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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.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.4,7,8 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

Nickname

The Germans gave the Sunderlands the nickname of Stachelschwein (porcupine).8

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 bombardier'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 19378 / 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: 758, 903
  • Sunderland Mk II: 433, 558
    • Manufacturer: Blackburn8, Short Brothers8
  • 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 Entered service in June 1938.3,5
  • Sunderland Mk II: Had two gun dorsal turret installed (late models7).2,3 Flew for first time in 1941.2 Entered service in May 1941.3,5 Had ASV Mk II radar installed.8
  • Sunderland Mk III: There was a shallower step.2,3,7 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: Introduced in 1943.2 Had ASV Mk VIc radar.8
  • Short S-25 Sunderland Civil Transport: Conversion in 1943.7 Armament removed.7 Used by British Airways.7
  • Short S-25/V Sandringham: Civilian transport.7 Conversion of Sunderland Mk III.7

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 / four8 squadrons in the Coastal Command that had Sunderlands.5 These were the No 204 at Sullom Voe, No 210 at Pembroke Dock, No 228 returning from Egypt, and No 230 in Singapore.8

Major Rescue

Two Sunderlands from Nos 204 and 228 Squadrons rescued the whole crew of the Kensington Court after it had been torpedoed.8

First U-Boat

On January 19408 / January 30, 1940, a Sunderland (of No 228 Squadron8) 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
Type Reconnaissance7
Crew Pilot, Copilot, radio operator, navigator, engineer, bombardier7
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus Mk XVIII7
Cylinders Radial 97
Cooling Air7
HP 1,065 each7
Propeller blades 3 blade De Havilland metal7
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"7
34.39 m7
Length 85' 4"7
26 m7
Height 32' 10.5"7
10 m7
Wing area 1,487 sq ft7
138 sq m7
Weight  
Empty 34,500 lb7
15,663 kg7
Loaded 58,000 lb7
26,332 kg7
Armament  
Nose turret 2: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret7
Dorsal turret 2: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret7
Tail turret 4: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret7
  Short Sunderland Mk I
Type Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine3, Reconnaissance5,6
Crew 10 - 133, 135
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XXII3,4,5,6,7
4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII2
Cylinders Radial2,7, Radial 93,5
Cooling Air5,7
HP 1,010 each3,4,5, 1,0652
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
Weight  
Empty 30,600 lb3
13,880 kg3
Loaded 44,600 lb4, 45,700 lb6, 45,210 lb3
20,507 kg3
Performance  
Speed 210 mph6
Speed @ 6,500' /
1,980 m
210 mph4,5
Cruising speed 178 mph4
Cruising speed @
5,750'
180 mph5
Service ceiling 17,900'5
Range 1,670 miles6, 2,980 miles5
Armament 7: MG5
8: 0.303" MG3
Nose turret 1: MG5
2: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret7
Dorsal turret 2: MG5
Tail turret 4: MG5
4: 0.303" MG in Fraser-Nash turret7
Fuselage Sides 2: 0.303" MG7
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 XVIII2,3,7
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 97
Cooling Air7
HP 1,065 each2,3
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
Armament  
Dorsal Turret - Late Models 2: MG7
  Short Sunderland Mk III
Type Flying boat1, Long range reconnaissance1, Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine1
Crew 101, 10 - 133
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus XVIII piston1,2,3,5,7
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 91,7
Cooling Air7
HP 1,064 each1, 1,065 each2,3,5
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
Performance  
Speed 211 mph1
341 kph1
Speed @ 6,500' /
1,980 m
210 mph3,7
336 kph7, 338 kph3
Cruising speed 178 mph3,7
285 kph7, 286 kph3
Climb 720' per minute3,7
219 m per minute3, 220 m per minute7
Service ceiling 16,000'3,7, 17,930'1
4,877 m3, 4,880 m7, 5,300 m1
Range 1,780 miles7, 1,780 - 2,900 miles3, 2,993 miles1
2,848 km7, 2,865 - 4,667 km3, 4,828 km1
Range - Overload 2,900 miles7
4,640 km7
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 boat2,8, Maritime patrol3, Anti submarine3
Crew 108, 10 - 133, 132
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830 piston2
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-903,8
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-90B7
4: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp5
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 143,7,8
Cooling Air7,8
HP 1,200 each2,3,7,8
Propeller blades 3 each3, 3 blade Hamilton Standard Hydromatic full feathering7
Dimensions  
Span 112' 9.5"2,3,8
34.36 m2,8, 34.38 m3
Length 85' 3.5"8, 85' 4"2,3
26 m8, 26.01 m2,3
Height 32' 10.5"2,3, 34' 6"8
10.01 m2, 10.02 m3, 10.52 m8
Wing area 1,487 ft2 2,8
138.14 m2 2,8
Weight  
Empty 36,900 lb3,8, 37,000 lb2
13,880 kg3, 16,738 kg8, 16,783 kg2
Maximum load 60,000 lb3,8, 65,000 lb2
27,216 kg3,8, 29,482 kg2
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,525 m
213 mph2,8
343 kph2, 349 kph8
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
Climb to 12,000' /
3,660 m
16 minutes8
Service ceiling 17,900'2,3,8
5,445 m8, 5,455 m2, 5,456 m3
Range 2,690 miles3,8, 2,980 miles2
4,329 km3, 4,765 km8, 4,795 km2
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG8
4: 0.303" MG7
Fuselage Sides 2: 0.303" MG7
Nose Turret /
Bow Turret
4: 7.7 mm MG2
2: 7.7 mm MG2
2: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG8
Dorsal Turret 2: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG8
Tail turret 4: 7.7 mm MG2
4: 0.303" / 7.7 mm MG8
Waist (optional) 2: 12.7 mm2
Under wings
(bombs, depth charges
mines, pyrotechnics)
2,000 lb2, 4,960 lb8
907 kg2, 2,250 kg8
  Short S-25 Sunderland Civilian Transport
Type Civilian Transport7
Passengers 207
Weight  
Empty 33,190 lb7
15,070 kg7
Loaded 55,000 lb7
24,970 kg7
Armament None7
  Short S-25/V Sandringham
Type Civilian Transport7
Crew 77
Pilot, Copilot, Radio Operator, Flight Engineer, Purser, Steward7
Passengers - Daytime 247
Passengers - Night 167
Engine (Type) 4: Bristol Pegasus 387
Cylinders Radial 97
Cooling Air7
Propeller blades 3 blade D.H. Hydromatic constant speed full feathering7
Fuel Capacity 2,032 gallons7
Weight  
Empty 34,150 lb7
15,505 kg7
Loaded 53,577 lb7
24,325 kg7
Performance  
Speed 216 mph7
346 kph7
Cruising Speed at 9,000' /
2,745 m
184.5 mph7
295 kph7
Climb 557' per minute7
170 m per minute7
Service ceiling 16,150'7
4,925 m7
Range - Cruising At 10,000' /
3,050 m
158.5 mph7
254 kph7
Range 1,575 miles7
2,520 km7

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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