This edition of our Aeroplane Collectors' Archive concentrates on early British fl ying-boat development from 1913,
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Golden Age of Flying-boats Cutaways and archive images
Pioneering British flying-boat development
First flown on March 28, 1938, Stranraer I K7293 ‘S’ (furthest from the camera), joined 228 Squadron at Pembroke Dock the same day. The flying-boat went on to see service with 209 Squadron and BOAC before settling with 240 Squadron in December 1940. In February the following year the aircraft sank in a gale at Stranraer and despite being salvaged and allocated to Scottish Aviation for repair, K7293 was struck off charge in April 1941
HIS EDITION OF our Aeroplane Collectors’ Archive concentrates on early British ﬂying-boat development from 1913, through to the RAF’s last biplane ﬂying-boat to enter service – the Supermarine Stranraer in 1937. The original concept for this issue was to focus on biplane ﬂying-boats but we have included such types as the Inverness, Prawn and Windhover. As with previous issues, technical information is kept to a minimum and attention is paid to photographs drawn from The Aeroplane’s archive. The time period covered in this issue is little more than 20 years but the range of types and the technical advances achieved in this time is astonishing. It is hard to believe that ‘Tommy’ Sopwith’s Bat Boat, which ﬁrst ﬂew in 1913, helped to germinate a seed that would grow, within a generation, into the Short Singapore III or the Supermarine Stranraer. Those pioneering designers who ﬁrst envisaged a ﬂying-boat faced considerably more problems than their land-based counter-parts. However, the rewards and the ﬂexibility of such a machine saw the ﬂying-boat era continuing on into the 1950s. The hull design and suﬃciently powerful and reliable engines were always key to the success
of a ﬂying-boat, which often had to perform better on the water than in the air, if it stood any chance of being developed or ordered by a civilian or military customer. As always, with any form of military technology, advances happen quicker during a war and the First World War did no harm in accelerating this process. The post-war period saw the RAF employing Felixstowe type-machines in quantity and the demand for the ﬂying-boat did not relent during the 1920s when the Supermarine Southampton ruled the roost. Hull design continued to evolve and, reluctantly, designers gave in to ﬂying-boats being made from metal. The Southampton saw the end of larger orders by the RAF and, up to the arrival of the Sunderland, the big multi-engined ﬂying-boats were only ordered in relatively low numbers. I hope that this issue of Aeroplane Collectors’ Archive gives the reader a taste of a pioneering and bygone age of which we shall never see the likes again. Martyn Chorlton, Editor
Oswald Short (second from right) shows dignitaries around a Short S.8 ‘Calcutta’ on the River Medway at Rochester in 1929. Aeroplane Aeroplane Collectors’ Archive
Golden Age of Flying-Boats Editor Martyn Chorlton Digital Image Manager 3FCFDDB(JCCTtScanning assistant .JDIBFM)VUDIJOHTtImage restoration Paul Sanderson Published by Kelsey Publishing Group, Cudham Tithe Barn, Berry’s Hill, Cudham, Kent TN16 3AG. Telephone 01959 541444 Fax 01959 541400 www.kelsey.co.uk Printed by William Gibbons & Sons Ltd., Willenhall, West Midlands. © 2012 all rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden except with prior permission in writing from the publisher. The publisher cannot accept responsibility for errors in articles or advertisements. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Editor or Publisher. ISBN 978-1-907426-71-1
Golden Age of Flying-boats 6
NORMAN THOMPSON N.T.4 AND 4A
The first British-built ‘America’ flying-boat
10 FELIXSTOWE PORTE BABY The RNAS’s first big patrol flying-boat
12 NORMAN THOMPSON N.T.2B Mass produced side-by-side fully-enclosed trainer
14 SHORT S.8 CALCUTTA
A new three-engined flying-boat for the Imperial Airways fleet
18 SHORT S.17 KENT The luxurious Mediterranean cruiser
23 FELIXSTOWE F.1 (PORTE)
The pioneering aircraft which helped to launch Britain as a world leader in aviation
24 FELIXSTOWE F.2, F.2A AND F.2C Long and loyal service for the RNAS and the RAF
27 FELIXSTOWE F.3
More power, bigger war load and a longer range
30 FELIXSTOWE F.5
Cdr John Porte’s last in a successful line of military patrol flying-boats
34 VICKERS VIKING, VULTURE AND VANELLUS A very successful series of amphibians
36 SHORT S.19 SINGAPORE III
The back-bone of RAF flying-boat units throughout the 1930s up to the early stages of the Second World War
43 SUPERMARINE SOUTHAMPTON MK I AND MK II R J Mitchell’s classic 1920s design
48 SUPERMARINE SEAGULL MK I TO MK III
The amphibian flying-boat family developed from the Seal
52 SARO LONDON I AND II
A ‘General Purpose Open Sea Patrol Flying-Boat’ for the RAF
56 SUPERMARINE WALRUS The ubiquitous ‘Shagbat’!
63 SUPERMARINE SCAPA
Mitchell returns to the tried and tested design philosophy
66 SHORT S.14 SARAFAND
Contents Short Brothers’ giant, which was the largest aircraft in Britain at the time
68 BLACKBURN IRIS MK I TO MK IV The largest aircraft in service with the RAF during the 1930s
70 BLACKBURN PERTH
A comfortable, self-sufficient, upgrade of the Iris
72 SHORT S.8/8 RANGOON The military version of the S.8 Calcutta
76 SUPERMARINE STRANRAER II Biplane flying-boat development finally comes to an end
81 BRISTOL PEGASUS ENGINE
One of the finest British aero engines of the inter-war period
LIMITED PRODUCTION MODELS 84 SOPWITH BAT BOAT TYPE 1, 1A AND 2 85 SUPERMARINE A.D. NORMAN THOMPSON N.2C 86 FELIXSTOWE F.4 FURY (PORTE ‘SUPER BABY’) SUPERMARINE CHANNEL I AND II 87 PHOENIX P.5 CORK I/ ENGLISH ELECTRIC P.5 KINGSTON SAUNDERS KITTIWAKE 88 SUPERMARINE SEA KING I AND II SUPERMARINE COMMERCIAL AMPHIBIAN 89 VICKERS-SAUNDERS BS.1 VALENTIA SUPERMARINE SEAL I AND II 90 FAIREY N.4 ATALANTA AND TITANIA SUPERMARINE SEA LION I-III 91 ENGLISH ELECTRIC M.3 AYR SUPERMARINE SEA EAGLE 92 SUPERMARINE SWAN I AND II BEARDMORE BERO 2 INVERNESS (ROHRBACH RO IV) 93 SHORT SINGAPORE I SAUNDERS A.4 MEDINA 94 SAUNDERS A.3 VALKYRIE SUPERMARINE NANOK/SOLENT 95 SUPERMARINE SHELDRAKE PARNALL P.1 PRAWN 96 SAUNDERS A.7 SEVERN SARO A.21 WINDHOVER 97 SHORT SINGAPORE II SUPERMARINE SEAGULL V
Norman Thompson N.T.4 & 4A THE N.T.4 WAS the Norman Thompson Aircraft Company’s first design following the departure of Douglas White in late 1915. The N.T.4 appeared on the scene at the same time as Curtiss H.4 and in a confusing custom of the day, both flying-boats were referred to as the ‘America’ and later the ‘Small America’. As a result, the historical records for the Curtiss machine are stronger and the N.T.4 has been unfairly sidelined in the archives. The N.T.4 was designed to operate as a patrol flying-boat. Powered by two Hispano-Suiza engines, it had the novelty of a fully-enclosed, glazed cockpit, a luxury that not even aircraft during the 1920s enjoyed. The first versions did suffer from poor visibility for the pilot but this was later improved when the cockpit roof was glazed. The RNAS placed an initial order for ten aircraft in December 1915; the first six of this order (8338-8343) were powered by 150hp Hispano-Suiza engines. All subsequent aircraft (9061-9064 and N2140-N2159) were powered by the 200hp geared version and
were designated as the N.T.4A. By mid-1917, Norman Thompson had 50 orders on the books but, by the summer of 1918, with the end of the war approaching, the order was cancelled and only 30 aircraft were built. The N.T.4 was used exclusively for anti-submarine operations from stations stretching from Calshot in the south to Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. Armament was one free-mounted Lewis machine-gun with bombs that could be carried on racks under the wings. One N.T.4, No.8338, was fitted with a 2lb Davis recoilless gun mounted on top of the cockpit; the idea never progressed beyond the experimental stage.
Main image: staff of the Norman Thompson Flight Company during happier times in front of N.T.4 No.9064. Following a sudden change in RNAS requirements, which resulted in the cancellation, 20 N.T.4As, combined with continuous problems with the N.T.2Bs engines, the company went into receivership on April 19, 1918. Liquidated in July 1919, the company’s remaining assets were bought by Handley Page Limited The prototype Norman Thompson N.T.4 No.8338, the first of only ten built (8338-8343 and 90619064) pictured at Grain, Isle of Sheppey during trials with a 2lb Davis recoilless gun
NORMAN THOMPSON N.T.4A ENGINES: Two 200hp Hispano-Suiza WING SPAN: 78ft 7in LENGTH: 41ft 6in HEIGHT: 14ft 10in LOADED WEIGHT: 6,469lb MAX SPEED: 95mph CREW: 4
N.T.4 ‘Small America’ No.9061 off Calshot on September 24, 1917. By 1918, all of the RNAS’s N.T.4s were used for training, operating from Calshot, Killingholme and Cattewater. The exceptions were No.8339 and No.8340, which were used for anti-submarine patrols over the North Sea from Dundee
The NT.4A, of which only 20 were built (N2140-N2159), featured a modified hull, increased cockpit glazing and an improved fuel system for its 200hp Hispano-Suiza engines
NORMAN THOMPSON N.T.4 and 4A
Norman Thompson N.T.4 No.8343 pictured at Killingholme where it was delivered in March 1917. Note the substantial twin wheel beaching chassis on which the 6,469lb flying-boat rests
Dominated by a large, centrally mounted control wheel, the cockpit of N.T.4 No.9063 is furnished with only the most basic of flight instruments. These include two air speed indicators, one in mph and one in knots, plus a pair of engine rpm gauges rated to a maximum of 2,200 revs. A warning, visible through the control wheel, states ‘engine revs not to exceed 2,100’ First delivered to the RNAS on June 23, 1917, N.T.4 No.9063 was allocated to the Grain Test Depot on July 14, 1917 (where it is pictured) for experiments with the Type 52B Wireless Transmitter. The flying-boat was then transferred to Westgate Air Station, west of Margate, where it sprang a leak whilst moored to a buoy and sank. On January 7, 1918, the wreck was towed ashore and four days later was struck off charge
Felixstowe Porte Baby DESIGNED BY SQN Cdr J C Porte and built by May, Harden and May of Southampton, the Felixstowe Porte Baby was a three-engined flying-boat, two in the tractor position and one in the pusher. Another design with an enclosed cockpit, the Porte Baby was a three-bay biplane of unequal span. Early versions of the flyingboat were powered by a pair of 250hp Eagles in the outer position and a single 260hp Green in the centre. Later, three 345hp Eagle or three 360hp Eagle VIII were fitted. Only 11 were built (9800-9810) of which all saw service with the RNAS from November 1916 and operated from Felixstowe and Killingholme on patrols over the North Sea. The aircraft’s pondering performance made it particularly vulnerable to attack by enemy aircraft and one Porte Baby was forced down into the sea on October 1, 1917. The flying-boat, flown by Flt Cdr N Sholto
Douglas, (later Marshal of the Royal Air Force) and F/L B D Hobbs forced landed near the North Hinder Light Vessel off the Dutch coast. After a brave fight, the enemy aircraft were seen off and the Porte Baby began the long ‘seaward’ journey back to the English coast to arrive at Sizewell Gap, Suffolk at 0130hrs on October 2. After this incident, the Porte Baby was removed from this duty. One idea to help with self-defence was for the flying-boats to carry their own fighter protection. No.9080 was used for experiments with a Bristol Scout or Bullet mounted on the upper wing which could be released in flight to help deal with an enemy attack. This was first carried out successfully on May 17, 1916 at 1,000ft, with Sqn Cdr Porte at the controls of the flying-boat and F/L M J Day flying the Bristol Scout. Despite the success of the experiment, the combination never entered operational service.
Bristol Scout C3028 perches neatly on top of the No.9800 during fighter defence trials, which were carried out from Felixstowe in the spring of 1916. The Scout was successfully ‘air-launched’ on May 17, 1917
FELIXSTOWE PORTE BABY ENGINES: Three 360hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VII WING SPAN: 124ft LENGTH: 63ft HEIGHT: 25ft LOADED WEIGHT 18,600lb MAX SPEED 87.5mph CREW: 5
The prototype Porte Baby, No.9800 prior to its first flight on November 20, 1915. In its original form the hull was only 56ft 10in long and power was provided by three 250 hp Rolls-Royce engines, all in a pusher arrangement
Only 11 complete Porte Babies were built (9800-9810) but a further ten hulls were constructed and serialled 9811-9820. No.9810 was photographed at Dundee on May 18, 1918 en route for service at Houton Bay in the Orkney Islands
The spacious, enclosed cockpit of the Porte Baby was well ahead of its time and, although lacking the array of instruments that the future would bring, is not that dissimilar to that of the Short Sunderland
No.9800 pictured after the bows were extended by 3ft, which improved its handling on the water dramatically
Norman Thompson N.T.2B DURING 1916, NORMAN Thompson had been busy building the F.B.A. (Franco-British Aviation) Flying-boat which the RNAS had been using for flying training. On top of this, the company had also finished producing the ex-White and Thompson No.3 boat and Norman was keen to expand the design into a flying boat trainer of their own. The original No.3 flying-boat was redesignated the N.T.2A, making the N.T.2B the next aircraft in line. The idea was to design and build an aircraft capable of preparing pilots for flying much larger machines such as the companies own N.T.4, the Felixstowe F.2 and the Curtiss ‘America’ boats. Designed by Percy Beadle, the N.T.2B was initially powered by a single 160hp Beardmore engine, in a pusher arrangement, mounted between the unequal span wings and driving a fourblade propeller. In the production aircraft, the first ten (N1180-N1189) which were ordered for the RNAS in 1916, the pupil pilot and the instructor were protected from the elements in a side-by-side fully enclosed, dual control cockpit. Engines in the production aircraft ranged from the 150hp Hispano-Suiza to the
later aircraft being fitted with a 200hp Sunbeam Arab. However, the latter proved to be unreliable and the 200hp Hispano-Suiza 8B became the main engine employed. The N.T.2B first entered service in July 1917, joining the RNAS flying school at Calshot, where it became a common sight until the end of the First World War. Orders came in thick and fast for the N.T.2B and healthy sub-contracts to Supermarine and S E Saunders reached a total of almost 300 by the war’s end. However, a large number of these were cancelled due to the end of the war but almost 80 were already on RAF strength at this time. Many N.T.2Bs were refurbished and sold to foreign air forces, including Estonia, Norway and Peru. The type also saw limited civilian use in Canada and Norway. At least one aircraft remained in use until 1929.
One of the two major sub-contractors of the Norman Thompson N.T.2B was S.E. Saunders and Company of Cowes. Saunders was awarded a contract to build 24 N.T.2Bs (N2500-N2523) but only managed to produce 14 of them before the contract was cancelled
NORMAN THOMPSON N.T.2B ENGINE: One 200hp Sunbeam Arab WING SPAN: 48ft 4¾in LENGTH: 27ft 4½in HEIGHT: 10ft 8in LOADED WEIGHT: 3,169 lb MAX SPEED: 85 mph CREW: 2
Below: only one N.T.2B was converted to have folding wings which was a very foresighted option applied by Norman Thompson, considering the criteria that would be set by the Royal Navy during the post war years. The aircraft is N2560, pictured at Grain on February 6, 1918
Above: detailed photo showing the N.T.2B’s enclosed cockpit, and, in this case, a 200hp Sunbeam Arab engine. The aircraft is N2294, the last of an original order for 100 aircraft (N2260-N2359) which was cancelled early due to the end of the First World War
N2575 makes a spritely take-off from The Solent, thanks to its 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine. The aircraft is pictured in service with 210 TDS (Training Depot Station) at Calshot in early 1918 but, by June of that year, the flying-boat was transferred to 209 TDS at Lee-on-Solent The first production Norman Thompson N.T.2B N1180 fitted with a 160hp Beardmore engine. It was a short-lived machine having been completed in January 1917, delivered to Calshot in June and deleted by the end of the December
14 The second Calcutta ordered was G-EBVH which first flew from the River Medway on May 3, 1928. The flying-boat also went on to serve with Imperial Airways, initially named City of Athens and then City of Stonehaven before being passed on to Air Pilots Training Ltd at Hamble. The Calcutta was reduced to spares at Hamble in September 1937
SHORT S.8 CALCUTTA ENGINES: Three 540hp Bristol Jupiter IXF WING SPAN: 93ft LENGTH: 66ft 9in HEIGHT: 23ft 9in LOADED WEIGHT: 22,500 lb MAX SPEED: 118 mph CREW: 3 PASSENGERS: 15
Short S.8 Calcutta IT WAS IN 1926 that the Air Council agreed to the addition of a pair of three-engined flying-boats for the Imperial Airways fleet. Designed by Arthur Gouge, Short’s proposal was for an aircraft that was not dissimilar to the Singapore I and, under the name Calcutta, two aircraft, G-EBVG and G-EBVH, were ordered to Specification 14/26. Following the general layout of the Singapore, the Calcutta was powered by a trio of 540hp Jupiter XIF engines. The hull was also broader and deeper, which helped to accommodate 15 passengers
in comfort. The flying-boat had an open cockpit with dual controls and a radio cabin behind, plus galley and toilet facilities. The first aircraft, G-EBVG, was launched at Rochester on February 13, 1928 and the following day was briefly first flown by John Lankester Parker. After being granted a Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) on July 27, Parker flew the Calcutta to London four days later, landing on the Thames between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges before mooring off the Albert Embankment. The Calcutta then spent three days on the Thames where it hosted several visits by high-ranking MPs and officials. It was not until February 1929 that both Calcuttas joined Imperial Airways, the second aircraft, G-EBVH, having already made its first flight on May 3, 1928. A third Calcutta, G-AADN, arrived in April 1929 and, not long after, all three flying-boats began to fly the Genoa-Alexandria route via Ostia, Naples, Corfu, Athens, Suda Bay and Torbuk. For this route, the three aircraft were named City of Alexandria (G-EBVG), City of Athens (G-EBVH) and City of Rome (G-AADN). A fourth aircraft, City of Khartoum (G-AASJ), joined the fleet later in 1929 and the fifth and final Calcutta for Imperial Airways, City of Salonika (G-AATZ), joined in 1930. The Calcuttas served Imperial Airways until 1936, although by this time G-AADN had been lost in October 1929; G-AASJ was lost in an accident at Alexandria in December 1925. The surviving Calcuttas saw out their days at Hamble, the last, G-AATZ, surviving until 1939.
