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

Photos

  • Short Sunderland prototype flying boat
  • Short Sunderland flying boat
  • Short Sunderland flying boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk I flying boat
  • short-sunderland-mk-i-flying-boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk I flying boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk II flying boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk III flying boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk V flying boat
  • Short Sunderland Mk V prototype flying boat
  • Short Sunderland flying boat
  • Short Sunderland flying boat
  • Italian submarine Reginaldo Giuliani
  • U-Boat 625
  • U-Boat 625
  • U-Boat 625
  • Short Sunderland flying boat
  • Short Sunderland flying boat

Design

The Sunderland was developed before World War II. 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. Saunders Roe also submitted a prototype but it crashed leaving Short the winner.

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

The Sunderland could fly 20 hour patrols.

Nickname

The Germans gave the Sunderlands the nickname of Stachelschwein (porcupine).

Turrets

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

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

Fuselage

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

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

The most forward area was a bombardier's window that was hinged outward.

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

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

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

Tail

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

Bombs

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

Wings

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

Prototype

On October 1937 / October 16, 1937, the Short Sunderland made its first flight from the River Medway. The Sunderland Mk I first flew on April 21, 1938. The Sunderland Mk II first flew in June 1942. The Sunderland Mk V first flew in August 1943 / March 1944.

An initial order for 10 / 21 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.

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. The next one (L2159) arrived on May 9, 1938.

Production

  • Sunderland Mk I: 75, 90
  • Sunderland Mk II: 43, 55
    • Manufacturer: Blackburn, Short Brothers
  • Sunderland Mk III: 462
  • Sunderland Mk IV: 8
  • Sunderland Mk V: 154
  • Total: 721, 741, 749
    • Manufacturer: Blackburn, Short Brothers Ltd.
    • Production: 1937 - 1945, 37 until October 1945 / 1946

Variants

  • S.25: Prototype. Powered by Bristol Pegasus engines (950 HP).
  • Sunderland Mk I: Had a forward step in the bottom of the fuselage. Entered service in June 1938.
  • Sunderland Mk II: Had two gun dorsal turret installed (late models). Flew for first time in 1941. Entered service in May 1941. Had ASV Mk II radar installed.
  • Sunderland Mk III: There was a shallower step. Entered service in December 1941 / 1942. Had additional fuel. ASV (air surface radar) installed.
  • Sunderland Mk IV: Known as Seaford. Didn't see service in World War II.
  • Sunderland Mk V: Introduced in 1943. Had ASV Mk VIc radar.
  • Short S-25 Sunderland Civil Transport: Conversion in 1943. Armament removed. Used by British Airways.
  • Short S-25/V Sandringham: Civilian transport. Conversion of Sunderland Mk III.

Usage

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

17 / 28 Royal Air Force squadrons were equipped with the Sunderland.

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

First Deployment

The No 210 and 230 Squadrons were first to receive the Sunderland in the summer of 1938.

The No 210 Squadron received its first two (L2159 and L2160 Selangor) in Singapore on June 22 and July 4, 1938.

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

World War II

At the start of World War II there were three / four squadrons in the Coastal Command that had Sunderlands. These were the No 204 at Sullom Voe, No 210 at Pembroke Dock, No 228 returning from Egypt, and No 230 in Singapore.

Major Rescue

Two Sunderlands from Nos 204 and 228 Squadrons rescued the whole crew of the Kensington Court after it had been torpedoed.

First U-Boat

On January 1940 / January 30, 1940, a Sunderland (of No 228 Squadron) destroyed its first U-Boat.

Crete Evacuation

During the evacuation from Crete Sunderlands carried 82 soldiers along with its crew of 10.

