Sunderland, British Flying Boat

Photograph of Sunderland flying boat

Wikipedia Commons

Short Sunderland Mark III


Crew 10 to 13
Dimensions 112'10" by 85'4" by 32'11"
34.39m by 26.01m by 10.03m
Weight 31,000-45,000 lbs
14,000-20,000 kg
Maximum speed       210 mph at 6500 feet
338 km/h at 2000 meters
Cruise speed 178 mph
286 km/h
Climb rate 12 feet per second
3.7 meters per second
Service ceiling 16,000 feet
4900 meters
Power plant 4 1065 hp (794 kW) Bristol Pegasus XVIII nine-cylinder radials driving three bladed propellers.
Armament 4 0.303 machine guns in nose
4 0.303 machine guns in tail
2 0.303 machine guns in dorsal turret
2 0.303 machine guns in waist positions
External stores 2000 lbs (910 kg) bombs, mines, or depth charges
Range 1780 miles (2860 km) normal
2900 miles (4670 km) maximum
Production 749 by Short and Blackburn from 1937:
   90 Mk.I
   43 Mk.II
  462 Mk.III
  154 Mk.V
Variants The Mk.I had upper beam hatches rather than a turret.
Some Mk.III were fitted with ASV Mark II radar and rockets.
The Mk.V had superior 1200 hp (890 kW) R-1830-90 Twin Wasp engines.

The Sunderland was developed from the civilian "Empire" flying boat of the 1930s. It was used against U-boats and as a transport, and was nicknamed the "Flying Porcupine" for its numerous defensive machine guns, with which it acquitted itself well against German Ju-88s escorting "Condor" patrol aircraft. It saw significant service in the Far East.

The design originated with a 1933 Air Ministry call for a new reconnaissance flying boat to replace the Short Singapore. Chief designer Arthur Gouge completed a prototype which first flew on 16 October 1937. Some modifications to the wings were made and the defensive armament was increased, and the Sunderland entered service in June 1938.


Wilson (1998)

Sharpe et al. (1999)

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