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Putnam
C.Barnes
Short Aircraft since 1900
134

C.Barnes - Short Aircraft since 1900 /Putnam/

The Short N.3 Cromarty

  Although Oswald Short had been a member of the firm from its very first venture into balloon manufacture, some nine years before Horace Short joined his brothers, he was always regarded by Horace as too young and inexperienced to be allowed a free hand in aeroplane design; even up to the time of Eustace Short’s death in 1932, Oswald was always referred to by his elder brother as ‘The Kid’. This did not prevent him from making his own very competent and continuous contribution to general progress, and in fact sprung floats and pneumatic flotation bags were both his invention, although nearly all patents for new inventions were taken out in the joint names of all three brothers. After war broke out in 1914 it seems that Oswald tried to gain a little more autonomy in design matters, rather against Horace’s wishes, and on the famous occasion in 1916 when Horace at last acceded to John Parker’s request to be allowed to fly, the conditions he stated were: ‘You don’t interfere with the design, and you don’t take any notice of what the bloody Kid says.’
  Oswald was evidently keen to build larger, more heavily armed seaplanes, as indicated by the twin-fuselage twin-engined design described in patent No. 3,203 of 1915, already mentioned as the possible basis of a twin-engined bomber. This patent was accepted in the name of H. O. Short alone, indicating that Horace either declined to support it or possibly was not even told of it at the time of application. It is nevertheless a fact that no interest in flyingboats or other large multi-engined seaplanes was ever shown by Horace, in spite of progress by John Porte at Felixstowe and Linton Hope at Southampton; this may have stemmed partly from Porte’s well-known dislike of float seaplanes, which he would have liked to exclude from the Felixstowe establishment altogether. Had he lived longer, Horace might have acknowledged the advantages of flying-boats; soon after his death Short Brothers removed from Eastchurch to concentrate their activities on the Medway, and about this time were asked to undertake production of standard designs, both aeroplanes and flying-boats, as part of the accelerated Ministry of Munitions programme. Early in 1918 they built 100 D.H.9 aeroplanes, some of which were adapted for carrier operation, and also began a batch of 50 Porte flying-boats, initially F.3s and later F.5s. These activities required extensions to the Rochester factory, and a large new erecting shop, No.3, was built on the waterfront upstream of the existing works, involving very heavy excavations of chalk for the site at a cost of some £18,000. A boat-yard at Strood, on the opposite bank of the Medway, was also taken over for the manufacture of F.3 and F.5 hulls, which were towed across to No.3 Shop for assembly of the wings, engines and tail unit.
  The first Short-built F.3 boat, N4000, was ready for launching on 15 May, 1918, and since the slipway was not yet finished, the boat was hoisted out by the crane on the adjacent jetty. Thirty-five F.3s had been built by 8 May, 1919, by which time the remainder were nearing completion as improved F.5s of similar size and with the same Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIIs of 360 hp. Short-built Porte boats did well in R.A.F. service, although none arrived in time to see action before the Armistice; during July 1919 two of them (N4041 and N4044, S.620 and S.623) from Felixstowe made a 2,450 miles tour of Scandinavian and Baltic ports; a further batch of 50 F.5s had already been ordered and were well under way by this time, but soon afterwards the last 40 were cancelled as a post-war economy measure; the last of the 10 built, N4839, was first flown by Parker on 23 March, 1920, while the previous one, N4838, delivered to Grain in February, remained there for tests under various loading conditions and was flown for a time with ‘park-bench’ aileron balances. In August 1922, N4839 was temporarily fitted with Napier Lion engines and successfully completed an 18-day cruise from Grain to the Isles of Scilly and back. During 1920 a few F.3s were bought back from the Air Ministry to be reconditioned for export; one of these, Phoenix-built N4400, was sold to the Portuguese Government as C-PAON on 23 April, 1920; another, N4019 (S.607), was fitted out as an air yacht, with a spacious luxury cabin amidships; registered G-EAQT, it was first flown at Rochester on 28 May, 1920, and was then shipped to Botany Bay for the private use of Lebbaeus Hordern, a wealthy resident of Sydney, N.S.W., but before it could be re-erected there his interest faded, and after the hull had been launched no further attempt was made to complete the assembly; the hull finished up as a shelter for local fishermen. Nine of the cancelled new F.5s (S.546-554) were completed for the Imperial Japanese Navy in May 1920 and were shipped to Japan in advance of Colonel the Master of Sempill’s British Naval Air Mission, which arrived in Tokyo in April 1921; the first to be re-erected, S.547, was launched and flown on 30 August, 1921, at Yokosuka by John Parker, who had gone out to Japan with Oswald Short to assist the Mission. The first of the batch, S.546, was reassembled later and reserved for training, together with one new F.5 (Taura No.1) built entirely from local resources at the Hiro Naval Arsenal with assistance from a small team from Short Brothers; later the Aichi Tokei Denki Co of Nagoya built over 50 more F.5s, some of which were still in use at Yokosuka and Sasebo for training as late as 1929. Flying training of I.J.N. personnel was superintended by Major Herbert G. Brackley, who met Oswald Short and John Parker for the first time in Japan; the initial fleet of ten was augmented a year later by three Short-built F.5s with Napier Lion engines; one had a revised bow cockpit mounting a 1-pounder shell-firing gun; the first Lion-engined F.5 was flown at Rochester on 26 April, 1922, by Frank Courtney, deputising for Parker, who returned from Japan a month later. F.5s remained the standard R.A.F. flying-boat, and although the ‘Geddes Axe’ precluded any new orders for them, 24 were returned to Rochester for major overhaul under contract No. 412569/23, and the first of these (N4046) was passed out by Parker on 10 January, 1924.
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Short Brothers' first F.3 flying boat, N4000, ready for launching on 15 May, 1918: No.3 Shop was incomplete, and its slipway had not yet built, so the crane had to be used.
The antepenultimate Rochester-built F.3, N4033, on the newly-built slipway at No.3 Shop on 26 February, 1919, showing its horn-balanced ailerons.
The F.3 air-yacht conversion G-EAQT at Rochester after launching on 12 May, 1920.
S.551, the sixth F.5 for Japan, ready for launching at Rochester on 10 May, 1920.
S.547 being launched for its first flight at Yokosuka on 30 August, 1921.
Short-built F.5 of the Imperial Japanese Navy at Yokosuka in 1922.
Napier Lion engines were installed in the last three F.5s supplied to Japan from Rochester in April 1922, and another Lion-engined F.5 completed an 18-day cruise from Grain to the Scilly Isles and back in August 1922, an event in which the Cromarty came to grief at St Mary’s.
Short Biplane No. 1

  Immediately after his flight with Wilbur Wright at Le Mans in November 1908, Frank McClean had to go to China to observe a solar eclipse; from his ship he wrote to Horace Short (whom he had met only once), saying, in effect, ‘Build me an aeroplane’ with no other conditions stipulated. Frank McClean was a leading light in the Aero Club, and his very generous patronage was a principal source of the Shorts’ early business. Even before the Wright brothers awarded their licence, Horace Short began designing Short No. 1 at Battersea, and after only four weeks of manufacturing effort enough progress had been made for the uncovered airframe to be exhibited in March 1909 at the first Aero and Motor Boat Show at Olympia. Although superficially similar to the Wright Flyer, it differed in principle and in detail, having a rigidly braced three-bay cellule with flexible trailing-edge extensions at the outer bays, where the chord was increased from 6 ft 6 in to 10 ft 6 in over a span of 6 ft at each wing-tip. The mainplanes were slightly staggered and double-surfaced, with sharp leading edges and pronounced camber, the profile being derived from steam-turbine experience. A similarly cambered biplane elevator was carried in front and there was no tail; instead, there was a central fixed fin between the front elevators, and four rudders were pivoted in pairs from the wing-tip extensions. Control was by two hand levers and a foot bar, the left-hand lever controlling the elevator, the right-hand the rudders and the foot control warping the flexible wing extensions. The single engine drove two 10 ft diameter laminated spruce propellers mounted aft of the wing through a chain drive; at first it was intended that the port chain should be crossed to effect counter-rotation, as in the Wright system, but this could not easily be done without infringing the Wright patents. The landing-gear comprised a pair of robust skids carried by numerous struts; the chassis had no wheels, and a starting rail was used for take-off. The uncovered airframe was inspected by the Prince of Wales (later King George V) when he visited Short Brothers’ stand at Olympia on 26 March, 1909.
  Except for the ash skids, the machine was built entirely of spruce, and the spars incorporated bolted flitch joints to enable the wing assembly to be dismantled into three sections for transport; the covering was ‘Continental’ balloon fabric, already rubberised, but difficulty arose in attaching it to the concave undersurfaces, and covering was still unfinished at Shellbeach in May. A Wright-type Bariquand & Marre engine of 30 hp was on order, but had not been delivered by July, when Frank McClean got back from China, and he was so anxious to begin flying that he bought a second-hand Nordenfelt car from which he removed the engine; this was rated at 30 hp, but weighed over 600 lb when installed, and in the first trials in September it failed to propel the biplane even as far as the end of the starting rail, after which it was transferred to Short-Wright No. 3, but with no better success. The Bariquand & Marre engine arrived in October, and with this McClean almost got No. 1 airborne during three attempts on 2, 3 and 6 November, but on the last occasion he pulled up the elevator to its limit and the machine stalled in a nose-up attitude off the end of the rail, slewed sideways, demolishing its chassis, and fell over backwards, so breaking both propellers. It has been suggested that it was repaired and successfully flown later with a 60 hp Green engine, but in later years this report was denied by both Sir Francis McClean and Lord Brabazon. Virtually nothing was recorded about Short No. 1 in the Press of the day because, to quote the editor of the first edition of the Aero Manual, published in 1909: ‘Messrs Short Bros are pursuing a policy of reticence, and up to the time when this book has gone to press have asked us not to make public any information about their aeroplanes.’

Span 40 ft (12 2 m); length 24 ft 7 in (7-5 m); area 576 sq ft (53-5 m2); loaded weight 1,200 lb (545 kg).
Frank McClean after an attempted flight on Short No.1 at Leysdown in September 1909.
Frank McClean on Short No.1 at Leysdown in September 1909.
Interior of Battersea works in 1909, with Short No.1 biplane under construction.
Short No.1
Short Biplane No. 2

  The second biplane designed by Horace Short was ordered in April 1909 by J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon, specifically for his attempt to win the Daily Mail’s prize of £1,000 for the first flight of one mile in a closed circuit by a British pilot in an all-British aeroplane. Moore-Brabazon had built himself a biplane as early as 1907, for which Short Brothers had manufactured various components, although they had no part in its design. When it failed to fly at Brooklands, on the meagre power of a single 12 hp Buchet engine, he abandoned it and went to France, where he bought three Voisins in succession, the third being the E.N.V.-engined Bird of Passage, which he brought to Shellbeach in the spring of 1909; on this he became the first Englishman to fly in England, at the end of April. The Daily Mail’s prize was announced just previously, on 7 April, and had to be won within one year from that date, so Moore-Brabazon was naturally keen to add to his laurels.
  By this time Short Brothers’ works at Shellbeach were in commission and Horace Short had become familiar with the details of the Wright Flyer and indeed critical of some of its design features. It was by no means certain that any British engine of more than 30 hp would be available, but a 50-60 hp Green was ordered, although delivery from the Aster works, where they were being made, was at that time very slow. Moore-Brabazon had salvaged the Vivinus engine originally fitted to his second Voisin, and this was available for practice flights, although ineligible for competition, because of its Belgian origin.
  Short No. 2 incorporated a great deal of Wright practice, but differed in several important respects. The biplane wings and front elevators were somewhat similar to the Wrights’, but of higher aspect ratio. The chassis comprised a pair of strongly trussed girders shaped like a sleigh to ride across the Leysdown dykes in a forced landing; each girder consisted of upper and lower longerons, parallel below the wings but curved upwards at the front to meet at the elevator pivots, separated by nine vertical struts braced by diagonal steel strips in each bay, the strips being twisted so as to lie flat where they crossed each other. Like Short No. 1, both of No. 2’s propellers turned the same way, being driven by uncrossed chains. The elevators were of wide span and narrow chord and gap, with square tips, and incorporated a new type of camber-changing linkage (patent No. 23,166/09) which avoided infringement of the Wright patent (No. 16,068/09). The mainplanes were rigidly braced throughout their span, warping being replaced by differentially linked ‘balancers’, or mid-gap ailerons, for lateral control; these were of very low aspect ratio, and each comprised a pair of forward and aft ‘sails’ carried on a centre-pivoted boom mounted just above the middle of the outermost wing strut; the fabric of each sail was stretched on its frame by tension springs along the trailing edge so that the surface took up a camber appropriate to its angle of attack. The balancers were controlled by a centre-pivoted foot-bar with stirrups at each end, while the pilot had also two hand-levers, the right for the elevator and the left for the rudder, both moving fore-and-aft. The pilot’s seat was mounted on the lower leading edge to starboard, with the engine on the centre-line farther aft, leaving space for a passenger’s seat on the port side, if required. The single rudder was a tall narrow rectangle carried on short outriggers immediately aft of the elevator assembly, and a large vertical fin was carried by a pair of booms behind the wings. Horace Short was convinced that a large fixed fin surface in the slipstream was necessary to counteract yaw due to warping or aileron drag; he had argued unsuccessfully to this effect with the Wright brothers, who preferred their fixed keel area (‘blinkers’) forward and their rudders aft.
  Short No. 2 was completed during September 1909, but the Green engine had not been delivered by then, so the Vivinus was installed for preliminary trials; in spite of being underpowered with this rather heavy engine, Moore-Brabazon succeeded in flying nearly a mile after being launched by derrick and rail on 27 September; he made a second flight of about 400 yards on 30 September, but landed heavily and damaged the port wing-tip. This was repaired, and the Green engine, which had just arrived, was installed, giving a larger reserve of power. Notice was given to the Daily Mail and the Aero Club that all was ready for the attempt on the £1,000 prize, and Lord Northcliffe sent Charles Hands to observe the flight; at once the weather became unsettled and remained so for a fortnight, but at last the day came; Moore-Brabazon rounded a mark-post half a mile away and landed back beside the starting rail, in an undulating flight varying in altitude from 20 ft to a few inches, but without actually touching the ground; he had won the prize, and the date was 30 October, 1909. This was two days before Charles Rolls made his first true flight on the first of the Short-Wright Flyers, and Moore-Brabazon could have claimed the David Salomans Cup also, but very sportingly waived his claim to it provided Rolls could himself qualify for it within one week, which he did. Moore-Brabazon’s prize-winning flight was followed by appropriate celebrations at Mussel Manor, during which he was challenged to take up a piglet to disprove the adage that ‘pigs can’t fly’; this he did in style on 4 November with a 3 1/2 miles cross-country flight outside the Shellbeach ground; on 7 January, 1910, he flew 4 1/2 miles from Shellbeach to the new flying ground at Eastchurch, after first winning the second of the Aero Club’s £25 prizes for an observed flight of 250 yards. Before leaving Shellbeach a larger cruciform tail, carried on four booms, had been fitted to No. 2, to improve stability for an attempt on the British Michelin Cup. Moore-Brabazon began practising in earnest for this competition, which closed on 31 March, 1910, and made four short flights on 12 February, followed by one of eight minutes on the 14th, carrying 20 gallons of petrol. All was ready for a serious attempt on 1 March, and he had covered 19 miles in 31 minutes before his crankshaft broke as a result of running continuously at maximum power. A spare engine was available and was fitted two days later, but then No. 2 was due to be exhibited on the Royal Aero Club’s stand at Olympia. After the show, No. 2 was taken back to Eastchurch, where the empennage was raised 21-in to a position level with the upper wing; Moore-Brabazon flew it once in this condition on 25 March, finding no improvement in control, but knew by then that nobody else with an all-British machine had a chance of beating his earlier performance, and in April he was adjudged the winner of the Cup; much longer distances had been flown by Rolls in his Short-Wright, but this was ineligible because of its French engine. After this Moore-Brabazon ordered one of the newer Farman-type biplanes that Horace had begun building after moving his works to Eastchurch and No. 2 was not flown again; there is an excellent 1/10 scale model of it in the Science Museum at South Kensington.

