221 of the 282 Caravelles built were powered by the Avon, with one powered by the General Electric CJ805 aft-fan turbofan, and the remaining 60 by the Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofans. Interestingly, Avon-powered aircraft continued to be produced after the introduction of the JT8D; the last Avon-powered Caravelle was msn 258, the 265th Caravelle built which first flew in June 1970. By my count, this would make the Caravelle the most widely produced turbojet-powered airliner (ahead of 202 707-120/-138/-220/-320s and 720s, 201 Tu-104s, 120 DC-8-10/-20/-30s and 113 Comets), and the last subsonic turbojet-powered airliner in production.
There were a number of variants produced throughout the production life of the Caravelle:
- Prototype - powered by Avon RA.26 Mark 522 turbojets with 44.5 kN (10,000 lbf) thrust each. 2 built.
- Series I - featured a 1.5m stretch from the prototype, and powered by Avon RA.29/1 Mark 522 turbojets with 44.5 kN (10,000 lbf) thrust each. 20 built.
- Series IA - powered by Avon RA.29/1 Mark 522A turbojets with 46.7 kN (10,500 lbf) thrust each. 12 built.
- Series III - powered by Avon RA.29/3 Mark 527 turbojets with 50.7 kN (11,400 lbf) thrust each. 78 built, plus the 31 surviving I and IA were upgraded to Series III (msn 14, a series I, was lost in an accident on 19 January 1960)
- Series VI-N - powered by Avon RA.29/6 Mark 531 turbojets with 54.3 kN (12,200 lbf) thrust and noise suppression exhausts. 53 built, plus 5 Series IIIs upgraded.
- Series VI-R - powered by Avon RA.29 Mark 533R or Mark 535R turbojets with 56.2 kN (12,625 lbf) thrust each, with thrust reversers. The series VI-R also introduced spoilers and larger cockpit windows which would be carried through to the Series 10A, Series 10B, Series 10R, Series 11R and Series 12. These changes were to meet the requirements of United Airlines, who ordered 20 Caravelle's in a major breakthrough into the American market. 56 built.
- Series VII - powered by CJ805-23C turbofans with 53.4 kN (12,000 lbf) thrust. Development switched to the 10A. 1 converted from a Series III, then converted back after testing ended.
- Series 10A - powered by CJ805-23C turbofans with 53.4 kN (12,000 lbf) thrust, with a number of changes: a 1m fuselage stretch forward of the wing (offsetting the increased weight of the engines), raised window line, modified wing with leading edge root extension, larger horizontal stabiliser with an aerodynamic bullet fairing behind it, and an APU in the tail cone. Developed for TWA, who went with the DC-9 instead, and was not further developed. 1 built.
- Series 10B3 - powered by JT8D-7 turbofans with 62.3 kN (14,000 lbf) thrust each, with the structural and aerodynamic enhancements of the 10A. 22 built.
- Series 10R - powered by JT8D-7 turbofans with 62.3 kN (14,000 lbf) thrust each, matched to the Series VI-R fuselage, wing and tail (i.e. no APU, no leading edge root extensions, no bullet fairing). 20 built.
- Series 11R - powered by JT8D-7 turbofans with 62.3 kN (14,000 lbf) thrust each, essentially a 10R with a 70cm stretch ahead of the wing, incorporating a cargo door to enable a combi configuration. Unlike the 10R, the 11R did have an APU. 6 built.
- Series 12 - powered by JT8D-9 turbofans with 64.5 kN (14,500 lbf) thrust each, essentially a 10B3 with the uprated engines and a total stretch of 3.23m compared to the the 10B3 (Looking at photographs and counting window spacing, I would estimate 2m ahead of the wing and 1.23m behind the wing, but I'm willing to be corrected on that). Designed for the charter market. 12 built.
The Series 10, 11, and 12 aircraft were collectively referred to as Super Caravelles (a name previously used for Sud's SST studies), and you will see some carried Super 10 or Super 12 branding. You will notice from photos that some Caravelles of different series have an extension from the fin along the top of the fuselage; this is a high frequency radio antenna, and is independent of the series. From photos it seems they were more common than not, although there were some notable exceptions including United's Series VI-Rs, Finnair's Series 10B3s, and the Series 12s.
By the time the final Caravelle (msn 280, a Series 12) took to the skies for the first time in Toulouse in March 1973, Sud Aviation had been merged with Nord Aviation and SAREB to form Aerospatiale, and both A300B1 prototypes were flying from the same airport. By the 1990s the Caravelle had mostly exited service, and Caravelle operations ended in 2004 with the loss of the final Caravelle in service, a Series 11R 3D-KIK, which landed on the 1000m x 23m strip at Gisenyi, Rwanda, 2km east of the 2000m x 45m runway at Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo where it was supposed to land. The aircraft ran off the strip, broke up and burnt out.
I am hoping this thread will be an opportunity to share memories, stories, and information about the Caravelle, as well as highlighting new photos when they are published in the database here. There are a few useful resources on the web I have come across regarding the Caravelle:
- The De Havilland Comet & Sud Caravelle - Greg Goebel - AirVectors
- SudAviation.com - Everything related to the SE 210 Caravelle
- Remember the Caravelle - Vintage Aviation Photos by Michael Prophet
- Caravelle Specifications by Christopher Lea
If you know of other useful Caravelle resources please feel free to share them.
As a bit of a task over the coming months, I plan to make 282 posts over the course of this thread, detailing the history and showing photos of each Caravelle. In doing this I will be using a couple of production lists for sources:
- Airlinerlist: http://www.planelist.net/types.html#caravelle
- RZJets: https://rzjets.net/aircraft/?page=1&typeid=1
I feel a personal connection to this aircraft type, as it was one of the first I flew on in 1987, from Auckland to Noumea - Air Caledonie International's Series 10B3 F-GEPC (msn 184). A new photo of this aircraft was added just yesterday to the database here (the one I used to illustrate the Series 10B3 above).
I hope you will all enjoy this thread dedicated to La Belle Caravelle!