Boeing Stratocruiser Clipper

The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser was the civilian version of the C-97 transport, itself an adaptation of the B-50 bomber, which in turn was an adaptation of the B-29 bomber.  With its four R-4360 engines, unique double lobed, double decked fuselage and pressurized cabin, it was the epitome of piston engine airliner luxury.


It was also something of a disaster. It was extremely expensive to operate compared to its competition, and had a rather ghastly habit of crashing. Of 56 hulls built, 13 were lost in less that 20 years.


Pan American Flight 943 lands in the Pacific on Oct. 16, 1956. The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser had lost power to two of its four engines and had to risk an emergency water landing. (William Simpson / US Coast Guard)

On the other hand, some airframes, heavily modified, went on to become the iconic Super Guppy family of outsized cargo transports.

3 thoughts on “Boeing Stratocruiser Clipper”

  1. Back in the 50s my father had an import-export business and I can remember him taking a few trips to the Philippines via Pan Am and the Stratocruiser.

    It was a long flight across the Pacific and I don’t think this plane was in their inventory for long.

  2. A friend used to fly KC-97s for SAC in the early 50s. 15 years ago he took his wife to the Pima to show her what he used to fly. The USAF reserve was still flying the things in the early 70s when my father was stationed at Lackland. The school bus took me past the reserve flight line at Kelly AFB and they had several examples.

    USAF got some good use from the things. It didn’t seem to have a safety record any worse than other transports of the time.

  3. The P&W R4360s were dual ignition. Think about the magnitude of simply changing plugs. All 224 of them. (336 on the B-36s!)

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