Airliners In Detail #3: the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

I was still in diapers when most airliner Stratocruisers were retired, so needless to say, I haven't run across too many original slides of them!  The above image is  the only slide I own of an original non-altered Stratrocruiser.  The fleet of Transocean Airlines ended up in storage at Mojave for many years; this photo was taken there in June 1968. (collection)

(Webmaster's note: Most of the information on this page was taken from the excellent Peter Bowers article in the September 1999 issue of Airpower.  This magazine is still available in back issue, and the article is highly recommended--Andy)

The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser first flew on July 8, 1947 and entered service with Pan American on April 1st, 1949.  At the time of its service introduction it was the largest, fastest, and most comfortable of all the piston-engined airliners of the time.  It was also a highly complex and temperamental machine, and took a number of years of constant refinement before becoming a truly reliable passenger airliner.

Introduction of pure jets spelled the end for most Stratocruiser passenger service in 1960, but some continued flying throughout the 1960s as freighters.  In late 1960 Aero Spacelines acquired a number of Stratocruisers for conversion to outsize cargo aircraft in the famous "Guppy" series.   The last unmodified airliner Stratocruiser, an ex-Northwest example, was scrapped at Tuscon in the early 1990s.

Variant Briefing

Boeing 377-10-19:  A single example was built and flown as the Stratocruiser prototype.   It was sold to Pan Am in 1950 and brought up to 377-10-26 standard.

Boeing 377-10-26:  These were the twenty ordered by Pan American.  All were delivered with round passenger windows on both decks and a rear galley.

Boeing 377-10-28:  Originally ordered by SAS, but taken up by BOAC, four in all.  Like the Pan Am aircraft, they had round windows on both decks and a rear galley.

Boeing 377-10-29: Eight were built for American Overseas Airlines.   These had round windows on the main deck, rectangular windows on the lower deck, and a rear galley.  Shortly after entering service with AOA in 1949, the line was purchased by Pan Am, and these 8 aircraft finished their passenger carrying careers with Pan Am in 1960.

Boeing 377-10-30: Ten were built for Northwest.  They were built with rectangular windows on the main deck and lower deck, and a rear galley.  All were retired by Northwest in 1959.

Boeing 377-10-32: Six were built for BOAC.  They had round windows on both decks, but a midships galley.

Boeing 377-10-34: Seven were built for United.  These had rectangular windows on the main deck, round windows on the lower deck, and a midships galley.  In 1954 the surviving United Stratocruiser fleet was sold to BOAC.

Guppy variants: Rather than detail them here, I'll refer you to the excellent All About Guppys webpage.  Data on all of the Stratocruiser-derived Guppies can be found there, along with coverage of the CL-44 Guppy and the new Airbus A300-600ST "Belugas".

Reference Photos

All of the reference photos here were taken by Gerald F. Cole.  The subject aircraft is the 377MG "Mini Guppy".  While the fuselage was significantly altered for the Guppy conversion,, the wings, nacelles,  and landing gear were not.  Thus, the Mini Guppy is almost certainly the last intact aircraft with true Stratocruiser airliner components.


Engines and Wings

Landing Gear

Available Model Kits

1/144th scale:

Minicraft Stratocruiser/C-97

Otaki/Entex/Revell Super Guppy

1/72nd scale:

Academy Stratocruiser

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