Back in 2008 I converted an old 1/144 Revell 747-200B from my childhood to B747SP standards. This was my introduction to scratch building and it does no longer meet my 2016 standards. Yet I've always been keen on his iconic appearance and Braniffs ‘Ultra Orange’ scheme.
He stood in the showcase for years and needed some cleaning. Therefore I decided to introduce new details and to apply some weathering. It is still not a perfect model (as some of the ‘Rembrandts’ in this forum) but I want to show it to you anyway to share inspiration. And because it is a nice summary of the standard B747 and the SP model differences.
B747 ‘Special Performance’
In order to create an unprecedented range, with payload, of 6.600 NM (12.000 km; 7.600 mi) the underlying structure of the SP was modified radically.
1. The fuselage was shortened front and rear of the wing with 14.35 meters. As a result there were 4 instead of 5 main entry doors on each side.
2. To compensate for the shorter fuselage (Force x Distance) the horizontal and vertical stabilizer are extended and a double hinged rudder was applied, providing increased rudder authority.
3. The empennage remained basically the same, but was tilted forward by one degree (section ‘48’). The vertical stabilizer attachment was corrected for this one degree to keep the standard vertical stabilizer sweep back of 45 degrees as on all 747 models.
The keel line has been the basis for lining up the empennage, thus the tail is placed substantially lower on the hull than on a normal 747. In order to fit to the fuselage at the crown a strong taper transition between the fuselage and the tail was applied, which results in that odd radical downward curve/humped appearance.
The advantage of this construction is that, even though the vertical stabilizer is extended with 1.5 meters (5 feet), the total height of the aircraft was only 89 cm (2 feet) higher than a standard 747. Therefore the SP fits in the same maintenance bay as a standard 747, which achieved a significant standardization of the maintenance program.
4. The SP and a standard model -100 share the same upper deck. But because of the shorter fuselage the upper deck of the SP begins at the section that also contains the wingbox. This particular "fuselage plug" was the basis for the design of the stretched upper deck (SUD) of the -300, -400.
Since the development costs for the SUD models were saved, large parts of the drop in income as a result of the disappointing sales of only 45 SP aircraft were made up afterwards.
5. The wing/body fairing in front of and aft of the wing is slightly modified.
Photo property of Michael Bartnick
6. Also at the vertical stabilizer the SP has a slightly modified leading edge fillet which has to be accounted for in the area around the crown skin crease.
7. To reduce the development costs and to keep the flying characteristics similar to other 747 types, the same wing and four-engine configuration was retained however lighter materials were used for various parts.
The standard 747 wing with a lower aircraft weight resulted in a wing load reduction of 100 kg/m2. This allowed application of a simpler and lighter flap system. The SP had a singel-slotted variable pivot flap system (for a triple-slotted flap system on the full-size 747) which itself resulted in a weight reduction of 5500 kg.
8. Due to the simpler flap system the "canoes" under the wings, in which the flap support mechanism is housed, were no longer necessary. Instead, much smaller fairings were fitted.
9. The engine pylons housing the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4W engines were extended as used in subsequent B747-100 and SR models. The prototype of the B747 'City of Everett‘ later also received this modification.
10. To optimize the cabin interior smart solutions were found. Walter Dorwin Teague Associates designed the innovative longitudinal forward galley; One long central galley on the right side of the fuselage between the door 1 and 2. This allows serving the first and second class from one galley. With the use of a small elevator even the upper deck could be reach easily. This galley arrangement would become the standard on for instance all KLM’s B747 and still is to this day.
To emphasize the odd shaped fuselage the model asks for a livery that makes a statement, at least in my humble opinion. “When you got it — flaunt it!” Was once a famous Braniff advertising slogan ;-)
In 1979, Braniff took delivery of three B747SPs destined for the ultra-long-haul routes across the Pacific, mainly on the route Dallas - Los Angeles - Hong Kong.
The aircraft were equipped with 24 first class and 269 economy class seats. The lounge on the upper deck had room for 11 passengers. Like Branniff’s full body 747 with nicknames like “The Great Pumpkin” and “747 Braniff Place”, also the SP’s were painted in the ‘Ultra Orange’ scheme.
The correct color Ultra Orange is HEX F48220. There is no single orange of the major paint suppliers that comes close. I used Revell 30 gloss, but Humbrol 18, Tamiya X-6 or Model Master 2970 are just as close; they are all to red.
'Ultra Orange' consists of 95.7% red and 51% green and 12.5% blue, a color saturation of 90.6%. Revell 30 on the other hand consists of 100% red, 40% green and 20% blue with a saturation of 100%. So in order to get the proper color I mixed Revell 30 with 20% yellow (to reduce the surplus of red and blue) and 10% green. In addition, I have added 10% white to adjust the color saturation. And additional a drop of white for the color scale effect. And the result is (in my eyes) the correct orange.
Today 11 out of 45 aircraft built are still airworthy. Iran Air operated the world wide last public transport flight with an SP last year.
Until 1980 Braniff was one of the fastest-growing and most-profitable airlines in the United States. But deregulation of the airline industry was introduced 1978 and Braniff misjudged this huge change in airline business. On May 12 1982, Braniff Airways ceased all operations, ending 54 years of service.
Its three 747SP continued many years of reliable service:
N603BN s/n 21785: currently active as A4O-SO for Oman Royal Flight.
N604BN s/n 21786: destroyed in 2015 at the Aden airport.
N606BN s/n 21992: airworthy as N747A and is for sale.
(N608BN was never delivered)
My model depicts N606BN and the real aircraft s/n 21992 is currently for sale. If I only had the money…
Controller.com | 1980 BOEING 747-SP For Sale