Berlin Air Lift

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

France

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

Specifications

  Short Sunderland
Type Reconnaissance
Crew Pilot, Copilot, radio operator, navigator, engineer, bombardier
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus Mk XVIII
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 1,065 each
Propeller blades 3 blade De Havilland metal
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"
34.39 m
Length 85' 4"
26 m
Height 32' 10.5"
10 m
Wing area 1,487 sq ft
138 sq m
Weight  
Empty 34,500 lb
15,663 kg
Loaded 58,000 lb
26,332 kg
Armament  
Nose turret 2: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret
Dorsal turret 2: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret
Tail turret 4: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret
  Short Sunderland Mk I
Type Maritime patrol, Anti submarine, Reconnaissance
Crew 10 - 13, 13
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XXII
4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 1,010 each, 1,065
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 112' 8", 112' 9", 112' 9.5"
34.38 m
Length 85' 4", 85' 8"
26.01 m
Height 32' 10", 32' 10.5"
10.02 m
Weight  
Empty 30,600 lb
13,880 kg
Loaded 44,600 lb, 45,700 lb, 45,210 lb
20,507 kg
Performance  
Speed 210 mph
Speed at 6,500' / 1,980 m 210 mph
Cruising speed 178 mph
Cruising speed at 5,750' 180 mph
Service ceiling 17,900'
Range 1,670 miles, 2,980 miles
Armament 7: MG
8: 0.303" MG
Nose turret 1: MG
2: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret
Dorsal turret 2: MG
Tail turret 4: MG
4: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret
Fuselage Sides 2: 0.303" MG
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
2,000 lb
907 kg
  Short Sunderland Mk II
Type Maritime patrol, Anti submarine
Crew 10 - 13
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 1,065 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"
34.38 m
Length 85' 4"
26.01 m
Height 32' 10.5"
10.02 m
Armament  
Dorsal Turret - Late Models 2: MG
  Short Sunderland Mk III
Type Flying boat, Long range reconnaissance, Maritime patrol, Anti submarine
Crew 10, 10 - 13
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 1,064 each, 1,065 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5", 113'
34.38 m
Length 85', 85' 4"
26.01 m
Height 32', 32' 10.5"
9.79 m, 10.02 m
Wing area 1,486 ft2
138.14 m2
Weight  
Empty 34,459 lb
15,663 kg
Loaded 57,878 lb
26,308 kg
Performance  
Speed 211 mph
341 kph
Speed at 6,500' / 1,980 m 210 mph
336 kph, 338 kph
Cruising speed 178 mph
285 kph, 286 kph
Climb 720' per minute
219 m per minute, 220 m per minute
Service ceiling 16,000', 17,930'
4,877 m, 4,880 m, 5,300 m
Range 1,780 miles, 1,780 - 2,900 miles, 2,993 miles
2,848 km, 2,865 - 4,667 km, 4,828 km
Range - Overload 2,900 miles
4,640 km
Armament  
Nose turret 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG
Dorsal turret 2: 7.7 mm Browning MG
Tail turret 4: 7.7 mm Browning MG
Waist (optional) 4: 7.7 mm Browning MG
2: 12.7 mm Browning MG
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
4,950 lb
2,250 kg
  Short Sunderland Mk V
Type Reconnaissance flying boat, Maritime patrol, Anti submarine
Crew 10, 10 - 13, 13
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830 piston
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-90
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-90B
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 1,200 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 blade Hamilton Standard Hydromatic full feathering
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"
34.36 m, 34.38 m
Length 85' 3.5", 85' 4"
26 m, 26.01 m
Height 32' 10.5", 34' 6"
10.01 m, 10.02 m, 10.52 m
Wing area 1,487 ft2
138.14 m2
Weight  
Empty 36,900 lb, 37,000 lb
13,880 kg, 16,738 kg, 16,783 kg
Maximum load 60,000 lb, 65,000 lb
27,216 kg, 29,482 kg
Performance  
Speed at 5,000' / 1,525 m 213 mph
343 kph, 349 kph
Speed at 6,500' / 1,980 m 213 mph
342 kph
Cruising speed 133 mph
214 kph
Climb 814'/minute, 840'/minute
248 m/minute, 256 m/minute
Climb to 12,000' / 3,660 m 16 minutes
Service ceiling 17,900'
5,445 m, 5,455 m, 5,456 m
Range 2,690 miles, 2,980 miles
4,329 km, 4,765 km, 4,795 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG
4: 0.303" MG
Fuselage Sides 2: 0.303" MG
Nose Turret / Bow Turret 4: 7.7 mm MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
2: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG
Dorsal Turret 2: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG
Tail turret 4: 7.7 mm MG
4: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG
Waist (optional) 2: 12.7 mm
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
2,000 lb, 4,960 lb
907 kg, 2,250 kg
  Short S-25 Sunderland Civilian Transport
Type Civilian Transport
Passengers 20
Weight  
Empty 33,190 lb
15,070 kg
Loaded 55,000 lb
24,970 kg
Armament None
  Short S-25/V Sandringham
Type Civilian Transport
Crew 7
Pilot, Copilot, Radio Operator, Flight Engineer, Purser, Steward
Passengers - Daytime 24
Passengers - Night 16
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus 38
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
Propeller blades 3 blade D.H. Hydromatic constant speed full feathering
Fuel Capacity 2,032 gallons
Weight  
Empty 34,150 lb
15,505 kg
Loaded 53,577 lb
24,325 kg
Performance  
Speed 216 mph
346 kph
Cruising Speed at 9,000' / 2,745 m 184.5 mph
295 kph
Climb 557' per minute
170 m per minute
Service ceiling 16,150'
4,925 m
Range - Cruising At 10,000' / 3,050 m 158.5 mph
254 kph
Range 1,575 miles
2,520 km

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
  7. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  8. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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