Building the SGT

This page is a mix of pictures taken during the various stages of construction of the 377SGT line of transports. Some photos were shot documenting the construction of the prototype SGT, while others were taken while Aero Spacelines was preparing the SGT components for shipment to France for the construction of Nos. 3 and 4.

In this series of drawings, the modifications needed to turn a 377/C-97 into either the MGT or SGT are easily seen. First the fuselage stations must be split and re-numbered to account for the lengthening of the fuselage. Notice the numbered fuselage sections in the 377/C-97 drawing. In the drawing of the SGT, it is noted that the original 377/C-97 nose section is pressurized while the upper forward section of the fuselage is left un-pressurized.
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In this drawing of the wing modifications, notice the center section was to be lengthened from the original 8 ft. to 23 ft. increasing the wing span from the original 141 ft. to over 156 ft. The engine and nacelle changes are also noted, but don't appear to be accurate shapes, just representations of the changes planned.
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A 58 inch section was added to the bottom of the vertical stabilizer with a 48 inch tip extention. The original rudder was retained but a new larger dorsal fin was added to compensate for the large increase in fuselage size.

The horizontal stabilizer was probably the least modified of any part of the original 377/C-97 parts used. The MGT and SGT used the original stabilizers and elevators, with the same 48 inch tip extentions added to both for additional pitch stability in flight.
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With the success Airbus Industries was having with the Super Guppys in Europe, they tabled an offer to ASI with several options; to buy the original 377SG Super Guppy outright as is; re-engined with the same Allison turboprops the two SGTs used; with the cockpit fully pressurized; with full certification. Or, the possiblity of building either one or two additional SGT transports depending on NASA's decision to purchase the original Super Guppy.

Officials at Aero Spacelined responded that the proposal to re-engine the Super Guppy with the Allisons wasn't practical because the Super Guppy weighed 15,000 lbs. more than the SGT and had more aerodynamic drag and needed the extra 1,500 HP per engine to overcome the additional weight and drag. Pressurizing the cockpit section wouldn't be too difficult, but full certification was out of the question. NASA's decision to purchase the original Super Guppy would soon make all of these questions moot.

In the agreement finally worked out, Aero Spacelines was to act as a sub-contractor in preparing the 377/C-97 components for the final manufacture and assembly of two additional SGT aircraft in France. Seen in this drawing the yellow highlight sections are the tasks to be done by ASI, and the remainder to be done by Airbus Industrie.
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In this picture we see the original 377/C-97 cockpit section in the process of being mated to the enlarged fuselage. Notice the still exposed bulkheads and stringers. The uppermost portion of the scaffolding is about 4 stories high. This photo was taken inside the ASI hanger at Santa Barbara, California.
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Here we can see the rear view of the opening nose section of the fuselage. Parts of the scaffolding will later be rearranged for final fitting of the nose section to the rear portion of the fuselage. Note the engineering model in the foreground. It appears to be made up of all of the fuselage bulkheads in scale size and placement. By comparing it to the size of the risers on the staircase, it's about 5 to 6 feet long, slightly smaller than the R/C model built by Dan and me.
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This is the control panel for the hydraulic nose locking pins just inside the forward access door. The nosewheel drive unit has not been installed yet. The doorway on the left side of the photo is the cockpit access door with pressure bulkhead. Notice that the ladder up to the cockpit is still missing.
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Seen here is the tail group jigged into place for final joining to the fuselage. The rudder has been mounted, but the elevators have been left off for this stage of construction. Also notice that the upper and lower portions of the fuselage are awaiting the final section of aluminum skin.
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The fuselage received the greatest lengthening behind the wing. This picture shows part of the lower fuselage section with the wing fairing being constructed. Notice also the numerous fuselage bulkheads behind the fairing section of the fuselage, leaning against the wall.
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One of the major sub-assemblies ASI agreed to supply for the construction of SGT Nos. 3 and 4 was the cockpit section with the pressure bulkhead installed. Notice the filler bulkheads applied to the outside of the nose. These were needed to support the aluminium skin at the nose/ fuselage fillet. Also seen in the background under the nose section is the wing/fuselage sub-assembly. This sub-assembly housed the wing center section and center fuel tank.
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The nose section is being lowered onto a "Guppy" pallet for shipment to France. The nose is basically an empty shell at this point. Note the empty radar housing in the nose. The nosegear wheel well has been re-worked to accept a modified Boeing 707 nosegear. Bulkheads have also been added on the upper part of the nose including provisions for the upper cockpit windows.
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Workmen are attaching the nose section to the "Guppy" pallet via a hard point built into the nosegear wheel well. Until the nose was firmly attached, this was a precarious operation to say the least. Notice the ropes used to steady the nose, tied to the fuselage formers.
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The 377/C-97 cockpit section has been readied for shipping, and is being loaded onto SGT No. 1, to be flown to France. The nose section is being lowered onto the loading platform by a crane (not seen here). Once the nose is on the platform, it will be pulled in and secured for flight.
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The nose is seen here in France after a successful crossing of the Atlantic. Unloading the nose section in France was essentially a reverse process of the loading operation. There was nothing small about the Guppys. Everything needed to be "outsized".
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