CF6 engine used by the DC-10 was too long to fit in the L-1011's tail).

    In addition, the DC-10's designers cut a lot of corners -- this affected the aircraft's safety record, but probably made it cheaper than the Lockheed machine.
    Indeed, that's why in the original posting I was thinking in terms of alternate worlds where the geopolitical situation is radically different -- in OTL, only the Soviet Union had conditions different enough to create a design philosophy markedly different from that of the American hegemon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2010
  16. Dunois Franco-British Patriot!

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    I am surprised no one mentionned the BAC 3-11 yet:
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  17. MacCaulay Banned

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    I'm with you there. Avro shut down the production line because of the Korean War. If that hadn't happened they could've filled orders from half a dozen airlines.

    [​IMG]

    According to Great Canadian Disasters, it's short field ability exceeded that of the 727 which would come more than half a decade later and the Caravelle was outclassed by it in almost all respects.
     
  18. Just Leo Curmudgeon with a heart of gold

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    East Germany came up with this airliner based on a failed Russian bomber design. Two models were built, but bad economics and defections among the design team forced cancellation.

    veb_152_1.jpg
     
  19. 2LT 419 Baby Seal Killer Extraordinar

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    Quick question, how much do you think that defence spending contributes to the ability to construct large capacity turbojet passenger planes?

    I think it would've taken alot longer for the idea to get off the ground in a world with reduced defence expenditures.
     
  20. MacCaulay Banned

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    Oddly enough, it was defense spending that killed the Canadian one. Or rather defense production capacity: Avro simply couldn't build both the CF-100 Canuck fighter and the Jetliner at once, and with a war on C.D. Howe ordered the company to build fighters.

    Consequently that put the company on a track to be completely dependent on government contracts. When the Arrow was cancelled a decade later, it more or less began taking the company down as well.