Kit #AA2098. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed
resin kit of the Boeing Model 314
Clipper, complete with decals.
In 1936, Pan Am requested Boeing to design
and build a flying boat that could carry a useful load across the Atlantic, or
between isolated island bases in the Pacific. Boeing's Model 314 Clipper was the result. Pan Am signed a contract
for six Clippers, and later bought six more with more powerful engines, the
77-passenger Model 314A. In creating the Clipper, Boeing engineers adapted the 149-foot
wing design of the Army Air Corps’ proof-of-concept XB-15 long-range bomber,
placing these cantilever wings high atop a massive flying boat body. Instead of
wingtip floats, the Clipper mounted two waterline-level Dornier-style sponsons –
wing-like platforms that provided buoyancy and stability on the water, and
added aerodynamic lift in flight.
The Model 314 featured the installation of four
new 1,500 horsepower Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone engines – each nearly twice as
powerful as the four 850 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp
engines whose relative lack of power had handicapped the XB-15. The Model 314A used four of the more powerful
1,600 horsepower Twin Cyclones, along with larger propellers and an additional
1,200 gallons of fuel. They also featured a revised interior, though externally,
the two versions were essentially identical.
The Boeing 314 Clipper, one of the large
flying boats of its time, made its first flight in 1938. Their moment in the
sun as the most luxurious form of travel available anywhere was brief, as war
intruded. First, three of Pan Am’s
Clippers were sold to BOAC to replace flying boats that had been pressed into
RAF service. Then, the other nine were
impressed into US military service, along with their superbly-trained Pan Am
crews. Five went to the Navy and four –
designated C-98 – were impressed into the US Army Air Force. During the war, President Roosevelt flew in
the “Dixie Clipper” to the Casablanca Conference, while Prime Minister Winston
Churchill flew on the BOAC Clippers “Bristol” and “Berwick.” Churchill, a licensed pilot, actually took
the controls of the Clippers he flew in.
After the war, several Clippers were returned
to Pan Am, though by this time, the combination of a worldwide network of paved
runways and supplies of long-range land-planes such as the Douglas DC-4 and the Lockheed Constellation had rendered the
Clipper obsolete. The last Clipper, the “California Clipper,” was retired in
1946, having logged more than a million flight miles.