Span 48 ft 8 in (14-9 m); length 32 ft (9-75 m); area 450 sq ft (41-8 m2); loaded weight 1,485 lb (674 kg); speed 45 mph (72-5 km/h).



Short Biplane No. 3

  Like the Wright Type A, the Short No. 2 biplane was handicapped by its dependence on rail and derrick launching, quite apart from its general instability and unorthodox control system. Horace Short was well aware of these disadvantages and discussed them at length with members of the Aero Club at Mussel Manor. Late in 1909 he designed and built to Charles Rolls’ order an improved lightweight biplane, Short No. 3, which was completed in time for the next Olympia show in March 1910. It was much smaller than No. 2, although similar in layout, and had four wheels which could be held down below the skid runners for taxying and take-off, and retracted by springs before landing. The engine, a 35 hp Green, was mounted high up, with a direct-drive propeller, permitting the use of widely spaced booms to carry a fixed cruciform tail. Improved balancers with spring-tensioned fabric, as in No. 2, were operated by a right-hand lever with sideways movement only; the left-hand lever moved fore-and-aft to control the elevator, and there were foot pedals for direct control of the rudder, which was rubber-sprung to return to neutral if released. Thus the control system more nearly conformed to the single lever and rudder-bar system evolved by Esnault-Pelterie and popularised by Bleriot and Farman. The fixed tail comprised a low aspect ratio fin mounted centrally on a high aspect ratio tailplane, whose incidence could be adjusted on the ground through a limited range. The front rudder was larger than No. 2’s and the front elevators had no camber. Horace Short was anxious to find alternative means of lateral control at low speeds and took out several further patents for both leading-edge spoilers and trailing-edge intercostal vents or valves, to act as ‘lift dumpers’ on one side at a time. These are described in patents Nos. 2,613-5 of February 1910, but were not tested in flight, so far as is known. The chassis construction was generally similar to No. 2’s, with the same twisted-strip cross-bracing, and the wheel retraction device allowed the wheels to remain in use for landing if preferred, when they were sprung so as to bring the skids into play if the landing was too hard.
  Five replicas of No. 3 were ordered even before the show opened, but in spite of its excellent workmanship, it was obviously out-of-date by comparison with the robust and uncomplicated Farman type, whose latest development by Roger Sommer had just been bought by Charles Rolls and was also on view. After the show ended, Rolls had only a few days to spare before taking part in the International Meeting at Nice, where he flew the French-built Wright on which he was killed at Bournemouth in July. When Short No. 3 failed to fly in its original form it seems that Rolls dismantled it and combined its chassis members with the wings, elevators and tail-booms of Short-Wright No. 6, as a prototype of his own design, called the Rolls Power Glider; this name indicates that he aimed to fly on as little power as possible at a low wing-loading. In the R.P.G. the 35 hp Green engine was installed on the starboard side, as in the Wright, but drove uncrossed Renolds chains, so that both propellers turned the same way; to compensate for the higher offset engine weight, the flat rectangular radiator was placed outboard of the port propeller shaft and was connected to the engine water jacket by long pipes. Apparently Rolls hoped to develop this contraption into a saleable article, but it was unfinished at his death, and the Wright components were retrieved by Short Brothers, who paid Rolls’ executors £200 for the dismantled No. 6, but could find no bidder for the remains of Short No. 3. The other five replicas of No. 3 were never started, and the only other aeroplanes built at Shellbeach were two designed by J. W. Dunne, one of them being Professor Huntington’s and the other the D.5 tailless biplane for the Blair Atholl Syndicate; it is not known whether these received Short constructor’s numbers, but the remaining c/ns up to 25 were not used, and a fresh start was made at Eastchurch with S.26, the first of the Short-Farman-Sommer boxkites.

Span 35 ft 2 in (10-7 m); length 31 ft (9 45 m); area 282 sq ft (261 m2); empty weight 657 lb (296 kg); loaded weight 860 lb (390 kg); estimated speed 45 mph (72-5 km/h).
J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon flying Short No. 2 at Leysdown in November 1909 after the Green engine had been installed.
The Rolls Power Glider constructed by combining the wings and control surfaces of Short-Wright No. 6 with the chassis and engine of Short No. 3, at Eastchurch in May 1910.
View of the elevator and rudder on the Short biplane.
View of Short No. 3 as shown at Olympia in March 1910.
J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon on Short No. 2 in November 1909.
Short No. 2 The drawing shows the original design before modification.
Short No.3
Short-Wright Biplanes

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  Horace Short designed and manufactured the Short-Wright glider at Battersea in four weeks during the spring of 1909, taking it to Shellbeach in June for fabric covering and final rigging; Rolls attempted his first launch, unsuccessfully, on 1 August and achieved his first glide the following day. Thereafter he practised regularly and with increasing proficiency till 10 October.
  The Short-Wright glider had plain rectangular warping wings, with a forward biplane elevator and twin aft rudders exactly similar to the Wright glider of 1902-3, except that the pilot sat upright with a control lever in each hand; the left-hand lever moved fore-and-aft to control the elevator, and the right-hand lever moved sideways for warping and fore-and-aft to control the rudder. It was hand-launched from a trolley on a rail laid downhill on a slight eminence near Leysdown, and Rolls achieved soaring flights of several hundred yards in suitable weather. Rolls did not dispose of his glider until March 1910, when he offered it for sale in good condition, together with its shed and rail and the lease of the site.
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Glider - Span 32 ft 10 in (10 m); length 18 ft (5-5 m); area 325 sq ft (30 m2).
Short-Wright Glider, as first tried without rudders, July 1909.
Short-Wright Biplanes

  Wilbur Wright’s demonstrations of flying the improved Wright Model A biplane at Hunaudieres and Camp d’Auvours, near Le Mans, in August 1908, created unprecedented enthusiasm, with spectators and would-be passengers flocking from all over Europe to see him. After taking up numerous passengers in September and October, including leading members of the Aero Club of the United Kingdom, Wilbur Wright was bombarded with requests for replicas of the Flyer; Charles S. Rolls was among the first to place an unconditional order for one. But the demonstration Flyer was only the fourth powered machine the Wrights had constructed, and their contract with Lazare Weiller, promoter of their European tour, provided for his ultimate retention of it, after completion of an agreed programme of demonstrations, including tuition for not more than three pupils. It was the first of its particular type, and the Wrights had not intended to put it into production, so they had never made any complete working drawings. However, they agreed to allow copies of the Flyer to be built under licence by approved constructors, and in France these were to be Chantiers de France at Dunkerque and the Societe Astra at Billancourt; during his first visit to France in 1907, Wilbur Wright had arranged for a firm of precision engineers, Bariquand & Marre of Paris, to build spare Wright engines, and in 1908 he was so cordially welcomed at Le Mans by Leon Bollee, who put a bay of his well-equipped automobile factory at Wilbur’s disposal, that Bollee also was awarded a licence to make Wright engines. All sales in France were handled by Weiller’s firm, Cie. Generale de Navigation Aerienne, but all the British Empire rights were held by Griffith Brewer, who managed the Wrights’ U.K. patents.
  Brewer was a well-known balloonist, and from his experience of the work of the Short brothers had no hesitation in recommending them as competent to manufacture the Flyer in England; by February 1909 Eustace Short had made a contract with Wilbur Wright to construct six aircraft at a total price of £8,400; all were already bespoken by members of the Aero Club, the first being reserved for Charles Rolls in accordance with his original order of the previous September. Rolls was impatient to begin learning to fly, and since Wilbur Wright declined to take on any more pupils in addition to the three (Comte Charles de Lambert, Paul Tissandier and Capt Lucas de Girardville) already nominated in France, he recommended Rolls to start practising with a glider of the type already described in the patent of 1906, and gave Short Brothers permission to construct one apart from the Flyer contract. On completion of his flights at Le Mans in December 1908, Wilbur Wright moved to Pau in the warmer south on 14 January, 1909, accompanied by Orville Wright and their sister Katharine, who had just arrived from the United States. Horace Short spent several days with Eustace at Pau in February measuring and sketching every aspect of the Flyer, and soon after his return to England he and his assistant, P. M. Jones, had produced the first complete set of working drawings ever made of any Wright biplane. Meanwhile, the Aero Club had established its new flying ground at Shellbeach on Sheppey, and half a mile away Short Brothers built a new factory in which to assemble the six Short-Wright Flyers; work on details began at Battersea, but the railway arches were too cramped for final erection of aeroplanes. The first building, a corrugated-iron shed 100 ft long by 45 ft wide, was put up by Harbrow of Bermondsey early in March 1909, and by May Horace was already lamenting its inadequacy and planning extensions; by August a second shed was in use and Short Brothers were employing 80 men. Horace Short designed and manufactured the Short-Wright glider at Battersea in four weeks during the spring of 1909, taking it to Shellbeach in June for fabric covering and final rigging; Rolls attempted his first launch, unsuccessfully, on 1 August and achieved his first glide the following day. Thereafter he practised regularly and with increasing proficiency till 10 October.
  The Short-Wright glider had plain rectangular warping wings, with a forward biplane elevator and twin aft rudders exactly similar to the Wright glider of 1902-3, except that the pilot sat upright with a control lever in each hand; the left-hand lever moved fore-and-aft to control the elevator, and the right-hand lever moved sideways for warping and fore-and-aft to control the rudder. It was hand-launched from a trolley on a rail laid downhill on a slight eminence near Leysdown, and Rolls achieved soaring flights of several hundred yards in suitable weather. Rolls did not dispose of his glider until March 1910, when he offered it for sale in good condition, together with its shed and rail and the lease of the site.
  The Wrights visited Battersea on 3 May and Shellbeach the next day, and were well pleased with the quality and progress of the six Flyers under construction. As at first built, they were exactly similar to Wilbur Wright’s demonstration Flyer, and only the last two ever incorporated later improvements. The two-spar wings had neither dihedral nor stagger and were wire-braced, with the two outer bays on each side arranged to warp. The main chassis comprised a pair of forward elevator outriggers combined with landing skids. An additional small feature, peculiar to Short-built Flyers, was a projecting wing-tip skid at each end of the lower leading edge, introduced by Horace Short because of frequent damage on the rough ground at Shellbeach. The biplane elevator incorporated an ingenious linkage for reversing the camber to match the angle of attack, so that when incidence was negative the camber was inverted. The parallel rudders were boxed together and pivoted on a central vertical axis carried by a single pair of upper and lower booms braced by wires to the rear spars. The pilot and passenger sat side-by-side on the left-hand half of the lower wing between the chassis frames, with the engine beside them on their right; they had separate seats with back-rests and a common fixed foot-rail. The pilot usually sat on the right, with a fore-and-aft elevator lever in his left hand and a universally pivoted lever in his right hand, which moved fore-and-aft to control the rudder and sideways to control the warp; thus the functions of ‘balancing’ and ‘steering’ were psychologically separated, while the use of rudder to counteract warping drag became instinctive with the right hand, leading naturally to the Wrights’ elegant banked turns, previously thought to be a highly dangerous manoeuvre in spite of its universal and age-old use by birds and bats!
  The 27 hp four-cylinder water-cooled vertical engine of the Wrights’ own design drove, through separate chains in guide tubes and sprockets giving a reduction ratio of 9 : 32, a pair of two-bladed propellers mounted outboard just behind the wings with their thrust-line at half-gap; their tips rotated outwards at the top, so creating a resultant upwash in the middle of the slipstream, the longer left-hand chain being crossed to produce counter-rotation. The standard method of take-off was from a trolley on a launching rail laid to face into wind, with assistance from a rope hooked to the trolley and pulled by a falling weight previously raised on a portable derrick located downwind of the rail. This was a nuisance in variable wind conditions and a source of trouble whenever the rope jammed in a pulley, which happened rather often. Occasionally, in a steady light breeze, the Flyer could take off without external assistance, and later in 1909 some of those built in France appeared with wheels attached to the skids.
  Although the first four Short-Wright Flyers were completed by July 1909, they were kept waiting for their engines, which had originally been ordered from Leon Bollee for all six; only two Bollee engines were finally delivered, and Bariquand & Marre were substituted in the others, but none was ready for Orville Wright to test personally in August as intended. As a temporary expedient, Frank McClean installed the engine out of his Nordenfelt car in his Short-Wright (No. 3) and was launched from the rail, but failed to sustain flight; two Bollee engines eventually arrived and early in October Charles Rolls made a few brief hops in his Short-Wright (No. 1), but came to grief; after repairs to the minor damage incurred, he began flying steadily on 1 November, and his proficiency was such that before the day was out he had covered 1 1/2 miles, thereby winning the first of four Aero Club prizes of £25 for a flight of 250 yards and the David Salomans Cup and £105 for a flight of half a mile out and half a mile back without landing. Three days later he won the first of three Aero Club prizes of £50 for flying one mile in a closed circuit at Shellbeach, which he accomplished at a height of 60 ft. Alec Ogilvie took delivery of Short-Wright No. 2 at his private flying ground at Camber Sands, near Rye, Sussex, on 3 November, 1909, when he flew for nine minutes. Next day he made two more flights of ten minutes each, but allowed enthusiasm to outrun caution; after attaining 50 mph (as shown by an air-speed indicator of his own design and later improved and patented by him) his Leon Bollee engine seized, but he made a safe forced landing. On 20 November Rolls flew from Shellbeach to the Aero Club’s new flying ground at Eastchurch, over an indirect course of 5 1/2 miles, but two days later he, too, suffered engine failure after covering seven miles. On the same day Frank McClean took delivery of the third Short-Wright, after installation of its Bariquand engine, making initial flights up to 400 yards in length, and continued to make steady if unspectacular progress whenever the weather permitted, attaining four miles by 17 December (the sixth anniversary of Orville Wright’s historic ‘first ever’ powered flight). McClean had not had as much prior experience as Rolls and Ogilvie, for the latter had purchased a Wright glider from T. W. K. Clarke of Willesden in August and had soared it for 350 yards after less than a fortnight’s practice. By 21 December Rolls had achieved a 15-mile cross-country flight over Sheppey and the fourth Short-Wright had been delivered to Maurice Egerton. On New Year’s Day 1910 Frank McClean flew from Eastchurch to Short Brothers’ works and back, and Rolls, after a solo flight of nearly an hour, took up Cecil Grace as his first passenger. During the next few weeks Rolls flew frequently with passengers, including Ogilvie, whose own machine was back at Shellbeach for repairs, and on 12 February Maurice Egerton flew over to Shellbeach to win both the third £25 and the second £50 Aero Club prizes.
  The last two Short-Wright Flyers, ordered originally by Percy Grace and Ernest Pitman, incorporated an improved four-boom tail outrigger with a single fixed tailplane behind the rudders. Both were flown for the first time on 14 February, the former by Cecil Grace, who covered 300 yards (after earlier practice on Moore-Brabazon’s Voisin Bird of Passage) and the latter by Charles Rolls, who had bought it from Ernest Pitman before completion; after a spectacular high flight in his new machine on 25 February, Rolls towed his old Flyer behind his Silver Ghost tourer to London for exhibition on the Royal Aero Club’s stand at Olympia, after which he presented it to the Balloon Company, Royal Engineers, at Aldershot; subsequently he gave ground instruction to Army officers on it at Farnborough, and later it was kept at Hounslow Barracks, but there is no record of its ever being flown again. On 24 March Rolls collected his new Flyer from the works at Shellbeach and flew it thence all round Sheppey for 26 miles, attaining 1,000 ft over Queenborough before landing at Eastchurch. On the same day Cecil Grace won the remaining £25 and £50 prizes at Shellbeach; he went on to make regular flights throughout April, culminating in a 46-minute flight over Sheerness at 1,500 ft, in the course of which he dropped a packet of letters, all of which were posted by their finders and reached their destinations. Meanwhile Rolls had bought a new French-built Wright with a wheeled chassis, which he flew at the Nice International Meeting as one of the Royal Aero Club’s representatives; on his return he kept this machine for competition purposes, while his second Short-Wright was dismantled to donate its wings, elevators and empennage to his experimental Rolls Power Glider, or R.P.G., which also employed the wheeled chassis and 35 hp Green engine from the unsuccessful Short No. 3 biplane (q.v.). Consequently, he used his French Wright at the Wolverhampton meeting, having previously flown it on 2 June from Dover to Sangatte and back without landing, a feat which won him the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club and other awards. Ogilvie flew his Short-Wright (No. 2) at Wolverhampton, and a fortnight later he and Rolls both entered the same machines in the Bournemouth meeting, where Rolls met his death on 12 July while making a second attempt to win the alighting competition. Horace Short, who examined the wreckage, concluded that the tail-boom was not stiff enough to carry the controllable aft elevator which Rolls had fitted only five days earlier, and had deflected far enough to touch the tip of one propeller, with catastrophic results.
  After Rolls’ death Short Brothers bought back Short-Wright No. 6 from his executors, reassembled it and sold it, less engine, to Alec Ogilvie, who had already fitted wheels to his first Flyer with some success. This encouraged him to make a series of modifications to No. 6, with a view to competing in all British events, including the de Forest prize and the British Michelin Cup, for which Bollee and Bariquand & Marre engines were ineligible. He first considered fitting a 50 hp E.N.V., but the British-built model of this engine was not yet available, so he chose a new 50 hp V-4 two-stroke supercharged N.E.C., which he installed in September 1910; then he went to New York as the Royal Aero Club’s entry in the Gordon Bennett Race at Belmont Park in October. His mount was a Wright C-type racer, with wheels but no front elevators, whose performance so impressed him that on his return to England in December he tried hard to persuade Horace Short to accept the Wrights’ offer to extend Shorts’ manufacturing licence to include the later models; Horace refused to do so, and Ogilvie thereupon went off, apparently in rather a huff, to Camber, where he proceeded to convert the sixth Short-Wright to the latest Dayton standard, with the tailplane turned into an aft elevator, the front elevators deleted, the skids shortened and the ‘blinkers’ placed low on them. He also incorporated Orville Wright’s improved steering control, comprising a fore-and-aft lever for the right hand, operating rudder and warp together, with a sideways-hinged handle at the top, whereby a limited amount of differential movement could be interposed between rudder and warp controls. The N.E.C. engine rotated the opposite way to the Wright, and with a rear elevator this was found to be an advantage because it gave pitch-up with engine on and pitch-down with engine off, so improving longitudinal stability and making the machine less tiring to fly.
  With these modifications, Ogilvie flew 142 miles in just under four hours on 28 December, 1910, in an attempt to win the British Michelin Cup, terminated prematurely by a radiator leak. In May his lease of the Camber ground expired and he flew back to Eastchurch on 2 May, 1911, and remained there; in later months he modified his machine even more, bringing the engine forward and placing the pilot’s and passenger’s seats behind it, the whole being enclosed in a nacelle. This improved performance as well as comfort, and on 29 June, 1912, he took off at Eastchurch with three passengers in addition to his own not inconsiderable weight; still later he tried it on floats at Leysdown, but found it unseaworthy. Ogilvie’s modified Short-Wright was still being regularly flown right up to the outbreak of war in August 1914, and its N.E.C. engine survives in the Science Museum, South Kensington, London, together with the Wright-Bollee engine and one propeller from Short-Wright No. 2. One of the Bariquand & Marre engines, almost certainly that first installed in Short-Wright No. 6, was stored successively at Eastchurch and Rochester and was later restored and placed on permanent exhibition at Queen’s Island, Belfast; incidentally, Bariquand & Marre’s London agency, Barimar Ltd, became world-famous as exponents of machinery repairs by welding and now, based at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, occupies a leading place in shipbuilding and heavy steel fabrication.


