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Time Capsule

Big Babies


I know I have a “thing” for the cargo airliners as my last Time Capsule showed an Alaska International Hercules. The more I dug into the history of the Super Guppy, the more I like it. Not only for its size and shape and the ability to fly with a body like that, but for its birth and lineage.

The first Guppy was called the Pregnant Guppy. It was built by Aero Spacelines in the 1960s, directly from the fuselage of the Boeing Turbo Stratrocruiser, the military version of the Boeing 377.

The fuselage was lengthened to 141 ft., and wing and tail surfaces were modified. The interior cargo compartment had a diameter of 25 ft. and the length was 94 ft. 6 in. It was used to carry sections of the Saturn V rocket.

The Super Guppy could carry a load of 54,000 lbs. and cruise at 300 mph using upgraded P&W T-34-P-7 turboprops for increased power and range.

Then the Super Guppy Turbine (SGT) was born with an engine upgrade to four Allison 501-D22C turboprops.  This time, the aircraft was built from scratch and the cargo compartment was widened even more to 111 ft. Wings were stretched 23 ft. Maximum load increased to 54,000 lbs. A pressurized cabin was added, so the SGT allowed higher cruising and more cargo transport. SGTs were used by Airbus to transport aircraft parts to its various factories.  In the 1990s, Airbus retired the Super Guppies and replaced them with Belugas.

There were also two Mini Guppies built: the Mini and the Mini Turbine.

Aeromaritime operated one Super Guppy in 1970; I believe this is the same aircraft shown in the photo. Aeromaritime was a passenger and charter cargo airline established in 1966 flying Douglas DC-6s. It was a subsidiary of Union de Transports Aériens (UTA), the largest independent airline in France at the time. Aeromaritime flew the Super Guppy from 1970 until 1989, when it turned it over to Airbus.

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