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  • Saunders-Roe A.27 London Reconnaissance Flying Boat

    SARO Londons were pressed into service at the beginning of World War 2 and some thirty examples were ultimately produced.

     Updated: 2/24/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The SARO London borrowed much from the British flying boat designs peppering the 1920s and, in many ways, her retirement was something of an end to the era - aviation's "golden age" if you will. Pressed into wartime service during World War 2, the London served for only a limited time in equally limited numbers while charged with keeping an eye on the waters off England and over the Mediterranean Sea. Like so many other outclassed aircraft appearing in the middle 1930s and called to fight, the Saro London would go down in aviation history as one of the many unsung heroes doing their part in the early years of the war.

    Origins of the London lay in a pre-war British Air Ministry Specification - designated R24/31 - which called for a multi-role flying boat. The firm of Saunders-Roe ("SARO") delivered a design based on their previous failed Saunders A.7 "Severn" attempt, a three-engine flying boat designed for maritime patrol duties of which only one was ever built. The new design was designated as the A.27 London and saw a first prototype completed and flown sometime in 1934. The aircraft was fitted with a pair of Bristol Pegasus II radial piston engines mounted on an uneven-span (sesquiplane) biplane wing assembly. This single prototype actively operated until 1936 to which production forms officially appeared from the assembly lines in March. The initial production models were designated as London Mk.I, the major difference being their use of Bristol Pegasus III-series 820 horsepower radial piston engines.

    Ten such examples were produced before the introduction of the Bristol Pegasus X engines of 915 horsepower forced the new designation of London "Mk.II" to be used. All of the early-production Mk.I models were brought up to the new Mk.II standard and redesignated to the new mark in the process. Some twenty Mk.II aircraft were ultimately built. In all, a total of thirty London Saros were constructed and delivered (not including the single prototype).

    The Saro London was crewed by a complement of six personnel. She held a wingspan of 80 feet with a running length of over 56 feet. Her height measured in at nearly 19 feet. Total win area was 1,425 square feet. When empty, the London weighed in at 11,100lbs and roughly 18,400 loaded. Her maximum take-off weight (MTOW) was reported to be around 22,000lbs. Maximum speed was 155 miles per hour while cruise speed was listed at 128 miles per hour. Range topped out around 1,100 miles and her service ceiling was limited to just under 20,000 feet. She maintained a rate of climb equal to 1,180 feet per minute.

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    Saunders-Roe London Mk.II (A.27) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1936
    Type: Reconnaissance Flying Boat
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): Saunders-Roe (SARO) - UK
    Production Total: 31

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 6
    Length: 56.79 feet (17.31 meters)
    Width: 79.99 feet (24.38 meters)
    Height: 18.73 feet (5.71 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 11,100 lb (5,035 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 22,000 lb (9,979 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Bristol Pegasus X 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engines developing 920 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 142 mph (228 kph; 123 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,740 miles (2,800 km)
    Service Ceiling: 19,898 feet (6,065 meters; 3.77 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 1,180 feet-per-minute (360 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in bow position
    1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in midship position
    1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in tail position

    Up to 2,000 lb (907kg) of externally carried stores including bombs, depth charges or mines.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Canada; United Kingdom

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    London A.27 - Single Prototype Example

    London Mk.I - Fitted with Bristol Pegasus III series engines of 820 horsepower each; two-blade propeller systems; 10 examples produced; later to be brought up to Mk II standard.

    London Mk.II - Fitted with Bristol Pegasus X series engines of 915 horsepower each; four-bladed propeller systems; 20 examples produced.