The first Calcutta, G-EBVG, was launched from the No.3 slipway at Rochester on 13 February, 1928
S.8 Calcutta G-AATZ was ordered for Imperial Airways in early 1930 and first flew as City of Salonika on May 28, 1930. Fitted with Bristol Jupiter XFBM engines, the flying-boat was later renamed City of Swanage and after faultless service with Air Pilots Training Ltd, was scrapped at Hamble in 1939 The Short Calcutta had an open twin side-by-side cockpit with instruments and controls kept to a minimum as can be seen here. Note the second rudder bar fitted in the right-hand cockpit although it appears that the second control wheel has been removed. Several Calcuttas went on to serve as dual-control trainers at Hamble
SHORT S.8 CALCUTTA Ordered by the French Government in late 1928, Calcutta F-AJDB is taxied onto the River Medway for its first flight in the capable hands of John Lankester Parker on September 1, 1929
The main cabin of a Calcutta flying-boat, looking forward towards the sliding door, which gave access to the cockpit. In front of the right hand set of seats can be seen a large air speed indicator and altimeter for the benefit of the passengers
Short S.17 Kent Designed and built by Short Brothers, Rochester, the S.17 Kent was a four-engined flying-boat, internally fitted to a luxury standard for its 15 passengers. The Kent was introduced to replace the Imperial Airways Calcuttas; the flying-boat could operate the route (Mirabella, Crete and on to Alexandria) without refuelling. Based heavily on the Calcutta, the Kent’s wings were very similar but had a span of 113ft with Frise-type ailerons. Its four 555hp Jupiter XFBM engines powering four-bladed propellers were mounted on pairs of vertical struts and three fuel tanks were fitted into the middle of the upper wing. The two-step hull had a stainless steel planing bottom plus chine plating below the waterline. The cockpit was fully enclosed with side by side seating for pilot and co-pilot plus dual controls. Behind the starboard pilot accommodation was a compartment for the wireless operator and aft of this was the entry to the spacious 8ft 6in wide, 14ft long cabin. The 15 passengers travelled in some comfort, the seating being arranged in four rows of facing pairs with tables in between,
all of which were accessible via a wide central gangway, while large square windows afforded a good view for all. Travelling beyond the cabin were further compartments for the steward’s pantry, complete with a pair of oil fired stoves, a toilet and a washroom. In October 1930, Short’s began building three aircraft; the first, G-ABFA Scipio, was first flown by John Lankester Parker on February 24, 1931. By May of that year, Scipio was in service with Imperial Airways and on March 31, 1931, the second aircraft, G-ABFB Sylvanus made its maiden flight. The third and final aircraft, G-ABFC Satyrus, was flown on May 2, 1931. Not only did the Kents carry out Imperial Airways Mediterranean duties, they also served on routes to India and surveyed future routes to Australia and South Africa. All went well until November 9, 1935 when Sylvanus was destroyed by fire at Brindisi followed on August 22, 1936 by Scipio crashing on landing in Mirabella Harbour and sinking, killing two of the crew. Satyrus survived its service with Imperial Airways and was scrapped at Hythe in June 1938.
The first of just three Short S.17 Kents built was G-ABFA named Scipio and first flew on February 24, 1931. The flying-boat served with Imperial Airways until August 22, 1936, when the Kent sank off Mirabella following a heavy landing
Kent G-ABFB Sylvanus, which served with Imperial Airways until November 9, 1935. On that day, an Italian arsonist set the flying-boat ablaze while it was moored at Brindisi, destroying it beyond repair
Short S.17 Kent SHORT S.17 KENT ENGINES: FOuR 555Hp BRISTOl JupITER XFBM WING SpAN: 113FT lENGTH: 78FT 5IN HEIGHT: 28FT lOADED WEIGHT: 32,000 lB MAX SpEED: 137 MpH CREW: 4 pASSENGERS: 15
Starboard Navigation Light
Fixed Wireless Aerial
Wing Tip Float Aft Mail, Luggage and Freight Hold
Main Petrol Tanks
Four Air-cooled Bristol Jupiter engines each of 555bhp equipped with superchargers
Pitot Head for Air Speed Indicator
Wind-driven Generator for Electric Lighting Ventilators Steward
Wind-driven Generator for Wireless Apparatus Captain Mooring Rope
Wireless Operator Cabin with seating accommodation for 15 passengers
Trailing Wireless Aerial
Forward Mail, Luggage and Freight Hold
Felixstowe F.1 (Porte I) ALTHOUGH ONLY A single Felixstowe F.1 was ever built, this pioneering aircraft led to a highly successful series of large flying-boats that helped to launch Britain as the world leader in this important and growing area of aviation. Having worked with the American aircraft designer Glenn Curtiss before the outbreak of war, John Porte returned to Britain and, despite ill health, joined the RNAS and was presented with the command of RNAS Felixstowe from September 1914. By March 1915, Porte had convinced the Admiralty to purchase six Curtiss H.1 and H.4 flying-boats. The H.4 served in the RNAS in great numbers but was not popular due to its weak hull and unreliable engines. Porte, along with his chief technical officer, J D Rennie, decided to begin work on designing an improved hull for the Curtiss flying-boat, which also suffered from poor handling on the water. A great deal of painstaking work took place throughout 1915 and 1916, which included experimenting with different sizes and amounts of steps, and different wing float profiles. The result was a new hull, designated the Porte I, and when the wings and tail unit were attached, the Felixstowe F.1 was created. The aircraft used was one of 50 original Curtiss H.4s, No.3580, which also had its American engines replaced by a pair of 150hp Hispano-Suizas. The H.4’s enclosed cockpit was also removed, providing considerably better visibility than its predecessor. Further modifications to the hull included a second step and a deeper vee-shape hull which continued to improve the hydrodynamic qualities of the aircraft during take-off and made
The one and only Felixstowe F.1 was fitted with a Porte I hull and Curtiss H.4 flying surfaces. Enclosed cockpits, although providing comfort for the crew, severely restricted visibility and the original H.4 design was reinstated
landings considerably smoother. No.3580 marked a colossal breakthough in flying-boat hull design and the sole F.1 continued to serve at Felixstowe’s flying school until January 1919.
The new and ground-breaking John Porte and J D Rennie-designed planing bottom fitted to the bottom of ex-Curtiss H.4, No.3580, pictured at Felixstowe in 1916
FELIXSTOWE F.1 ENGINES: TWO 100HP ANZANI OR TWO 150HP HISPANO-SUIZA WING SPAN: 72FT WING AREA: 842 SQ FT LENGTH: 36FT CREW: 4
Felixstowe F.2, F.2A and F.2C THE FELIXSTOWE F.2 family was designed around the Curtiss H.12 flying-boat and utilized the Porte hull, yet retained the original American-designed wings and tail unit. The hull of the F.2 saw a major advance in flying-boat design, with twin steps applied for the first time. This, combined with the power of a pair of RollsRoyce Eagle engines, made the F.2 vastly superior to the H.12 on all fronts. The production aircraft was the F.2A, which was powered by two 345hp Eagle VIII engines, had up to seven .303in Lewis machine guns for self-defence and was capable of carrying 460lb of bombs. By the end of the First World War, 100 had been built and a further 70 were constructed in peacetime, making it the most prolific and successful patrol flying-boat of the period. The F.2A saw service with a host of RNAS units and, from April 1, 1918, nine RAF squadrons operated the type as well as the United States Navy. It was a very popular aircraft with its crews, being very manoeuvrable and a good performer, even being able to fight on a par with enemy aircraft not to mention its effectiveness against enemy submarines. The F.2A remained in front-line operational service with the RAF until 1 April 1923 when 230 Squadron was disbanded at Calshot.
The second of only two prototype F.2Cs was N65, powered by a pair of 322hp Eagle VI engines and test flown from Felixstowe in May 1917
The fully enclosed cockpit of F.2A N4510, dominated by a pair of large control wheels and very little else with regard to instrumentation. Built by May, Hayden and May, the flying-boat was delivered to Calshot on January 25, 1918 but, by April 8, had sunk in heavy seas after making a forced landing
25 Excellent view of the broad hydrodynamic hull of a Felixstowe F.2A
An RAF officer demonstrates his ‘dunking’ gear, more technically known as a hydrophone, which was extensively tested from Felixstowe F.2s
FELIXSTOWE F.2a ENGINES: Two 345hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII WING SPAN: 95ft 7½in LENGTH: 46ft 3in HEIGHT: 17ft 6in LOADED WEIGHT: 10,978 lb MAX SPEED: 95½ mph CREW: 4
Ex-Curtiss H.8 No.8650 arrived at Felixstowe in March 1916. After some disappointing performance trials, its two 160hp Curtiss engines were replaced by a pair of 250hp Rolls-Royce units. John Porte moved the conversion another stage further by fitting a new hull which was similar to the F.1 and the result was the one and only Felixstowe F.2 One Felixstowe flying-boat that achieved a healthy war record in a short period of time was F.2A N4287. Delivered to Killingholme in March 1918, the flying-boat was fitted with an enclosed cockpit and early pattern ailerons. Flown by US personnel, it took part in three attacks on U-boats, on June 26, June 28 and July 13, 1918
Novel view of six Felixstowe F.2As on the main slip at Felixstowe in 1918
Much heavier and generally larger than the Felixstowe F.2, the F.3 was never as popular with its crews as its older sibling. The prototype machine was powered by a pair of 320hp Sunbeam Cossack engines while production aircraft were fitted with the more reliable Eagle VIII. The F.3, thanks to its size and power, could carry a greater war load and had a longer range than the F.2, but this was traded off against low performance and poor manoeuvrability. This did not stop large orders being placed and, by the end of the First World War, 100 had been built and production continued to 182 (including those built in Malta). The F.3 served with ten RAF squadrons, the last being 230 Squadron at Felixstowe in June 1921. Examples also served in Canada, with the Portuguese Navy and the United States Navy.
FELIXSTOWE F.3 ENGINES: Two 345hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII WING SPAN: 102ft LENGTH: 49ft 2in HEIGHT: 18ft 8in LOADED WEIGHT: 12,235 lb MAX SPEED: 91 mph CREW: 4
The defensive armament for the Felixstowe F.3 was four .303in Lewis machine guns. One was in the nose and the remainder were congregated amidships immediately behind the lower wing
The Felixstowe F.3 prototype N64 which started life as an F.2C prototype. Larger than the F.2, this brought N64 no advantages over its predecessor and it was slower and less manoeuvrable, although bomb load and range were increased Manufacturing company Boulton & Paul of Norwich cut its aviation teeth by carrying out large sub-contracts during the First World War. One of these was for F.3 flying-boats. The company produced 70 hulls in total during 1917 and 1918
F.3 N4258 built by Dick, Kerr & Company of Preston pictured at Felixstowe in late 1918. The paint scheme was one of a host of ‘dazzle’ designs which would help identify the flying-boat as a ‘friendly’ during an enemy encounter or when down in the sea
There was an urgent need for anti-submarine patrols over the Mediterranean during the First World War and one successful solution was to build the aircraft in theatre. These were constructed by the Dockyard Constructional Unit in Malta and the first of 50, N4310, pictured here, was completed and test flown in March 1918
In addition to the RNAS, eleven RAF Squadrons, the USN and the Canadian Air Board, F.3s also served with the Portuguese Navy, one pictured here during a flight from Lisbon to Madeira
The Felixstowe F.5 was the last in a line of successful flying-boats designed by Cdr John Porte RN who served with the Seaplane Experimental Station (SES) at Felixstowe. The F.5 was similar in general design to its predecessors, the F.2A, F.2C and F.3. The F.5 was designed to incorporate the best features of the F.2 and F.3, the former being based on the Curtiss H.12 flying boat but fitted with a more efficient hull. The prototype F.5, N90, which was built at the SES, first flew in May 1918 and in its original form was 10mph faster than the F.3. The F.5 differed from its older siblings in many ways; most significant was a new longer-span wing with a new section, fitted with rectangular, horn-balanced ailerons on the upper wing. While the prototype showed promising performance, post-war austerity measures resulted in the production version incorporating more F.3 components than original envisaged. This was mainly to keep manufacturing costs down, but the extra weight caused by the older type’s components actually caused the F.5’s performance to be inferior to the F.3. The first production batch of F.5s was contracted to Short Brothers at Rochester,
Phoenix Dynamo Co., Bradford, S E Saunders, Isle of Wight, Boulton and Paul at Norwich (hulls only) and the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. at Hendon. The first F.5s entered service with 231 Squadron at Felixstowe in November 1918 and remained with this unit until March 1919. During a period of reorganisation, a few F.5s were only operated by the Naval Co-Operation Flight at Calshot and several of the aircraft built were put directly into storage. Also based at Felixstowe, 230 Squadron was re-established on the last day of 1919 and during January, along with several other types, re-equipped with the F.5. 230 Squadron and moved to Calshot in May 1922. In April 1923 the unit, combined with the Naval Co-Operation Flight, was redesignated as 480 (Coastal Reconnaissance Flight). This was to be the last bastion of the F.5, which continued in service until superseded by the Supermarine Southampton in 1925.
This Felixstowe F.5, slightly blurred as the 9,100lb flying-boat is swung round, was one of 24 built by the expanding Short Brothers at Rochester
31 N4570 of 480 Flight based at Calshot, circa late 1923. One of ten built by May, Harden & May, the flying-boat was delivered to Calshot on December 12, 1919. The F.5 served 480 Flight until December 12, 1923 when it crashed on take-off at Cowes
FELIXSTOWE F.5 ENGINES: TWO 345HP ROLLS-ROYCE EAGLE VIII WING SPAN: 103FT 8IN LENGTH: 49FT 3IN HEIGHT: 18FT 9IN LOADED WEIGHT: 12,682 LB MAX SPEED: 88 MPH CREW: 4
Standard armament for a Felixstowe F.5 was four Lewis machine-guns but at least one was modified to take six. These were housed in a pair of cupolas mounted on top of the upper wing ... ... and since it was essential that the wing-mounted cupola weighed as little as possible, this structure had no more than canvas side panels
The prototype Felixstowe F.5, N90 was one of the few aircraft actually built at Felixstowe and it first flew from there in November 1917. The flying-boat took part in hydrophone trials in May 1918 and after the armistice, it flew tours to Copenhagen and Helsingfors The last F.5 built was N4839 which first flew from Rochester on March 23, 1920 and was destined only to serve at Grain until June 1923. The aircraft is pictured in the Thames estuary next to an RAF floating dock, circa 1922
Another pioneering aircraft was Felixstowe F.5 N177 which, following the fitting of an all-metal hull constructed from duralumin, was redesignated the Short S.2. First flown on January 5, 1925, the use of metal in a flying-boat hull had been resisted for years but after successful testing with the MAEE, the S.2 passed with flying colours and the age of the wooden-hulled flying boat was over
F.5 N4838, fitted with experimental ailerons during trials at Grain. The 103ft 8in wing span of the flying-boat is shown to good effect
In 1922, S E Saunders won a contract to carry out trials of a ‘tunnel-type’ wooden hull in comparison to the metal-hulled Short S.2.