Glider - Span 32 ft 10 in (10 m); length 18 ft (5-5 m); area 325 sq ft (30 m2).
Flyer - Span 41 ft (12-5 m); length 29 ft (8-8 m); area 515 sq ft (47-8 m2); empty weight 885 lb (401 kg); loaded weight 1,200 lb (545 kg); speed 50 mph (80 km/h).
Mr. Frank K. McClean, a member of the Committee of the Aero Club, on his Short-Wright biplane just leaving the starting rail during one of bis recent successful flights at Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey.
Frank McClean being launched on Short-Wright No. 3 at Leysdown late in 1909. Short-Wright biplane S.5 was the third of these built for F.K. McLean.
Mr. Ogilvie's Wright biplane in flight, showing the "blinkers" in front.
Alec Ogilvie flying his modified Short-Wright No.6 at Camber in October 1910.
Alec Ogilvie in his rebuilt Short-Wright with positions of pilot and engine revised and enclosed in a nacelle; Eastchurch 1913.
Cecil Grace on Short-Wright No. 5 at Leysdown, showing the revised double tail-boom.
Short-Wright biplane
Short Pusher Biplanes (1910-14)

  On 15 February, 1910, H.M. King Edward VII granted the prefix ‘Royal’ to the Aero Club of the United Kingdom, in recognition of the growing importance of aviation and of the Club’s contribution to the art of flying. Many new members were attracted, some of whom might earlier have doubted the respectability of a movement so near the ‘lunatic fringe’, and a London headquarters had been opened at 166 Piccadilly. This was well patronised, although the hardier members preferred to spend their time at Mussel Manor, their Club-house at Shellbeach, near Leysdown, Sheppey; but the adjacent flying ground was small and much restricted by numerous dykes and rough areas. Horace and Eustace Short owned an ancient 7 hp Panhard car which apparently took such obstacles in its stride, and in this they explored the entire Isle of Sheppey, eventually discovering 400 acres of excellent level grassland adjoining Stamford Hill near Eastchurch, about four miles east of Leysdown. Frank McClean then purchased this as an auxiliary flying ground and invited Short Brothers to move their works to it. The Leysdown works were still completing the last two Short-Wrights and Short No. 3, but only Charles Rolls and Alec Ogilvie still thought this type had any future after having seen the standard Farmans flown at Reims in August 1909 by Henry Farman, George Cockburn and Roger Sommer. Horace Short considered the Wright to be ‘a beast that needs some handling’, and he and Frank McClean readily accepted the view of George Cockburn and Cecil Grace that the Farman was easier to fly, cheaper to construct and maintain, and had more development potential, particularly when allied with the 50 hp Gnome rotary engine. By March 1910 Rolls, too, had come to the same conclusion, for he had bought one of the latest Sommer biplanes, which he showed at Olympia and flew briefly at Eastchurch in April, before going to Nice.
  In May 1910, having completed the sixth Short-Wright at Leysdown for Rolls, Short Brothers moved their factory to Eastchurch, where they had plenty of room for future expansion, and began production of a batch of biplanes designed by Horace Short on the basis of both the standard Farman and Sommer’s derivative of it. The first four were similar, two having 40 hp Green engines, for Frank McClean and J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon respectively, one having a 60 hp E.N.V. for Cecil Grace and one being a reserve airframe. The works Nos. were S.26 for McClean, S.27 for Grace and S.28 for Moore-Brabazon, but they were generically called the ‘S.27 type’, because Cecil Grace was their foremost exponent at flying meetings. The wings were of equal span, with four uncompensated ailerons, and the front elevator was in two parts joined to a central lever directly connected by wires to the pilot’s control lever; the span of the front elevator extended beyond the pivots carried by the front booms. The tail-booms were parallel in plan, but slightly convergent rearwards in side view, as in the Sommer, and carried a cambered monoplane tail having a narrow-chord inset elevator linked to the front one, with a square rudder pivoted centrally below; this single rudder was adequate for the Green-engined version, but Grace preferred to augment it by a similar rudder above the tailplane when using the E.N.V. The landing-gear, like Sommer’s, was simpler than Farman’s, with the skids wire-braced laterally, carrying only a single wheel inboard of each skid. The wheels were mounted on a long rubber-sprung cross-axle, which was soon found to be too flexible and was thereafter stiffened by an ingenious truss of kingposts and bobstays. As in the Sommer, malacca cane half-hoops below each lower tail-boom formed the tailskids.
  Although the exact first flight date of the new Short biplane is not on record, it is known that both S.26 and S.27 were being flown on 19 June, 1910, the former by G. C. Colmore, a beginner with only 20 minutes taxying time to his credit; nevertheless, his first flight covered 11 miles in 20 minutes, and the next day he completed the tests for his pilot’s certificate (No. 15), which the Royal Aero Club granted on 21 June, 1910. Cecil Grace began flying S.27 about the same time, and on 20 June flew for 45 minutes over Sheerness, circling above the battleships Bulwark and Victorious and reaching a height of 1,180 ft, a new British record; he reported that the ailerons designed by Horace Short were quite as effective as the Wright warping system, thus resolving a doubt which had hitherto existed. At the Midland Aero Club’s meeting at Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, from 27 June to 2 July, he gave a brilliant display of manoeuvrability for half an hour, finishing with a deadstick landing from 150 ft. Moore-Brabazon took delivery of S.28 during the last week of June and flew it once or twice at Eastchurch; He had entered it for the Bournemouth meeting on 11 July, but did not fly there, although both Colmore and Grace took part on S.26 and S.27. After the death of Rolls on 12 July Moore-Brabazon was persuaded by his wife to give up competitive flying and S.28 was stored for the time being at Eastchurch. Colmore flew S.26 in the Lanark meeting, where he covered the flying kilometre at 52-75 mph, but in trying to improve on this on 13 August he came to grief in a young fir plantation. After repairing the damage, McClean had a 50 hp Gnome fitted to S.26; at the same time a flat tailplane with a larger aft elevator was fitted and the front elevator was reduced in span, with levers at each side to carry the control wires linking the two elevators; this arrangement became standard on all future Short biplanes of this type. McClean flew S.26 thus modified on 31 August and made rapid progress. Completing his tests for R.Ae.C. certificate No. 21 on 19 September he made several cross-country flights, but damaged S.26 in a heavy landing on 30 September; a stronger chassis with diagonal struts was fitted, together with stronger tailskids, and he was flying again on 15 and 16 October, watched by a party of Naval officers from Sheerness, whose interest had been aroused by Cecil Grace’s exploits; on 22 October McClean took up as his first passenger Dr W. J. S. Lockyer, his old friend and colleague in astronomy, who was also a keen balloonist and a pioneer of aerial photography.
  McClean next bought S.28 from Moore-Brabazon and had it fitted with a 50 hp Gnome, flying it in this form on 15 November, 1910. After two weeks’ flying he substituted a 60 hp Green engine, so as to make it an all-British aeroplane and thus eligible for the de Forest Prize of £4,000, which was on offer till the end of 1910, for British subjects on British aircraft only, for the farthest distance flown from a starting-point in England to a point on the Continent. By coincidence, Baron de Forest’s announcement of this prize had been sent to the Aero Club on 25 July, 1909, the day Louis Bleriot flew the Channel, but before the news of Bleriot’s feat had reached London. Cecil Grace, too, was competing in S.29, which had been completed with a 60 hp E.N.V. engine and a number of other modifications, including flotation airbags and extensions to the upper wing-tips. Grace flew S.29 to his starting-point at Dover on 5 December, but McClean had engine trouble with S.28 and abandoned his attempt on 18 December, when the weather became very rough. Grace decided to discard the flotation bags and took off from Dover on the 22nd, making an excellent flight to Les Baraques in spite of bad weather; he decided to fly back at once to make another attempt and was heard near the North Goodwin lightship in fog, but never reached Dover, nor was ever seen again.
  A few weeks earlier Frank McClean, through the Royal Aero Club, had offered the Admiralty the free use of two Gnome-engined Shorts (S.28 and S.29), and Cecil Grace had offered to give free tuition on them. This offer was to remain open for six months, during McClean’s absence, as a representative of the Norman Lockyer Observatory, with a Government Solar Eclipse Expedition to Fiji and Tasmania; Dr Lockyer was in charge of the party, which sailed on 31 January, 1911, in the cruiser Encounter and was due to return in July after recording the eclipse on 28 April. On 5 December, 1910, in a General Fleet Order, Admiral Sir C. C. Drury, C.-in-C. The Nore, invited applications from Royal Navy and Marine officers to join the flying course, and 200 volunteers sent in their names. After Cecil Grace had been presumed dead, George Cockburn offered to take his place as instructor, and a new biplane, S.34, was built to replace S.29. The first four officers selected for the first course were Lieuts C. R. Samson, A. M. Longmore and R. Gregory of the Royal Navy and Lieut G. V. Wildman Lushington of the Royal Marine Artillery. Cockburn began instructing Samson on S.28 on 15 March, but Lushington was on sick leave, and his place was taken by Lieut E. L. Gerrard, Royal Marine Light Infantry. Samson and Longmore qualified for R.Ae.C. certificates on 24 April, and Gregory and Gerrard on 1 May; all four were airborne on 11 May when Prince Louis of Battenberg (commanding Reserve Fleet, Sheerness) paid the first of many visits to Eastchurch. At the start of the course McClean’s S.26 had also been made available for instruction, but it was found sluggish compared with the later machines and was only used for preliminary taxying lessons; it was known as ‘The Dud’, and when S.28 (‘Little Willy’) began to accumulate flying time it was deemed wise to have another machine in reserve, so a new biplane, S.38, similar to S.34, was built to replace S.26 and was first flown by Samson on 24 May, 1911. Like S.34, its upper wing spanned 46 ft and it had top and bottom ailerons. The bottom ailerons had been deleted at Cecil Grace’s request on S.29, because of flexibility in the bottom wing spars, but Horace Short had found an answer to this problem by means of kingposts in the inner bays above the spars and in the centre bay below the spars; at the same time the whole wing truss had been strengthened by solid compression ribs below the lower surface of the upper wing, between the interplane strut top sockets. Thus the ‘improved S.27’, as it was known, was notable for its robust construction, although its open accommodation, with the passenger behind and above the pilot, was spartan in the extreme.
  In July both S.34 and S.38 were prepared for maximum duration flying, and S.34 was equipped with extra large tanks for 28 gallons of fuel and 13 gallons of oil. S.38 had been built with tankage for four hours, but this was supplemented by a gravity tank mounted fore-and-aft above them; S.38 also sported fabric wheel covers at this stage of its career. On 17 August Lieuts Gerrard and Lushington flew S.34 for 4 hours 13 minutes, then landing only because of dusk, with over two hours’ fuel remaining. Two days later Samson flew solo in S.38 for 4 hours 58 1/2 minutes to set up a new British duration record. During this flight his watch stopped, so he circled the flying ground calling in a stentorian voice for a time-check, which was thereafter displayed at five-minute intervals, chalked large on a blackboard. When the six months’ agreement expired on 31 August, 1911, it was reckoned that ‘Little Willy’ had flown 4,000 miles, and S.34 and S.38, 3,000 and 2,000 miles respectively; the total breakage bill incurred was only £25.
  While the four Naval airmen were perfecting their skill, two more variants of the ‘improved S.27’ appeared from the works.
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  The second S.27 variant was S.32, which was ready for Frank McClean on his return from Tasmania; he made the first flight on it on 29 July, 1911. This biplane had begun in November 1910 as a tractor design for Cecil Grace, but had been set aside after his death and then completed as a pusher at McClean’s request. It had a 70 hp Gnome and was the first Short biplane to feature side-by-side seats with full dual controls; this made it particularly suitable for school work and, following the success of the Naval pupils, McClean offered similar free tuition on this machine and another like it, S.33, to volunteers from the London Balloon Company, R.E., T.F. In November 1911 the first ‘Terrier’ pupils began flying lessons under Jack Travers, one of Shorts’ draughtsmen, who had already gained his pilot’s certificate at Brooklands; the first to qualify was V. A. Barrington-Kennett (whose more famous brother was a few months later to become the first Adjutant of the Royal Flying Corps); he went solo on 6 December and gained his certificate (No. 198) on 5 March, 1912. By this date, however, the War Office was committed to expand the Air Battalion, R.E., into the Royal Flying Corps, and ruled that members of Territorial Balloon Companies were not to indulge in aeroplane pilotage, so McClean had to end the free training scheme, but not before three more ‘Terrier’ pilots, including Tom O’Brien Hubbard, had won their brevets. Two more dual-control school biplanes, S.43 and S.44, were built for the new Central Flying School at Upavon, being tested by McClean at Eastchurch early in June 1912 and delivered to Upavon in July, after official scrutiny and acceptance at Farnborough; they were serialled 401 and 402. Although their discomfort made them unpopular, their indestructibility earned them respect, and they were still in daily use late in 1914.
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S.26-28 (original) - Span 34 ft 2 in (10 3 m); length 40 ft 6 in (12 3 m); area 480 sq ft (44-6 m2); empty weight 1,000 lb (454 kg); loaded weight, 1,400 lb (635 kg); speed 40 mph (62-9 km/h).
S.29, S.32-35, S.38, S.43-44 - Span 46 ft 5 in (141 m); length 42 ft 1 in (12-8 m); area 517 sq ft (48 m2); empty weight 1,100 lb (500 kg); loaded weight 1,540 lb (700 kg); speed - 50 hp Gnome, 39 mph (62-8 km/h); 70 hp Gnome, 45 mph (72-5 km/h).
  
