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Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat; "The Flying Porcupine"

Photos

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short Sunderland flying boat in 1938:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat in 1938
Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat
Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short Sunderland flying boat attacking U-71:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat attacking U-71

Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat

Short Sunderland flying boat in June 1938:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat in June 1938
Short Sunderland flying boat, providing assistance in the rescue of the crew of the SS Kensington Court:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat,  providing assistance in the rescue of the crew of the SS Kensington Court

Short Sunderland flying boat, with WAAFS loading gear:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat, with WAAFS loading gear

Short Sunderland flying boat with the French Navy:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat
Short Sunderland Mk I flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk I flying boat
Short Sunderland Mk II flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk II flying boat
Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat

Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat
Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat in 1943:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat in 1943
Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat in 1943 at Sullom Voe:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat in 1943 at Sullom Voe
Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat
Short Collection
Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat

Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat
Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat

Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat with the SAAF:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat with the SAAF
Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat at Iwakuni:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat at Iwakuni
Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat with the RZNAF at Auckland:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat with the RZNAF at Auckland
Short Sunderland flying boat, in 1946 at Mechanics Bay, Aukland:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat, in 1946 at Mechanics Bay, Aukland
Short Sunderland flying boat, in 1947 at Tai Tak:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat, in 1947 at Tai Tak
Short Sunderland flying boat, in 1948 at Havel:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat, in 1948 at Havel
Short Sunderland flying boat, in 1954 at Hamble:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland Flying Boat, in 1954 at Hamble
Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat
Short Sunderland flying boat:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat
Short Sunderland flying boat during the Berlin Airlift:
Great Britain's Short Sunderland flying boat

Design

The Sunderland was developed before World War II.1 On November 23, 1933 the Air Ministry issued a specification, R.2/33, calling for a four engine monoplane flying boat to replace the biplane flying boats that were then in service.4 Saunders Roe also submitted a prototype but it crashed leaving Short the winner.4

To work on the Sunderland it had to be placed on a trolley to be moved to land.1

The Sunderland could fly 20 hour patrols.1

Turrets

The Sunderland was the first flying boat to have powered gun turrets.1,5 There was one each in the nose and rear.6

The nose turret was a powered Frazer-Nash that could be retracted into the nose.1

Fuselage

The hull was made from anodized light allow.4 To reduce drag the rivets on the external surface were countersunk.4

The forward section had double decks that had the ward room and an entrance door below the flight deck.4 The mooring compartment had the anchor and a J-Type dinghy.4

The most forward area was a bomb-aimer's window that was hinged outward.4

The rear section of the fuselage contained crew quarters, galley, and bomb stowage.1 The galley had a Clyde Cooker and there was 25 gallons of water available.4 There was also a sink.4

The crews quarters had 4 bunks for the crew to rest during long patrols.4 There was a flushing toilet that had an 11 gallon tank.4

The upper fuselage had the ASV Mk II surface radar aerials mounted.1

Tail

The tail was a metal frame with a fabric cover on the control surfaces.1

Bombs

The bombs were stored internally in the fuselage and were then cranked out under the wings for dropping.1,5

Wings

The wings were an all metal cantilever construction that went around a main spar.4 The wings had three fuel tanks each.4

Prototype

On October 16, 19373,4,5, the Short Sunderland made its first flight from the River Medway.1,2 The Sunderland Mk I first flew on April 21, 1938.4 The Sunderland Mk II first flew in June 1942.5 The Sunderland Mk V first flew in August 19435 / March 1944.3,5

An initial order for 10 / 215 was placed in March 1936 as the S.25 prototype started trials due to the Air Ministry wanting to get the Sunderland into service as quickly as possible.4,5

Mk I Service Trials

Service trials for the Sunderland Mk I started on April 24, 1938 at the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment (MAEE) at Felixstowe.4 The next one (L2159) arrived on May 9, 1938.4

Production

  • Sunderland Mk I: 903
  • Sunderland Mk II: 433
  • Sunderland Mk III: 4623
  • Sunderland Mk IV: 83
  • Sunderland Mk V: 1543
  • Total: 7213, 7415, 7493
    • Manufacturer: Blackburn3, Short Brothers Ltd.1,2,3,5
    • Production: 1937 - 19455, 37 until October 1945 / 19463

Variants

  • S.25: Prototype.3,5 Powered by Bristol Pegasus engines (950 HP4).3,4
  • Sunderland Mk I: Had a forward step in the bottom of the fuselage.2 Had four Bristol Pegasus XVIII radial engines (1,065 HP).2 Entered service in June 1938.3,5
  • Sunderland Mk II: Had two gun dorsal turret installed.2,3 Flew for first time in 1941.2 Had four Bristol Pegasus XVIII radial engines (1,065 HP).2 Entered service in May 1941.3,5
  • Sunderland Mk III: There was a shallower step.2,3 Had four Bristol Pegasus XVIII radial engines (1,065 HP).2,5 Entered service in December 1941 / 19422.3 Had additional fuel.3 ASV (air surface radar) installed.3
  • Sunderland Mk IV: Known as Seaford.2,3 Didn't see service in World War II.2
  • Sunderland Mk V: Had Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines.2,5 Introduced in 1943.2