F.5 N4838 pictured during its tenure with the MAEE at Grain in 1920. The Short-built flying-boat which first flew from the Medway on February 26, 1920, initially carried out several stability tests with the MAEE before being transferred to 230 Squadron at Calshot. The F.5 continued in service until July 1925
N178 was delivered to the MAEE in September 1924. The results of the Short trials are unknown and in the following year, the F.5 was scrapped. The aircraft is pictured at Felixstowe on January 7, 1925
View looking aft of a F.5 flying-boat gives a good idea of a typical British-designed interior, which gave little thought to aircrew comfort and their ability to move about the aircraft
It was not a happy ending for the prototype F.5 N90. Shortly after returning to Grain following its visit to Helsingfors in July 1919, it was written off in an accident at Calshot
F.5 N4637 was one of 50 built by the Gosport Aviation Company; the flying-boat is pictured at Felixstowe in January 9, 1925
Vickers Viking/Vulture & Vanellus The Viking family of amphibians was a successful series of aircraft, the development of which began in December 1918. The prototype, G-EAOV, destined to be the one and only Viking I was a twin-bay, five-seat cabin biplane powered by a single 275hp Rolls-Royce Falcon engine. Constructed at Weybridge, the Viking I was first flown from Brooklands by Vickers Chief Test Pilot, Sir John Alcock in November 1919. Sadly, in December 1919, it crashed in fog near Rouen and Alcock was killed. The slightly modified Viking II followed in 1919 powered by the ubiquitous Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII. The 360hp engine was mounted independently from the wing on a pylon. The aircraft also had larger wheels, a bigger wing area and an extra rudder fitted behind the centrally-mounted fin. First flown by Vickers’ new Chief Test Pilot, Stan Cockerell, the aircraft was registered as G-EASC in June 1920 and by August had won the Antwerp Seaplane Trials. The Viking III followed, modified still further, mostly in response to Cockerell’s extensive report on the Mk II. The main difference between the two aircraft was another power increase for the Mk III, in the shape of a 450hp Napier Lion engine. Registered as G-EAUK, the Viking III was entered into the Air Ministry Competition for civil aircraft which was held at Martlesham Heath and Felixstowe in September and October 1920. The Viking III won over the
Supermarine Commercial Amphibian by a whisker to take the £10,000 prize. Thanks to the high public profile achieved in this competition, commercial interest began to grow ready for the next variant. A solid production line was finally in place at Weybridge for the Viking IV, which featured a host of modifications and refinements from the experience gained from the first three designs. Three options were available; the fleet spotter military or commercial, available with folding wings, although this feature was mainly employed for the spotter, where space on warships was at a premium. The Viking IV was by far the most successful of the breed; 21 of the 31 Vikings sold were Mk IVs. Only two Vikings were classified as Mk Vs, N156 and N157, both were supplied with special equipment for use by the RAF in Iraq. The Viking VI, aka the Vulture I, was next in line, powered by a 450hp Napier Lion. Only two were built. The second aircraft, powered by a 36hp Eagle IX, was designated as the Vulture II. Both Vultures were used for an attempt on a round-the-world flight in 1924 but, unfortunately, neither aircraft came close to making it. The final member of the Viking family was the Mk VII, named Vanellus, and ordered by the Air Ministry to specification 46/22 for a three-seat fleet spotter; a single aircraft, N169, was built.
N156, one of only two Viking Vs built for the RAF and fitted with special equipment for service in the Middle East
Viking I G-EAOV only existed for a few weeks before Sir John Alcock crashed near Rouen in December 1919. Designed with a single-step hull, narrow beam and vertical slab sides, the amphibian was geared for simple mass production
VICKERS VIKING VI ENGINES: ONE 450HP NAPIER LION WING SPAN: 49FT LENGTH: 38FT 2IN HEIGHT: 14FT 6IN LOADED WEIGHT: 6,500 LB MAX SPEED: 98 MPH CREW: 1 PASSENGERS: 3
Flown by Capt Leslie Hamilton, Viking IV G-EBED operated as an air taxi between Lowenstein and St Moritz winter sports centre in Switzerland. Hamilton would land on soft snow and take off (with wheels down) from hard snow or ice
Controls inside the cockpit of a Vickers Viking IV aircraft. The maker’s plate is mounted centrally above the compass enclosure
Short S.19 Singapore III The Singapore III was the last of a long line of Short-built biplane flying-boats to see service with the RAF. The immediate predecessor to the iconic Sunderland, the Singapore formed the back bone of the RAF flying-boat units leading up to the beginning of the Second World War, serving with 203, 205, 209, 210, 228, 230 and 240 Squadrons from August 1935 right up to October 1941. Lacking a production order by the Air Ministry for the Singapore II, an order was placed in August 1933 for four development R.3/33 aircraft for trials with the MAEE. These were basically pre-production Singapore IIIs. K3592 was the first production aircraft, making its maiden flight from the River Medway on June 15, 1934. Thirty-four Singapore IIIs were built in five batches (K3592-K3595, K4577-K4585, K6907-K6922, K8565-K8568 and K8856-K8859), production ending in June 1937 with K8859. The flying-boat began its service career with 210 Squadron at Pembroke Dock in November 1934, replacing the Supermarine Southampton. Overseas, 205 Squadron was the first to receive the Singapore in April 1935. Singapores of 209 and 210 Squadron were called upon for special duties in September 1937 when they were sent to Algeria and Malta to fly anti-piracy patrols for British shipping during the Spanish Civil War. By the beginning of the Second World War, 19 Singapore IIIs were still in service, their pre-war natural finish now replaced by drab camouflage. Only eight of these were still operating in Britain and were all transferred to the Flying Boat Training School at Calshot while the remainder were concentrated at Aden and, appropriately, Singapore. It was at the latter location where the flying-boat made its last stand for the RAF with 205 Squadron until October 1941, when the final four serviceable machines (K6912, K6916, K6917 and K6918) were transferred to the RNZAF. The aircraft soldiered on, with the latter flying Pacific patrols from Fiji until November 27, 1942. At least one aircraft, K6912, flown by Flt Lt MacGregor claimed one enemy submarine damaged after dropping a single 250lb A/S bomb on the boat.
A trio of Singapore IIIs of 209 Squadron over the Suffolk coast with the River Deben beyond, during the unit’s tenure at Felixstowe between May 1935 and September 1937. Nearest to the camera is K6914 ‘C’ which only served with 209 Squadron until it was sold on August 23, 1939
37 The Singapore III was the backbone of RAF flyingboat squadrons at home and abroad leading up to the Second World War. It was the very last of a long line of Short-built biplane flyingboats and was the predecessor of the Short Sunderland.
K3592 on the step during its service with 210 Squadron at Pembroke Dock. 210 Squadron re-equipped briefly with the Rangoon in August 1935 having ferried all of its Singapores to 203 and 205 Squadrons
Short Singapore III K8858 of 203 Squadron pictured over Bahrain on March 9, 1938. The flying-boat, which was originally delivered to 210 Squadron in April 1937, ran aground on a reef and was wrecked at Hurghada, Red Sea, on August 28, 1939
38 A fine study of the Singapore III shows how broad the beam of the hull was. This is K4577, which saw service with the MAEE, and Squadrons 209 and 203. It was while serving with the latter in the Middle East that K4577 hit a rock while taxying, which forced it to beach itself at Um Rasas
Unofficially named HMS Flat Iron by those who worked on board, this floating dock served at Pembroke Dock from 1932 to 1938. The aircraft being serviced is K3593, which was delivered to 210 Squadron for operational trials on July 31, 1934 An unidentified Singapore III, undergoing maintenance in an RAF floating dock
SHORT S.19 SINGAPORE III ENGINES: TWO 675HP ROLLS-ROYCE KESTREL IX TRACTOR AND TWIN 700HP KESTREL VIII PUSHER WING SPAN: 90FT LENGTH: 64FT 2IN HEIGHT: 23FT 7IN LOADED WEIGHT: 32,390 LB MAX SPEED: 136 MPH CREW: 6
The first production and prototype Singapore III, K3592, pictured at the MAEE, Felixstowe, in July 1934 for performance trials. Not long after this photograph was taken the big flying-boat was damaged on the slipway owing to a bad trolley design. Once repaired, K3592 joined 210 Squadron in November 1934, then 205 Squadron in April 1935 before being struck off charge on December 27, 1937 with 718.30hrs of flying time accomplished
MkI had a wooden hull, MkII had a metal h
33 40 12
1 Tandem cockpits for pilot (front) and navigator, or for two pilots 2 Triplex glass windscreens 3 Mark III 0.303in Lewis machine-gun mounted on a Scarff ring 4 Bow cockpit for gunner-bomber 5 Wheel-topped control columns in both cockpits 6 Engine control levers 7 Walking rail allows access along outside of hull from pilots’ cockpits to nose of aircraft 3 8 Rudder bars
9 Linked levers connected to elevator controls 10 Seats 11 Seats and controls incorporated in a single unit on a separate frame comprising two for-and-aft wooden bearers with cross-members and a three-ply platform 12 450 h.p. Napier Lion Series V 12-cylinder in-line water-cooled piston engine with cylinders in ‘broad-arrow’ W configuration
13 Engines mounted in mid-gap on strut support system 14 Main step in hull 15 Junction of wing centre section and outer panel 16 Streamline-wire interplane bracing 17 Pitot head 18 Port wingtip stabilising float, 12ft long, beneath outer interplane struts, attached by struts and wirebraced.
19 Port navigation light 20 Steel-tube interplane struts faired to streamline section with wooden formers and fabric covered 21 Streamlined push-rods linking upper and lower ailerons 22 Wooden internal wing structure based upon two main spars with ribs 23 Tailplane bracing strut 24 Elevator control linkages 25 Fabric covered wooden tailplane
26 27 28 29 30 31
32 33 34 35
One-piece elevator Triple horn-balanced rudders Push-rods linking rudders Triple fins Fabric wing covering Port and starboard aft gun co staggered, each with a single III 0.303in Lewis machine-gu mounted on a Scarff ring Vertical fuel tank vent pipes Oil tank, 18gal capacity Head navigation lamp and u identification lamp Kingpost for attachment of emergency aerial
a metal hull and swept outer wings
alanced rudders king rudders
board aft gun cockpits, ach with a single Mark wis machine-gun a Scarff ring ank vent pipes al capacity ion lamp and upward
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43
Aileron with five inset hinges Outer interplane struts cross-braced Starboard navigation light Two 250gal fuel tanks attached beneath top wing centre section, with gravity feeds to engines Starboard stabilising wingtip float Honeycomb radiator with shutters to control cooling Two-blade wooden left-hand tractor propellers on both engines Revolution indicator
SUPERMARINE SOUTHAMPTON MK II
ENGINES: TWO 502HP NAPIER LION VA WING SPAN: 75FT LENGTH: 51FT 1IN HEIGHT: 22FT 4IN LOADED WEIGHT: 15,200 LB MAX SPEED: 108 MPH CREW: 5
Supermarine Southampton ONLY SURPASSED IN length of service with the RAF by the Short Sunderland, the R J Mitchell-designed Southampton served for more than a decade. It was the first post-First World War design to enter service, taking over from the Felixstowe designs which dated back to 1917. The prototype, N218, was a militarised development of the Swan amphibian, built to Air Ministry Specification R.18/24. However, the Ministry were so impressed with it that they ordered Mitchell’s follow-up design, the Southampton, straight off the drawing board. Before details of the aircraft had been fully released, an initial production order of six Mk Is had been placed. This first batch was built with wooden hulls and wings with straight leading edges. The first production aircraft, N9896, made its debut on March 10, 1925 and, not long after, an additional order for 18 more Mk Is was placed. This was followed by an order for 41 Mk IIs, which differed from the Mk I by having duralumin hulls and more powerful 502hp Napier Lion VA engines. Approximately 28 Mk IIs had their wings modified with a slight sweep-back on the outer wing panels and all early aircraft built with wooden hulls were retro-fitted with metal ones between 1929 and 1933. The Southampton first entered service with 480 (Coastal Reconnaissance) Flight at Calshot in August 1925 and it was not long before the long-range flying-boat began hitting the headlines. The first epic flight was a 10,000 -mile ‘cruise’ around the British Isles followed by a 14,000-mile round trip flight to Egypt. The latter was flown from Plymouth in 1926 by Mk Is S1038 and S1039 and led by Sqn Ldr G Livock, a highly-experienced flyingboat captain who served for many years on the Felixstowes. This was surpassed by 205 Squadron which was reformed with the
The metal-hulled Southampton II S1149 which served as the flagship aircraft for the RAF Far East Flight, flown by Gp Capt H M Cave-Brown-Cave
Mk II at Seletar on January 8, 1929 from the Far East Flight. The same year, the squadron embarked on a 19,500 mile return journey from Singapore to Nicobar and the Andaman Islands. However, the longest and most famous of all Southampton flights was the 27,000-mile cruise by the Far East Flight led by Gp Capt H. M. Cave-Brown-Cave CB, DSO, DFC. On October 14, 1927 Four Mk IIs (S1149-S1152) set off on the flight from Felixstowe to Singapore, via the Mediterranean and India, and incorporating a visit to Hong Kong. Southamptons served with 201, 203, 204, 205, 209 and 210 Squadrons until December 1936 having carved a reputation for ‘flying the flag’ with unsurpassed reliability.
The second production Southampton I N9897 pictured serving with 480 (Coastal Reconnaissance) Flight operating from Calshot
44 Supermarine Southampton II S1232 was one of 28 built with slightly swept-back wings. The flying-boat saw extensive service with 480 Flight, 201 Squadron and 204 Squadron (pictured) before it was declared unserviceable in December 1936, having achieved eight years continuous use
Southampton II S1235 was loaned to Imperial Airways as G-AAFH by the Air Ministry for mail runs between Alexandria and Salonika from three months from November 15, 1929. The aircraft was returned to the RAF in March 1930
SUPERMARINE SOUTHAMPTON S1122 pictured taking off from Felixstowe during the early 1930s. Although not officially credited as existing, this aircraft was the only Mk III version, the main difference being the fitting of a pair of 550hp Kestrel II engines. These engines were possibly replaced by Goshawk VIIIs before the flying-boat was struck off charge in May 1934
Southampton Mk II, S1042 of 209 Squadron based at Mount Batten. Andy Hay/www.flyingart.co.uk
Mk II S1249 of 204 Squadron being launched at Mount Batten in early 1934. The flying-boat saw out its days serving with 205 Squadron (reformed from the Far East Flight on January 8, 1929) at Seletar until April 3, 1935, when the Southampton hit an object in the River Gwa, Burma and was damaged beyond repair
46 S1149 had a long and eventful career that spanned from September 1927 through to its retirement with 209 Squadron at Felixstowe in July 1936. After joining the Far East Flight (renamed 205 Squadron), the flying-boat was passed from unit to unit but only suffered one serious mechanical failure during its RAF service. On February 3, 1934,it forced landed onto the sea following an engine failure but was towed home to safety by the destroyer HMS Wren
S1249 pictured serving with the Seaplane Training Flight at Calshot. The pilot is warming through the flying-boat’s 500hp Lion VA engines and carrying out control checks, prior to being manhandled down the slipway by surrounding ground crew
The first of eight Southampton Is ordered for the Argentinian Navy, HB-1, on the step in the Solent. These flying-boats were powered by Lorraine-Dietrich 12E engines
Main image: Southampton Mk II, S1645 only served 201 Squadron at Calshot from February 1933 to June 1935 and that was broken up by a short spell with the Seaplane Training Flight. The flying-boat is pictured rising from the Firth of Forth in September 1933, the back drop giving no doubt to the Southampton’s location
Supermarine Seagull Mk I to III THE DEVELOPMENT OF the Seagull had already had its back broken thanks to its direct predecessor, the Seal Mk II. Further modifications would be carried out as the type evolved, creating just enough orders to keep Supermarine afloat until the arrival of the Southampton. The Seagull’s roots were firmly planted within Seal Mk II N146 which was converted into the only Mk I. The conversion entailed a 480hp Napier Lion II engine, sturdier engine mounts, improved radiator shutters and wingtip floats plus modified ailerons. By February 1922, a tentative order was placed by the Air Ministry for two more Seagulls, N158 and N159, which would become the first of 25 Mk IIs to evolve as the first and main production model. The only significant differences with the Mk II were re-arranged fuel tanks and a slightly more powerful 493hp Napier Lion IIB engine. A single Mk II, N9605, was rebuilt with a new tail with twin fins and rudders as well as Handley Page leading edge slots. It was unofficially designated as the Mk IV although this has not been verified in surviving Supermarine records. The final variant was unique to its customer, the RAAF. The Mk III was fitted with a 492hp Napier Lion V engine complete with tropical radiators. Six were supplied to the RAAF and a single Mk III was also delivered to Japan. A single Seagull Mk II, N9644, was fitted with a Bristol Jupiter IX engine in a pusher arrangement in 1930. It would evolve into the Seagull Mk V which would later change its name to the Walrus. The first five production Seagull Mk IIs were selected to form 440 (Fleet Reconnaissance) Flight from personnel of 205 Squadron at Lee-on-Solent on May 1, 1923. Prior to this, another five Mk IIs
were ordered in February followed by 13 more in June. Six Mk IIs later served as carrier-based aircraft on HMS Eagle in the Mediterranean in 1925. The following year, one Seagull became the first British aircraft to be launched from a catapult by the RAE at Jersey Brow, Farnborough. Six carrier-borne Seagull Mk IIIs were ordered for the RAAF in April 1925, serialled A9-1 to A9-6. All six were delivered by sea to Point Cook, Victoria where they formed 101 Co-operation Flight on June 30, 1926. They also later served on HMAS Albatross from 1929 until they were replaced by Seagull Mk Vs. While the Australians enjoyed their Seagulls, the Royal Navy deemed the aircraft as having ‘no potential naval use’. Two Seagulls took part in the 1924 King’s Cup Air Race and three ex-service machines were placed on the British civilian register. The 33 aircraft built were made up of a single Mk I, 25 Mk IIs, six Mk IIIs for Australia and a single machine exported to Japan.