Postscript. As this book went to press, confirmation arrived from Mr Gascoyne (formerly of the E.N.V. Co.), via Mr H. F. Cowley, that the French-built 60 hp E.N.V. engine (Type F, series 1, No. 4), discovered in 1964, was indeed the engine originally installed in S.27 and flown by Cecil Grace at Wolverhampton and Bournemouth in 1910. This engine had been stored since 1914 at the Chequers Inn, Eltham, Kent, and was in running condition when found by a Mr Tagg. Only British-built E.N.V.s were eligible for the de Forest competition, and it was one of the first of these that was lost in Grace’s S.29; two others were installed in T. O. M. Sopwith’s winning Howard Wright and in Grahame-White’s unlucky Bristol Boxkite.
Cecil Grace flying S.27 at Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, in June 1910.
Short S.26-S.29 and 34 were fitted with various engines. This is CS. Grace's S.27 with French ENV engine without wing extensions.
S.43, one of the two side-by-side dual-control biplanes supplied to the Central Flying School, Upavon, in 1912.
Lieut. Samson, R.N., on a "Short" biplane. He left East church flying grounds for Brooklands on Thursday week at 4.30 p.m., alighting at Horley for the night. Having replenished, he was off again on Friday morning, but missed his way and landed at Hawthorn Hill racecourse, from there making a good flight, and arriving safely at Brookiands,
Charles Samson strapped into S.28 before starting a practice flight at Eastchurch in May 1911; obviously he expected to walk away from his landing.
Short S.26 (Original), S.32 (Dual)
Short Pusher Biplanes (1910-14)

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  While the four Naval airmen were perfecting their skill, two more variants of the ‘improved S.27’ appeared from the works. The first of these was S.35, built to the private order of Maurice Egerton, who liked a modicum of comfort, especially in winter. S.35 had a neatly streamlined nacelle for pilot and passenger in tandem, terminated by a square-section combined fuel and oil tank, wedge-shaped in plan. It had a 50 hp Gnome and, like S.29, had a central Farman-type sprung tailskid and no bottom ailerons. Its owner first flew it on 9 March, 1911, and it was so successful that when S.28 went into the works in December 1911 for overhaul it was rebuilt to the same standard, but retained its original ailerons and double tailskids. It was too popular in this form to escape damage by over-enthusiastic pupils and was wrecked on 13 January, 1912, by Lieut J. W. Seddon, who misjudged his landing run and crashed into the closed doors of a hangar, demolishing the aircraft and breaking his own left leg.
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Short Twin-Engined Biplanes (1911-13)

  Short Brothers were not the originators of the twin-engined aeroplane, as has sometimes been claimed, for both Hiram Maxim in 1894 and Clement Ader in 1897 had used two steam engines, because they needed twice the output of the only available power units; for the same reason Col Capper installed two 12 hp Buchet engines in the Dunne D.4 in 1908 and J. W. Seddon used two N.E.C.s in his fantastic steel-tube tandem biplane in 1910; neither of these left the ground, but on 27 September, 1910, Roger Sommer made the first successful twin-engined flight in a biplane of his own design. About the same time Horace Short, in his search for better controllability at low speeds, conceived the idea of placing all the control surfaces in the slipstream and took out a master patent, No. 1,223 of January 1911, covering all practicable arrangements, including outboard airscrews in front of the ailerons and a central airscrew or propeller ahead of the tail surfaces. As a first application of the principle, he designed and built a variant of the S.27-type with two engines which could be shut down independently; this biplane, S.39, could maintain flight on either one of its two engines and was thus the first example in the world of twin engines being used to enhance safety.
  S.39 was structurally the same as the improved Farman-Sommer-type Short biplane of 1911 apart from the nacelle and power plant arrangement; it had a stronger chassis laterally braced by struts, three rudders below the tailplane and a front elevator carried on inset pivots by booms pitched closer together than normal. The nacelle contained a cockpit with two seats side-by-side and carried a 50 hp Gnome engine and propeller on a standard overhung pusher mounting at the back; another 50 hp Gnome was mounted at the front, rotating in the opposite direction so that gyroscopic moments cancelled out when both engines were running. The forward engine drove two wing-mounted tractor airscrews through Wright-type Renold chain gears, the port chain being crossed to obtain counter-rotation, and the ‘bent-end’ airscrews were exactly like those made for the Short-Wright biplanes. S.39, known as the Triple-Twin, was first flown on 18 September, 1911, by Frank McClean; he made a brief solo flight, then, with Samson as passenger, flew eight wide circuits of Eastchurch aerodrome, throttling back each engine in turn and experiencing for the first time the luxury of an ample speed range while flying a level course. The effect of the outboard slipstream on lateral control was not up to Horace Short’s expectations, but he was pleased with the Triple-Twin’s overall performance and next decided to try the effect of co-axial counter-rotation on stability. The first step was to convert Cecil Grace’s old S.27 to a similar twin-engined layout, but with the front engine direct-coupled to an airscrew, as shown in patent No. 22,675 of 1911.
  This version was called the Tandem-Twin, or, less formally, the Gnome Sandwich, and retained the original S.27 wings and cambered tail unit unchanged except for the addition of two extra top rudders. The chassis was strengthened in the same way as for S.39, and the existing front elevator and booms were retained, since they allowed adequate clearance for the central airscrew. The Tandem-Twin was flown by McClean on 29 October, 1911, without any preliminary taxying; after a short flight at 100 ft he landed and expressed even more satisfaction than with the Triple-Twin; he spent the rest of the day taking up various passengers to test their reactions to the slipstream and to the location of the rear propeller only 10 in behind their heads. The draught in the cockpit was quite powerful and the Tandem-Twin soon acquired yet another soubriquet - The Vacuum Cleaner - and was credited with the ability ‘to pull the hairs out of a fur coat’; this was mainly due to the open hole in the floor, which was the only means of access. The Tandem-Twin could maintain height with either engine throttled back, but was unstable in every direction, due to insufficient aileron power and to unpredictable variations in torque reaction with the rear propeller working in the wake of the front one. Horace Short investigated this effect very thoroughly and deduced design rules for the relative diameters and pitches of tandem airscrews which were still valid 20 years later.
  He also designed a larger biplane with two central engines of 120 hp each, driving four propellers arranged in tandem pairs in the wings, with independent chain gears for the front and rear engines. He obtained a number of patents (Nos. 8,108, 8,394 and 22,750 of 1911) for co-axial and interconnected airscrews, but the four-screw aeroplane was never built; however, Maurice Egerton apparently had his S.35 biplane converted into a Triple-Twin and flew it regularly from April 1912 onwards. Both S.39 and S.27 were flown at first without wing extensions, and on 21 November, 1911, they were raced by Longmore and Gerrard respectively; both did better than 55 mph, but S.39 seemed to have the edge over S.27. In December, S.39 was fitted with extensions and double fuel capacity; in February 1912, S.39’s extensions were removed and fitted to S.27, and in October 1912, S.39 was temporarily given equally extended upper and lower wings of 50 ft span, which further top extensions later increased to 64 ft. S.39 was purchased by the Admiralty in June 1912 and given serial T3, later simplified to 3; in the spring of 1913 it was returned to the works for overhaul and completely remodelled as a two-seat tandem pusher with new wings and no front elevator, as already described. The Admiralty declined to buy the Tandem-Twin, which remained McClean’s property (it was No. 11 in his private fleet list), but he lent it to the Naval Flying School without charge, and it was eventually crashed by Samson; Egerton’s S.35 appears to have been dismantled and probably formed the basis of one of the Sociables of early 1914. The final development of the triple-twin theme was the Triple-Tractor S.47, which is described in a later chapter.

Triple-Twin - Span 34 ft (103 m), later 50 ft (15-3 m); length 45 ft (13-7 m); area 435 sq ft (40-4 m2), later 500 sq ft (46-5 m2); empty weight 1,800 lb (816 kg); loaded weight 2,100 lb (953 kg); speed 55 mph (88-6 km/h).
Tandem-Twin - Span 34 ft 2 in (10-4 m), later 50 ft (15-3 m); area 480 sq ft (44-6 m2), later 517 sq ft (48 m2); otherwise as for Triple-Twin.



