2
$\begingroup$

According to Wikipedia, 6 million pounds were spent developing the Bristol Brabazon, and the only prototype was scrapped for 10,000 pounds, that is a 0.17% loss recoup. There was a lot more value in keeping that plane intact than scrapping it, maybe for future projects, or special assignments, or further testing, like an An-225. It held more value as a museum piece, or a "sculpture" in Bristol, than the value from the scrap metal.

Was there a reason for being scrapped, other than the 10k in scrapped metal?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This was right after WWII (1949) so economies were still recovering $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Sep 8 '15 at 13:29
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ UK need huge amount of metal for reconstruction after WWII, they just scrapped everything even for the most well known warships $\endgroup$ – Him Sep 8 '15 at 15:47
8
$\begingroup$

You're right, as an exhibition piece it would had been quite an attraction. But it was not up to the Bristol company to decide her fate.

During and after the war, most British aviation development was managed by the government. The Brabazon was the result of a committee which set the goal to develop a transatlantic airliner with 1943 technology, not by a company and its technological visionaries. If you had asked people like Willy Messerschmitt in 1943 how the future airliner would look like, he would had basically described a Boeing 707: Swept wings, turbojet engines, pressurized cabin for about 100 passengers. But Government bureaucrats put the goal for the Brabazon quite differently, and the result was technically obsolete by the time it took to the air. Even before the Brabazon flew first on September 4, 1949, the de Havilland Comet had already flown on July 27, 1949 and was on its way to revolutionize air travel. Its development had started later and was directed by engineers, not bureaucrats.

When that became obvious, the bureaucracy felt too embarrassed to keep the Brabazon around. The situation was similar to Beechcraft and the Starship: Burt Rutan's 85% scale prototype was cut into pieces out of spite when it became eventually clear even for Beechcraft's board just what a turkey it was. The same fate befell the Brabazon.

But its legacy for Bristol is still very positive - without the Brabazon, it would certainly not employ as many people in aerospace as it does up to this day.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

You should also consider maintenance costs. Keeping the airplane will surely cause some kind of cost and the maintaining party has to cover them somehow. Even if you have museum admissions or the like you still must have it running well enough to cover the quite high costs of keeping your airplane together.

That they did not keep it for further research indicates IMHO that the plane was simply not seen as a good fundament for further research.

I am very sure that the people in charge back then did consider carefully what they do with it. For some reason they would rather write off almost 6 mio and get the money for the scrap metal. Even though mistakes happen a lot, I think that they knew what they did :)

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

why would there be more value in keeping it than in scrapping it? That's simply not true.
The ONLY value would be for a few aviation enthousiasts who might be willing to pay the entrance fees for a museum where it would be put on display.
But at the time there was a glut in aircraft to put in museums. And of course most British museums at the time (and many even today) didn't charge admittance, they were run as public services for educational purposes.

In a country with massive debt, recovering from a long and costly war, where raw materials are scarce, and aircraft to show off to the public are a dime a dozen, scrapping something that has no purpose and contains tons of valuable metals and other materials is the best thing to do, aviation buffs 70 years later who'd like to look at it and marvel at the folly of designers long ago to think something like that would be the future be darned.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would compare it to the Spruce Goose. Still around, still attracting the crowds. Putting the Brabazon on display would had worked, maybe not spectacularly, but enough to earn it its upkeep. And the folly was on the side of the Government bureaucrats; the designers all achieved their Government-mandated goals. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Sep 9 '15 at 7:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf except the Spruce Goose used non-strategic materials AND is and was private property rather than government property. And even then it barely escaped the scrappers, more than once. Even after decades of being a museum piece people were planning to scrap it because it was too expensive for them to maintain and they couldn't find a buyer quickly. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Sep 9 '15 at 8:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.