SUPERMARINE SEAGULL III ENGINE: ONE 492HP NAPIER LION V WING SPAN: 46FT LENGTH: 37FT 9IN HEIGHT: 14FT LOADED WEIGHT: 5,691 LB MAX SPEED: 85 MPH CREW: 3
Seagull Mk III N9647, one of several which helped to form 440 Flight at Lee-on-Solent on May 1, 1923. The aircraft is pictured off Malta in 1925 whilst operating from HMS Eagle
‘A visit to Southampton’ – left to right: Sir Warden Chilcott MP, Commander James Bird, Gen Bagnall-Wild, the Duke of Sutherland, Air Vice Marshal Vyvyan and Hubert Scott-Paine in front of Seagull III N9563 at Woolston in February 1923. The entourage was actually visiting the Supermarine factory for a progress inspection of the Sea Eagle
In 1925, the Australian Minister of Defence announced that six Seagull IIIs (A9-1 to A9-6) were to be ordered for the RAAF. Three ex-RAF machines also served the RAAF as A9-7 to A9-9. A9-6, pictured here, served the RAAF until August 1934 when it was wrecked aboard HMAS Australia in a severe gale
Below: very rare image of ex-N9654, a Seagull III, which was registered to F Tyllye and F H Winn of Coastal Flying Boat Services as G-EBXI. The small airline was based at Shoreham with the intention of providing a charter and joy-ride service which sadly never came fully to fruition
The first of two ‘pilot orders’ for the Seagull II was N158, pictured at Martlesham Heath in March 1922
A Supermarine Walrus of 1700 NAS Squadron pictured in action against a pair of Japanese Zeros whilst operated from HMS Emperor in the Far East. Hornby
Saro London I and II ALONG WITH THE Supermarine Stranraer, the Saro London was designed to Air Ministry Specification R.24/31 which called for a ‘General Purpose Open Sea Patrol Flying Boat.’ Both types were chosen for the specification and both were destined to be the last biplane flying-boats to serve the RAF. The prototype, K3560, heavily influenced by the A.7 Severn, first flew in April 1932. Following trials in June 1934 at the MAEE at Felixstowe an initial order for seven aircraft was placed by the Air Ministry. The first of these, K5257, was delivered to 201 Squadron at Calshot on April 21, 1936, replacing that unit’s Southamptons. The first ten Londons built were Mk Is, powered by a pair of 820hp Pegasus IIIM3 engines with polygonal cowlings. When the original specification was revised in R.3/35, all Londons were built and earlier ones modified to Mk II standard with two 915hp Pegasus X engines with circular cowlings and three, rather than four-bladed propellers. The flying-boat remained in production until May 1938, by which time the 30th and final London had been built in the serials ranges K5257-K5263, K5908-K5913, K6927-K6932, K9682-K9686 and L7038-L7043. By October 1936, a second unit, 204 Squadron at Mount Batten, replaced its Scapas with Londons. Overseas, it was 202 Squadron at Kalafrana, Malta that saw the London first in October 1937; by
The first of 30 production aircraft, London I K5257, pictured at Calshot with 201 Squadron in August 1936. This flying-boat was retired from operational service in July 1941, but continued to serve with 4 OTU at Invergordon and was not SOC until November 13, 1942
the beginning of the Second World War, these aircraft were moved to Gibraltar. 240 Squadron were the last unit to be re-equipped with the London at Calshot in July 1939 only to give them up in July 1940 to the slightly longer-lived Stranraer. Operationally, the London remained until April 1941 with 202 Squadron but continued on with second line units, mainly 4 OTU, until as late as November 1942.
SARO LONDON I AND II ENGINES: TWO 1,055HP BRISTOL PEGASUS X WING SPAN: 80FT LENGTH: 56FT 9½IN HEIGHT: 20FT 3IN LOADED WEIGHT: 19,300 LB MAX SPEED: 155 MPH CREW: 6
53 SHORT S.8 CALCUTTA Ordered by the French Government in late 1928, Calcutta F-AJDB is taxied onto the River Medway for its first flight in the capable hands of John Lankester Parker on September 1, 1929
K5911K5911 joinedjoined 204 Squadron on April 21, 21, 1937, followed 1939and and202 202Squadron Squadron 204 Squadron on April 1937, followedbyby240 240Squadron Squadronin in July 1939 in in October The honour of flying London operationalpatrol patrolbefell befell this aircraft andand by by October 1940.1940. The honour of flying thethe lastlast London operational aircraftononJune June4,4,1941 1941 October, wasthe onstrength the strength 4 OTU. After longand andloyal loyalservice service the the flying-boat to to Saro October, K5911K5911 was on of 4ofOTU. After long flying-boatwas wasreturned returned Saro on October 30, 1942 be broken upCowes at Cowes on October 30, 1942 to betobroken up at K5910, pictured in 1940, sporting wartime toned-down camouflage with
K5910,240 pictured in 1940, sporting wartime toned-down camouflage with Squadron, compared to the pre-war natural silver 240 Squadron, compared to the pre-war natural silver
The main cabin of a Calcutta flying-boat, looking forward towards the sliding door, which gave access to the cockpit. In front of the right hand set of seats can be seen a large air speed indicator and altimeter for the benefit of the passengers
London production by Saro at Cowes began in 1931 with the prototype and continued until May 1938. The only serial visible is K5258, which makes this scene the first production batch nearing completion, early in 1936
Supermarine Walrus ORIGINALLY DESIGNED AS nothing more than a private venture amphibian capable of being catapulted from warships, the Walrus went on to blossom, becoming one of the greatest aircraft of the Second World War. Almost overlooked by the Royal Navy and not even considered by the RAF, it was the crucial order by the RAAF for two dozen Seagull Vs that helped to raise the profile of this great little aircraft which was named Walrus by the RAF from August 1935. The Walrus Mk I had a metal hull and was powered by a 750hp Pegasus VI while the Mk II was built with a wooden hull and was powered by the same unit but developed 775hp. The Air Ministry placed the first of many orders for twelve Walrus Is (K5772-K5783) in May 1935 to Specification 2/35, the first of which flew on March 18, 1936. By late 1939, Supermarine had already built 285 but was forced to transfer Walrus production to Saro in 1939 to make way for the Spitfire. All of these early Walrus’ were delivered to the FAA of which examples could be found serving with the a host of squadrons. From October 1941, the Walrus became a valuable addition to the RAF inventory and by the war’s end approximately 250 had been transferred from Royal Navy contracts. The first RAF Walrus joined
The very first production Walrus I K5772 at the MAEE, Felixstowe for performance trials in March 1936
275 Squadron at Valley and 278 Squadron at Matlaske in the air-sea rescue role. Hundreds of aircrew owed their lives to being rescued by a ‘Shagbat’, an often dangerous occupation for the Walrus crew which only in recent years has warranted any kind of historical or official recognition. 277 Squadron rescued 598 personnel from the 1,000 picked up around the British Isles. The Walrus also served in Argentina, Ireland, the Royal Canadian Navy, the RNZAF and Turkey.
SUPERMARINE WALRUS I ENGINE: ONE 750HP BRISTOL PEGASUS VI WING SPAN: 45FT 10IN LENGTH (ON CHASSIS): 37FT 7IN HEIGHT (ON CHASSIS): 15FT 3IN LOADED WEIGHT: 7,200 LB MAX SPEED: 135MPH AT 4,750FT CREW: 3-4
John Grierson in Walrus I G-AHFN, at the start of the Folkestone Trophy Air Race, at Lympne on August 31, 1946. The Walrus won at and average speed of 131mph, 50 seconds ahead of the next aircraft!
For a stranded airman, the sight and sound of a Walrus approaching must have been a heartwarming experience. This 276 Squadron Walrus demonstrates how it was done
A pair of Walrus Is, L2180 and L2185, on board HMS Sheffield in 1938
Many flying-boat designs of the 1920s and 1930s could carry a spare engi their duties often placed them many miles from a suitable repair station shows how a spare Rolls-Royce Kestrel was carried on top of the port dors
rry a spare engine. The nature of e repair station. The Scapa here of the port dorsal gun position
Supermarine Scapa FOLLOWING THE EXPERIENCE – good and bad – gained from the three-engined Southampton X, R J Mitchell wisely returned to the tried and tested design philosophy of the Southampton. Resources offered by the recent merger with Vickers gave Mitchell access to additional technical facilities, both aerodynamic and hydrodynamic, which helped improve the design of the hull and refine drag characteristics of the superstructure. A prototype, called the Southampton IV, was designed to Air Ministry Specification R.20/31, issued in November 1931. The flying-boat was of similar size and layout to the Southampton but incorporated a host of improvements. The structure of the hull was metal throughout while the wings and tail surfaces were also metal but fabric-covered. The tail, which bore a passing resemblance to the Southampton, had two fins rather than three. The prototype Southampton IV S1648, renamed Scapa in October 1933, was first flown by ‘Mutt’ Summers on July 8, 1932. Forty test flights were carried out by Supermarine before the aircraft was sent to Felixstowe for service trials on October 29. One test included a ten hour nonstop flight over the North Sea and, in November, the flying-boat was sent to Malta for further trials with 202 Squadron. At the conclusion of these proving flights an order was placed for 12 Scapas (K4191-K4202) and the type was chosen to re-equip 202 Squadron at Kalafrana which it joined in May 1935. The Scapa also joined 204 Squadron at Aboukir and Alexandria
Excellent view of the prototype Southampton IV, later Scapa I S1648, showing how uncluttered the engine layout and wing design was, compared to earlier Supermarine designs
where, together with 202 Squadron, the Scapas carried out anti-submarine patrols throughout the Spanish Civil War to protect neutral shipping. 204 Squadron had been in the region from September 1935 in response to the potential threat posed by the Italians who had just invaded Abyssinia. By August 1936, they had returned to Mount Batten. In a time-honoured tradition, the Scapa also took part in several long-distance cruises including a 9,000 mile round trip to Nigeria, via Algiers, Gambia and Lagos in 1936 flown by 202 Squadron. At home, Scapas also joined 228 Squadron at Pembroke Dock and 240 Squadron at Calshot where, the latter served the longest, being replaced by Singapores in December 1938, however, several served on into 1939.
SUPERMARINE SCAPA ENGINE: TWO 525HP ROLLS-ROYCE KESTREL IIIMS WING SPAN: 75FT LENGTH (ON CHASSIS): 53FT HEIGHT (ON CHASSIS): 21FT LOADED WEIGHT: 16,080 LB MAX SPEED: 142 MPH CREW: 5
K4196 pictured at Kalafrana whilst serving with 202 Squadron after being delivered on August 3, 1935
K4200, the tenth aircraft of the first production batch of 12 Scapas, being launched at Woolston for the first time on October 30, 1935. It was delivered to 204 Squadron the same day
SUPERMARINE SCAPA S1648 being casually taxied out onto the Solent for further flight testing
Short S.14 Sarafand AT THE TIME of Eustace Short’s death, Short Brothers was going through a vibrant period of experimentation including the incredible Sarafand flying boat. The six-engined aircraft had a span of 120ft, was nearly 90ft long and, in the capable hands of the company’s Chief Test Pilot, John Lankester Parker, made a tentative ten minute maiden flight on June 30, 1932. Basically a scaled-up 70,000lb version of the Singapore Mk II, the Sarafand was the world’s second largest aircraft at the time. The two-step hull had a stainless steel planing bottom with a swept-up prow and visible flared chines which tapered to thinner central and upper sections. Several watertight bulkheads were positioned under the hull floor, which had a number of detachable inspection panels to allow access to the bilges. The Sarafand was well facilitated within the hull, beginning with a passageway which led aft from the comfortable, spacious, enclosed cockpit. Behind was a wardroom, big enough for a chart board and table and the flight engineers’ control panels. Further aft and below, the centre section was a cabin fitted with a folding table and four bunks, specifically for the use of senior officers or passengers. Aft of this was the galley and a crew cabin, again fitted with four bunks. Two more bunks, a stretcher, toolkits and a work bench were housed just forward of dorsal defensive positions. This
John Parker putting the Sarafand through its paces off Kingsnorth on July 11, 1932 during a 40 minute flying display. Prior to this demonstration, Parker had only flown the giant flying-boat on four previous occasions but still managed to put on a display described ‘as a masterpiece of exhibition flying.’
same had a detachable cover, large enough to load a pair of propeller blades or a complete Buzzard engine. Aft of the dorsal positions were a toilet and even more storage space and beyond was a cat walk to the rear gunner’s position. Serialled S1589, the giant flying boat was designed with a ten-man crew in mind and was accepted by the RAF for trials. After achieving an excellent record of performance which outclassed all contemporary designs, the Sarafand was eventually scrapped at Felixstowe in 1936.
SHORT S.14 SARAFAND ENGINES: SIX 825HP ROLLS-ROYCE BUZZARD WING SPAN: 120FT LENGTH: 89FT 5IN HEIGHT: 30FT 4IN LOADED WEIGHT: 70,000 LB MAX SPEED: 150 MPH CREW: 9
The Sarafand was so large that the wings had to be erected in an ex-barge-yard further down the River Medway. Final assembly had to be carried out in the open and on June 30, 1932, with Oswald Short as second-pilot, John Lankester Parker flew the giant for the first time There is no doubting the location of the Sarafand on this occasion with Rochester Bridge to the left and Rochester Castle to the right. In August 1932, the flying-boat was transferred to the MAEE at Felixstowe for extensive trials, which, on and off, continued into 1935. In June of that year, the Sarafand led a large formation of RAF flying-boats during the RAF Hendon air display, only to be scrapped later in the year
John Parker taxies S1589 in front of the press and local dignitaries on board the MV Essex Queen off Kingsnorth on July 11, 1932
Blackburn Iris I to V THE LARGEST AIRCRAFT in service with the RAF during the early 1930s was Blackburn’s first foray into large flying-boat design, the Iris. Blackburn had earlier built the single-seater N 1B and Pellet flying-boats and felt more than capable of producing a design for Air Ministry Specification 14/24 calling for a three-engined machine. The result was Iris I, N185 which made its first flight in September 1926. Powered by a trio of Rolls-Royce Condor engines, the aircraft had a wooden hull although this was later replaced by a metal hull and re-designated the Iris II. The aircraft was picked as the flag ship for the 1927 Baltic Cruise of British flying boats, and during this ‘voyage’ carried the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Samuel Hoare. It also carried Sir Philip Sassoon MP on the majority of a 17,000 mile round trip to India. The Iris III was chosen by the RAF, the prototype (N238) having first flown on November 21, 1929. An order for just three aircraft was placed, the Mk III differing from the earlier marks through the introduction of an all-metal superstructure, all-metal hull, modified engine mountings and interior. The three Iris IIIs entered RAF service with 209 Squadron at Mount Batten, which was reformed on January 15, 1930. Keeping up the tradition of flying over long distances, two of the squadron’s Irises flew from Plymouth to Reykjavik in June 1930 to take part in the celebrations of the 1,000th anniversary of the Icelandic parliament. The flight, via Stornoway, was carried out in just 11 hours. On the return leg, one Iris, S1264, made the return journey non-stop in a mere seven hours and was the first such flight of its kind. In August 1930, Iris S1264 made the first crossing of the Bay of Biscay in a flying-boat during a flight from Plymouth to Gibraltar, via Lisbon. Following the loss of one Iris III, N238, in February 1931, a replacement aircraft – Zephyrus (S1593) – was ordered sporting the
provision to mount a 37mm Coventry Ordnance Works gun in a larger bow cockpit. By then the weight of the Iris III had increased to the point where more power was needed to maintain the original performance. It was decided that S1263, S1264 and S1593 would be re-engined with the 825hp Rolls-Royce Buzzard engine and, when they re-entered RAF service in 1932, they were redesignated the Iris V (The Mk IV was the Mk II re-engined with Armstrong-Siddeley Leopards). The three Mk Vs served with 209 Squadron until June 1934, by which time, its stablemate, the Perth, was poised to replace it.