Short Pusher Biplanes (1910-14)

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  Two other types of pusher biplane deserve notice. One was a startling metamorphosis of the original Triple-Twin, S.39, which reappeared on test by Sydney Pickles on 24 July, 1913, as a neat two-seat tandem pusher without a front elevator. It had constant-chord wings of improved profile with struts of oval steel tube and the landing gear and tail unit of a late production S.38-type, with balanced rounded rudders; it still retained its original serial 3, which was almost its only link with the past. Lighter in weight than a standard S.38-type, it had a very lively performance, with a top speed of 65 mph and the then exceptional rate of climb of over 600 ft/min; its ceiling was better than 9,000 ft. It was a favourite mount of Samson’s, and he used to fly it at night; he took Winston Churchill up in it during his visit to Eastchurch on 24-25 October, 1913. Finally, it joined the scratch squadron which Samson took to Flanders early in the war and was based at Poperinghe in October 1914, but was never armed and only used as a communications hack.
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S.39 (rebuilt) - Span 52 ft (15-84 m); length 29 ft (8-85 m); area 500 sq ft (46-5 m2); empty weight 1,000 lb (454 kg); loaded weight 1,500 lb (680 kg); speed 65 mph (104-6 km/h).
Close-up view of S.39 in its original form with equal-span wings; Eastchurch, September 1911.
S.39 after its first revision, with extended upper wing but original fuel system.
S.39 in its later form, with four fuel tanks.
Frank McClean about to start in the Tandem-Twin S.27.
S.39, formerly the Triple-Twin, rebuilt as a pusher (RNAS 3) at Eastchurch in 1914.
Short S.39 Triple Twin, Tandem Twin
Short Pusher Biplanes (1910-14)

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  After the Territorial scheme ended, Frank McClean converted S.33 into a twin-float seaplane, which he began flying from the Swale at Harty Ferry on 31 May, 1912, mainly to obtain data for Horace Short on the design and rigging of floats to get the best take-off performance. The floats were flat-bottomed pontoons without steps, having wooden frames covered with waterproofed canvas and internally braced with piano wire; at first they were reluctant to unstick from smooth water, but soon the correct setting was discovered, and by 9 June McClean had learned the knack of taking off even with a passenger aboard. On 10 August the Daily Mail had widely advertised their arrangements for the arrival on a French seaplane of the famous Lieut de Conneau, who was to have become the first aviator to fly up the course of the Thames through the City of London, to a reception at Carmelite House; special permission had been obtained by Lord Northcliffe, and reporters and photographers were posted at all vantage points to record the event. Unfortunately Conneau was delayed at Boulogne with a recalcitrant engine, but at 6.30 am McClean slipped quietly away from Harty Ferry in S.33 and touched down between Charing Cross and Westminster bridges just after 8 am. Following the river closely, he found himself unable to climb above the top of Tower Bridge, and took the only possible course by flying through the opening between the footbridge and the road span, to the astonishment and delight of the photographers on the spot. He skimmed through all the other bridges just above water level, but the police forbade him to repeat the performance on the return journey next day and insisted on his taxying all the way to Shadwell Basin. There he attempted a take-off, but the wind was across the fairway, and in attempting a sharp avoiding turn, he side-slipped and damaged one float, so the machine was brought ashore and dismantled for return to Eastchurch by road. This bold flight was quite a feather in the cap of the British flying fraternity, who had become somewhat annoyed latterly by the championship by the Press of foreign pilots, while their own abilities were either overlooked or disparaged. S.33 hit the headlines only briefly, however, and it fell to S.38 to make history in a parallel direction - as a Naval deck-flyer.
  When the agreement between the Royal Aero Club and the Admiralty expired in August 1911 it was not to be expected that Their Lordships would have created a dangerous precedent by being ready with a permanent scheme for the continuance of Naval aviation, but in the event the hiatus was not as long as it might have been. After some pressure by Samson and Longmore, the Admiralty agreed in October to set up a Naval Flying School at Eastchurch on ten acres of land leased from the Royal Aero Club, to purchase S.34 and S.38 and to appoint four more officers for training in succession to the first four; the School was to be borne on the books of H.M.S. Actaeon at Sheerness, which meant that the officers could live at Eastchurch. McClean generously offered several more of his own aircraft on loan on the same terms as before, and Samson and Longmore were permitted to collaborate with Horace and Oswald Short in various experiments. They began by fitting three streamlined air-bags to the chassis and tail of S.38; these had been designed by Oswald for the de Forest competitors as a safety precaution, but were now fitted lower down so as to prevent the aeroplane from becoming waterlogged. On 1 December, 1911, Longmore made a successful descent on the Medway off the Isle of Grain, and was towed ashore by a Naval picket boat; after a short drying-out period he took off from the beach and flew back to Eastchurch. Phase 2 of the experiment began on 10 January, 1912, when Samson flew S.38 from Eastchurch to the Isle of Grain, landing just inside the sea-wall at Cockleshell Hard. It was then man-handled over planks across the sea-wall and on to a coal lighter, from which it was hoisted by topping lift on to a wooden runway built out over the fore gun turret of H.M.S. Africa. Half an hour later Samson gave the signal to let go and roared down the platform, just clearing the bows, then climbed slowly to 300 ft and flew back to Eastchurch. This made a great impression at Sheerness, and next day the Naval Flying School was visited by Admiral Sir Richard Poore, C.-in-C. The Nore, who was taken up in S.38 and expressed great satisfaction with all he saw. Fortunately he was well out of the way when Seddon flew into the hangar doors two days later.
  After a further spell of school work, S.38 was again made amphibious and a 70 hp Gnome was installed to improve take-off. On 1 May it was taken to Sheerness by lighter and hoisted aboard H.M.S. Hibernia, to which Africa’s runway had been transferred, en route for the Naval Review at Weymouth the following week. It was put ashore by lighter on 3 May and flown by Gregory on the day of the Royal Review, 8 May, when he dropped a dummy bomb of 300 lb from 500 ft and also spotted a submarine while submerged to periscope depth. The next day was foggy, but S.38 was put aboard Hibernia once more, and late in the afternoon, when the fog cleared, Samson took off from the platform while Hibernia was making 15 kt, and landed back at the flying field at Lodmoor; after this it was shipped back to Eastchurch, but reappeared in the same role on 3 July, when Samson flew it from Eastchurch on to the water alongside H.M.S. London at Sheerness, which had been equipped with a flying-off platform; she hoisted S.38 aboard and proceeded to the Portsmouth Naval Review and manoeuvres, and next day, still 19 miles from land, Lieut C. J. L’Estrange Malone took off into a 20-kt wind while the ship was steaming at 12 kt; apparently S.38 lifted off without any forward run and in spite of a bumpy trip Malone landed at Eastney Barracks without difficulty. In view of events some 50 years later, 4 July, 1912, should be remembered as the date on which the first vertical take-off was made (though not by design) by a Short Brothers aeroplane. Malone made one more flight from H.M.S. London on 9 July, but later that day S.38 was wrecked while being hoisted aboard from its lighter in a choppy sea.
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Frank McClean flying through Tower Bridge in S.33 on 10 August, 1912.
S.38 being hoisted aboard H.M.S. Hibernia at Weymouth in May 1912.
S.38 and S.41 stowed on the runway of H.M.S. Hibernia at Weymouth in May 1912.
Commander Samson flying S.38 off the forecastle of H.M.S. Hibernia at Weymouth in May 1912.
Short Tractor Biplanes (1910-12)

  After flying a Bleriot monoplane at the Blackpool meeting in 1910, Cecil Grace asked Horace Short to consider developing a tractor biplane having a comparable performance, and work was begun in December on a tractor version of the S.27-type, with a 60 hp E.N.V. engine, allotted works No. S.32. Then Grace had flown to his death in the de Forest contest and S.32 was completed as a normal pusher training biplane. From January to July 1911 Frank McClean was absent from Eastchurch on the Fiji eclipse expedition, but on his return Horace Short showed him a revised design for a 70 hp Gnome-engined tractor biplane, and McClean ordered one for his private use. Details of the geometry were discussed at some length, and Horace Short insisted that the thrust and drag should be made to coincide so as to minimise change of trim with engine on or off, using a flat tailplane, so he located the fuselage midway between the wings. The biplane, S.36, was finished late in 1911, and McClean flew it for the first time, very successfully, on 10 January, 1912.
  As built, S.36 had standard two-bay wings with strut-braced extensions on the upper wing and no bottom ailerons. The middle bay struts embraced the fuselage sides and there was a central gap in the lower wing. The fuselage was a simple square-section wire-braced girder of four straight longerons, converging slightly from nose to tail, with plywood covering along the sides of the two tandem cockpits and aluminium panels enclosing the tanks and overhung engine mounting; a simple twin-skid chassis, with two wheels on a rubber-sprung cross-axle, was carried by the bottom longerons between the wing leading edge and the engine front bracket. The non-lifting tailplane carried divided elevators, and a partly balanced rectangular rudder was hinged to the vertical sternpost; there was a sprung trailing tailskid, and the rear fuselage was at first left uncovered, as in the Bleriot monoplane. With a 9-ft airscrew, S.36 had a quick take-off and a speed of 60 mph. McClean immediately lent it to the Naval Flying School, and on 11 March, 1912, Lieut Longmore, with his mechanic, E. R. A. O’Connor, as passenger, flew it 172 miles in four hours, thereby winning the Royal Navy Mortimer Singer prize of £500.
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   Meanwhile the second Naval tractor biplane, S.45, had been completed and, profiting from Samson’s experience with S.41, both S.45 and McClean’s S.36 had their fuselages rigged lower, so as to increase wing-tip ground clearance; at this stage both had their rear fuselages covered with fabric, to increase directional stability, particularly necessary if floats were to be fitted. S.45 had two fewer ribs in each wing than S.36, so that its span was slightly less and the ailerons were set farther inboard. The extension struts were attached to the top end ribs of S.45, which was almost the only visible difference from S.36 after the fuselage modifications. S.45 was first flown as a landplane by Lieut Spenser Grey on 24 May, 1912, and he twice flew to Margate and back with Lieut Sheppard as passenger on 30 and 31 May. On acceptance, S.45 received the serial T5 and continued to carry this even after conversion to a seaplane, when officially the serial should have become H5.
  On 3 June, 1912, having had an engine overhaul, S.41 was flown by Samson from Burntwick Island, Sheerness, to Harwich, to explore the Orwell and Stour estuaries and decide on the best site for a new seaplane station; after inspecting Shotley and Mistley, Samson recommended the Suffolk shore between Felixstowe Dock and Landguard Point, and this was how the Felixstowe Air Station, afterwards for so many years the home of the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, originated. Samson flew back to Sheerness without incident on 14 June and then supervised the installation of a float chassis on S.45, which was in the works being repaired after a forced landing in fog. S.45 was given a single central pontoon, again with no step, and was stabilised at rest by two streamlined air-bags set low under the inner pair of wing struts. The main float was long enough to keep the seaplane’s tail clear of the water, and the original tailskid was left in situ, but later an air-bag was packed close under the rear fuselage to prevent the tail being submerged while on tow. When tested at the end of June by Samson, S.45 reached 62 mph as a seaplane, while carrying a passenger.
  During this time McClean had been engaged in a maritime exercise of his own in S.36. On 17 June he flew to Eastbourne to attempt to photograph the submerged wreck of the P & O liner Oceana, which had sunk off Beachy Head. After a few trial runs he took off on 21 June with photographer Charles Cusden of The Sphere in the rear cockpit and made successive passes over the wreck at 900 ft, 700 ft, 500 ft and finally 300 ft; in the last run his airscrew picked up a little blown spray but was not damaged. He started home on 2 July, but flew into rain and fog, so he landed at his family home near Tunbridge Wells, the biplane returning to Eastchurch by road. The wings were found to be so waterlogged that they had to be renewed, but McClean was flying S.36 again by 21 July.
  Both S.41 and S.45 were flown to Portsmouth for the Naval Review in July. Samson, flying solo in S.41, covered the 194 miles round the coast from Eastchurch to Eastney in 195 minutes, most of the way at 2,000 ft. Spenser Grey and Sheppard on S.45 had to alight at Newhaven for engine adjustments, but were not much delayed. Both flew over the Fleet on 9 July, and on 13 July Samson flew S.41 back to Dover, moored in the harbour overnight and, with E. R. A. O’Connor as passenger, flew on to Harwich next day, a total distance of 250 miles. On the strength of these performances, the Admiralty ordered two more 100 hp Gnome tractor seaplanes, with minor improvements but substantially similar to S.41. The 70 hp seaplane was not so successful, and on 25 July reappeared on wheels, when Spenser Grey flew it to Dover, returning to Eastchurch next day. Although its single-row engine was reliable by current standards, its single float made it difficult to handle on the water.
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  On returning to Sheerness from Harwich on 27 August, after another of Samson’s coastal survey flights, S.41 was converted to a landplane for participation in the Army autumn manoeuvres in East Anglia. All three of the Naval Short tractors took part, Samson on S.41 setting out first on 5 September, but having to land near Bishop’s Stortford with engine trouble. Malone left Eastchurch in S.47 on 7 September and arrived before Samson at the rendezvous at Hardwicke, near Cambridge; finally, Gordon flew S.45 to Hardwicke on the 13th, and all three returned to Eastchurch on the 20th. The Triple-Tractor then went into the works for overhaul and the other two for modification and reconversion to seaplanes. S.41 emerged with little visible change except that its wings could now be folded back alongside the fuselage to economise deck or hangar space; the gaps in the upper and lower centreplanes were filled in and the rudder carried the new serial 10. S.45, however, was more drastically altered; the wings did not fold, but now had compensated ailerons acting up as well as down, and the extensions were braced by wires and kingposts instead of struts. The floats were unchanged, but the engine cowling was square-framed at the front, continuing the line of the fuselage longerons, with local bulges in the panels to afford clearance for the engine; a faired coaming was added to the top decking around the two cockpits, and the rudder carried the simplified serial 5. In this form S.45 became the prototype of three similar landplanes with dual controls (S.48-50), ordered by the War Office for use at the newly established Central Flying School at Upavon on Salisbury Plain. Both S.41 and S.45 were shipped to Carlingnose, near Rosyth on the Firth of Forth, which was opened as a temporary Naval Air Station on 2 October; it was not a good location for a seaplane base, and on 4 October, 5 capsized on landing after a flight by Lieut Gordon; it was towed ashore for repairs, but is not recorded as having flown again.
  On 10 October Capt Gerrard ferried S.48, serial 413, from Farnborough to Upavon, and it was flown on each of the next two days by Capt J. M. Salmond, who found it rather underpowered by C.F.S. standards. Nevertheless, it was flown fairly regularly, and on 28 November Lieut Smith Barry took it up to 7,000 ft, but this minor triumph was short-lived, for on 3 December Lieut Hubbard, with a passenger, stalled while approaching to land and wrecked it completely, though without injury to themselves. The other two S.45s already ordered arrived at Upavon in February 1913; Gerrard ferried 424 from Farnborough on the 17th in a gale and, after a good landing in difficult conditions, had the misfortune to be over-turned by a gust while taxying in; he was luckier when he brought in 423 on 22 February, and this was used for instruction for about a month, but then disappears from the record. Then, to the surprise and confusion of historians, both 423 and 424 returned to service in the spring of 1914, but had become B.E.8s! This was an example of a trick of War Office accounting which permitted the identity of an aeroplane to be vested in its original engine, regardless of the extent of ‘repairs’ made to its airframe, and was a subterfuge to which Col Seely resorted to avert a scandal when called to account in Parliament by Joynson-Hicks and other M.P.s over the alleged deficiency of serviceable aircraft available to the Royal Flying Corps. The two Short tractors, 423 and 424, having donated their identities and Gnome engines to two new Royal Aircraft Factory-built B.E.8 airframes, became surplus to War Office requirements; they were transferred to the Admiralty in August 1914 and, repaired and re-engined with 100 hp Clerget rotaries, flew again at Eastchurch as 1268 and 1219. No more Short tractor biplanes were built primarily as landplanes until the Bombers of 1915-16, and for the remaining years of peace all new Short designs were seaplanes.
  
