The prototype first flew on 14 May 1939 and by early 1940 … [15] According to Norris, while the aircraft's design had incorporated an inherent ability for production of the Stirling to be broken down in practice, strict supervision of the work remained necessary. Vickers Type 293 submission was first followed by the Boulton Paul P.90, Armstrong Whitworth's AW.42, the Supermarine Type 317 and then the Short S.29. 214 Squadron RAF described the Stirling as "one of the finest aircraft ever built". [3], The Air Ministry published Specification B.12/36, for a high-speed, long-range four-engined strategic bomber aircraft, that would be capable of being designed and constructed at speed. By 1946, the Stirlings of Transport Command were being phased out and replaced by the Avro York, which was a transport derivative of the Lancaster that had previously replaced the Stirling in the bomber role. [15] In order to coordinate the dispersed production approach adopted for the Stirling, Shorts and MAP operated a travelling team of 600 production engineers and draughtsmen that routinely travelled throughout the United Kingdom to the manufacturing facilities involved. Up to six ferry tanks could also be installed within the wing bomb cells to add another 220 gallons. [54] At the Musée du terrain d'aviation militaire in Vraux, France there are sections of the rear fuselage of Stirling LK142. It was constructed at Short's Rochester facility. On typical missions deep into Germany or Italy, a smaller 3,500-pound (1,600 kg) load was carried, consisting of seven 500-pound (230 kg) GP bombs; this payload was in the range of that which was already being carried by the RAF's medium bombers, such as the Vickers Wellington and by 1944, the de Havilland Mosquito. During its later service, the Stirling was used for mining German ports; new and converted aircraft also flew as glider tugs and supply aircraft during the Allied invasion of Europe during 1944–1945. The first few Stirling Mk.Is were furnished with Bristol Hercules II engines, but the majority were built with more powerful 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) Hercules XI engines instead. [22], The S.36 was initially accepted for testing under Specification B.8/41, which had been specifically written to cover the type, and an order for a pair of prototypes was placed. [3], The Air Ministry issued Shorts with contract number 672299/37, under which a pair of prototype S.29s were ordered. Despite the "disappointing performance" at maximum altitude, Stirling pilots were delighted to discover that, due to the thick wing, they could out-turn the Ju 88 and Bf 110 nightfighters they faced. [17] Following a four-month working-up period in which crews adapted to operating the type, the Stirling attained operational status in January 1941. The defensive armament of the S.36 was to be an assortment of ten .50 BMG machine guns that were set into three turrets. [13] The first prototype was outfitted with four Bristol Hercules II radial engines, and was reported as having satisfactory handling in its two months of flying. [30] Significant attention was paid to reducing drag – all rivets were flush headed and panels joggled to avoid edges – but camouflage paint probably negated the benefit. [3] The aircraft would have to be capable of cruising at speeds of 230 mph or greater while flying at 15,000 ft (4,600 m), carrying three gun turrets (located in the nose, amidships and rear positions) for defence. Of the six major Allied four-engine bombers - Boeing B-17, Consolidated B-24, Boeing B-29, Short Stirling, Handley Page Halifax, Avro Lancaster - the Stirling is the only one of which there are no surviving examples. [19] The aircraft remained in service for minelaying operations in the vicinity of German ports ("Gardening"), electronic countermeasures, dropping spies deep behind enemy lines at night and towing gliders. The United States and the Soviet Union were pursuing the development of bombers powered by arrangements of four smaller engines, the results of these projects proved to possess favourable characteristics such as excellent range and fair lifting capacity and in 1936, the RAF also decided to investigate the feasibility of the four-engined bomber. [27] The retractable turret was removed almost from the start and temporarily replaced by beam hatches mounting pairs of machine guns, until a twin-gun dorsal turret could be provided. [44], In recognition of their deeds of valour, two Stirling pilots were posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). [3] However, prior to this, Shorts had decided to undertake a successful practice which had been performed with the earlier Empire flying boat in producing a half scale version of the aircraft, known as the S.31 (also known internally as the M4 – as per the title on the tailfin), to prove the aerodynamic characteristics of the design. [28] Later Stirlings were fitted with an improved, low-drag remotely-controlled FN.64 ventral turret or a H2S radar. At its height, manufacturing activity on the Stirling was being performed at a total of 20 factories. Some production was moved to Austin's Longbridge factory at Cofton Hackett just south of Birmingham, the Longbridge production line eventually produced nearly 150 Stirlings.[18]. [32] The Stirling did, however, exhibit some vicious flying characteristics during takeoff and landings. Die Short Stirling war ein britischer viermotoriger Bomber des Zweiten Weltkriegs und wurde ab Februar 1941 vom RAF Bomber Command eingesetzt. If all four throttles were advanced simultaneously, the aircraft would swing to the right, become uncontrollable and often collapse the landing gear which could be disastrous if the aircraft was loaded with bombs and fuel.[33]. To meet the increased requirement for its aircraft during the war, satellite factories near Belfast were operated at Aldergrove and Maghaberry, producing 232 Stirlings between them. The Stirling had a relatively brief operational career as a bomber before being relegated to second line duties from late 1943. [33] During its service life, it was not unknown for "dropped" landings to render Stirlings or other large four-engined bombers write-offs and suitable only for parts. According to Geoffrey Norris, Shorts had sought to adopt a larger wingspan for the Stirling to improve its performance but were overruled and this was to the type's detriment during its service. The construction of the Stirling shares considerable similarity to the earlier Short Empire flying boats. The Stirling Mk.III, introduced in 1943, was similar to the Mk.I with the exception of the improved 1,635 hp (1,200 kW) Hercules VI or XVI engines, which improved maximum speed from 255 to 270 mph (410 to 435 km/h). [3], Following a Tender Design Conference in October 1936, the S.29 was low down on the short list of designs considered. It was flown by a pair of pilots, who were supported by a navigator/bomb aimer, a front gunner/wireless operator, two further gunners, and a flight engineer. Fixing this required that the angle of the wing to be increased for take off; however, if the wing itself was modified, the aircraft would fly with a nose-down attitude while cruising (as in the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley); making this change was also complicated by the fact that work on the production line had already reached an advanced stage. We will look in detail at the Lancaster survivors in a future issue of Flightpath. Based on its flight characteristics, Flt Lt Murray Peden (RCAF) of No. Prior to this, the RAF had been primarily interested in developing increasingly capable twin-engined bombers but had been persuaded to investigate a prospective four-engined bomber as a result of promising foreign developments in the field. However, Belfast and the aircraft factory were subjected to bombing by German aircraft during the Easter week of 1941. After a series of serious accidents and total aircraft losses involving uncontrolled ground loops on takeoff, the Royal Air Force implemented a special training and certification programme for all prospective Stirling pilots. All Rights Reserved. On 6 June 1944, several Stirlings were also used in Operation Glimmer for the precision-laying of patterns of window to produce radar images of a decoy invasion fleet. Early Mk.III Stirlings were fitted with a 12.7 mm Browning machine gun in the rear escape hatch (behind a perspex shield) to ward off German night fighters using the Schräge Musik system. The fuselage of the Stirling was distinct from Short's flying boat lineage, being constructed in four sections and employing continuous stringers throughout each section, as opposed to interruptions of the stringers at every frame as per established practice at Shorts. It was larger than the Handley Page Halifax and the Avro Lancaster which replaced it but both of these were originally designed to have twin engines.

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