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The First Generation of Super Transport Aircraft - the Super Guppy

Posted on March 15 2021

The first generation of legendary super transport aircraft in history is the weird-looking "Frankenstein’s Monster" of the aviation world - the Super Guppy transport aircraft manufactured by American company Aero Spacelines.

Aero Spacelines was founded by Jack Conroy, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, in order to build the super transport aircraft. At the time, NASA often needed to transport large parts, but land transportation would slow down the progress of the space program, so they hoped to develop a large super transport aircraft. The retired pilot, Jack Conroy, took the Boeing 377 (a civil aircraft converted from the B-29 Superfortress) as a blueprint, and designed the "Pregnant Guppy" transport aircraft that could carry parts of the Saturn V rocket according to NASA's needs.

Aero Spacelines later upgraded the "Pregnant Guppy" to have a larger cargo hold, and also changed the original design from the tail opening to the nose opening, turning it into the "Super Guppy". The command module of the Apollo 11 project, the components of the International Space Station, and parts of the new Orion spacecraft were all carried by the "Super Guppy" family.

The last upgraded version of the "Super Guppy" is the "Super Guppy Turbine". The fuselage and wings are still from a Boeing 377, the nose gear from a Boeing 707 (but reversed by 180 degrees), the engine from a P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, and the propellers from the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft - pretty much the "Frankenstein’s Monster" of the aircraft industry.

The "Super Guppy Turbine" caught Airbus Industrie’s attention, which was still in its infancy at the time, and introduced two "Super Guppy Turbine" in order to transport aircraft fuselage parts, including Skylink 1 - F-BTGV (N211AS). Later, Airbus obtained the production rights for "Super Guppy Turbine" and manufactured Skylink 3 and Skylink 4. Skylink 4 was eventually acquired by NASA to transport spacecraft components and is the only Super Guppy still flying.

Kai Tak Ethos has brought the legend of the Super Guppy to Hong Kong, giving aviation enthusiasts the opportunity to collect a part of Skylink 1 - F-BTGV (N211AS). Our German partner, AviationTag, has upcycled the F-BTGV, originally exhibited by the British Aviation Heritage Centre, into precious collectable aircraft skin tags. These tags are scheduled to be delivered to collectors in late April.




【第一代超級運輸機 - 超級彩虹魚 Super Guppy】

講到超級運輸機,大家一定會講得出現代著名的 Beluga、Dreamlifter。但歷史上第一代的傳奇超級運輸機,是外表古怪的飛機界「科學怪人」- 由 美國 Aero Spacelines 製造的 Super Guppy   超級彩虹魚運輸機。


Aero Spacelines 由 美國空軍退役機師 Jack Conroy 為打造超級運輸機而創立。當時美國太空總署 NASA 經常需要運送大型機件,但陸路運送會拖慢太空計劃進度,所以希望研發大型超級運輸機。退役機師 Jack Conroy 以波音 377 (由 B-29 Superfortress 超級堡壘 改成的民用機)為藍本,按 NASA 需要設計出可以運載 Saturn V 火箭部件的  “Pregnant Guppy”  「大肚彩虹魚」運輸機。


Aero Spacelines 後來把  “Pregnant Guppy”  升級,製作更大的貨倉,亦把原來由機尾打開的設計改至由機頭打開,成為了 “Super Guppy” 「超級彩虹魚」。Apollo 11 計劃的指揮艙、國際太空站部件、再到現代的Orion 太空艙,都曾經由  “Super Guppy” 「超級彩虹魚」運載。


“Super Guppy” 「超級彩虹魚」最後的升級版本是 “Super Guppy Turbine” ,機身和機翼依舊來自 波音 377、機頭起落架來自 波音 707 (但180度反轉)、引擎來自 P-3 Orion 反潛機、螺旋槳來自 C-130 大力士運輸機 - 可以算是飛機界的「科學怪人」。


 “Super Guppy Turbine”  吸引了當時在起步階段的 Airbus Industries 公司,並引入了兩架 “Super Guppy Turbine”  用作運送飛機機身部件。其中包括 Skylink 1 -  F-BTGV ( N211AS) 。後來Airbus 更取得了 “Super Guppy Turbine” 的生產權,製造了 Skylink 3 和 Skylink 4。 Skylink 4 最後被NASA 購買用作運送太空船部件,是至今唯一一架仍在飛行的 Super Guppy。


Kai Tak Ethos 亦將 Super Guppy的傳奇故事帶到香港,讓各位航空愛好者有機會收藏原本屬於博物館藏品的 一號機 Skylink 1 -  F-BTGV ( N211AS) 。我們的合作夥伴 德國 AviationTag 回收了部份原本由英國航空傳統博物館展出的F-BTGV,製作成珍貴的AviationTags,亦將計劃在四月送到收藏家手上。






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