S.36 - Span 46 ft 5 in (141 m); length 35 ft 6 in (10-8 m); area 515 sq ft (47-9 m2); empty weight 850 lb (380 kg); loaded weight, 1,300 lb (590 kg); speed 60 mph (96-6 km/h).
S.45, S.48-50 - Span 42 ft (12-8 m); length 35 ft 6 in (10-8 m); area 450 sq ft (41-8 m2); empty weight 1,080 lb (490 kg); loaded weight 1,500 lb (680 kg); speed 60 mph (96-6 km/h).
Mr. Frank McClean in the pilot's seat of his 70-h.p. Short tractor machine, with Miss McClean as passenger, prior to a flight at eastchurch.
Frank McClean and his sister Anna in S.36 at Eastchurch in 1912; the rear fuselage has been covered and set lower relative to the wings.
S.49 at Eastchurch in January 1913 before delivery to the Central Flying School.
S.45 at Portsmouth during the Naval Review in July 1912.
S.45 being beached at Eastney on 5 July, 1912, after being flown from Sheerness by Lieuts Spenser Grey and Sheppard.
S.45, with revised wings and cockpit coaming, at Carlingnose in October 1912 shortly before capsizing.
Short S.45
Short Pusher Biplanes (1910-14)

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  ... Malone made one more flight from H.M.S. London on 9 July, but later that day S.38 was wrecked while being hoisted aboard from its lighter in a choppy sea.
  The remains were returned to Eastchurch and emerged from the factory in August completely rebuilt to a new standard, with a nacelle similar to, but longer than, that of Egerton’s S.35, and with the engine raised, the chassis shortened, the gap reduced and the span increased to 52 ft. The new wing extensions were set at a slight dihedral angle and braced by kingposts and wires instead of struts. The tailplane and rear elevator were enlarged and set high, with twin rectangular rudders below, and the front elevator, though carried on the original booms, was much smaller than before. The rudders carried the Naval serial 2 already allotted in June (originally as T.2, while S.34 became T.1 at the same time). In its revised form, S.38 was first flown, with a 70 hp Gnome, by Samson on 30 August, when it climbed to 1,000 ft in eight minutes and subsequently took off with two passengers in addition to the pilot. Thus rebuilt, S.38 became the prototype of a new production series, the ‘S.38-type’, whose works numbers ran from S.54 to S.62. In the production version the wing extensions were slightly tapered (the leading edge being swept back), the front elevator booms were deleted and the elevator was carried on an outrigger on the nose of the nacelle. S.54 was first flown on 4 November by Lieut Wilfred Parke and received the Naval serial 19 on acceptance; the next two became 28 and 34 and were followed by S.57-8 and S.60-1, serials 62-65; all these were retained at Eastchurch by the Naval Flying School, but S.62, built in March 1913, was delivered on 19 July to the C.F.S., Upavon, as 446; it was from this machine that on 3 October, 1913, Major Merrick fell to his death through not being strapped in during a steep dive; S.59 remained Short Brothers’ property for a time and was occasionally flown by Maurice Egerton and others. In July 1913 the S.38-type’s landing gear was revised to the latest Henry Farman pattern, comprising two separate units, each with a short skid and two wheels on a short rubber-sprung crossaxle. The earlier machines were revised as they came in for repair and overhaul, and both 1 and 2 had acquired paired wheels and full dual controls by 29 November, 1913, when Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, paid one of his frequent visits to Eastchurch and was given nearly an hour’s flying lesson in 2; unfortunately his instructor, Capt G. V. Wildman Lushington, was killed three days later when his Maurice Farman side-slipped out of control while coming in to land. Both 1 and 2 remained in regular use at the Naval Flying School at least until August 1914 and probably for several months later. Another veteran was S.28, already once rebuilt after being wrecked by Seddon in January 1912 while still on loan from McClean, which was further modified into an S.38-type without front elevator, as the ‘Eastchurch Gun Machine’, serial 66; this was used for armament trials with a Maxim machine-gun pivoted on a pillar on the nacelle nose, while the pilot occupied the rear cockpit; 66 was first flown on 24 September, 1913, and remained in service for over two years, being shown to Winston Churchill when he visited Eastchurch on 15 May, 1915.
  Two other types of pusher biplane deserve notice. One was a startling metamorphosis of the original Triple-Twin, S.39, which reappeared on test by Sydney Pickles on 24 July, 1913, as a neat two-seat tandem pusher without a front elevator. It had constant-chord wings of improved profile with struts of oval steel tube and the landing gear and tail unit of a late production S.38-type, with balanced rounded rudders; it still retained its original serial 3, which was almost its only link with the past. Lighter in weight than a standard S.38-type, it had a very lively performance, with a top speed of 65 mph and the then exceptional rate of climb of over 600 ft/min; its ceiling was better than 9,000 ft. It was a favourite mount of Samson’s, and he used to fly it at night; he took Winston Churchill up in it during his visit to Eastchurch on 24-25 October, 1913. Finally, it joined the scratch squadron which Samson took to Flanders early in the war and was based at Poperinghe in October 1914, but was never armed and only used as a communications hack. The second pusher variant was a ‘sociable’ version of the S.38-type, with side-by-side seats and full dual controls in a single cockpit; two of this type first flew in the spring of 1914 and had probably been rebuilt from McClean’s S.33 and Egerton’s S.35; they were taken on charge by the Naval Flying School as 152 and 190 and had 80 hp Gnome engines; a third was flown as a test-bed for a four-cylinder Austro-Daimler engine of 90 hp and may have been built new as S.67; its serial was 145. In September 1914, 152 was sent to Great Yarmouth for coast patrol duties; it crashed there soon after arrival, but was apparently rebuilt and returned to service at Eastchurch, where it remained till 1916. Of the production S.38s, 19 was Winston Churchill’s mount during his visit to Eastchurch in May 1915; 28 visited Great Yarmouth in June 1913 and was still flying at Eastchurch in 1916; 34 specialised in bombing and armament training, and 62, having survived many rebuilds after crashes, was still in service at Eastchurch in 1916. In September 1913, 64 and 65 took part in the Army manoeuvres, being based at Lilbourne, near Rugby, where 3 was also flown. In June 1914, 65 was converted into a twin-float seaplane and equipped with a retractable version of the Gregory-Riley-White beaching gear for experiments at the Isle of Grain; 62 to 65 inclusive were all fitted with balanced rudders when they entered service.
  Early in 1913 Frank McClean and an explorer, J. H. Spottiswoode, decided to organise a seaplane expedition up the River Nile to see the Aswan Dam and investigate the cataracts between there and Khartoum. Realising that high power and low wing-loading were essential for take-off in the hot Sudanese climate, McClean had his old school biplane S.32 rebuilt to the S.38-type standard, but with an extra bay inserted on each side in both upper and lower wings, increasing the span to 70 ft 6 in; the extra bay and overhung extension formed a single unit, with dihedral and taper on both upper and lower wings. This machine, though intended as a seaplane ultimately, was first flown at Eastchurch in May 1913 as a landplane, using its original two-wheeled crossaxle undercarriage and a 70 hp Gnome engine; it seems to have incorporated components discarded from other early biplanes, including S.33 and S.34, which has confused its provenance, but it evidently contained more parts from S.32 than from elsewhere. With a wing-loading of little more than 2 Ib/sq ft, it flew easily but was very slow and could make no headway against any appreciable wind, so it was obviously unfit for development, even with twice the power; furthermore, its tandem nacelle provided too little stowage space for the expedition’s needs. So McClean ordered a new seaplane specially designed for the purpose, with a wide nacelle having two pairs of seats side-by-side; this was the Nile Seaplane, S.80.
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Standard S.38-type - Span 52 ft (15-84 m); length 35 ft 6 in (10-8 m); area 500 sq ft (46-5 m2); empty weight 1,050 lb (476 kg); loaded weight 1,500 lb (680 kg); speed 58 mph (93-4 km/h); duration 5 hr.
S.32 (rebuilt) - Span 70 ft 6 in (215 m); length 35 ft 6 in (10-8 m); area 725 sq ft (67-4 m2); loaded weight 1,540 lb (700 kg); speed 38 mph (62 6 km/h).
S.62 at Hendon en route to Farnborough in July 1913.
Production-type S.38 trainer built by Norman Thompson Flight Co in 1915.
Frank McClean’s S.32 rebuilt with wings of 70 1/2 ft span, at Eastchurch in May 1913.
Winston Churchill and his flying instructor, Capt Wildman Lushington, in S.38 at the Naval Flying School, Eastchurch, in November 1913.
S.32, finally converted to a standard 52-ft span trainer, at Hendon in 1915 as 904.
Short S.38 Production Type
Short S.32 (Rebuilt)
Short Tractor Biplanes (1910-12)

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  S.36 was intended only as an experiment, and was not offered for sale to the Admiralty, who were sufficiently impressed to order two more tractor biplanes, suitable for use from either land or water by exchange of landing gear. One was to have a 100 hp two-row Gnome engine and the other a 70 hp Gnome like S.36. The larger of these, S.41, was completed in March 1912, and there is some evidence to show that two separate fuselages were supplied for it, one with wheels and the other with twin floats. Its first flight, on wheels, was made by Samson on 2 April, 1912, with a more extended flight on 5 April, when he reached 60 mph without difficulty.
  Apart from its more robust engine mounting, with front cross-bearer and round-topped cowl, S.41 was generally similar to S.36, except that the fuselage was slightly lower relative to the wings; this increased the ground clearance of the lower wing; as built, both the upper and lower centre-sections were open. S.41 was next converted into a seaplane, with two main floats pitched fairly close together and three streamlined air-bags, one under each wing-tip and one under the rear fuselage. The main floats were plain pontoons (steps were tried briefly but soon abandoned) and were placed well forward with a flat board between them to protect the airscrew. After satisfactory water take-off and alighting trials at Shellness, S.41 was flown to Sheerness, hoisted aboard H.M.S. Hibernia and taken to Weymouth for the Naval Review; on arrival on 3 May, Samson was lowered overboard in it and flew to a slipway at Portland, whence Longmore flew it on test next day; on 6 May Samson flew out 12 miles to meet the Fleet and escorted the flagship into Weymouth bay. There is no evidence that S.41 ever flew off the runway on Hibernia, which was used only by S.38, although the spare (wheeled) fuselage was available on board. On 10 May S.41 was hoisted aboard Hibernia and stowed on the runway ahead of S.38 and the ship sailed for Sheerness that night; early next morning, off Dover, Samson and S.41 were once more hoisted out and he took off, but had to come down off Westgate with engine trouble, being then taken in tow to Sheerness by the torpedo-boat Recruit.
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  On 3 June, 1912, having had an engine overhaul, S.41 was flown by Samson from Burntwick Island, Sheerness, to Harwich, to explore the Orwell and Stour estuaries and decide on the best site for a new seaplane station; after inspecting Shotley and Mistley, Samson recommended the Suffolk shore between Felixstowe Dock and Landguard Point, and this was how the Felixstowe Air Station, afterwards for so many years the home of the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, originated. Samson flew back to Sheerness without incident on 14 June and then supervised the installation of a float chassis on S.45, which was in the works being repaired after a forced landing in fog.
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  Both S.41 and S.45 were flown to Portsmouth for the Naval Review in July. Samson, flying solo in S.41, covered the 194 miles round the coast from Eastchurch to Eastney in 195 minutes, most of the way at 2,000 ft. Spenser Grey and Sheppard on S.45 had to alight at Newhaven for engine adjustments, but were not much delayed. Both flew over the Fleet on 9 July, and on 13 July Samson flew S.41 back to Dover, moored in the harbour overnight and, with E. R. A. O’Connor as passenger, flew on to Harwich next day, a total distance of 250 miles. On the strength of these performances, the Admiralty ordered two more 100 hp Gnome tractor seaplanes, with minor improvements but substantially similar to S.41. The 70 hp seaplane was not so successful, and on 25 July reappeared on wheels, when Spenser Grey flew it to Dover, returning to Eastchurch next day. Although its single-row engine was reliable by current standards, its single float made it difficult to handle on the water.
  On returning to Sheerness from Harwich on 27 August, after another of Samson’s coastal survey flights, S.41 was converted to a landplane for participation in the Army autumn manoeuvres in East Anglia. All three of the Naval Short tractors took part, Samson on S.41 setting out first on 5 September, but having to land near Bishop’s Stortford with engine trouble. Malone left Eastchurch in S.47 on 7 September and arrived before Samson at the rendezvous at Hardwicke, near Cambridge; finally, Gordon flew S.45 to Hardwicke on the 13th, and all three returned to Eastchurch on the 20th. The Triple-Tractor then went into the works for overhaul and the other two for modification and reconversion to seaplanes. S.41 emerged with little visible change except that its wings could now be folded back alongside the fuselage to economise deck or hangar space; the gaps in the upper and lower centreplanes were filled in and the rudder carried the new serial 10. S.45, however, was more drastically altered; the wings did not fold, but now had compensated ailerons acting up as well as down, and the extensions were braced by wires and kingposts instead of struts. The floats were unchanged, but the engine cowling was square-framed at the front, continuing the line of the fuselage longerons, with local bulges in the panels to afford clearance for the engine; a faired coaming was added to the top decking around the two cockpits, and the rudder carried the simplified serial 5. In this form S.45 became the prototype of three similar landplanes with dual controls (S.48-50), ordered by the War Office for use at the newly established Central Flying School at Upavon on Salisbury Plain. Both S.41 and S.45 were shipped to Carlingnose, near Rosyth on the Firth of Forth, which was opened as a temporary Naval Air Station on 2 October; it was not a good location for a seaplane base, and on 4 October, 5 capsized on landing after a flight by Lieut Gordon; it was towed ashore for repairs, but is not recorded as having flown again.
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S.41 - Span 50 ft (15-3 m); length 36 ft 6 in (1115 m) as landplane, 39 ft (11-9 m) as seaplane; area 450 sq ft (418 m2); empty weight 1,100 lb (500 kg); loaded weight 1,600 lb (726 kg); speed 60 mph (96-6 km/h); duration 5 hr.



