Apr 11, 2012

Sydney Canberra Airport, and how it might have been

A US colleague has drawn attention to a

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

A 1946 glimpse perhaps of a Sydney fast train at its Canberra airport

A US colleague has drawn attention to a portfolio of stunning futurist transport graphics created in the post war 40s which includes one, at the top of this post, which probably sums up the yearnings for a Canberra Airport for Sydney, connected to a very fast train.

The graphics by Arthur Radebaugh (1906-1974) were commissioned by the Bohn Aluminium and Brass Corporation of Detroit, Michigan, which was an engineering, design and manufacturing company.

BOHN The scheme of things to come

They envisaged an American future in which public transport was paramount, and which didn’t come to pass in the 66 years since they were drawn and airbrushed.

The art work generally featured aspects of a three tiered transport future, of large spacious triple decker rocket planes, high speed railroads, and large futuristic buses and monorails, although it did allow for private cars around the edges of the world it saw as arising in the latter decades of the 20th century.


Note the original Lockheed Constellation above the self-propellored monorail

Bohn Corporation switched its thematic advertising to a different and ferocious anti-Red focus in the early 50s, and then fades to black in history.

Arthur Radebaugh was more than an illustrator, and in the few references to him that survive, talks about  his concepts for future household products, and transport projects that also included large bridges using plastics as well as aluminium.  He drew a syndicated Sunday newspaper comic strip,  Closer than We Think, between 1958-1962.

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3 thoughts on “Sydney Canberra Airport, and how it might have been

  1. DB2820 Postman

    What fantastic pictures Ben.

    It would be great to be able to acquire decent copies.

  2. Bear

    Likewise, I love the paintings – all Buck Rogersy.

    That suspended self- propelled monorail has merit. It could be totally “green”, if the prop at the front and another one at the rear, were connected the by a channel through the carriages, by a high capacity “flexible drive device” (known as an FDD … and also as a “rubber band”). There could be armies of FDD service technicians going around winding the bands up again after every couple of trips, thereby fulfilling the promises by our current ruling regime, of Green Jobs.

  3. fractious

    Amazing artwork.

    Something from the 1930s (nowhere near as brilliantly rendered as Radebaugh’s work) that I could almost see working at Circular Quay…


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