Produced between 1958 and 1972, the narrow-body jet airliner has a fascinating legacy. Here are five facts about the aircraft that pioneered the rear mounted engine layout.
1. Designed by Sud Aviation, a French state-owned aircraft manufacturer that operated from 1957 to 1970, the Caravelle was the first commercial jet aircraft to be designed for short- and medium-haul flights. It would eventually go down in history as one of the most successful European first-generation jetliners, establishing the clean-wing design that has since been used on a wide variety of aircraft.
2. In 1958 Finnair ordered three Caravelle IAs for delivery in spring 1960. With this variant, measuring 32.01 m (105 ft), the company became the first small airline to enter the jet age. While the Caravelle’s two Rolls-Royce Avon jet engines delivered a cruising speed of 800 kph, the cabin noise level was kept exceptionally low.
3. Finnair’s Caravelle IAs went into service on the Helsinki-Copenhagen-Cologne-Frankfurt and Helsinki-Stockholm routes in April 1960. Jet services quickly followed to Hamburg, Amsterdam, London and Paris. Zurich and Malmö were also added to the jet aircraft network later on.
4. Work on the Super-Caravelle, an early design for a supersonic transport, began in 1960. Sud Aviation had envisioned it as a much smaller, shorter range design intended to replace their earlier and very successful Caravelle. Based on the Series 10A, it featured wing mounted split flaps and a fuselage measuring 1.40 m (4 ft 7 in). The Super-Caravelle also had an increased passenger capacity of 105.
5. Alfred Hitchcock is perhaps one of the most renowned personalities with a link to the Super-Caravelle. In August 1968, the director visited Helsinki to scout for shooting locations for The Short Night, in which neutral Finland would have provided the family of a British man who had spied for the Soviet Union with a place to hide. The film, however, never materialized. A photograph of Hitchcock standing next to a Finnair Super-Caravelle is a memento of his brief time in the country, one that has nonetheless become part of Finnish aviation lore.
Photo: Finnish Aviation Museum
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