Saturday, January 24, 2015

Strangely-shaped Aircraft: The Super Guppy and the Beluga

Unfortunately, we have reached the end of crazy, weirdly shaped planes that have ever existed. So, here are the last 2 strangely shaped planes which I will be posting in some time. However, if I find anymore, I will include them in a separate post.

The Super Guppy

The Super Guppy is a super-sized cargo plane that has been flown since 1980 and is currently used by NASA and a few other private companies. The first Super Guppy was a modified C97J Turbo Stratocruiser. The whole plane was ballooned out and was much narrower than the plane pictured above. The Super Guppy was the predecessor of the Super Guppy Turbine, which was actually powered by two turboprop engines (Check out my post on engine types for more information). The Super Guppy Turbine was built from scratch, so the floor of the cargo area was wider, allowing it to carry more loads. only 4 Super Guppies were built, and when Airbus bought the rights to manufacture the aircraft from Aero Spacelines, they replaced it with the Airbus Beluga, a much more advanced cargo-carrying plane which can carry almost twice as much cargo by weight compared to the Super Guppy. The picture above shows a Super Guppy Turbine taking off.

Airbus Beluga

DSC 5493-F-GSTC (10299096584).jpgThe Airbus Beluga, as I mentioned earlier, is the replacement to the Super Guppy. The Beluga grew out of needs to transport aircraft components and in some cases, even whole helicopters, quickly over large distances. In the 1970s, Airbus transported parts by road, but growth resulted in a need for air transport. Only 5 Belugas have been built till date, and all of them are used by Airbus to carry airplane parts from one of their factories to the main assembly plant. The Beluga's main cargo hold is larger than that of the C-5 Galaxy, a military transport plane and the Antonov-124, a Russian plane designed to carry cargo. However, it can carry only 47 tonnes fully loaded, compared to the Galaxy's 122.5 tonnes. The Beluga was primarily intended for large, light cargo. The planes are also chartered out, and have been used to carry a variety of things, from entire helicopters to oversized pieces of art. However, even the Beluga isn't large enough for some of the fuselage parts of the A380, and these must travel by ship or by road. However, it is still an awesome and awe-inspiring plane. (Above-Right): A Beluga on the runway.

If you want to see more strangely-shaped planes, follow any of the links below:

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