S1263 re-engined with a trio 825hp Rolls-Royce Buzzard engines is pictured during trials at the MAEE in March 1932. Returned to 209 Squadron, the flying-boat collided with a pinnace and sank while landing in Plymouth Sound on January 12, 1933
BLACKBURN IRIS III ENGINES: THREE 675HP ROLLS-ROYCE CONDOR IIIB WING SPAN: 97FT LENGTH: 67FT 4¾IN HEIGHT: 25FT 6IN LOADED WEIGHT: 29,000 LB MAX SPEED: 118 MPH CREW: 5
The Blackburn Iris I, N185, airborne from Brough, with its all-white wooden hull glistening in the sunshine. Visible under the upper mainplane and above each engine is a 302 gallon fuel tank
Pictured off Felixstowe, N185 is now fitted with an all-metal hull and redesignated the Iris II. Other modifications include more streamlined engine nacelles with chin-mounted radiators and less complicated wing-floats First flown on November 21, 1929, this is the pre-production Iris III N238 pictured at Brough before test pilot N H Woodhead made its maiden flight
Iris III S1263, the first production aircraft which flew on February 5, 1930. Initially taken on charge with 209 Squadron, the aircraft was later converted to Mk V standard
Blackburn Perth THE FOUNDATION BLOCKS for the Blackburn Perth had already been laid with the Iris V, which was effectively the Perth prototype. Introduced into service with 209 Squadron at Mount Batten in January 1934, the Perth replaced the Iris, which had only been in service from 1930. The Perth made its first flight in 1933 and its dimensions and weights were generally similar to the Iris V and the powerful Buzzard engines were also retained. Other differences were subtle, although the most obvious one was the enclosed cockpit for the pilot and second pilot. The crew was also increased from the Iris’ five to six and, as well as the two pilots, the crew was made up of a navigator, wireless operator, engineer/air gunner and an air gunner. Internally, the flying-boat had a navigation compartment with a table for charts, a wireless cabin, a canteen and galley plus sleeping berths for the crew. One unique feature of the Perth was the 37mm COW automatic gun which, like the Iris before it, could be mounted in the bow cockpit. The gun was capable of firing 1½lb shells at the impressive rate of 100 rounds per minute. This was in addition to the standard armament of three 0.303in guns positioned in the bow, amidships and in the tail. Up to 2,200lb of bombs could also be carried.
Only four Perths (K3580-K3582 and K4011) were built and these only served with 209 Squadron, firstly from Mount Batten and then from May 1935, Felixstowe. At first the Perths operated over the Irish Sea, using Stranraer as a forward operating base from where exercises with the Fleet were commonplace. The Perth was temporarily withdrawn in December 1934 after suffering problems with the tail assembly and the Scapa and Knuckleduster prototypes filled the gap at 209 Squadron where the problem was resolved. Back in service by July 1935, the Perth’s service career was short and the type was withdrawn in May 1936.
BLACKBURN PERTH ENGINES: Three 825hp Rolls-Royce Buzzard II MS WING SPAN: 97ft LENGTH: 70ft HEIGHT: 26ft 5½in LOADED WEIGHT: 32,500 lb MAX SPEED: 132 mph CREW: 5
The three 825hp Rolls-Royce Buzzard IIMS engines are put through their paces on K3580 on October 12, 1933, one month before the flying-boat was delivered to the MAEE for its trials
71 The first of only four Perth flying-boats, K3580 is pictured during trials with a 37mm recoilless quick-firing COW gun fitted into the nose gun position. This fearsome weapon was designed for use against submarines
Main image: the last of four Perths built was K4011, to separate contract number 265687/33. First flown on April 16, 1934, the flying-boat was delivered to MAEE just four days later and, despite wearing a 209 Squadron badge under the pilot’s cockpit window, the Perth never served with that unit. Pictured off the Suffolk coast in 1936, the flying-boat served the MAEE until it was SOC on February 2, 1938
Another view of K4011, giving an excellent angle to its all-metal Alclad covered hull
Below: first flown on October 11, 1933, the four Perths delivered to the RAF were originally known as the Iris VI. This view of K3580 shows the precarious position of the rear gunner and detail of the tail unit and its struts, which would prove to be a troublesome feature, causing the first three aircraft to be grounded for modifications
Short Rangoon THE SHORT RANGOON was the military version of the Calcutta and the Air Ministry Specification, R.18/29 was issued specifically for its production. The prototype, S1433, first flew from the River Medway on September 24, 1930 and, on the surface, was no different than its older civilian sibling. On closer inspection, the Rangoon was fitted with a Scarff gun-ring at the bow, a pair of gun positions after the wing and could carry a 1,000lb bomb load. The crew were provided with bunks, basic galley facilities and room to store fresh water. As the Rangoon was scheduled for service in the Near East, the latter ability was very useful. Only six Rangoons (S1433-S1435, K2134, K2809 and K3678) were built and all entered service with 203 Squadron, based at Basrah, in April 1931. The first three were collected from Felixstowe on February 6, taking ten weeks in 12 stages to reach Basrah. 203 Squadron were the only RAF flying-boat unit in Iraq and generally operated in unison with the Royal Navy to help protect British interests in the Persian Gulf. Gun-running and smuggling was also rife throughout the gulf and the Rangoon’s presence in the area helped to stem the problem. Several traditional long-range cruises were carried out by the Rangoons, the most significant taking place in September 1934.
One of the six Rangoons built for the RAF is taxied on the River Medway by John Lankester Parker prior to its maiden flight
203 Squadron flew the flag for Britain in Australia for the country’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. The Rangoon’s service with 203 Squadron came to an end in July 1935 when the Singapore Mk III took over. All six were flown to Pembroke Dock to serve with 203 Squadron, who had supplied the Singapores, before the unit relocated to Gibraltar on September 28, 1935. The Rangoons served out their days over the Mediterranean before being returning to Pembroke Dock in September 1936, where 203 Squadron re-equipped back to the Singapore Mk II.
SHORT RANGOON ENGINES: Three 540hp Bristol Jupiter XIF WING SPAN: 93ft LENGTH: 66ft 9½in HEIGHT: 23ft 9in LOADED WEIGHT: 22,500 lb MAX SPEED: 115 mph CREW: 5
A Rangoon flies over the Short factory and the River Medway on an air test or possibly maiden flight during the early 1930s. The singleengine seaplane on the water is the personal aircraft of Eustace Short
A rare view of a Rangoon in service with 210 Squadron, which only occurred between August 1935 and September 1936, prior to the unit re-equipping with the Saro London. This is the third production aircraft, S1435, built under contract No.3438/30 and first flown December 12, 1930
The prototype Short Rangoon S1433 which first flew from Rochester on September 24, 1930. Allocated to 203 Squadron at Basrah, the flying-boat later joined the civilian register as G-AEIM and served as an aircrew trainer for Imperial Airways
Four Rangoons were built under licence by Breguet in 1934. Two for the Aeronavale designated the Br 521-01 Bizerte and powered by Gnôme-Rhône K.9 engines, and two Br 530 Saigons, powered by a trio of 785hp Hispano-Suiza 12 YBR engines. Pictured is Saigon F-AMSV Algerie which was used by Air France on its Trans-Mediterranean service
203 Squadron Rangoon S1434 taxies for take-off on the wide Shatt al-Arab river in Basrah in 1932. The flying-boat served 203 Squadron from April 1931 to July 1935 before being transferred to less sunnier climes with 210 Squadron at Pembroke Dock
Supermarine Stranraer II IT WAS WHILE the specification was being written for the Scapa that the Air Ministry issued another requirement for a generalpurpose coastal patrol flying-boat able to carry a 1,000lb military load over 1,000miles. An ability to maintain flight on a single engine with 60% of the fuel load still on board was another requirement. The Scapa was unable to achieve any of this which was encompassed in Specification R.24/31. So Supermarine decided to design a scaled-up Scapa called the Southampton V (renamed the Stranraer in August, 1935) making the company’s latest product a restricted development version of its predecessor. The wingspan, area and weight of the Stranraer were 12% greater than the Scapa. The rudders were the same size but the elevators were 7% greater than the Scapa’s with larger aerodynamic balances. The trim tabs were large enough to keep the aircraft straight and level with one engine shut down. The chosen powerplant was, at first, the Kestrel but the Pegasus IIIM was chosen instead for the prototype and the eventual production aircraft were fitted with the Pegasus X. The engines were mounted under the top wings and, being air-cooled, lacked the clutter of radiators and their pipework. Fuel was carried in the upper centre section and oil tanks and their coolers were fitted in the leading edge of the wing. The Air Ministry placed an order to Specification 17/35 in August 1935 for 17 aircraft despite originally rejecting the Stranraer in favour of the Saro London. The Stranraer I first entered RAF service with 228 Squadron at Pembroke Dock in April 1937. In September 1939, 15 were still in service, despite the arrival of the Sunderland. All served from Scottish bases with 209 and 240 Squadrons. By April 1941, the flying-boat was withdrawn from front-line service but some in the second-line until late 1942.
The prototype Stranraer (ex-Southampton V) K3973 undergoing flight trials with the MAEE at Felixstowe in November 1934. Apart from a brief spell with 210 Squadron, the aircraft only flew with the MAEE and Supermarine before being SOC on October 30, 1938
The Stranraer actually served in greater numbers with the RCAF, many of 40 built by Canadian Vickers served until 1946. Units included No.4(BR), 5(BR ex-GR), 6(BR), 7(BR), 9(BR), 117, 120 and 166 Squadrons, RCAF. A total of 58 Stranraers were built starting with the prototype K3973, ordered under contract 262922/33. The first and main production batch for the RAF was for 17 aircraft (K7287-K7303) ordered in 1935 which was followed by an additional order for six more in May 1936, but the latter was cancelled. Canadian Vickers production of the Stranraer amounted to 40 aircraft for the RCAF in the serial ranges 907-916, 918-923, 927-938 and 946-957. Fourteen of these went on to serve on the Canadian civilian register, the last of them retiring in 1957. Ex-920, which became CF-BXO, is today preserved at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
Another view of the prototype, K3973 which first flew on July 27, 1934. The Stranraer served the RAF from April 1937 to March 1941 in the front-line and on into 1942 in the second
77 The first production Stranraer Mk I K7287 pictured off Cowes, Isle of Wight in April 1939. The flying-boat went on to serve with 228 Squadron, ‘B’ Flight, Calshot, the FBTS and 240 Squadron before carrying out its last operational patrol February 26, 1941
K7297 ‘X’ of 228 Squadron at the point of take-off in late 1938. By February 1939 the flying-boat was transferred to 209 Squadron only to be lost on August 19, 1939 during a patrol over the North Sea with the loss of all on board
78 K7295 pictured in the toned-down wartime camouflage during its service with 240 Squadron, which ended on April 10, 1941, when it was transferred to 4 OTU. After a short spell with the MAEE, at its wartime home of Helensburgh, the Stranraer returned to the OTU and served until a heavy landing on Loch Ness in September 1942, destroyed it beyond repair
Main image: Canadian Vickersbuilt Stranraer 914, serving with 5 Squadron, RCAF. Taken on charge on August 31, 1939, the flying-boat enjoyed a long flying career with the RCAF, finally being SOC on February 7, 1945
The first of 40 Canadian-built Stranraers was 907 which was launched at the Canadian Vickers basin in Montreal on October 19, 1938. After service with the RCAF, the Stranraer saw out its days with Queen Charlotte Airlines from September 1947 but in January 1948 suffered an in-flight fire and was not repaired
KEY 1. Mooring bollards 2. Hinged watertight door 3. Bomb sight 4. Spare ammunition drums 5. Grab rail 6. Bilge pump 7. Bulkhead 8. Rudder pedals 9. Pilot’s control column 10. Pilot’s seat 11. Elevator trim wheel 12. Adjustable lamp 13. Chart table 14. Navigator’s and engineer’s compartment 15. Attachment points for beaching gear 16. W/T operator’s position 17. All-metal Alclad hull with two steps 18. Camera 19. Sleeping bunks (port and starboard) 20. Cooking stove and kitchen fitment (both sides) 21. Lights in wing leading edge 22. Wingtip Alclad stabilising float (four watertight compartments) 23. Two-spar wing 24. Spars and ribs of Alclad (a sandwich of duralumin with a thin coating of aluminium on each side) 25. Aileron; metal frame, fabric covered 26. Ammunition drum 27. Suitcases (stowed) 28. Engine access ladder (stowed) 29. Tailplane bracing struts 30. Alclad framed, fabric-covered tailplane 31. One-piece fabric-covered elevator 32. Elevator trim tab 33. Alclad framed, fabric covered fin and rudder 34. Tail gun position, one 0.303in Lewis machine-gun on ring mounting 35. Rudder trim tab 36. Horn-balanced rudder 37. Fin
F Munger AMRAeS G.Av.A for Aeroplane Monthly 1974
38. Stowage for folding water drogue 39. Dorsal gun position, one 0.303in Lewis machine-gun on ring mounting 40. Windshield 41. Engineer’s hatch 42. Alclad engine nacelle 43. Exhaust collector ring 44. Two Alclad fuel tanks in top wing centre section (250gal each) 45. Direction-finding loop (later addition) 46. Aerial wires 47. Fuel tank breather vents 48. 920 h.p. Bristol Pegasus X ninecylinder air-cooled radial engine 49. Fabric covered wing 50. Three-blade metal propeller with spinner 51. Two 19.5gal oil tanks form leading edge of upper wing centre section 52. Removable underwing fuel tanks principally for ferrying purposes, but one tank and one depth charge often fitted to increase radius of search 53. Two 250lb bombs on underwing racks 54. Internal stowage racks for 500lb of bombs 55. Sliding cockpit roof 56. Hinged windscreen 57. Gun ring can be slid aft to leave nose cockpit free 58. Bow gun position, one 0.303in Lewis machine-gun on ring mounting
53 52 54
55 56 58
rmarine Stranraer SUPERMARINE STRANRAER ENGINE: TWO 920HP BRISTOL PEGASUS X WING SPAN: 85FT LENGTH (ON CHASSIS): 53FT 10IN HEIGHT (ON CHASSIS): 21FT 9IN LOADED WEIGHT: 19,000 LB MAX SPEED: 165 MPH CREW: 6-7
The pilot of an RCAF Stranraer concentrates as he enters a turn, photographed from the gunner’s position in the nose
35 37 31 44
33 45 31
41 28 20
19 18 16 15 15
Bristol Pegasus X
Bristol Pegasus DESIGNED BY ROY FEDDEN, the Bristol Pegasus was created with the experience gained from the highly successful Jupiter and, later, Mercury engines. First run in 1932, the original engine only produced 590hp but by the time the last variant was built in 1937, the Pegasus was being rated at 1,010hp. The 30,000 plus Pegasus engines built were used in 57 different types of aircraft, the majority of which were military included such types as the Bristol Bombay, Fairey Swordfish, Short Sunderland and Vickers Wellington. Within this publication the engine was employed by the following aircraft; the Saro London (820hp, IIIM3 and 915 and 1,055hp), the Supermarine Seagull V (625hp IIM2), the Supermarine Walrus (750 and 775hp VI) and the Supermarine Stranraer (IIIM and 920hp X). Aircraft powered by the Pegasus engine were to set several world records during the 1930s, including the world altitude record, which was raised to 43,976ft in September 1932. It was raised again by a Pegasus power in 1936 to 49,967ft and in 1937 a Bristol 138 monoplane set the final record for a Pegasus-powered aircraft to 53,937ft. Further achievements included the first flight over Mount Everest in 1933 and a 7,000 mile non-stop flight from Egypt to Darwin in 1938.
The 750hp Pegasus VI of Walrus I, L2192 of 712 Squadron warms through as its crew climbs aboard at Lee-on-Solent in late 1939.
83 The prototype Seagull V, fitted with a 625hp Pegasus IIM2, driving a four-blade fixed pitch propeller, pictured at Felixstowe during its early flight trials.
BRISTOL PEGASUS (Data for XVIII) Nine-cylinder, poppet-valve, radial, air-cooled BORE: 5.75in STROKE: 7.5in CAPACITY: 28.72 litres POWER: 1,065hp at 2,600 rpm at 1,250ft WEIGHT: 1,180lb REDUCTION GEAR RATIO: 0.5.1
The Bristol Pegasus X which powered the Supermarine Stranraer and Saro London flying-boats.
The crew of G-AHFN, a Walrus II of United Whalers Ltd, London, pose for the camera at the start of the Folkestone Trophy Air Race. The Walrus II was powered by a 775hp Pegasus VI.
Limited production types In a period spanning from 1913 to the early stages of the Second World War, flyingboats and amphibians were very active. A host of different types were produced by almost every single major aircraft
manufacturer of the period including the following; from Tommy Sopwith’s pioneering Bat Boat through to the equally important Seagull V, designed by R J Mitchell, which evolved into the ubiquitous
Walrus. None of the following were built in great numbers but each and every one helped to advance the concept a little further until the peak of development was reached in the mid-1930s.
