Bristol Type 175 Britannia in Monarch Airlines livery

Bristol Type 175 Britannia

Bristol Aeroplane Company

Bristol Britannia G-AOVT

G-AOVT was the eighteenth Series 312 Bristol Britannia delivered to the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and first flew on 17 December 1958. Carrying the serial number 13427, she initially served between London and New York. In 1959 G-AOVT was used, in combination with Comet 4 aircraft, to provide a round-the-world service from BOAC.

She was purchased by British Eagle International Airlines on 13 September 1963 and named 'Enterprise', flying schedule and charter services. G-AOVT was sold to Monarch Airlines on 18 August 1968. She completed the last commercial passenger flight in Europe by a Bristol Britannia on 14 October 1974 before leaseing to Invicta Airlines for cargo service. She was finally retired on 10 March 1975, arriving at Duxford on 29 June 1975 after 35,497 hours flying time and 10,760 landings.

Bristol Aeroplane Company

The Bristol Aeroplane Company was founded in 1910 by Sir George White as the British and Colonial Aircraft Company. Based at Filton in Bristol the company produced its first aircraft, the Bristol Boxkite, in 1910. During the Great War the company produced a number of different military fighters, including the Bristol Scout. By 1920 the company had adopted the 'Bristol' name and by 1928 was producing the Bristol Bulldog military biplane. Further military aircraft, including the Bristol Beaufighter, were produced during the Second World War.

The Bristol Type 167 Brabazon was introduced in 1949, however it was a commercial failure and only one complete aircraft was built. Bristol had greater success with the Britannia and 85 aircraft were built between 1952 and 1960. The company had also diversified to include missile and car manufacturing. In 1959 a Government enforced merger saw Bristol merge with English Electric, Hunting Aircraft and Vickers-Armstrongs to form the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC).

Monarch Airlines

Monarch Airlines (Monarch) was formed on 5 June 1967 by two former directors of British Eagle International Airlines. The airline was founded as a charter and scheduled airline and based at Luton in Bedfordshire. The aircraft carried a white, black and gold livery with a stylised 'Monarch' crown emblem. The airline began with two Bristol Britannia aircraft, with the first commercial flight taking place on 5 April 1968. Within a year Monarch had acquired an additional four Bristol Britannia aircraft. By 1971 the company expanded the fleet, purchasing three second-hand Boeing 720 jet aircraft. The Bristol Britannia fleet was retired by 1976 and replaced with two additional Boeing 720s and two additional British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) 1-11 jets.

In the 1980s the airline expanded rapidly, establishing bases at London Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester and Berlin in Germany and extending routes to Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. To fulfil these routes the airline took on further BAC and Boeing aircraft, including Monarch's first Boeing 757 purchased in 1983. In 1990 Monarch acquired its first EADS Airbus aircraft, an Airbus A300. The airline continued to expand throughout the 1990s and 2000s. However, following terrorist incidents in key destinations for the airline and declines in other markets the airline entered administration in October 2017 after 49 years of flying operation.

Bristol Type 175 Britannia

Designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company (Bristol) 85 Britannia aircraft were built between 1952 and 1960. In July 1948 Bristol commenced the construction of three prototype aircraft, designed as a medium to long-range civilian airliner. The first prototype aircraft - G-ALBO - flew on 16 August 1952. A second prototype aircraft was lost in an accident and development of production aircraft was beset with issues, compounded by a series of fatal accidents that befell the de Havilland Comet.

The Bristol Britannia entered service with British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) on 1 February 1957. The 200-series aircraft built by Bristol was designed to provide cargo-carrying, or a combination of freight and passenger-carrying capabilities. Of these, twenty-three Britannia aircraft were built for the Royal Air Force, providing troop and cargo transport. The later 300-series were built for transatlantic operation.

The production run of the Bristol Britannia lasted for only eight years. By the time the aircraft had entered service, rival manufacturers had developed their first jet-powered civilian airliners. Despite this the Britannia proved popular with passengers and she was affectionately called the 'Whispering Giant'.


ManufacturerBristol Aeroplane Company
CountryUnited Kingdom
TypeCivilian airliner
Length124 ft 3 in
Wingspan142 ft 3 in
Height37 ft 6 in
Weight (empty)82,500lb
Weight (loaded)185,000lb
Engines4 x Bristol Proteus 765 turboprop
Range4,270 miles

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Bristol Britannia photographs

  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT
  • Bristol Britannia G-AOVT