Boeing 720
1959
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Boeing 720

The Boeing 720 is the intermediate-range member of the Boeing jet transport family. Although a completely different design from the weight and structural strength standpoints, the 720 is similar to the 707-120 in external outline aerodynamic design and control systems, but with a shorter fuselage similar to a 717/KC-135A. This has made possible the use of 707 passenger cabin interiors, flight deck, systems components and most 707 interchangeable and replaceable parts and spares.

The most important aerodynamic change compared with the 707-120 is a refinement to the wing leading-edge, which increases the angle of sweepback and decreases the thickness/chord ratio, with consequent improvement in take-off performance and cruising speed. These modifications were incorporated subsequently on the Boeing 707-120B.

Major weight saving has been achieved by lightening the structure to the extent made possible by reducing the standard fuel load. First ordered by United Airlines, only 154 Boeing 720s were built before production ceased in September 1967, the type being replaced by the Boeing 727.

Boeing 720


Specification 
 CREW3-4
 PASSENGERS110-149
 ENGINE4 x P+W JT-3 D-1, 75.6kN
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight103870 kg228995 lb
    Empty weight49705 kg109581 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan39.9 m131 ft 11 in
    Length41.5 m136 ft 2 in
    Height11.7 m38 ft 5 in
    Wing area226.0 m22432.64 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Cruise speed1000 km/h621 mph
    Ceiling12800 m42000 ft
    Range w/max.fuel8400 km5220 miles
    Range w/max.payload6700 km4163 miles

Boeing 720

Comments
George Haloulakos, CFA, 19.08.2014

I recall flying on the 720B via Continental Airlines from LA to San Antonio during the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. It was a wonderful aircraft and was an integral part of Continental's "Proud Bird With the Golden Tail" brand. My first jet aircraft flight was on the 720B in 1965 when Continental featured a fun service out of LAX in which families and individuals could enjoy a 1-hour survey flight over Southern California [where passengers could have a bird's eye view the sea, mountains and desert]. Does any one else recall this amazing service offering as a nice memory from that wonderful era of jet travel?

Brian Rose, 11.12.2010

I was an air traffic controller at LAX from 1971-1973. This was in the era of "pump and bang" (ATC talk) when there was hardly any flow control. The tower is suppose to provide initial separation (3 miles in trail) with departures. On takeoff, when the first plane reached midfield you would clear the second plane for takeoff. The accleration factor would give you about 2 miles in trail (pump and bang) by the time the second plane was mid field. When Continental started flying the 720B, we found out that they would chew the tail feathers off the plane ahead of them real fast. They were real hot rods and the Continental crews loved them.

Lawrence, 16.08.2010

Heller has a larger scale model of the 707. I think it is in 1/72 scale. It came with Air France and BOAC livery

Ron Stout, 16.01.2010

Western Airklines never intended operating jets,however,when other carrier got them we couldn't give tickets on our Electra's away so we accepted Boeings offer of the 720B (fanjet).Best thing that ever happened.It made money all over our routes,could get in and out of high altitude places in summer with full loads and creamed Mexicana's Comets with its greater speed into Mexico City from L.A.

Lonnie Vickerman, 04.10.2009

My name is Lonnie and I wish there were more larger
model versions other than 1/144th. I used to have a
western airlines 720 in 1/104th by Aurora back in the
mid 70s. I also got to fly on a real 720 to England.

The 720 I went on was Easterns Golden Falcon jet.

A trip i will never forget as long as I live.

The Boeing 720 had its problems I am sure.

More later

Gary Kerr, 24.11.2008

Continental really moved their tail for us in Austin. I was an Air Traffic Controller trainee at Robert Mueller in early 1975 and was always amazed, and somewhat dismayed, at the way the Continental pilots flew their 720s. None of that "no turns on departure until reaching 400 feet" stuff, if we asked Continental 720s to turn, they'd turn, and turn NOW. Taking off from Robert Mueller's 12R, it seemed that the Continental 720 pilots enjoyed weaving in and out of the steady stream of F4s that were always southbound on approach to Bergstrom. We got many complaints from F4 pilots about the Continental jets that were buzzing them. (It was always Continental and almost always their 720s.) Though we tried radar separation from the controllers at Bergstrom (too slow), and visual separation from the controllers at Robert Mueller (not very precise), and visual separation from the F4s (they were too busy with their practice PAR approaches to look outside their cockpits) and civilian pilots (too eager, in the case of Continental, to buzz the F4s), it seems, in the end, that the only solution to that SNAFU intersection that existed where the arrival path to Bergstrom met with the departure path from Robert Mueller was to close Robert Mueller.

Jerry Dixon, 24.07.2008

I flew the 707/720-B series at CAL from 1964 until they were phased out in 1974. The 720-B was the most fun of all the machines CAL had in regard to performance. Only short fall was the wheel and brake system. Much smaller than 707's. If you had short distances between take off and landing, fuse plugs were a concern. Between PHX and TUS you did not retract the gear for cooling purpose. I am sure when Boeing said medium range distances, they did not have that segment in mind.

Phillip Byrnes, 01.05.2008

I enjoyed flying the 720 for Western Airlines. It was a real hot rod!

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