Sopwith Bat Boat (Type 1, 1A and 2) It was thanks to aviation pioneer Tommy Sopwith that Britain gained its first truly successful flying-boat in 1913. The previous summer, Sopwith began designing the flying-boat, which was heavily influenced by his interests in yachting and power-boat racing. The original ‘Bat Boat’ was a tractor configured Gnome-powered biplane, with an S E Saunders-built hull, made of Consuta (four veneers of mahogany planking, stitched with copper wire and proofed with calico). By August 1912, despite being close to completion, Sopwith’s original Bat Boat was abandoned. The name lived on though, when Sopwith redesigned the flying-boat with a pusher AustroDaimler engine. Saunders built the hull again which had a two-seat side-by-side cockpit and a power-boat influenced, vee-profile, planing bottom. The Type 1 Bat Boat was completed for the February Sopwith Bat Boat No.1 following modification with twin rudders pictured in 1913 1913 Aero Show at Olympia and the Admiralty were so impressed that they ordered a single machine at a SOPWITH BAT BOAT TYPE 2 cost of £1,500. By March, the Bat Boat was ready for flight testing but, despite the best efforts of Tommy ENGINES: ONE 200HP SALMSON Sopwith and test pilot Harry Hawker, the flying-boat WING SPAN: 54FT LENGTH: 36FT 6IN refused to fly. Sopwith persevered until the Bat Boat HEIGHT: 10FT LOADED WEIGHT: 3,120LB eventually lifted a few feet above the water, only to MAX SPEED: 70 MPH CREW: 2 crash back down again, causing irreparable damage to the hull. A storm that evening wrecked what was left of the flying-boat but, in order to meet the Admiralty contract, Sopwith at once ordered a replacement aircraft, the Type 1A. The second and third Bat Boats were both powered by a 100hp Green engine while the third was an amphibian as well. The latter proved the worth of the design by winning the Mortimer Singer British amphibious competition on July 8, 1913. The following year, two more Bat Boats were built, with a larger 55ft span and more power from a 200hp Salmson engine. The RNAS took delivery of the second Bat Boat in June 1913, serialled No.38, its service was short-lived as it sunk at its moorings on August 23, 1913. Rebuilt by Sopwith, No.38 finally succumbed to weather in Scapa Flow, on November 14, 1914. The RNAS also bought the third Bat Boat in February 1914, allocating the serial No.118. This aircraft served until February 1915. The second Bat Boat pictured off Netley, Southampton Water, on August 16, 1913
Supermarine A.D. After Noel Pemberton Billing departed his own company to focus on his political career, Hubert Scott-Paine began to concentrate on working directly with the Admiralty. Contracts for the construction of Type 184s, P.B.25s and the Nighthawk were coming to an end and more work of a more progressive nature was needed if the fledgling Supermarine Aviation Works was to survive. The overall Supermarine design was carried out by Harris Booth, although Linton Hope is credited with the lines and structure of the hull, which gave the A.D. flying-boat flexibility when dealing with rough or choppy seas. The A.D. was a biplane of conventional configuration and the tail and rudders were also a biplane design.
The pilot and observer sat in tandem cockpits in the nose while the engine was located above and behind them below the upper mainplane. To aid ship-board stowage, the wings could be folded.
A.D. FLYING-BOAT ENGINE: ONE 200HP HISPANO-SUIZA WING SPAN: 50FT 4IN LENGTH: 30FT 7IN HEIGHT: 13FT 1IN LOADED WEIGHT: 3,567LB MAX SPEED: 100 MPH CREW: 2
The prototype A.D. Boat No.1412, the first of 27 built pictured on its beaching chassis
Norman Thompson N.2C Designed to the Admiralty Department’s Specification N.2(c) which was issued in April 1917, the N.2C was a medium-sized twinengined flying-boat. Norman Thompson intended the flying-boat to be a replacement for the N.T.4 and N.T.4A, although the wings were incorporated from the former. The rudder was revised, the aircraft was made lighter than the N.T.4 and a two-step hull, of a similar design to the Porte/Felixstowe, was also fitted. N.2(c) originally called for power to be supplied by a pair of 200hp Hispano engines but the company felt that a tri-motor arrangement would be better although this was quickly dismissed by the Admiralty. The N.2C eventually emerged with a pair of
Norman Thompson N.2C N82 outside the company’s Middleton site. Following final trials in October 1918, the sole N.2C was transferred to Grain but was deleted by the end of the year
200hp Arab engines driving a pair of four-bladed propellers in a pusher configuration. By November 1917, a contract was placed for a pair of N.2Cs, serialled N82 and N83, the first of which began trials on August 1, 1918. These trials did not go well, in particular the hull performed below expectations. A redesign did not improve matters and, after further modifications, the N.2C was found to be 600lbs over the design weight. Further trials were carried out in October 1918 but, by the time of the Armistice, interest in the type was gone and work never began on the second aircraft.
NORMAN THOMPSON N.2C ENGINE: Two 200hp Sunbeam Arab WING SPAN: 78ft 7in LENGTH: 42ft 2in HEIGHT: 14ft 7in NORMAL WEIGHT: 6,194 lb MAX SPEED: 100 mph CREW: 2
Felixstowe F.4 Fury (Porte ‘Super Baby’) Designed by John Porte, the Fury was a large five-engined triplane flying-boat which was one of many creations at the time, all of which were vying to become the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic. The largest British aircraft of its day, the aircraft was also ironically nicknamed the ‘Super Baby’ and was initially designed for a military purpose. With the serial N123, the Fury first flew on November 11, 1918 with John Porte at the controls. Its military specification was two pilots in an open side-by-side cockpit, a bow and dorsal gunner’s position totalling four defensive machine guns and a substantial bomb load. As the Fury was first flown on Armistice Day, attention was turned to the aircraft’s capabilities as a civilian machine. First flown at its normal weight of 24,000lb, the Fury had an overload of 28,000lb and at both weights the aircraft behaved well in the air and on the water. Design modifications improved the aircraft and a great deal of test flying was carried out, mainly from Felixstowe. After joining No.4 Communications Squadron, the Fury was being prepared for a long-distance flight to South Africa when, on August 11, 1919 the flying-boat stalled and crashed
FELIXSTOWE F.4 FURY ENGINE: FIVE 325HP ROLLS-ROYCE EAGLE VII OR FIVE 345HP EAGLE VIII WING SPAN: 123FT LENGTH: 63FT 2IN HEIGHT: 27FT 6IN NORMAL WEIGHT: 24,000LB MAX SPEED: 97½ MPH CREW: 7
A Sopwith Camel gives some scale to the gigantic Felixstowe F.4 Fury during an engine test at Felixstowe in early 1919. Note the Eagle engines were mounted as ‘push-pullers’ while the fifth was centred in a pusher configuration
Supermarine Channel I and II By 1919, there was a great surplus of military aircraft, many of which, including Supermarine’s own A.D. Flying-boat, were suitable for conversion to passenger-carrying machines. The A.D. would be ideal for flying short-haul sea routes and, by May 1919, Supermarine had purchased ten of them from the Admiralty for conversion into the Channel. Conversion from the military A.D. to the civilian Channel I was fairly straightforward. Firstly, one extra cockpit was opened up forward of the mainplanes and the original Hispano-Suiza engine was replaced by a 160hp Beardmore. A small rudder was also added to help to improve the handling of the Channel while taxying.
The Channel II differed from the Mk I by being fitted with a 240hp Armstrong Siddeley Puma engine. The Puma engine had been looked at in detail by Supermarine since early 1920 to help improve the take-off performance of the Channel. By October 1920, drawings had been raised and conversion kits were supplied by Supermarine to operators for an upgrade from a Mk I to a Mk II. Ten ex-military A.D. boats were converted by Supermarine to Channel Is, the majority of which were later converted to Mk IIs. Of this batch, two were later delivered to Bermuda, four to Norway. An additional four Channels were delivered to the Norwegian Navy, one to the Swedish Navy, one to New Zealand, one to Venezuela/British Guiana, one to Japan and one aircraft to Chile.
CHANNEL MK I AND MK II ENGINES: (I) One 160hp Beardmore. (II) One 240hp Armstrong Siddeley Puma WING SPAN: (Upper): 50ft 5in, (Lower) 39ft 7in LENGTH: 30ft HEIGHT: 30ft LOADED WEIGHT: 3,400 lb MAX SPEED: (Mk I) 80 mph (Mk II) 92 mph CREW: 1 PASSENGERS: 3
The last Channel built was this Mk II for Chile in 1922. It was delivered to the Chilean Naval Air Service as a three-seat armed reconnaissance flying boat. Its hull was different from the early Channels and more resembled that of a Seal or Seagull type machine
LIMITED PRODUCTION TYPES
Phoenix P.5 Cork I/English Electric P.5 Kingston The last significant large flying-boat to appear before the Armistice was the Phoenix P.5 Cork which first flew on August 4, 1918. Designed to Specification N.3(b), the Cork used a Linton Hope designed hull built by May, Harden & May. Hulls were then delivered to the Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company where flying surfaces were attached and a pair of Eagle VIII engines were fitted. The first of two aircraft, N86, showed promising performance which surpassed the Felixstowe F.3 in the air and on the water. Comparisons with the F.5 also saw the Cork I come out on top with regards to speed, climb rate and range. The second aircraft, Cork II, N87, did not fly until March 28, 1919 because of modifications to the hull. However, the post-Armistice put paid to any production orders and the aviation department of Phoenix was closed down. Prior to this though, the company designed the P.8 Electric which had an envisaged weight of 100,000lb. When English Electric was formed in 1918, Phoenix was one of the several companies that it encompassed. As a result, it also inherited the Phoenix flying-boat designs and, in 1923, the Cork re-emerged as the P.5 Kingston. Redesign features included a bigger fin and rudder, extended upper ailerons, modified wingtip floats and a pair of Napier Lion engines. Ordered in 1923 under specification 23/23, the first attempt to fly the initial aircraft, Kingston N168 took place at Lytham on May 22, 1924. On take-off the flying-boat hit an underwater obstacle that holed the hull but this did not stop an order for four Kingstons being placed by the Air Ministry. In March 1925, the Kingston II appeared with an all-metal hull but, following trials, was found to be no better than the Kingston I, in all departments. The final variant, the Kingston III, first flew in 1926 but by this time the Supermarine Southampton was leading the field and no production order was forthcoming.
P.5 CORK & KINGSTON ENGINES: (Cork) Two 352hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII; (Kingston) Two 450hp Napier Lion IIIB WING SPAN: 85ft 6in LENGTH: 52ft 9in HEIGHT: 20ft 11in MAX TAKE-OFF WEIGHT: 14,508 lb MAX SPEED: 105 mph CREW: 6
The English Electric Kingston II, N9712, fitted with a metal hull pictured at Brough in 1925
The only Cork I, N86, on the slipway at Brough during flight trials in the summer of 1918.
The aircraft spent its entire career being tested and, during its tenure with the MAEE, was involved in a host of minor incidents. Regardless, the performance of the Cork I was generally praised and it was a marked improvement over the F.5 with regard to speed, climb and range
Saunders Kittiwake Designed in response to the Air Ministry’s Civil Aeroplane Competition of 1920, with a first prize of £64,000, the Kittiwake amphibian was a very innovative and complex flying-boat. Designed by Percy Beadle, the Kittiwake’s hull was a two-step Consuta-covered creation with a shallow vee-shaped bottom and a retractable narrow track undercarriage. Behind the partially dual-controlled enclosed cockpit was a cabin for seven passengers. The wings were also Consutacovered with inter-plane ailerons and a novel camber-changing mechanism in the leading and trailing edges for high loadings. Registered as G-EAUD, the Kittiwake first flew on September 19, 1920 in the hands of Norman Macmillan. Shortly after take-off, the leading edge camber mechanism failed, causing the flying-boat to stall back into the sea, hit a rock and partially sink. Once repaired, further attempts to fly failed. The problem was eventually found to be a lack of power from the port engine. Another six months passed and, following several modifications, the Kittiwake finally took to the air in March 1921. After brief service trials, the Kittiwake crashed again in the Summer of 1921 while being flown by an Air Ministry pilot and, by July 1921, the £10,000 project had been scrapped.
Kittiwake G-EAUD pictured rising from the River Medina, Isle of Wight, on September 19, 1920. Only seconds later, the aircraft suffered a mechanical failure and stalled into the sea
KITTIWAKE ENGINES: Two 200hp ABC Wasp II WING SPAN: 68ft 3in LENGTH: 43ft 8in HEIGHT: 14ft 10½in ALL-UP WEIGHT: 6,200 lb MAX SPEED: 110 mph CREW: 2 PASSENGERS: 7
Supermarine Sea King I & II Despite the requirement for the N.1B Baby expiring at the end of the First World War, Supermarine decided to continue to pursue the idea of building a single-seat fighter flying-boat. Several spin-off designs were created, including the Schneider Sea Lion and the Sea King alongside the Supermarione Channel. The aircraft made its public appearance at Olympia in July 1920. There are few details about the brief flying career of the Sea King I but the Mk II is recorded as flying for the first time in December 1921. It proved to be an outstandingly manoeuvrable aircraft and its aerobatic ability was just as good as any landplane fighter of the day. The aircraft was very stable, needing no trimming, regardless of whether the engine was running or not. There was also no sign of porpoising on the water and the Sea King Mk II could be flown ‘hands off’ in all but the most severe of weather conditions. Regardless, the Mk II was not selected for production. The Parnall Plover and the Fairey Flycatcher, both capable of being fitted with either conventional undercarriage or floats, were selected, at first in limited numbers. The Flycatcher went on to be chosen by the Air Ministry.
ENGINE: (I) One 160hp Beardmore / 240hp Siddeley Puma. (II) One 300hp Hispano-Suiza 8 WING SPAN: (I upper) 35ft 6in. (II) 32ft, (I lower) 30ft 5in LENGTH: (I) 27ft 4in. (II) 26ft 9in. HEIGHT: (I and II) 11ft 7in LOADED WEIGHT: (I) (Beardmore) 2,500 lb, (Puma) 2,646 lb. (II) 2,850lb MAX SPEED: (I) (Beardmore) 110½ mph, (Puma) 121 mph. (II) 125 mph at sea level CREW: 1
The Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd staff pose for a company photograph circa 1920 with the Sea King I providing part of the backdrop
Supermarine Commercial Amphibian In April 1920 the Air Ministry announced a competition to find ‘the best type of Float Seaplanes or Boat Seaplanes which will be safe, comfortable and economical for air travel and capable of alighting on and rising from land as well as water.’ The requirements went on and the manufacturers taking part had little time as the competition was planned to begin at Martlesham Heath and Felixstowe on September 1. The Commercial Amphibian was a single-engined biplane flying-boat with a wooden hull based on the A.D. boat and the
Channel. The 350hp Eagle VIII engine was positioned between the mainplanes in a pusher configuration. It is presumed that the Commercial Amphibian first flew in August 1920, in time to become one of five competitors registered to take part in the Air Ministry competition. In the end, only three made it, the Commercial Amphibian, G-EAVE, flown by Capt J E A Hoare, a Vickers Viking III and a Fairey III floatplane. The Beardmore W.B.IX and the Saunders Kittiwake failed to make it.
Despite the competition being treated quite lightheartedly by the manufacturers taking part, a great deal of useful testing was compiled. The Commercial Amphibian performed very well considering how quickly the machine was put together, coming second to the Vickers Viking which took the first prize of £10,000. In fact, the Air Ministry thought the Commercial was such a good design that they raised the second prize from £4,000 to £8,000.
ENGINE: One 350hp RollsRoyce Eagle VIII WING SPAN (Upper): 50ft, (Lower): 47ft LENGTH: 32ft 6in HEIGHT: 14ft 6in LOADED WEIGHT: 5,700 lb MAX SPEED: 94.4 mph CREW: 1 PASSENGERS: 2
Pictured during the Air Ministry competition at Martlesham Heath in September 1920. Capt Hoare (third from left) is attired in a fisherman’s rig of heavy jersey and grey trousers. On arrival, he was also wearing a tweed shooting hat and sea boots!
LIMITED PRODUCTION TYPES
Vickers-Saunders BS.1 Valentia Another product of Specification N.3(b), the Valentia was one of only a handful of government funded projects to survive the post-war cuts and to appear during the early 1920s. Three aircraft were ordered in May 1918, N124, N125 and N126, as long-range twin-engined reconnaissance flying-boats. The joint venture saw flight structures designed and built at Vickers’ Barrow-in-Furness site and the all-wooden hull by Saunders at Cowes. On March 5, 1921 the first aircraft, N124, was flown by Stan Cockerell from Cowes. N124 had a troubled start, crash-landing at Newhaven during its delivery flight to Grain in April and again on June 14, causing the prow to collapse. N125 followed – this too had to force-land into the sea off Bexhill on March 15, 1922 during a delivery flight to Grain. N126 first flew in March 1923 and arrived safely at Grain the following month for flight trials. A good top speed seems to have been the only positive outcome from these trials which saw the final Valentia struck off charge by November 1924 having been employed on trials with a Coventry Ordnance Works (COW) gun in the nose.
BS.1 VALENTIA ENGINES: Two 650hp Rolls-Royce Condor IA WING SPAN: 112ft LENGTH: 58ft WING AREA: 432 sq ft ALL-UP WEIGHT: 21,300 lb MAX SPEED: 105 mph CREW: 4
The third and final VickersSaunders BS.1, N126 pictured at Grain in April 1923
Supermarine Seal I and II Following the excellent performance of the Commercial Amphibian in the 1920 Air Ministry Competition, a pair of prototypes was ordered, one from Supermarine and one from Vickers. The former would be called the Seal II because as the Commercial Amphibian was originally designated the Seal I. Mitchell designed the Seal II to include all of the improvements highlighted in the post-competition report on the Commercial Amphibian. The Air Ministry needed the latest design to be a three-seat amphibian fleet spotter capable of landing on an aircraft carrier. To aid landing on a carrier’s deck, the Seal II needed a very low landing speed while still keeping the pilot in complete control. The amphibian had a tractor layout and was powered by a liquid-cooled 450hp Napier Lion. The wings were required to fold
The one and only Supermarine Seal II, N146, which was later converted into the Seagull I
SEAL II ENGINE: 450hp Napier Lion WING SPAN: 46ft LENGTH: 32ft 10in HEIGHT: 14ft 10in LOADED WEIGHT: 5,600lb MAX SPEED: 112 mph CREW: 3
back along the length of the fuselage and so not to protrude beyond the tail, the mainplanes were moved further forward than the Commercial Amphibian design. The pilot was positioned in the nose with his own, retractably-mounted, Lewis machine gun. A wireless operator and a rear gunner were positioned aft of the mainplanes and no access to the pilot could be made because of the fuel tanks in the hull. In May 1921, Seal II, N146, first took to the air in the hands of Henri Biard. At first, the Seal exhibited an uncomfortable yaw characteristic which was eventually overcome by re-designing the fin no less than three times. Following a few weeks of flight trials, N146 was handed over to the RAF at Woolston on June 2, 1921. Following completion of its successful military trials, the Seal II was converted to the Seagull I.
