THE BOEING 377 STRATOCRUISER: A LUXURY STORY
The Stratocruiser set a new standard for luxurious air travel with its tastefully decorated extra-wide passenger cabin and gold-appointed dressing rooms. A circular staircase led to a lower-deck beverage lounge, and flight attendants prepared hot meals for 50 to 100 people in a state-of-the-art galley. As a sleeper, the Stratocruiser was equipped with 28 upper-and-lower bunk units.
Pan Am placed the first order for 20 Stratocruisers, worth $24 million, Pan Am was confident in ordering the expensive plane with Boeing due to their success with the B-314. The Stratocruiser began service between San Francisco, Calif., and Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1949 and flew until it was decommissioned in 1961. Boeing built 56 Stratocruisers between 1947 and 1950, and they marked the company's first significant success selling passenger planes to airlines in other countries.
The 377 shared the distinctive design of a Boeing C-97, a military variant, with a "double-bubble" fuselage cross-section, resembling an inverted figure-8, with interior space shared between two passenger decks. The lower deck served as a lounge, with seating for 14. The 377 had innovations such as higher cabin pressure and air conditioning; the superchargers on the four Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines increased power at altitude and allowed constant cabin pressure. A total of 4,000,000 man-hours went into the engineering of the 377.
Boeing 377 Technical Information:
- Capacity: Up to 100 passengers on main deck plus 14 in lower deck lounge; typical seating for 63 or 84 passengers or 28 berthed and five seated passengers.
- Length: 110 ft 4 in
- Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in
- Height: 38 ft 3 in
- Wing area: 1769 ft²
- Empty weight: 83,500 lbs
- Max. take-off weight: 148,000 lbs
- Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney R-4360-B6 Wasp Major 28-cylinder radial engines four-bladed propellers, 3,500 hp each
- Maximum speed: 375 mph
- Cruise speed: 301 mph
- Range: 4,200 miles
- Service ceiling: 32,000 ft
- Max cruise: 340 mph