Globe-Shrinking Pioneer

Boeing’s 707 was the world’s third jetliner type to enter service – following the British Comet and Soviet Tu-104 – but the American machine truly set the template for the Jet Age, as Charles Kennedy explains

Qantas Boeing 707 N31239 photographed at high altitude in 1965.
PHOTOS GETTY IMAGES/BETTMANN • VIA MICHEL DEPAEPE • GUY VAN HERBRUGGEN • CHARLES KENNEDY• KEY COLLECTION • AMORY ARCHIVES

While famous for its bombers, Boeing also made inroads during the golden age of the propliner. It built 83 airframes of the Model 40, a four-seat biplane, in the 1920s and then 83 ten-seat B-247s, a twin-engined all-metal monoplane that operated the first transcontinental passenger flights not requiring an overnight hotel stop.

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