Fairey N. 4 Atalanta and Titania Born from Specification N.4, which called for a very large four-engined open-sea reconnaissance and fleet cooperation flying-boat, the Fairey N.4 was the world’s largest flying-boat when it first appeared in the summer of 1922. While Fairey had a lot of experience in designing and building floatplanes, flying-boats were a new field but this did not stop the Air Board from awarding the company an order for two aircraft under Specification N.4. Because of their scale, a large proportion of the work was subcontracted out to companies who had experience of building large flying-boats. The first aircraft, N118, named Atalanta was sub-contracted to the Gosport Aircraft Company who built the hull, while the second, N119, also named Atalanta, had its flight structure built by Phoenix. The hull of N119 was built by May, Harden & May and assembled by Dick, Kerr & Co .
ENGINE: (Atalanta) Four 650hp Rolls-Royce Condor IA; (Titania) Four 650hp Condor III WING SPAN: 139ft LENGTH: 66ft WING AREA: 2,900 sq ft MAX SPEED: 115 mph WEIGHT: (Atalanta) 30,500 lb; (Titania) 31,612 lb CREW: 5
Fairey N.4 Atalanta, N119, pictured at the MAEU at Grain after being reassembled by staff of Dick, Kerr & Co in mid-1922. Built in Lytham St Annes, the world’s largest flying-boat made the 300 mile journey by road
Supermarine Sea Lion I-III The Schneider Trophy, despite only having been organised on two occasions in 1913 and 1914, was an event that was nurturing rapid development in marine aviation. Disrupted by the First World War, Supermarine’s first opportunity came in 1919. The company’s entry was a development of the N.1B Baby, designed by F J Hargreaves. The first of three Schneider trophy entries under the name Sea Lion was the Mk I, which took its name from its engine, the Napier Lion. The 450hp unit replaced the Hispano of the Baby and it is believed that the partially completed hull of N61 help to create Sea Lion I G-EALP. The wings were re-designed with an unequal span and the engine was mounted on its own pylon. The tail looked like the Baby’s, although the fin and rudder was scaled up while control surfaces had streamlined aerodynamic balances. The Sea Lion II, designed by R J Mitchell, was originally built as the Sea King amphibian in 1921 but was rebuilt with a 450hp Napier Lion II engine for the 1922 Schneider Trophy. Its mainplanes were retained but reduced in area by decreasing the chord. As with the Mk I, the Mk II had an increased fin area and, in this case, a larger tailplane to compensate for the high torque of the Lion II engine. The Sea Lion III came about because of the low standard of British entrants for the 1923 Schneider Trophy. Scott-Paine felt obliged to enter another Supermarine aircraft but was reluctant to invest another £6,000 as he had with the Sea Lion II. With little time at hand, it was decided to re-engine and re-design the Mk II so that it could achieve at least 15mph more than the 1922 winner. A 525hp Lion III was fitted and Mitchell increased the wing area, changed the lines of the hull and modified the wingtip floats. To
G-EBAH, the Sea Lion in which Henri Biard achieved an average speed of 145.7mph in 1922 at Naples
cover costs, the aircraft was purchased by the Air Ministry. Flown by Sqn Ldr B D Hobbs, Sea Lion I, G-EALP, was entered into the 1919 Schneider race organised by the Royal Aero Club at Bournemouth. Fog disrupted the race, forcing Hobbs to land in Swanage Bay to get his bearings. Just as the Sea Lion was at the point of taking off, the aircraft struck an object in the water which punched a hole in the hull. After landing again near Bournemouth pier, the flying-boat sank. Sea Lion II, G-EBAH, was flown by Henri Biard for the 1922 race at Naples and, after flying at an average speed of 145.7mph, won the trophy for Britain. The Sea Lion III, also registered G-EBAH, was an outsider for the 1923 race but, against the odds, Biard achieved third place having managed an average speed of 157.17mph.
SEA LION I, II & III ENGINE: (I) One 450hp Napier Lion IA. (II) One 450hp Napier Lion II. (III) One 525hp Napier Lion III. WING SPAN: (I upper) 35ft. (II) 32ft. (III) 28ft. LENGTH: (I) 26ft 4in. (II) 24ft 9in. (III) 28ft. WING AREA: (I) 380 sq ft. (II) 384 sq ft. (III) 360 sq ft LOADED WEIGHT: (I) 2,900lb. (II minus undercarriage) 2,850lb. (III) 3,275lb MAX SPEED: (I) 147 mph. (II) 160 mph. (III) 175 mph CREW: 1
The Supermarine Sea Lion III, N-170, after delivery to the Air Ministry on March 10, 1926
LIMITED PRODUCTION TYPES
English Electric M.3 Ayr Intended as a fleet gunnery and spotter flying-boat, the M.3 Ayr brought to an end English Electric’s first, short association with designing and building aircraft. Luckily for Great Britain, the Second World War saw the company return as a subcontractor and then go on to produce the iconic Canberra and Lightning. Built to Specification 12/21, the M.3 was a swept-wing sesquiplane which unusually used its lower wings for stability on the water rather than floats. It was powered by a single Lion IIB engine. Ailerons were fitted to the upper wing while the lower was made up of watertight compartments. A large model was built of the unique Ayr which, when put through hydrodynamic testing at the National Physical Laboratory, seemed to work well. Construction of Two aircraft, N148 and N149, began at a steady pace in 1923, a time when English Electric was focussing more attention on its Kingston. N148 was destined to be the only Ayr
completed and, on March 10, 1925, the aircraft was launched at Lytham. Despite the best efforts of English Electric test pilot Marcus Manton, the Ayr would not take-off. Even low taxying proved troublesome as the flying-boat wallowed from one lower wing to the other. As speed increased, both lower wings became submerged, forcing the Ayr to dive deeper into the water rather than rise from it. Despite various modifications, including moving ballast further aft and removing the weighty Scarff rings from the gunners positions, the Ayr would not fly.
The sole M.3, Ayr N148, pictured during its failed first flight in March 1925. Despite appearing quite stable in the water, the flying-boat had a tendency to wallow from one lower wing to another.
ENGINE: One 450hp Napier Lion IIB WING SPAN: 46ft LENGTH: 40ft 8in HEIGHT: 13ft 8in WEIGHT: 6,846lb MAX SPEED: 127 mph CREW: 3
Supermarine Sea Eagle The Sea Eagle biplane amphibian flying-boat was powered by a single 360hp Eagle IX engine fitted with a four-blade pusher propeller. Passengers were carried in an enclosed forward cabin while the pilot and mechanic were accommodated in a cockpit above and behind it. To create more space in the hull, the fuel tank (later aircraft had twin tanks) were mounted on top of the upper mainplane, feeding the engine using gravity. Work had already begun on the first Sea Eagle when the Air Ministry announced that it would pay the BMAN a subsidy of £10,000 as well as a grant for £21,000 to pay for aircraft and spares. The aircraft would be three Sea Eagles purchased from Supermarine. When the order was officially received, the three aircraft were registered as G-EBFK, G-EBGR and G-EBGS. The first aircraft made its maiden flight in June 1923 and the following month a CofA was issued after the aircraft passed its Air Ministry trials. On September 25, 1923, the first scheduled service began between Woolston, which had ‘MARINE AIRPORT’ painted across its main hangar, and Guernsey. The flight took around 1½ hours and a single fare cost £3.18s. G-EBGR and G-EBGS received their CofAs on October 2 and, days later, joined G-EBFK on the same route. With the formation of Imperial Airways on March 31, 1924, the BMAN became one of several operations of the new airline. Imperial Airways used the three Sea Eagles on the Guernsey route until May 21 when the fleet was reduced to two after G-EBFK crashed. The service was suspended in the summer of 1925 only to be resumed with the two Sea Eagles early in 1926. A second Sea Eagle was lost on January 10, 1927 when G-EBGS was rammed by a ship in St Peter Port harbour, Guernsey. G-EBGR continued the route alone until Swan G-EBJY arrived later that year. In July 1928, Short Calcutta G-EBVG joined the route and took over completely by October. G-EBGR was withdrawn from use and the hull was preserved by Vickers until 1949. Later presented to BOAC, this unique piece of aviation history was burnt at Heston due to a lack of storage space.
ENGINE: One 360hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IX WING SPAN: 46ft LENGTH: 37ft 4in HEIGHT: 15ft 11in LOADED WEIGHT: 6,050 lb MAX SPEED: 93 mph at sea level CREW:2 PASSENGERS: 6
The first Sea Eagle, G-EBFK, which first flew in June 1923, pictured with Henri Biard in the cockpit during that year’s King’s Cup air race
The second of three Sea Eagles built, G-EBGR, destined to be the only survivor once the type was retired in October 1928. The fuselage was later preserved and donated to BOAC. Sadly it was destroyed at Heston early in 1954
Supermarine Swan I and II Ordered to specification 21/22, the Swan, designed by R J Mitchell, was destined to become the world’s first twin-engine amphibian. The aircraft had equal-span two-bay wings, designed to fold forward to minimize the amount of hangar space taken up. Power was provided by a pair of 360hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IX engines and, in the hands of Henri Biard, it first flew on March 25, 1924. Flight trials were extensive for the Swan and, before the aircraft was despatched to the MAEE at Felixstowe, the Eagle IXs were replaced with a pair of 450hp Napier Lion IIB engines. At the same time, the undercarriage was removed and the complex wingfolding was dispensed with and it was in this flying-boat form that the aircraft underwent its military trials. Registered as G-EBJY, the aircraft was flown in its new form by Henri Biard on June 9, 1926. On board was F.J. Bailey, the manager of Woolston airport, eight young female employees of Supermarine and one representative from Imperial Airways. After a Certificate of Airworthiness was issued on June 30, 1926, the aircraft was loaned by the Air Ministry to Imperial Airways. The Swan flew services to the Channel Islands and, by 1927, was flying a regular service between Deauville, Le Touquet and occasionally Cherbourg. Sadly, its usefulness was short-lived and by the autumn of 1927 the aircraft had been scrapped. One aircraft ordered under contract 331411/22 for a commercial amphibian to specification 21/22 was given the serial N175 and later re-registered as G-EBJY.
ENGINES: Two 360hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IX Two 450hp Napier Lion IIB WING SPAN: 68ft 8in LENGTH: 48ft 6in HEIGHT: 18ft 3¼in LOADED WEIGHT: (Eagle) 11,900lb. (Lion) 12,832lb to 13,710lb MAX SPEED: (Eagle) 92 mph. (Lion/no u/c) 108½ mph CREW: 2 PASSENGERS: 10
Swan N175 provides a wonderful backdrop during a visit by the Prince of Wales to the Supermarine Works in 1924. While the Prince was inspecting the flying-boat, Henri Biard invited him aboard, a request he politely declined by saying ‘Not up that ladder – with this sword!’
Beardmore BeRo 2 Inverness (Rohrbach Ro IV) Possibly one of the most unattractive flying-boats ever built, the Beardmore BeRo 2 Inverness was actually a German-designed Rohrbach Ro IV. In 1924, the engineering and ship-building company, William Beardmore, based at Dalmuir gained a production licence from the Berlin-based Rohrbach, which had been designing large metal aircraft for some time and this had not escaped the attention of the Air Ministry. Under Specification 20/24, Beardmore were issued a contract in 1924 to build a pair of Ro IV flying-boats to be known in Britain as the BeRo.2 Inverness and serialled N183 and N184. To speed up the process, the first aircraft, N183, was built in Berlin and, in keeping with the post-war non-aircraft production in the Germany treaty, the flying-boat was assembled in Copenhagen.
N183 arrived at the MAEE, Felixstowe in September 1925 and remained until April 1925. During the flight trials a host of deficiencies were uncovered ranging from poor hydrodynamic performance to instability in the air. The Beardmore-built aircraft, N184, first flew on November 28, 1928 but despite many modifications the aircraft failed to perform to expectations and the programme was scrapped in April 1929. ENGINE: Two 450hp Napier Lion V WING SPAN: 94ft LENGTH: 56ft 11in HEIGHT: 16ft 3in LOADED WEIGHT: 13,160lb MAX SPEED: 110 mph CREW: 3-4
With its ungainly rectangular wings, the Inverness was a high aspect-ratio monoplane which was not pleasing on the eye, nor, for its crew, a particularly pleasant aircraft to fly
LIMITED PRODUCTION TYPES
Short Singapore I In 1925, Short Brothers won a contract, under Specification 13/24, for a single metal-hulled Singapore I. The award of this contract came on the back of the success of the Short S.2 which was effectively a Felixstowe F.5 re-fitted with a Short metal hull. The hull of the Singapore was designed by Francis Webber and Arthur Gouge and was tested in both the National Physical Laboratory’s tank and Short’s own testing tank. The designers were initially at odds regarding how to improve the hull, but eventually Gouge proved that with a reduced beam and replacement of the original planing bottom flutes with a flared bottom, the hull would travel much smoother through water. As a result, Webber resigned, Gouge became Chief Designer and the resulting aircraft was the Singapore I. The sesquiplane used Frise ailerons, it had fabriccovered upper wings, the rest of structure was made of duralumin. First flown as N179 on August 17, 1926 by John Parker, the Singapore I was delivered to the MAEE by November. As a result of the flight trials, the auxiliary fins and rudders were replaced by a substantial aerofoil fitted to the main rudder. The engines, initially 650hp Condor IIIs, were uprated to 675hp Condor IIIAs. In August 1927, N179 joined the Valkyrie and Southampton N128 on a 3,000 mile tour of Scandinavia under the command of Sqn Ldr C L Scott. This flag waving exercise did not result in any orders for Shorts but N179 was destined to go on to greater things when it was loaned to Sir Alan Cobham. Initially contemplating a round-the-world trip, Cobham settled for a survey of Africa for Imperial Airways. Registered as G-EBUP, the Singapore left Rochester on November 17, 1927, only to be damaged at Kalafrana, Malta in a heavy swell. Once repaired, the Singapore continued its journey in January 1928, eventually returning to Britain in May only to embark on a tour of British resorts and ports. On June 4, 1928, the Singapore returned to Rochester having flown a distance of 23,000 miles in 330 hours of flying time and having visited over 50 potential flying-boat bases in Africa alone during Cobham’s successful survey. Returned to the Air Ministry and re-serialled N179, the Singapore was re-engined with a pair of 825hp Buzzard I engines
Saunders A.4 Medina An attractive aircraft on the surface, the Saunders A.4 Medina was not a success for the Cowes-based company. A single aircraft was built for the Air Ministry to Specification 31/24, which was drawn up for potential replacements for the Imperial Airways fleet. The original specification also stated that Armstrong Siddeley Lynx engines should be used but these proved underpowered and the Bristol Jupiter VI was fitted instead. An inverted sesquiplane biplane, the Medina was an unusual design, yet not unattractive which also – uniquely at the time – used Warren girders for bracing instead of interplane struts. First flown in November 1926 by Capt F J Bailey, the Medina proved to be a disappointment, especially on the water. The two-step hull with tumble-home sides and Consuta covering added to Saunders’ woes by leaking and splitting. Initially registered as G-EBMG, the Medina was later serialled N214 for military trials but, unsurprisingly, no orders were placed and the flying-boat was later scrapped at Cowes in 1929.
Sir Alan Cobham departs Rochester on November 17, 1927 in G-EBUP on his epic journey through Africa on behalf of Imperial Airways
ENGINE: Two 650hp Rolls-Royce Condor III, 675hp Condor IIIA or two 825hp H.10 (Buzzard I) WING SPAN: 93ft LENGTH: 64ft WING AREA: 1,723 sq ft LOADED WEIGHT: 19,560lb MAX SPEED: 128 mph CREW: 4
Singapore I in its original configuration with a pair of Rolls-Royce Condor III engines and the large servo aerofoil already added to the main rudder and Handley Page slots were fitted to the upper wing. Further modifications were made which would resemble the future Calcutta but, by 1929, this hard-working flying-boat was withdrawn from use.
