The Short S.38 Sturgeon was born through a World War 2 (1939-1945) British naval requirement under Specification S.6/43 for a carrier-based, high-speed torpedo bomber intended for service in the Pacific Theater. However, with the end of the war in August of 1945, the requirement was no longer pressing which forced an evolution of the design into Specification S.11/43. A prototype by Short Brothers was first flown on June 7th, 1946 and the Sturgeon (Short Brothers S.38) was adopted by the Fleet Air Arm across 28 examples. Despite its original torpedo bomber design, the type eventually served a bulk of its career as a useful target tug - a rather inglorious role for any military aircraft.
Outwardly, the original Sturgeon offering utilized a conventional twin-engined configuration with a centralized fuselage tapered at both ends. The cockpit was fitted well-forward in the design at the main wing spar. The wings were high-mounted along the fuselage sides with each mounting a leading edge engine nacelle. The nacelles protruded well-forward to block some of the vision out of the cockpit though providing clear views of the engines for the pilot in the event of trouble. The empennage included a single vertical tail fin and the requisite horizontal planes. Power (for the TT.3 tug) was through 2 x Rolls-Royce Merlin 140 series, V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engines developing 2,080 horsepower each. This provided the airframe with a maximum speed of 366 miles per hour, a cruise speed of 312 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 35,200 feet.
There proved a few notable variants in the Sturgeon production line leading with the Sturgeon S.1. This was the carrier-based strike platform which saw its original 30-strong order cancelled with the end of the war (two-prototypes completed with a third representing the modified TT.2). The initial target tug form to then emerge was the Sturgeon TT.2 which appeared as two prototypes leading to 23 production forms following - really the definitive Sturgeon production form. The tug models differed from the original torpedo bomber design in their elongated, revised nose assemblies. The TT.3 was nothing more than a refined target tug platform of which five appeared from existing TT.2 frames. SB.3 proved a short-lived prototype for an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform which sported a noticeable chin fairing housing specialized equipment for the role. Two prototypes were ordered and the original airframe flew on August 12th, 1950. The type was never adopted.
The Sturgeon operated with the Fleet Air Arm branch of the Royal Navy through groups 703 NAS, 728 NAS and 771 NAS.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
44.9 ft (13.70 m)
59.8 ft (18.23 m)
132.5 ft (40.40 m)
16,976 lb (7,700 kg)
21,716 lb (9,850 kg)
+4,740 lb (+2,150 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Short S39 Sturgeon TT.3 production variant)
None. Bomber that would have carried torpedoes was cancelled with the end of World War 2.
Sturgeon S.1 - Original torpedo bomber form cancelled with end of war; two prototypes completed.
Sturgeon TT.2 - Target Tug form; 23 examples completed; two prototypes.
Sturgeon TT.3 (SB.9) - Refined TT.2 target tug form; five converted from TT.2 models.
SB.3 - Proposed anti-submarine warfare platform; two prototypes completed; never adopted.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (367mph).
Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Max Altitude Visualization
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (28)
This entry's total production compared against the most-produced military and civilian aircraft types in history (Ilyushin IL-2 and Cessna 172, respectively).
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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