Aero Spacelines Super Guppy

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B-377-SG/SGT Super Guppy
Super Guppy N941 NASA landing.jpg
A Super Guppy Turbo used by NASA
Role Outsize cargo freight aircraft
Manufacturer Aero Spacelines
First flight August 31, 1965[1]
Status Airworthy
Primary users Aero Spacelines[1]
Number built 1 SG, 4 SGT[1]
Developed from C-97J Turbo Stratocruiser[1]
377 Stratocruiser[2] Pregnant Guppy (fourth one built with cannibalized pieces from Pregnant Guppy)

The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy is a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft that is used for hauling outsized cargo components. It was the successor to the Pregnant Guppy, the first of the Guppy aircraft produced by Aero Spacelines. Five were built in two variants, both of which were colloquially referred to as the "Super Guppy".

Design and development

The first, the Super Guppy, or "SG", was built directly from the fuselage of a C-97J Turbo Stratocruiser, the military version of the 1950s Boeing 377 "Stratocruiser" passenger plane. The fuselage was lengthened to 141 feet (43 m), and ballooned out to a maximum inside diameter of 25 ft (7.6 m), the length of the cargo compartment being 94 ft 6 in (28.8 m). The floor of the cargo compartment was still only 8 ft 9 in (2.7 m) wide, as necessitated by the use of the Stratocruiser fuselage.[1]

In addition to the fuselage modifications, the Super Guppy used Pratt & Whitney T-34-P-7 turboprop engines for increased power and range, and modified wing and tail surfaces. It could carry a load of 54,000 pounds (24,545 kg) and cruise at 300 mph (480 km/h).

Super Guppy F-BPPA was operated for Airbus

The second version was officially known as the Super Guppy Turbine (SGT), although it used turboprop engines like the first Super Guppy. This variant used Allison 501-D22C turboprops. Unlike previous Guppies, the main portion of its fuselage was constructed from scratch. By building from scratch, Aero Spacelines was able to widen the floor of the cargo compartment to 13 ft (4 m). The overall cargo compartment length was increased to 111 ft (33.8 m), and the improved fuselage and engines allowed for a maximum load of 54,500 pounds (24,700 kg). These design improvements, combined with a pressurized crew cabin that allowed for higher-altitude cruising, allowed the SGT to transport more cargo than its predecessors.[1]

The SGT retained only the cockpit, wings, tail, and main landing gear of the 377. The nose gear was taken from the Boeing 707 – and reversed 180 degrees. This dropped the front of the aircraft slightly, leveling the cargo bay floor and simplifying loading operations.

Super Guppy being unloaded

In the early 1970s, the two Super Guppies were used by Airbus to transport aeroplane parts from decentralised production facilities to the final assembly plant in Toulouse. In 1982 and 1983, two additional Super Guppies were built by UTA Industries in France after Airbus bought the right to produce the aircraft. The four Super Guppies have since been replaced by the Airbus Beluga, capable of carrying twice as much cargo—by weight, though not nearly as much as a C-5 Galaxy or an Antonov-124 (47 tons as compared to 122.5 and 150 tons, respectively).[citation needed]

The last produced Super Guppy remains in service: an SGT flown by NASA (currently used to ferry components for the International Space Station and Project Orion). It is stationed in and operated from Ellington Field in Houston, Texas.[3] The other four are mothballed; the SG at Pima Air and Space Museum, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, United States, the first SGT, which has recently begun a restoration project, at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, United Kingdom, the second outside Airbus' factories at Toulouse Blagnac International Airport, Toulouse, France, and the third at Finkenwerder, Germany.


  • Aero Spacelines B-377-SG Super Guppy – Prototype of a much enlarged version of the guppy using C-97J components, powered by four Pratt & Whitney T-34-P-7WA turbo-prop engines.[1]
  • Aero-Spacelines B-377-SGT Super Guppy Turbine (Guppy 201) – Production version powered by Allison 501-D22C turbo-prop engines,[1] using an enlarged cargo section built from scratch instead of being converted from original C-97J components.


A NASA Super Guppy on display at Pima Museum

Specifications (Super Guppy)

Orthographically projected diagram of the 377 Super Guppy

Data from Mondey, David Encyclopedia of The World's Commercial and Private Aircraft, p. 9 New York: Crescent Books (1981)

General characteristics

  • Crew: Four
  • Length: 143 ft 10 in (43.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 156 ft 3 in (47.625 m)
  • Height: 48 ft 6 in (14.78 m)
  • Wing area: 1964.6 ft² (182.51 m²)
  • Empty weight: 101,500 lb (46,039 kg)
  • Useful load: 54,500 lb (24,720 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 170,000 lb (77,110 kg)
  • Cargo bay dimensions: 111 ft × 25 ft × 25 ft (33.8 m × 7.62 m × 7.62 m)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Allison 501-D22C turboprops, 4,680 hp (3,491 kW) each


See also

Super Guppy of NASA

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Taylor, Michael JH (1989), Encyclopedia of Aviation, Jane's, London: Studio Editions, ISBN 0-517-69186-8
  2. ^ All About Guppies, retrieved 4/1/2011 Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ "NASA - Super Guppy Makes Brief Appearence". 12 July 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. . Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. Studio Editions. London. 1989. ISBN 0-517-69186-8

External links

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