Short Sunderland

Flown in RAF service as late as 1959, the origins of the Sunderland date back to 1933, when the RAF began looking for a replacement for the then-new Short Singapore flying boat. Shorts was already working on the S.23, a commercial flying boat monoplane of stressed-skin construction, and this helped form the basis for the company's contender for the R.2/33 requirement.

Prototype K4774 flew in October 1937, but soon thereafter had to have a revised wing fitted; this was necessary for CoG purposes, as it was decided that in reverse of the original plan, a powered turret would be fitted in the tail rather than the nose.

The Sunderland's ample defensive guns made the seemingly plodding flying boat far from easy prey for Luftwaffe fighters, as evidenced in April 1940 when a Sunderland crew shot down one Ju 88, damaged another, and drove off four others.


Sunderland Mk. II: First flown in August 1941; beam guns replaced by a dorsal turret.
Sunderland Mk.III: As Mk.II, with a revised hull bottom.

Sunderland Mk. IV/Seaford: Thoroughly revised Hercules-powered model with a new planing bottom and tail. Intended for use in the Pacific, the Seaford was flown for the first time in late August 1944. Defensive armament was to have been twin .50-cals in Martin tail and Bristol dorsal turrets, single weapons in beam mounts, and a pair of .303s in the nose. The eight production aircraft flew without the turrets, and these aircraft later became Solent airliners. It was later proposed to bring these back into military service with new ASW equipment to meet the R.2/48 requirement, but this was not carried out.

Sunderland Mk.V: Late war model with Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines. 150 built new, with some Mk.III conversions

The Sunderland was to have a long postwar career, and turned out to be the RAF's last flying boat. The type went to war again in Korea, and against Malayan terrorists, but also brought supplies to Berlin, and supported expeditions into Greenland. France's Aeronavale flew a pair of Mk 5s until 1962, with both examples ending up preserved in their country of origin, while the RNZAF kept a few Sunderlands active until the spring of 1967.


Chris Bishop The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Air Warfare, Aerospace Publishing, 2001  p.201 color profile of a No. 201 Squadron Sunderland Mk II

Jim Winchester   Classic Military Aircraft: The World's Fighting Aircraft 1914-1945   p.387: color profile of Sunderland MkIII NJ188

Bill Gunston   Aircraft of World War II  ISBN 0-517-31680-3  p.188-191: color 5-view of Sunderland Mk.III W4004/RAAF, color profiles of the S.25 prototype, Mk.III W3999, SAAF and Aeronavale aircraft, and Solent M2269

Paul Eden, Soph Moeing   Aircraft Anatomy of World War II: Technical Drawing of Key Aircraft 1939-1945  p.250-253: Sunderland cutaway, flight deck photo, BOAC G-AGIA, color artwork showing MkII T9087 of No.201 Squadron

Gerry Manning  1000 Preserved Military Aircraft  p.113 photos Sandringhams N814ML and F-OBIP

Photo: frontal view of a Sunderland out of the water   Flight  March 29, 1945  p.340
Photo: line astern photo of two Sunderlands in flight   Flight 18 May 1956  p.629
Photo: Sunderland L2160 Selangor   Air Pictorial  December 1962  p.381
Photo: Sunderland PP124/No 205 Squadron   Air Pictorial February 1966 p.61
Color profiles, including Sunderland I N9029, SAAF GR. Mk V 1703, RNZAF Sunderland III   Air International  June 1982  p.302
John Stroud "Wings of Peace"   Aeroplane Monthly  June 1989  development of the Short Scion & Senior - includes a Keith Woodcock painting of G-ACUV, photos of prototype G-ACJI with floats, G-AENX, G-ACUX, and G-ACUZ
Ken Robinson "Salute to the Sunderland, Conclusion" Aeroplane Monthly May 1988  Includes a color cutaway illustration, photo of Sunderland V PP112
Roderick de Normann  "Seletar Sunderlands"   FlyPast June 1998 p.32-34  No.230 Squadron operations - includes an in-flight photo of L5801
Len Thomson "Queen o' the Boats"  Model Aircraft Monthly January 2009  An in-depth look at building Airfix's 1/72 Sunderland kit.
Preview: 1/72 Sunderland Mk.I from Italeri   AIR Modeller January 2013 p.50
José Pires  "Short's Sub Chaser"   Airfix Model World  February 2016  Building the Italeri 1/72 Sunderland kit
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