Bristol Britannia, Canadair CP-107 Argus, & CC-106 Yukon
Warpaint Series No 125
Author: Charles Stafrace
Publisher: Warpaint Books
The move towards fast, effective transport aircraft during the Second World War led to many interesting designs aimed at both military and civilian usage. One of those designs resulted in the Britannia, a four-engined medium range aircraft that served as a bridge between the older piston-engined transports and the more modern jet airliners. This latest title in the Warpaint Series covers the development and operation of the Britannia and its Canadian variations, the Argus and Yukon.
The book begins with an in-depth background to the development of the Britannia. The wartime large aircraft production in Britain was focused primarily on bombers, and there was a worry that, post-war, the country would not have experience with civil transports. The Brabazon Committee was formed under Lord Brabazon in 1943, with the result of Bristol winning both the Type I and Type III contracts. While the Type I contract resulted in the large Bristol Brabazon aircraft, the Type III contract matched up with British Overseas Airways Corporation's need for a medium range aircraft capable of carrying 48 passengers. This ultimately led to the Britannia.
The book also discusses the rapid evolution of powerplants that saw the basic design shift from a piston-engined aircraft to one powered by the new Proteus turboprop engine. This would potentially give the plane greater range and performance, if the engine passed its longevity test. The first prototype flew in 1952, but further delays due to issues with the Britannia and from the unexplained (at the time) crashes of the de Havilland Comet kept the Britannia from entering service until 1957, by which point turbojet aircraft were becoming the norm.
While the Britannia in civilian livery lasted only a few years in mainline service, the type soldiered on with smaller airlines and in military usage. On the military side, Canadair was given a license to produce its version of the Britannia, known as the CC-106 Yukon & CP-107 Argus. The Yukon was a turboprop-powered cargo aircraft that used Rolls Royce Tyne engines, while the Argus was a much more highly modified variant. The CP-107 used the Britannia wings and tail surfaces, but featured a new unpressurized fuselage and was powered by Wright R-3350 radial engines instead of the turboprops. The Argus was designed as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft and remained in Canadian service until 1982.
The book documents this convoluted history quite well in the text, and punctuates it beautifully with lots of photos, many of which are in color and show off the attractive liveries worn by the Britannia. Also included are well over a dozen color profile illustrations that further highlight the color schemes worn by the Britannia, Argus, and Yukon. Additionally, there is a set of drawings describing the markings worn by the Canadian aircraft. Finally, a set of scale drawings round out the supporting materials. Overall, this is a great reference on the Bristol Britannia, one which should find its way into the library of civil and military aviation enthusiasts alike. My thanks to Warpaint Books for the review copy.