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Short S45 Solent

Flying Boat Passenger Airliner

United Kingdom | 1946

"The Short Solent series was the last in the long line of flying boat aircraft for the Short Brothers company."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/21/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Golden Age of Flight encompassed the years between the two World Wars and introduced airline travel to the masses. With it, large aircraft with boat-like hulls emerged that could take-off and land on water featuring extensive operational ranges and steady flight characteristics. This opened many routes of world to passenger flight (even overnight endeavors) on these machines and many manufactures delivered varying designs utilizing very similar configurations. Short Brothers was one such concern and made a name for itself by initially delivering aircraft during the First World War (1914-1918) and supplying the British military with capable flying boats into World War 2.

One of their most important contributions of World War 2 became the Short S.25 Sunderland which first flew in 1937 and was adopted in 1938. It was built across 777 examples and served the Royal Air Force among others throughout the war. From this design stemmed the Short S.45 Seaford of 1944 of which 10 examples appeared and served RAF Coastal Command as a maritime anti-ship platform - though arriving too late to see service in World War 2. The evolution of the line then continued with the Short S.45 Solent which also missed out on World War 2 service, first flying on November 11th, 1946 (the war was over by September of 1945).

Characteristic of these aircraft types, the Solent was given a deep boat-like hull fuselage which allowed for its water landing and take-off requirement. This forced an elevated empennage as well as high-mounted wings, the latter for clearing the engine propeller blades over the water's surface. The tail unit utilized a single vertical tail fin (of a rounded tip and of a large area design) with low-set horizontal planes. Pontoon legs were added outboard of the outermost engine installations at the wings to cover tipping of the aircraft on water. The cockpit was of the stepped variety with commanding views over the front of the fuselage and unobstructed views of the inboard engines for both pilots from their respective positions. The fuselage sides were dotted by rectangular windows for viewing while the aircraft was constructed largely of aluminum. Access doors allowed for entry/exit of the aircraft. A typical in-flight crew numbered seven (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radioman, flight engineer and two flight attendants) with passenger seating for up to 34 persons.

The Solent was produced in three major versions beginning with the "Solent 2". This was delivered to the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) through twelve examples, all produced at the Rochester facility. The Solent 2 was powered by 4 x Bristol Hercules 637 radial piston engines of 1,690 horsepower each. This supplied the aircraft with a maximum speed of 273 miles per hour, a range of 1,800 miles, a service ceiling of 17,000 feet and a rate-of-climb of 925 feet per minute. Dimensions included a length of 87 feet, 8 inches, a wingspan of 112 feet, 9 inches and a height of 34 feet, 3.75 inches. Empty weight was listed at 47,760lbs with a loaded weight of 78,000lbs.

The "Solent 3" arrived in seven examples of which six were completed at Queen's Island and the last at Hamble. These were all conversions of existing Seaford models.

The "Solent 4" differed by its installation of 4 x Bristol Hercules 733 series engines and four of the type were produced at Belfast.

Operators of the S.45 Solent line (beyond Aquila Airways and BOAC of the United Kingdom) included South Pacific Airlines of the United States, Trans-Oceanic Airways of Australia and Tasman Empire Airways Limited of New Zealand. The Solent did not officially see any military service during its tenure though it was evaluated by the British Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment for a time in 1950.

In all, twenty-three Solent aircraft existed with sixteen of the type being "new-build" models, the remaining seven direct ex-Seaford conversions.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Short S.45 Solent 2 Flying Boat Passenger Airliner.
4 x Bristol Hercules 637 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,690 horsepower each.
273 mph
439 kph | 237 kts
Max Speed
16,995 ft
5,180 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
1,800 miles
2,897 km | 1,564 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Short S.45 Solent 2 Flying Boat Passenger Airliner.
7 + 34
87.7 ft
26.72 m
O/A Length
112.8 ft
(34.38 m)
O/A Width
34.3 ft
(10.44 m)
O/A Height
78,002 lb
(35,381 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Short S45 Solent family line.
S.45 Solent - Base Series Deisgnation
S.45 Solent 2 (Mk II) - 12 examples produced; service with BOAC; fitted with Bristol Hercules 637 engines.
S.45 Solent 3 (Mk III) - 7 examples converted from existing Seaford airframes.
S.45 Solent 4 (Mk IV) - 4 examples produced; fitted with Bristol Hercules 733 series engines.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Short S45 Solent. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 23 Units

Contractor(s): Short Brothers - UK
National flag of Australia National flag of New Zealand National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States

[ Australia; New Zealand; United Kingdom; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (273mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Short S45 Solent

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Short S45 Solent Flying Boat Passenger Airliner appears in the following collections:
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