Silver City - The Helicopter Project - 1952
If anyone has any information I would be pleased to show it here, please drop me a line anytime email
Silver City pioneered the cross-channel car ferry service, starting services in July 1948. Year on year the services became busier and busier and with an eye on the future it was acknowledged that larger aircraft would be needed.
Air Commodore Griffith Powell, Silver City’s Managing Director, speaking in June 1952 mentioned two interesting proposals, the first was the possibility of introducing four-engined freighters in 1955 and then the possibility of using large helicopters by 1960 to carry detachable car-carrying containers over the channel.
These large containers could be loaded and unloaded without the need for the helicopter to remain, thus getting better utilisation of the aircraft. Enamoured with this possibility, Powell's outline specifications were issued to two British manufacturers. In 1952 there were only 11 operational helicopters in Britain so the “flying-crane” concept was some way off.
The Fairey Rotodyne appeared in 1954 and went some way towards this concept, without the detachable containers, but that project would eventually be cancelled in 1962
Blackburn Aircraft were developing a cargo lifting helicopter, the SP60 as it was code named, it would have a speed of 170mph and could carry up to 18 cars or 250 passengers in preloaded pods. This was exactly what Silver City were after but despite being the first supporters of such a concept, Silver City were not approached by Blackburn about the project. Silver City's main competion, Channel Air Bridge, were approached by Blackburn in 1960.
Time was running out for Silver City, Channel Air Bridge were almost level on passengers and revenue and they had the resources of Air Holdings behind them. Silver City became part of Air Holdings in January 1962 and the large helicopter project was consigned to history. That is until recently....late in 2013....61 years later.
I am pleased to say some newspapers from August 1952 have been found, The Illustrated London News and The Sphere, both have some images of the Silver City concept made by Air Commodore Griffith Powell in June 1952
The Large helicopter concept as shown in The Sphere - 2nd August 1952.
The Illustrated London News - 9th August 1952 - went into greater detail and worked on the concept illustrations with Silver City staff
The containers are loaded with passengers and car without the helicopter being there
The Helicopter lifting body approaches and locks onto the pre-loaded container.