Usage

The countries that used the Sunderland were Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand.3

17 / 283 Royal Air Force squadrons were equipped with the Sunderland.1,2

On one occasion a singe Sunderland fought off eight Ju 88s and shot down two of them.1

First Deployment

The No 210 and 230 Squadrons were first to receive the Sunderland in the summer of 1938.2

The No 210 Squadron received its first two (L2159 and L2160 Selangor) in Singapore on June 22 and July 4, 1938.4

No 230 Squadron received its first three (L2161 Selangor, L2164 Pehang, and L2166 Perak).4

World War II

At the start of World War II there were three squadrons in the Coastal Command that had Sunderlands.5

First U-Boat

On January 30, 1940, a Sunderland destroyed its first U-Boat.5

Crete Evacuation

During the evacuation from Crete Sunderlands carried 82 soldiers along with its crew of 10.1

Berlin Air Lift

Sunderlands were used in the Berlin Air Lift and delivered 4,800 tons / 4,877 tonnes.1,5

France

France was the last military to used the Sunderland, retiring them in the 1960s.1

Specifications

  Short Sunderland Mk I
Type Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine3, Reconnaissance5,6
Crew 10 - 133, 135
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XXII3,4,5,6
Cylinders Radial 93,5
Cooling Air5
HP 1,010 each3,4,5
Propeller blades 3 each3,5
Dimensions  
Span 112' 8"4,5, 112' 9"6, 112' 9.5"3
34.38 m3
Length 85' 4"3,6, 85' 8"4,5
26.01 m3
Height 32' 10"5,6, 32' 10.5"3
10.02 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 30,600 lb3
13,880 kg3
Loaded 44,600 lb4, 45,700 lb6, 45,210 lb3
20,507 kg3
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 210 mph6
Speed @ 6,500' /
1,980 m
210 mph4,5
Cruising speed 178 mph4
Cruising speed @
5,750'
180 mph5
Climb  
Service ceiling 17,900'5
Range 1,670 miles6, 2,980 miles5
Armament 7: MG5
8: 0.303" MG3
Nose turret 1: MG5
Dorsal turret 2: MG5
Tail turret 4: MG5
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
2,000 lb3,5
907 kg3
  Short Sunderland Mk II
Type Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine3
Crew 10 - 133
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII3
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP 1,065 each3
Propeller blades 3 each3
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"3
34.38 m3
Length 85' 4"3
26.01 m3
Height 32' 10.5"3
10.02 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Short Sunderland Mk III
Type Flying boat1, Long range reconnaissance1, Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine1
Crew 101, 10 - 133
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII piston1,2,3
Cylinders Radial2 91
Cooling  
HP 1,064 each1, 1,065 each2,3
Propeller blades 3 each1,3
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"3, 113'1
34.38 m1,3
Length 85'1, 85' 4"3
26.01 m1,3
Height 32'1, 32' 10.5"3
9.79 m1, 10.02 m3
Wing area 1,486 ft2 1
138.14 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 34,459 lb1
15,663 kg1
Loaded 57,878 lb1
26,308 kg1
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 211 mph1
341 kph1
Speed @ 6,500' /
1,980 m
210 mph3
338 kph3
Cruising speed 178 mph3
286 kph3
Climb 720'/minute3
219 m/minute3
Service ceiling 16,000'3, 17,930'1
4,877 m3, 5,300 m1
Range 1,780 - 2,900 miles3, 2,993 miles1
2,865 - 4,667 km3, 4,828 km1
Armament  
Nose turret 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
Dorsal turret 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
Tail turret 4: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
Waist (optional) 4: 7.7 mm Browning MG1
2: 12.7 mm Browning MG1
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
4,950 lb1
2,250 kg1
  Short Sunderland Mk V
Type Reconnaissance flying boat2, Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine3
Crew 10 - 133, 132
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830 piston2
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-903
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 143
Cooling  
HP 1,200 each2,3
Propeller blades 3 each3
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"2,3
34.36 m2, 34.38 m3
Length 85' 4"2,3
26.01 m2,3
Height 32' 10.5"2,3
10.01 m2, 10.02 m3
Wing area 1,487 ft2 2
138.14 m2 2
Weight  
Empty 36,900 lb3, 37,000 lb2
13,880 kg3, 16,783 kg2
Loaded  
Maximum load 60,000 lb3, 65,000 lb2
27,216 kg3, 29,482 kg2
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,525 m
213 mph2
343 kph2
Speed @ 6,500' /
1,980 m
213 mph3
342 kph3
Cruising speed 133 mph3
214 kph3
Climb 814'/minute3, 840'/minute2
248 m/minute3, 256 m/minute2
Service ceiling 17,900'2,3
5,455 m2, 5,456 m3
Range 2,690 miles3, 2,980 miles2
4,329 km3, 4,795 km2
Armament  
Nose turret 4: 7.7 mm MG2
Tail turret 4: 7.7 mm MG2
Waist (optional) 2: 12.7 mm2
Bow turret 2: 7.7 mm MG2
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
2,000 lb2
907 kg2

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2, Jon Lake, 2000
  5. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  6. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
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