Short Tractor Seaplanes (1912-14)

  When Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in the autumn of 1911 the Royal Naval Air Service already existed in embryo, but lacked the means and authority to achieve legitimate birth. The Admiralty had opted three years earlier to spend all its available resources on a rigid airship, leaving no provision for aviation in the naval estimates. The Mayfly, built at Barrow-in-Furness, had come to grief before it ever left its dock, and only the munificence of Frank McClean (through the Royal Aero Club) and the voluntary services of George Cockburn had combined to make free flying instruction available to the first four Naval volunteer pilots. The value of aeroplanes to the Navy had been conclusively proved by April 1912, when the first all-service Royal Flying Corps, with Naval and Military Wings, came into being. Although both Wings combined to operate the Central Flying School at Upavon, the Naval Flying School at Eastchurch was allowed to continue in parallel, with a strong emphasis on experimental flying and fleet co-operation. By the end of 1912 the feasibility of seaplanes had been accepted, and, when the Weymouth Review ended, the Board of Admiralty authorised the purchase of no fewer than 25 new seaplanes, an unprecedented expansion at that date. Not all were to be of British origin, but the products of Short Brothers had shown their merit and were hardly challenged at home except by Sopwith, who was a newcomer to the industry. So Eastchurch works became steadily busier, and the demand was almost exclusively for twin-float seaplanes, strongly advocated by Horace Short.
  The Short S.41, serial 10, had put up some notable performances in the hands of Charles Samson, and two more of the same type had been ordered, as already stated. These differed visibly from S.41 only in having an improved wing section, king-posts instead of strut bracing for the extensions, double-acting ailerons with return cables, and smaller lateral floats at the extreme wing-tips. They were ready for test by Easter 1913 and were ferried from Harty Ferry to Isle of Grain after being flown and passed by Gordon Bell on 23 April; on acceptance there, they received serials 20 and 21. Bell had become Short Brothers’ first staff test pilot, though only part-time, in December 1912, when Frank McClean found this duty too exacting to be continued on an honorary basis. Bell remained a freelance pilot, filling in with ferrying and demonstration flights for other firms, but gave Shorts first call on his services. On 13 June, 1913, he narrowly escaped death in a crash at Brooklands in a Martinsyde monoplane, in which his passenger, Capt J. R. B. Kennedy, was killed; later the Royal Aero Club censured him for reckless flying on this occasion, but he had learned his lesson and his certificate was not suspended.
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  Nos. 20 and 21 at Grain were used for experiments in wireless telegraphy, under the supervision of Lieut Raymond Fitzmaurice, who persuaded the Admiralty to buy four lightweight transmitters from Lucien Rouzet, engineer in charge at the Eiffel Tower, Paris. Flown by Babington, 20 could transmit messages up to 20 miles, and was the first aircraft to signal a salute to King George V, on his return from the Schelde in the royal yacht Victoria and Albert. In July, 20 was sent to Great Yarmouth, where it was to remain until scrapped in 1915. This station, on the unsheltered tidal beach of the South Denes, posed particularly difficult beaching problems, and 20 was used to pioneer the G.R.W. (Gregory-Riley-White) gear, comprising pairs of wheels which could be quickly attached to or removed from seaplane floats so that the aircraft could be taxied into or out of the sea under its own power. Both 20 and 21 suffered, like 10, from the unreliability of the two-row Gnomes, mainly due to the crude induction system from the carburettor via the hollow crankshaft and piston-crown inlet valves; this worked well enough in single-row engines, but was a haphazard arrangement for double-rows, where the rear cylinders always tended to receive too rich a mixture while the front ones were starved; inevitably the rear sparking plugs oiled up while the front ones overheated and misfired.
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  The production batch of 100 hp Gnome seaplanes for the Navy reached completion at the end of 1913. Somewhat lighter and of less wing area than 81, they had three-bay non-folding wings, being intended for coastal patrol from shore stations. The first of them, S.69, was test-flown by Gordon Bell on 4 and 7 January, 1914, C. R. Fairey being observer on the first occasion and Maurice Wright on the second, which included the delivery flight to Grain, where it received the serial 74. Bell tested S.70, the second of the batch, on 16 January, taking up both Fairey and Wright together on one flight. Four more (S.71-74) were tested during the last week of January, and the last (S.75) was flown straight to Grain without landing on 1 February. It is not clear from the records whether these seven aircraft were test flown from Leysdown or Sheerness, but the latter seems probable because there was a crane there for launching after rigging the floats and wings on the pierhead; the ‘folders’ could, of course, be taken from Eastchurch to the pier by road without dismantling. These seven non-folding seaplanes (74-80) were shared between the air stations at Grain (with detachments at Clacton and Westgate) and Dundee, and the latter provided a flight of four for the Spithead Royal Naval Review on 18-22 July, 1914. On the same occasion were flown four of the latest 160 hp ‘folders’ (S.82-85, serials 119-122'), which had gone into service at Grain in May and June. Their double-row engines still gave trouble and old No. 10 had been fitted with a similar 140 hp Gnome in May for Samson to experiment with; overheating had been reduced by fitting large vertical exhaust stacks in the tops of the cowlings, discharging over the upper wings clear of the crews; in true nautical style, these funnels were decorated with one, two, three and four white rings to identify the four ‘folders’ which took part in the Review. These four and a fifth (S.86, 186) differed from the first four in having longer fuselages and larger fins to match their three-bay wings of increased span, but 89 and 90 had three-bay wings of the same span as the two-bay 81 and 82 and retained the original fuselage length and fin area. Four more non-folding seaplanes similar to 74 were assembled at Eastchurch in July 1914, apparently from spares, and became 180-183; of these, 181 had an 80 hp Gnome and the others 100 hp Gnome-Monosoupapes.
  On 15 June, 1914, the Calshot seaplane station, commanded by Longmore, had been inspected by the Board of Admiralty, including Prince Louis of Battenberg (First Sea Lord) and Winston Churchill (First Lord). The latter asked Longmore whether torpedo-dropping experiments already started by Flt Lieut Hyde-Thomson at Calshot could be speeded up; Longmore said they could if he were permitted to retain a certain 160 hp Short seaplane (which was 121), when he would undertake at an early date to carry and release a 14-in torpedo weighing 810 lb, which he had not so far been able to do with the Sopwith seaplane specially built for this task. This was agreed and (in Oswald Short’s own words):
  ‘Horace at once put in hand two new main float cross-bars, bent upward in the middle to allow the torpedo to be swung between the main floats clear of the water, and fitted a quick release catch [designed by Hyde-Thomson] to release the torpedo. With the late Gordon Bell, who was our test pilot, and Mr Bibby, one of our foremen, I went to Calshot Seaplane Base and erected the machine in a few hours. As I was talking to [Longmore] at his office door he received a telegram. He opened it and, having read it, remarked “We were nearer to war in 1911 than we are now”, but I did not know to what he was referring. ... By the time the machine was ready to take off it was already dusk. There was much activity too with the Sopwith torpedoplane which had been specially constructed for the purpose. It was at the water’s edge and mechanics were working on the engine. At Bell’s first attempt to take off, the Short seaplane did not gain enough speed even to straighten out the ailerons. I heard one of the rival mechanics say, “Safe as a house!” Gordon Bell returned to shore and reported one cylinder missing; this was soon put right and at the next attempt the seaplane took off, the torpedo was dropped and a magnesium flare attached to it enabled it to be found and picked up. It was now dark. This was the first torpedo taken up and launched from a seaplane in Great Britain, only a few days before war broke out.’
  In fact, the date was 27 July, 1914, and from this account it is clear that, even though Longmore flew 121 with a torpedo next day, it is to Gordon Bell that the credit of having made the first drop should go. With such a load the aircraft was flown solo and could only carry fuel for about 30 minutes; even so, it was loaded well beyond the stress limits permissible even in 1914 for regular service, so it was far from being an operational weapon; in spite of this, the other four 160 hp ‘folders’ were later equipped with torpedo gear and carried on Engadine, one of three converted cross-Channel steamers, but no torpedo was ever launched by them in action. In March 1915, 120-122 were shipped to Durban on the armed liner Laconia and thence taken on 23 April to Niororo Island; there they were intended to assist the Navy in flushing the German light cruiser Konigsberg from deep cover in the Rufiji delta, but their performance in that hot, humid climate was totally inadequate.
  The unreliability of the double-row Gnome led to alternatives being sought; in the case of the 100 hp seaplanes the remedy was found by replacing the original ten-cylinder two-row Gnomes by nine-cylinder single-row Gnome-Monosoupapes, and this may have been done at Grain before entry into service. An alternative to the 160 hp Gnome was more difficult to find, but the new range of water-cooled radial Canton-Unne engines produced in France by Salmson seemed promising. They were to be built under licence in England by the Dudbridge Ironworks of Stroud, Glos., and were already in use in the larger Farman, Sopwith and Wight seaplanes.
  In September 1913 the Admiralty ordered two similar prototype Short seaplanes, one with the single-row Salmson of 135 hp and the other, slightly larger, with the double-row version rated at 200 hp. These were built at Eastchurch during March and April 1914 and resembled the 160 hp ‘folder’, but had stronger two-bay wings with strut-braced extensions and inversely tapered ailerons. Entirely by coincidence, the smaller seaplane was allotted the serial 135 and the larger 136; they were delivered to Grain in July and September 1914 respectively. On Christmas Eve they formed part of the complement of nine seaplanes, seven of them Shorts, aboard the three carriers Engadine, Empress and Riviera, which sailed with an escort from Harwich in an attempt to bomb the Zeppelin base at Cuxhaven. Early on Christmas Day all seven Shorts, which included also the 160 hp ‘folders’ 119 and 120 and three of a later class of 100 hp Mono-Gnome ‘folders’ {811, 814 and 815), got off the water with their bombs at a point 12 miles north of Heligoland; they failed to find the airship shed, but attacked other targets along the Kiel canal; three of them, including 136, returned to their flotilla after 3 hours, but 135 had engine failure and the pilot, Flt Lieut F. E. T. Hewlett (flying solo), was rescued by a Dutch fishing vessel, interned in Holland and later repatriated as a ‘shipwrecked mariner’. The other three seaplanes alighted near Norderney and their pilots were picked up by the submarine E11, but the aircraft had to be sunk to avoid capture. 136 was later allotted to the newly commissioned seaplane-carrier Ark Royal, which sailed from Harwich on 1 February, 1915, for the Dardanelles, arriving at Tenedos on 17 February. 136 was reported to be ‘the most valuable and only rough-weather seaplane on board the ship’, but was shot at by Turkish gunfire during a reconnaissance on 27 April, which damaged the floats and chassis and caused it to sink on alighting; it was hoisted aboard and patched up, but the engine never recovered from its immersion, and 136 had to be condemned on this account.

RNAS 20-21 - Span 50 ft (15-3 m); length 39 ft (11-9 m); area 450 sq ft (41-8 m2); empty weight 1,100 lb (500 kg); loaded weight 1,600 lb (726 kg); speed 60 mph (96-6 km/h); duration 5 hr.
Commander Samson in S.41 at Dover on 13 July, 1912, during his flight from Portsmouth to Harwich.
S.38 and S.41 stowed on the runway of H.M.S. Hibernia at Weymouth in May 1912.
RNAS 20 coming ashore at Great Yarmouth during trials of the G.R.W. beaching gear in July 1914.
S.41 as a landplane with experimental folding wings at Eastchurch in November 1913.
Short Improved S.41
Early Short Monoplanes (1912)

  In the summer of 1911 E. V. Sassoon’s Universal Aviation Co Ltd of Brooklands produced their one and only monoplane, a close copy of the Bleriot Type XI, from which it differed in appearance only in its semicircular elevators and the overhung mounting of its 50 hp Gnome rotary engine. It was flown in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race by H. J. D. Astley, who started well but dropped out at Harrogate. Later in the year it was entered for the 1911 British Michelin Cup competition, for which purpose it was fitted with a 40 hp water-cooled A.B.C. engine; it made only a brief appearance at Brooklands during October, again flown by Astley, and soon afterwards the firm went bankrupt and its assets were sold; the monoplane, by then nicknamed the Birdling, was bought by Frank McClean and taken to Eastchurch, where it became No. 9 in his private list. He had it overhauled and partly rebuilt by Short Brothers, and with a new airscrew it was found to perform quite well. McClean lent it to the Naval Flying School, and Samson and Longmore began flying it regularly in November 1911. Samson was very keen on it, in spite of several shortcomings, but on 20 July, 1912, Spenser Grey taxied it across a rough patch and several longerons broke; its remains were deposited by Frank McClean on loan to the Science Museum, where a permanent aviation exhibition opened in January 1913.
  Horace Short took note of Samson’s early enthusiasm for the Birdling, and in January 1912 built a completely new 50 hp Gnome-engined monoplane of similar but more robust design. The Short monoplane had warping wings of the Bleriot pattern and a rectangular cambered tailplane with a rear-hinged elevator. The engine was in line with the leading edge of the wing on an overhung mounting attached to a strong rigid chassis, with truncated skids carrying a pair of wheels on a rubber-sprung cross-axle; the rear fuselage carried a long sprung tail skid and the rudder was square with a small forward balance area. It was first flown by Samson on 24 February, 1912; he remained up for an hour and reported on landing that it needed no adjustments; his speed at 1,400 ft was 65 mph. At first it was flown with the rear fuselage uncovered, in the usual Bleriot style, and was allotted the temporary Naval serial M2, which was painted on the rudder. It was taken to Weymouth for the Naval Review in May 1912, and Samson flew it from the flying field at Lodmoor on 4 and 6 May, but damaged it on landing after the second flight; it had by then had its rear fuselage covered, and this may have altered its handling. It was repaired at Eastchurch and was flying there again on 9 July, with Lieut Gordon at the controls; it was again flown on 14 September, by Wilfred Parke; after then no more is heard of it and it was probably condemned, along with the Birdling, not because of the ‘monoplane ban’, which did not apply to Naval pilots, but rather because of a general mistrust of warping wings as speeds increased. It is believed to have been allotted serial 14 in the November 1912 numbering scheme.
  The second monoplane built by Short Brothers was ordered by the Admiralty as serial 12, and was an extension of the earlier successful experiments with twin engines and with deck launching. Unfortunately no drawings or photographs of it have survived, and available descriptions are sketchy. It had rigidly braced wings with ailerons, and was described as being intended ‘for water work only’, although all its recorded flights were made from land. The two 70 hp Gnome engines drove a tractor airscrew and a propeller, mounted, as in the Tandem-Twin biplane, at each end of a short nacelle containing a central cockpit with two seats side-by-side; both occupants were exposed to a fierce castor-oil-laden slipstream, which soon earned the monoplane the nickname of Double-Dirty. The tail surfaces were mounted on open braced booms of normal pusher type, and the landing gear carried streamlined pneumatic flotation bags, which, however, would not have permitted take-off from the sea; thus the intention must have been to fly it off a runway on board ship, as had been so successfully demonstrated with S.38. Samson flew the Double-Dirty for the first time on 21 October, 1912, and made two more flights on the 23rd, with E. Featherstone Briggs as passenger on the last occasion. On 5 November Samson flew it to Isle of Grain, where he landed and flew back to Eastchurch the same day; he flew it twice more that week, but then it went back into the works for modification and seems not to have reappeared or been accepted for Naval service. No doubt the modifications to suit it for stowage aboard ship included the provision of folding wings (patent No. 16,973 of 1913), and it seems to have been Short Brothers’ counterpart of the Bristol-Burney hydrovane flying-boat, with the same operational requirements in view. Horace Short’s own interest in hydrovanes is shown by patents Nos. 22,407 and 22,408 of 1911, but his proposal to scoop up water into an aft ballast tank while alighting, to counteract the overturning moment of the front hydrovanes, seems to have been more ingenious than practical.