ENGINE: Two 450hp Bristol Jupiter VI WING SPAN: 52ft LENGTH: 49ft HEIGHT: 16ft LOADED WEIGHT: 11,560lb MAX SPEED: 125 mph CREW: 2 PASSENGERS: 10
The A.4 Medina employed a very unusual inverted sesquiplane, i.e. the upper wing is shorter and of less than half – or significantly less than half – the area of the lower
Saunders A.3 Valkyrie By 1923, the Vickers element of Saunders had been bought out and the Cowes-based company stood alone in its attempts to break into the large flying-boat market. The company had stayed clear of such designs following the debacle of the Kittiwake but with a new design team on board, led by ex-Hawker designer Bernard Thompson, work began again on a flying-boat. Ordered under Specification 14/24, the A.3 Valkyrie, was later built to 22/24. An equal-span biplane, the Valkyrie, had a two-step Consuta-covered hull of monocoque arrangement and was powered by a trio of Condor IIIA engines. Designed initially with a military use in mind, the Valkyrie had a gunner’s position in the nose and a pair of staggered dorsal gun positions plus ample room for a two-seat open cockpit and radio and navigator’s cabins. Three Scarff ring mounted Lewis machines-guns were fitted for defence and a bomb-load of up to 1,100lbs could be carried. Serialled N186, the Valkyrie was first flown in spring 1926 by
Frank T Courtney and by January of the following year was under the scrutiny of the MAEE. Unfortunately, the MAEE’s flight test reports were not flattering because of poor handling on the water, an ineffective rudder at lower speeds, not to mention tail-flutter and heavy aileron controls. However, a trait appreciated by the military was the Valkyrie’s ability to remain airborne and controllable on two of its three engines. The Valkyrie later took part in the Scandinavian tour of August 1927 which revealed that flying-boat’s hull soaked up far too much water. A metal hull was suggested for the Valkyrie but this never came to fruition and the big flying-boat was withdrawn from use and scrapped not long after. ENGINE: Three 675hp Rolls-Royce Condor IIIA WING SPAN: 97ft LENGTH: 65ft 6in HEIGHT: 18ft 5½in LOADED WEIGHT: 26,000lb MAX SPEED: 125 mph CREW: 5
A fine looking flying-boat on the surface, the Saunders A.3 Valkyrie fell short of the specification it was designed to
Supermarine Nanok / Solent
The successful Southampton created a host of enquiries from overseas operators, including the Danish Navy, who requested a three-engined version capable of carrying torpedoes under the lower inner mainplanes. The layout had already been experimented with on Southampton N9900 and the concept seemed plausible. Following the order of a single prototype by Denmark on June 17, 1926, the aircraft was named ‘Nanok’, which was Danish for Polar bear. Delivery was expected in 12 months and the contracted price, minus the engines, was £10,000. The powerplant was to be a trio of 430hp Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVAs. Aside from the extra engine, the general arrangement was the same as the Southampton Mk II, although performance was expected to be superior. Behind schedule, the Nanok, resplendent in Royal Danish Navy markings and registered as No.99, was first flown by Henri Biard on June 21, 1927. Initial flight testing showed the Nanok to be nose heavy, especially at low speeds. The problem was caused by the slipstream bypassing the horizontal tailplane but the fitting of an auxiliary all-flying elevator cured the anomaly. It is not clear exactly when the Danes pulled out of the order but, in April 1928, the Nanok was being tested by the MAEE at Felixstowe. Here it was found to at least 3mph down on the contracted speed, despite various modifications which had improved the original aircraft’s performance. In the meantime, the Danish ordered a Jaguar VI-powered Southampton instead. Following the rejection of the Nanok by the Danes, Supermarine found themselves with an expensive flying-boat that nobody
The Nanok on the slipway at the MAEE at Felixstowe on May 22, 1928
wanted. However, after some clever marketing, the eyes of the Hon. A. E. Guinness were attracted to the idea of converting the Nanok into a luxurious ‘air yacht’ for his private use. Registered as G-AAAB and re-named Solent, the flying-boat looked no different from the Nanok on the outside. Internally, it was a different matter as the hull was now fitted out with luxurious cabins capable of carrying up to 12 passengers. The Solent was delivered to the Hon. A. E. Guinness on August 7, 1928. Its regular route was from the Hythe seaplane base on Southampton Water to Dun Laoghaire harbour, County Dublin and onwards across Ireland to Lough Corrib, not far from the owner’s home in County Galway. ENGINES: (Nanok) Three 430hp Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IV, (Solent) three 400hp Jaguar IVA WING SPAN: 75ft HEIGHT: 19ft 6in, (Solent) 19ft LENGTH: 50ft 6in, (Solent) 50ft 2in LOADED WEIGHT: 16,311lb, (Solent) 16,500lb MAX SPEED: 113½ mph , (Solent) 111mph CREW: 5 PASSENGERS (SOLENT):12
LIMITED PRODUCTION TYPES
Supermarine Sheldrake A development of the Seagull, the Sheldrake came about from an original Spanish enquiry for an amphibian bomber. Drawings were first produced by Supermarine on December 6, 1923 and this hybrid design was actually meant to be the prototype of the earlier Scarab but was destined not to take to the air until 1927. In general, the Sheldrake resembled the Scarab with a few minor differences. The powerplant was a 450hp Napier Lion V and, rather than the gunner’s position being behind the pilot, a separate position was created behind the mainplane. The extra 90hp the Lion engine provided pushed the Sheldrake along at 103mph, 10mph quicker than the Scarab. There were no other major differences in performance. The lone Sheldrake was only ever seen once in public, displaying the number ‘17’ for the Hampshire Air Pageant at Hamble on May 12, 1927. The Sheldrake was one of 20 different aircraft types which took part in a fly-past at the pageant. One aircraft built under contract 466409/23, making use of a Seagull II hull and serialled N180.
The Supermarine Sheldrake, N180 was a shy public performer and was only seen on two occasions, both in 1927
ENGINE: One 450hp Napier Lion V WING SPAN: 46ft LENGTH: 37ft 4½in HEIGHT: 16ft 2½in LOADED WEIGHT: 6,100lb MAX SPEED: 103 mph at sea level CREW: 3
Parnall P.1 Prawn Under the unique Specification 21/24, named ‘Single-Seater Boat Seaplane for Storage in Restricted Space’ came George Parnall & Co’s diminutive P.1 Prawn. Most likely designed with submarines in mind, the Prawn, more usefully was built to investigate the problem of mounting a single engine in the nose of a flying-boat, rather than the traditional location of high above the hull. Given the serial S1576, the small parasol monoplane was propelled by a Ricardo-Burt engine in the nose of its twin-step duralumin hull. The latter is believed to have been constructed by Short Brothers. The engine installation was very novel in that it could be elevated up to angle of 22° on take-off and landing so as to clear
The one and only P.1 Prawn, S1576 pictured at Felixstowe, not long after its arrival in 1930. Note the incredibly small four-bladed propeller
the effects of water spray. As the Prawn climbed away the angle of the engine was lowered neatly into a nacelle, which was flush with the lower forward fuselage. A small diameter four-blade propeller pulled the Prawn along, its boss formed the prow of the aircraft. It took Parnall six years to produce the Prawn which was transported by road to Felixstowe in 1930. Very little is known from this point, and it is quite possible that the Prawn never even flew as problems with the engine overheating were experienced during its taxying trials. The Prawn remained at Felixstowe, where it was scrapped in 1934. ENGINE: One 65hp Ricardo-Burt WING SPAN: 28ft LENGTH: 18ft MAX SPEED: 100 mph CREW: 1
Saunders A.7 Severn In April 1928, a contract was issued to Saunders for a single A.7 Severn three-engine sesquiplane powered by a trio of Jupiter XIFP engines. Fitted with a two-step hull, the Severn was designed for a crew of five made up of a bow position, a side-by-side open cockpit with dual controls, a wireless and navigation room, a dorsal gunner’s position and finally, a tail gunner’s position. All of the flight structure was made of metal with a fabric covering and the tail was made up with twin fin and rudders. Planned armament was three machine guns for defence and for offensive, a bombload up to 1,840lb. Serialled N240, the Severn was first flown in July 1930 and not long after was delivered to the MAEE. The initial response from the MAEE was uncharacteristically flattering, with praise being showered on the Severn’s handling on the water and in the air. As ENGINES: Three 490hp Bristol Jupiter XIFP WING SPAN: 88ft LENGTH: 64ft 6in HEIGHT: 19ft 3in LOADED WEIGHT: 11,500lb MAX SPEED: 115 mph CREW: 5
always though, the flying-boat was not perfect with minor criticisms being poor elevator response and heavy rudders which were quickly improved through the addition of a pair of large servo-rudders on outriggers. It was also noted, crucially, that the Severn was not particularly over-engineered and its light construction was susceptible to minor damage and structural failures. This was something Saunders could do little to improve and was one of the key reasons why the Severn was not ordered for the RAF. After returning to Cowes for modifications, the Severn was included in a Middle East Cruise in the summer of 1931 and from February 1932, actually saw operational service with 209 Squadron. Unfortunately, while carrying out a maritime patrol, the flying-boat crashed into the Channel on July 13, 1932.
The only Saunders A.7 Severn, N240, taking off from the Solent during post MAEE flight testing in early 1931
Saro A.21 Windhover In an attempt to broaden its family of amphibians and flying-boats, Saro (Saunders renamed in 1929 following Alliot Verdon Roe (Avro) and John Lord taking control of S E Saunders) decided to slot a third option between its Cutty Sark and Cloud models. The result was the three-engine A.21 Windhover which, as a commercial venture, was a failure as only two were built. The aircraft, a pure flying-boat, registered as ZK-ABW, was first flown from Cowes by Stuart Scott on October 16, 1930. It was delivered to Felixstowe for trials on October 22 and despite a few problems with the hull plating, the MAEE’s response was good. ZK-ABW was to join Dominion Airways, New Zealand but instead was re-registered as VH-UPB to join Matthews Aviation alongside Cutty Sark VH-UNV. It gave good service from January 1933 to February
ENGINE: Three 120hp de Havilland Gipsy II WING SPAN: 54ft 4in LENGTH: 41ft 4in HEIGHT: 12ft 6in LOADED WEIGHT: 10,030lb MAX SPEED: 120 mph CREW: 2 PASSENGERS: 4-6
1934 but was lost in an accident near Kings Island in May 1936. The second Windhover was built as an amphibian and was registered as G-ABJP. The aircraft was later sold to Francis Francis who based the amphibian at Heston before it was purchased by Gibraltar Airways for their Tangier service. The Windhover flew this route between September 23, 1931 and January 3, 1932, being christened General Codley. After languishing for a few months, the aircraft was sold again, this time to the Hon Mrs Victor Bruce, who named the Windhover City of Portsmouth, with a plan to use it to capture the world flight-refuelled endurance record. After several valiant attempts which would have secured a British record if a sealed barograph had been fitted, the aircraft ended its days with Jersey Airways from May 1935 through to 1938.
The second A.21 Windhover, G-ABJP, pictured in 1931. The winglet on top of the engines was retro-fitted when it was discovered that the controls became very sluggish near the stall during engines-on and -off handling
LIMITED PRODUCTION TYPES
Short Singapore II A unique specification, R.32/27, was issued direct to Short Brothers after the company had been left out of the competition to produce a replacement for the Supermarine Southampton. By 1930, Arthur Gouge had produced another outstanding flyingboat in the shape of the Singapore II. The hull was similar to the Singapore I but had a more prominent keel and deeper forward fuselage. The crew of six were well catered for, from the side-by-side open cockpit, to radio and navigation positions, rest bunks, a cooker, work bench and even an ice box. While the span was the same as the Mk I, the area was greater and the lower wing longer. The weight rose dramatically from 20,000lb to 31,500lb. The four FXII engines were mounted in a ‘push-pull’ arrangement on struts within very neat nacelles to reduce drag. Serialled N246, the Singapore II was launched at Rochester on March 27, 1930 and was flown by John Parker. By May 9, N246 ENGINES: Four 480hp Rolls-Royce FXII; two 550hp Kestrel III; two 600hp Kestrel IIMS WING SPAN: 90ft LENGTH: 63ft 9in WING AREA: 1,750 sq ft LOADED WEIGHT: 31,500lb MAX SPEED: 115 mph CREW: 5
began its flight trials with the MAEE and following a favourable report, the main modification was to change the large single fin back to a triple fin and rudder arrangement as per the Mk I. Simultaneously, the new tail arrangement allowed for a tail gunners position. The ailerons were also modified, the upper being reduced and a pair added to the lower wing to improve handling. Four engines were reduced to two as well, with a pair of 550hp Kestrel IIIs fitted instead. In August 1931, the Singapore II joined the A.7 Severn for tropical trials in Aden which, for both aircraft, proved successful. On its return to Britain N246 was modified again with a new planing bottom, wing-floats and another engine change, this time to a pair of 600hp Kestrel IIMS engines. N246 served Short Brothers very well as a natural bridge to the type’s eventual production version, the Singapore III.
The sole Singapore II, N246, taking off from the River Medway in its original, single fin configuration and power provided by four 480hp Rolls-Royce FXII engines
Supermarine Seagull V The story of the Seagull Mk V began in 1930 when Seagull II, N9644, was modified with a Jupiter engine driving a pusher propeller and redesignated as the Mk III. The original Seagull was never robust enough to stand being catapulted from a warship, but a similar aircraft with a stronger construction would. Also in 1930, there was still a naval requirement for a singleengine reconnaissance amphibian, which R J Mitchell designed as the Supermarine Type 181. Two versions, one a pusher and the other a tractor arrangement were aimed at an Australian requirement but, at the time, no interest was shown in the project so Supermarine concentrated its efforts on the Schneider seaplanes. In 1932, Mitchell returned to the Type 181 but created a new design called the Type 223 which quickly reached the model stages and testing in Vickers’ own water tank in St Albans. The design was offered directly to the RAAF as a private venture because the Royal Navy had shown no interest in the type. Luckily for Supermarine, the Australians were keen to see more details of the new aircraft. The Type 228 Seagull V, with prototype number N.1 was first flown by ‘Mutt’ Summers from Southampton Water on June 21, 1933. Just five days later, the aircraft was performing at the second SBAC show at Hendon and, much to R J Mitchell’s surprise, Summers looped the Seagull with little effort. After trials with the MAEE and RAE, the RAAF placed an order under specification 6/34 for 24 aircraft on August 24, 1934 with serials A2-1 to A2-24. The first, A2-1, flew on June 25, 1935 and after teething troubles were ironed out, the Seagull was delivered
The prototype Seagull V, which later gained the serial K4797, was used to convince the Air Ministry that the type would be useful to the Royal Navy and the RAF
direct to HMAS Australia at Spithead on September 9. The second aircraft, A2-2 was delivered to HMAS Sydney and the remainder were shipped for service with No.1 Seaplane Training Flight at Point Cook, Victoria and later 101 Flight, RAAF at Richmond, New South Wales. The type served the Australians until 1943. Two aircraft, A2-3 and A2-4, were transferred to the Australian civil register as VH-BGP and VH-ALB respectively. The latter is preserved today in the RAF Museum at Hendon. ENGINE: One 625hp Bristol Pegasus IIM2 WING SPAN: 46ft LENGTH (on chassis): 38ft HEIGHT (on chassis): 15ft LOADED WEIGHT: 6,847lb MAX SPEED: 125 mph at 3,280ft CREW: 3-4
Aeroplane’s ICONS series takes an in-depth look at a selection of Britain’s most worthy and pioneering aircraft from the 1930s to the 1960s. Focusing on a single aircraft type per issue, each ICON title draws from Aeroplane’s extensive archive to provide an enlightening and informative mix of period photography and articles along with contemporary material.
Spoken of in hushed tones by those who remember the type in service and longed for by those too young to remember it in flight, the English Electric Lightning is one of the most iconic British jets ever built.
To say the Blenheim caused a stir when it was introduced to RAF squadrons in early 1937 is a bit of an understatement. Its superb performance made it the RAF’s fastest bomber for many years and, before the arrival of the Hurricane and Spitfire, also the fast aircraft in the entire inventory.
It may have not been the prettiest or the best performing but it will always been seen as the aircraft we needed at the time and, thankfully, in high numbers. Its design incorporated older, tried and tested technologies but also took fighter design a little further forward.
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The Sunderland served our country through the Second World War and beyond, not to mention its post-war activities, both military and civilian – plenty of reasons for keeping the memory of this wonderful aircraft alive.
The story of the Gloster Meteor is one of the greatest in the history of the aviation industry and one we generally take for granted. But as a ‘firstgeneration’ jet, its arrival launched the RAF into a new era...
A bomber, a fighter, a photo-recce aircraft and much more – the de Havilland Mosquito could do it all. This issue of has articles featuring the prototype, its operations across the globe, variants, units and even its movie roles.
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Aeroplane’s COLLECTORS’ ARCHIVE series highlights a range of aircraft of a particular type, spanning a number of years. Again, each COLLECTORS’ ARCHIVE title draws from Aeroplane’s extensive archive to provide an enlightening and informative mix of period photography – much of which has not been seen before – and contemporary cutaway drawings.
tn this edition of Aeroplane Collectors’ Archive, focusing on British Bombers of World War Two, we bring together some of the finest images from the war years of The Aeroplane and some of the period cutaway artwork.
In this edition of Aeroplane Collectors’ Archive, focusing on British Fighters of World War Two, we bring together some of the finest images from the war years of The Aeroplane and some of the period cutaway artwork.
In this issue we concentrate on providing large and interesting illustrations and cutaway drawings from the Aeroplane and Flight archives, supplementing these where necessary by quality prints from our wider archive and from other sources.
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Using photographs and drawings from The Aeroplane’s archives, this book describes British early post-war airliners, ranging from converted military types to the latest piston-engined aircraft.
The first in a series of British, American and German aircraft manufacturers gives the reader a brief insight into the aircraft produced by Supermarine and those that did not quite make it.
The de Havilland DH 106 Comet made history as the first jet airliner to fly and the first to offer scheduled services – giving Britain a lead over the rest of the world.
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