Model Airplane News
July, 1940

Model Airplane News Cover for July, 1940 by Jo Kotula Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Short "Sunderland" Flying Boat
Model Airplane News Cover Art for July, 1940
by Jo Kotula
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The Short S.25 Sunderland was a British flying boat patrol bomber developed for the Royal Air Force by Short Brothers. Based in part upon the S.23 Empire flying boat, the flagship of Imperial Airways, the S.25 was extensively re-engineered for military service. It took its name from the town of Sunderland in northeast England.

The Short Sunderland Flying Boat      The Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Photos of the Short "Sunderland" Flying Boat
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The early 1930s saw intense competition in developing long-range flying boats for intercontinental passenger service. The United Kingdom had no match for the new American Sikorsky S-42 flying boats, which were making headlines all over the world. The powers-that-be in Britain felt that something should be done. In 1934, the British Postmaster General declared that all first-class Royal Mail sent overseas was to travel by air, effectively establishing a subsidy for the development of intercontinental air transportation in a fashion similar to the U.S. domestic program a decade earlier. In response, Imperial Airways announced a competition between aircraft manufacturers to design and produce 28 flying boats, with a range of 700 miles and capacity for 24 passengers.

The contract went almost directly to Short Brothers of Rochester. Although Short had long built flying boats for the military and for Imperial Airways, none of them was in the class of size and sophistication requested, but the business opportunity was too great to pass up. Oswald Short, head of the company, began a fast-track program to come up with a design for a flying boat far beyond anything they had ever built. While the first S.23 commercial plane was under development, the British Air Ministry was taking actions that would result in a purely military version. This article from Popular mechanics makes the Sunderland into a "Flying Battleship"

 The Short Sunderland Flying Boat as Flying Battleship in the September, 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics

The Short Sunderland as a "Flying Battleship"
in the September, 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics
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The 1933 Air Ministry Specification called for a next-generation flying boat for ocean reconnaissance. The new aircraft had to have four engines but could be either a monoplane or biplane design. The Short Brothers' military flying boat variant was designated S.25 and the design was submitted to the Air Ministry in 1934. It became one of the most powerful and widely used flying boats throughout the Second World War,and was involved in countering the threat posed by German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Here is a video of the Short "Sunderland" Flying Boat in action:

In addition to the cover of Model Airplane News, this airplane was also featured in the WINGS "Friend or Foe" trading card series of the early 1950s

 Card 014 of the Wings Friend or Foe series The Short Sunderland Flying Boat

Trading card representation of the Short "Sunderland"
Click Here to see all 200 cards in the series
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Click Here for more information about the Short "Sunderland".

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