The Boeing 314 Clipper was a long-range flying boat produced by the Boeing Airplane Company between 1938 and 1941 and is comparable to the British Short S.26. One of the largest aircraft of the time, it used the massive wing of Boeing’s earlier XB-15 bomber prototype to achieve the range necessary for flights across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Twelve Clippers were built for Pan Am, three of which were sold to BOAC in 1941 before delivery.
The first 314, Honolulu Clipper, entered regular service on the San Francisco-Hong Kong route in January 1939. A one-way trip on this route took over six days to complete. Commercial passenger service lasted less than three years, ending when the United States entered World War II in December 1941.
At the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, the Pacific Clipper was enroute to New Zealand. Rather than risk flying back to Honolulu and being shot down by Japanese fighters, it was decided to fly west to New York. Starting on December 8, 1941 at Auckland, New Zealand, the Pacific Clipper covered over 8,500 miles (13,700 km) via such exotic locales as Surabaya, Karachi, Bahrain, Khartoum and Leopoldville. The Pacific Clipper landed at Pan American's LaGuardia Field seaplane base at 7:12 on the morning of January 6, 1942.
The Yankee Clipper flew across the Atlantic on a route from Southampton to New York with intermediate stops at Foynes, Ireland, Botwood, Newfoundland, and Shediac, New Brunswick. The inaugural trip occurred on June 24, 1939.
The Clipper fleet was pressed into military service during World War II, and the flying boats were used for ferrying personnel and equipment to the European and Pacific fronts. In actual fact, only the markings on the aircraft changed: the Clippers continued to be flown by their experienced Pan Am civilian crews. American military cargo was carried via Natal, Brazil to Liberia, to supply the British forces at Cairo and even the Russians, via Teheran. The Model 314 was then the only aircraft in the world that could make the 2,150-statute mile (3,460 km) crossing over water. and were given the military designation C-98. Since the Pan Am pilots and crews had extensive expertise in using flying boats for extreme long-distance, over-water flights, the company's pilots and navigators continued to serve as flight crew. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to the Casablanca Conference in a Pan-Am crewed Boeing 314. Winston Churchill also flew on them several times adding to the Clippers’ fame during the war.