Short S25 Sunderland Long-Range Maritime / Reconnaissance Flying Boat
The British Short Sunderland became one the finest flying boat aircraft to serve in World War 2.
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The Short Sunderland was the premiere flying boat of British military aviators during World War 2. Oft regarded as one of the best flying boats of the war, the Sunderland played up to some inherent design strengths including a potent defensive armament arrangement and excellent operational ranges. Both of these qualities played a large part in countering the lethal presence of marauding German U-boat submarines through infested waters in and around Allied interests. It was through these head-on engagements with German U-boats that the Sunderland series would become famous for.
Designed from the airliner transport Short C-class "Empire" model, the Short Sunderland became the militarized version of the same flying boat. Fitted with four engines the aircraft became an integral part of Search and Rescue (SAR) missions, maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare throughout the course of the war. Crew accommodations amounted to 10 personnel including pilots and machine gunners as well as systems and missions specialists as needed.
Standard armament consisted of 2 x bow-mounted 7.7mm fixed, forward-firing machine guns, 2 x machines in a bow turret, 2 x 7.7mm machine guns in a dorsal turret and 4 x 7.7mm machine guns in a rear tail turret. This defensive array allowed the Sunderland to repel enemy fighters when she herself was attacked and she proved quite the capable aircraft for such work. Her network of machine guns earned her the nickname of "Porcupine" from German pilots. However, it was in her ordnance-carrying capacity that the Sunderland would truly shine. She could be outfitted with naval mines, depth charges and conventional drop bombs - enemy submarines being her primary targets. The aircraft series was so feared by German U-boat crews, in fact, that they worked hard to avoid direct entanglements with Sunderlands whenever possible.
Short Sunderlands gained a mighty reputation for their capabilities - most often remembered for their anti-submarine role - but equally respected for their search and rescue capabilities. In the end, nearly 700 examples were produced in four distinct marks - Mk I, Mk II, Mk IIIA and, the most potent form, the Mk V with its Pratt & Whitney radial piston engines - and each varied in powerplants and radar installed through the course of the war. Operational groups based from England could reach out across Greece and Crete airspace as well as other areas in the operating radius. A multitude of British squadrons fielded this versatile flying boat and most were often seen accompanying advancing Allied convoys at sea - a testament to its effectiveness in large scale operations. Additional operators included Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and South Africa.