Span 29 ft 3 in (8 9 m); length 25 ft (7-6 m); area 165 ft (15 4 m2); weights not recorded; speed 55 mph (88-6 km/h); no data available for Twin Monoplane.
Commander Samson about to take off from Eastchurch in M2.
Short Monoplane
Short Tractor Biplanes (1910-12)

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  The next line of experiment was the S.47 Triple-Tractor with two separate 50 hp Gnomes mounted in tandem in a tractor fuselage extended forward, with the front engine driving a direct-coupled airscrew and the rear engine, facing backwards so as to rotate the opposite way, driving wing-mounted, counter-rotating airscrews through Wright-type chain gears; the Triple-Tractor had a single cockpit with two seats side-by-side. Frank McClean flew S.47 for the first time on 24 July, 1912, and Lieut C. J. L’Estrange Malone flew its official acceptance tests on 22 August, when it received serial T4. It performed well apart from its propensity for generating heat under its 16 ft long cowling, which earned it the soubriquet of Field Kitchen. It was used for a variety of experiments, including the early trials of the first Rouzet wireless transmitter, whose signals were picked up at a range of 30 miles.
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S.47 Triple-Tractor - Span 48 ft (14-6 m); length 41 ft (12-5 m); area 500 sq ft (46-5 tn2); weights not recorded; speed 60 mph (96-6 km/h).
Horace Short with S.47 at Eastchurch in August 1912.
Short S.47 Triple Tractor
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  Gordon Bell remained a freelance pilot, filling in with ferrying and demonstration flights for other firms, but gave Shorts first call on his services. On 13 June, 1913, he narrowly escaped death in a crash at Brooklands in a Martinsyde monoplane, in which his passenger, Capt J. R. B. Kennedy, was killed; later the Royal Aero Club censured him for reckless flying on this occasion, but he had learned his lesson and his certificate was not suspended.
  Before this mishap, however, he had test-flown another new Short seaplane, a private-venture design exhibited at the Olympia show in February 1913. It incorporated many of Horace Short’s latest design features, such as manganese-steel tube struts instead of wood, improved main and tail floats, seats for two passengers side-by-side in front of the pilot and turning gear for starting the engine from the cockpit. The single-row 80 hp Gnome engine was neatly cowled and was carried on front and back bearings, with an under-shield intended to protect the engine from sea-water, although this caused overheating and was soon removed. The wings, though of improved profile and construction, did not fold and their extensions were strut-braced; also the ailerons (on the upper wing only) were of the trailing uncompensated type. On acceptance, this seaplane became serial 42 and was taken to Leven, on the Firth of Forth, in July 1913; while there it was flown by Gordon, Travers and Babington. Its floats were somewhat less robust than needed in tidal waters and, after having them stove-in more than once, 42 was converted into a landplane by the substitution of skids with wheels on a cross axle. A small fixed fin had been added, and with the floats removed 42 became a ‘lodger’ at the R.F.C. establishment at Montrose; during 1914 it returned to Eastchurch, whence it was taken to France in August with Samson’s Eastchurch Squadron. A month later it was the sole aeroplane possessed by Headquarters Flight, Morbecque, where on 28 September, 1914, Samson wrote it off in a tree when its engine failed just after take-off.
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RNAS 42 - Span 48 ft (14-6 m); length 35 ft (10-6 m); area 390 sq ft (36-2 tn2); empty weight 1,200 lb (545 kg); loaded weight 1,970 lb (895 kg); speed 65 mph (104-6 km/h).
Short Tractor Seaplanes (1912-14)

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  After 81’s early debut the next tractor seaplane due out of Eastchurch was S.68, Frank McClean’s entry for the 1913 Daily Mail Circuit of Britain seaplane race. It was basically similar to the 100 hp Gnome seaplanes already in production, but was to have a 100 hp Green water-cooled six-in-line engine. Its wing-span was over 60 ft, and at first the lower wing was shorter than the upper, but later it appeared necessary to reduce the wing-loading, so a new set of wings with equal upper and lower spans, reduced gap and slightly wider chord was made. By mid-August the aircraft was complete, but the engine vibrated badly, causing the radiator to leak and the water to boil away so quickly that, on one engine run, a piston seized and a new cylinder was needed. Eventually it was flown for about half an hour, but found to be too slow and under-powered for racing, so the entry was scratched at the last moment.
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S.68 - Span 61 ft (18-6 m); length 40 ft (12-2m); area 600 sq ft (55-8 m2), later 660 sq ft (614 m2); weights and speed not recorded.
Short Pusher Biplanes (1910-14)

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  Early in 1913 Frank McClean and an explorer, J. H. Spottiswoode, decided to organise a seaplane expedition up the River Nile to see the Aswan Dam and investigate the cataracts between there and Khartoum. Realising that high power and low wing-loading were essential for take-off in the hot Sudanese climate, McClean had his old school biplane S.32 rebuilt to the S.38-type standard, but with an extra bay inserted on each side in both upper and lower wings, increasing the span to 70 ft 6 in; the extra bay and overhung extension formed a single unit, with dihedral and taper on both upper and lower wings. This machine, though intended as a seaplane ultimately, was first flown at Eastchurch in May 1913 as a landplane, using its original two-wheeled crossaxle undercarriage and a 70 hp Gnome engine; it seems to have incorporated components discarded from other early biplanes, including S.33 and S.34, which has confused its provenance, but it evidently contained more parts from S.32 than from elsewhere. With a wing-loading of little more than 2 Ib/sq ft, it flew easily but was very slow and could make no headway against any appreciable wind, so it was obviously unfit for development, even with twice the power; furthermore, its tandem nacelle provided too little stowage space for the expedition’s needs. So McClean ordered a new seaplane specially designed for the purpose, with a wide nacelle having two pairs of seats side-by-side; this was the Nile Seaplane, S.80. It had constant-chord wings of 67 ft span, 5 ft chord and 5 ft 3 in gap, with strut-braced extensions, parallel ailerons and folding gear; to clear the uprights in the tail-boom structure when folded, the upper wings had small hinged flaps in the trailing edge resembling inset ailerons. The two-row 160 hp Gnome engine drove a massive two-bladed propeller, and the two main pontoon floats were carried on three pairs of struts beneath the nacelle; twin air-bags were attached under the lower tail-booms, and these were far enough apart to render wing-tip floats unnecessary for lateral stability on the water.
  S.80 was first flown as a seaplane at Leysdown on 2 October, 1913, by Gordon Bell; on 19 November, with Frank McClean as pilot, it proved its weight-lifting ability by taking off from Harty Ferry with Alec Ogilvie, Horace Short, Charles Samson and Ivor Courtney as passengers. McClean asked Samson to be his co-pilot on the Nile venture so as to have at least one Gnome expert in the crew, but Samson could not get leave, and Ogilvie took his place. S.80 was shipped to Alexandria in the Corsican Prince; it arrived on 27 December and was re-erected at the Naval Dockyard by McClean, Ogilvie and Horace Short and their mechanic Gus Smith, assisted by Anna McClean, who had charge of the party’s domestic affairs. On 2 January, 1914, the seaplane was launched by being carried bodily into the water by a gang of Dockyard workers, and next day McClean, Ogilvie, Horace Short and Smith flew the 160 miles to Cairo in just under three hours, but this was the limit of its range, and Spottiswoode had to lay down fuel dumps at 120-mile intervals all along the route, which fortunately kept close to the railway except for the gap between Wadi Haifa and Aswan. After a few days the party started off again, but soon began to have trouble with overheating of the rear bank of cylinders, and after take-off from the Aswan Dam the performance fell off so quickly in the first 40 miles that McClean returned to the Dam, mostly on the water, and the engine was found to require four new cylinders; these were cabled for from Paris, and a fresh start was made on 16 February, when the seaplane flew 192 miles up-river to Wadi Haifa, on the Sudan frontier. From there McClean had been recommended to follow the railway direct across the desert to Abu Hamed, substituting wheels for floats, but he preferred to stay with the river round the Dongola Bend in order to see the second, third and fourth cataracts. After two days’ rest the seaplane was flown, with two refuelling stops, 245 miles to Argo, where McClean found they were being pursued by a gigantic ‘haboob’ and had to alight abruptly, breaking off the port lower wing-tip. This was patched up and the flight continued to Merowe, where the Governor of Dongola Province, Col Jackson, entertained the party in royal style; after several more stops with minor engine trouble they reached Abu Hamed, but an hour (45 miles) later an oil pump broke and they had to come down on the rock-strewn river and taxi three miles to Shereik, where they beached and encamped till a spare pump could be sent from Atbara by rail to Shereik station, six miles away. Next day they had flown for only an hour when both oil pumps failed together, and in the ensuing ‘dead-stick’ landing one float and two of its struts were damaged; local tribesmen beached the machine near Gananita Island, with a station only three miles away, and the Sudan Railway sent a wagon-load of spares from Atbara, together with a carpenter and a mechanic. After ten days the engine had been rebuilt and damage to the floats and tail-booms repaired; they left Gananita on 14 March and arrived at Atbara in under an hour, but next day, after flying a similar distance to Kabushia, a connecting-rod broke and wrecked the engine, which had to be taken out yet again and sent back to the railway workshops at Atbara. On 22 March they took off once more, and this time, with the help of a strong tailwind, reached Khartoum in under two hours; after a day giving joy-rides at Khartoum S.80 was dismantled and crated for return to England via Port Sudan and the Suez Canal, somewhat to the relief of all concerned.
  At Eastchurch it was found that the centreplane top rear spar was fractured, so the seaplane was extensively rebuilt, with new wings, new tail-booms slightly convergent in plan (bringing the rudders closer together) and a new tailplane of reduced chord. The front elevator (which McClean agreed did no useful work but was there ‘for company’ at his request) was removed and the nacelle was revised to a dual-control Sociable layout, with the fuel tank lowered into the space formerly occupied by the two rear seats. There was a proposal to adapt S.80 as a torpedo-carrier for H.M.S. Hermes, but this plan was dropped; McClean flew it again for the first time at Harty Ferry on 13 July, and later made several trips with passengers to Westgate and back. Finally, when war was seen to be imminent, he flew it across to the Isle of Grain on 1 August as a gift to the Admiralty, and four days later was himself gazetted in the R.N.A.S. as a Flight Lieutenant, afterwards commanding the Naval Flying School at Eastchurch. In October 1914, S.80 was re-engined with a more reliable 100 hp Gnome-Monosoupape driving a four-bladed propeller, also acquiring a central rectangular fixed fin and larger rudders; it carried early Naval red circles on the wings but no other markings, although the serial 905 was allotted. It remained at Grain in 1915, but could not take off from calm water in zero wind with its lower-powered engine, so it was only used for seaplane practice by aeroplane pilots. McClean also presented his 70 hp wide-span S.32 to the Admiralty; this became 904 in the R.N.A.S., and after being rebuilt with standard 52-ft-span wings and double landing wheels was used as a trainer at Hendon.
  Short Brothers’ final pusher design was a twin-float seaplane, S.81, generally similar to S.80, but with rubber-sprung floats (introduced by Oswald Short) and a strengthened nacelle designed by the armament specialist Arthur Camden Pratt to mount a 1 1/2-pounder Vickers shell-firing gun. It was a logical development of the Maxim-armed 66 and was ordered specifically for aerial gunnery trials at Calshot by Lieut Clark-Hall. S.81 had a 160 hp Gnome and four-bladed propeller, also wing-tip floats were provided because the raised centre of gravity due to the gun increased the tendency to roll while moored out or taxying. S.81 was first flown in the spring of 1914 at Calshot; the gunnery trials were not very successful, and the gun was later passed to the R.F.C. for testing over land, but S.81 received the Naval serial 126 and took part in the Spithead Naval Review in July. Later it was sent to Great Yarmouth, where in March 1915 it was equipped with a 6-pounder Davis recoilless gun, with which scheduled trials were successfully completed in April, but this unwieldy weapon was not adopted for active service, being outclassed by the advent of synchronised machine-guns which could more effectively be installed in high-performance tractor biplanes. Although S.81 was the last pusher biplane built by Short Brothers, the S.38-type dual-control school biplane was produced by sub-contractors throughout 1914 and 1915, 12 being built by Pemberton-Billing Ltd at the Supermarine works at Woolston, Southampton, and 24 by White & Thompson Ltd and their successors The Norman Thompson Flight Co Ltd at Middleton-on-Sea, Bognor, Sussex; the last were delivered in June 1916, and all were flown at the Eastchurch and Chingford Naval Flying Schools until superseded by Avro 504s.

S.80-81 - Span 67 ft (20-4 m); length 33 ft 9 in (10-2 m); area 540 sq ft (50-2 m2); empty weight 2,200 lb (1,000 kg); loaded weight 3,600 lb (1,635 kg); speed 60 mph (96-6 km/h).
S.80 beached for engine repairs during Frank McClean’s flight up the Nile in 1914.
Frank McClean and Alec Ogilvie in the Nile Seaplane, February 1914
S.79 in its final form as dual-control trainer 905 at Grain in 1915.
S.81, with 1 1/2-pounder Vickers gun, at Calshot during the Naval Review in July 1914.
Short S.80 Nile, S.80 (Rebuilt), S.81 Gun Carrier
Short Tractor Seaplanes (1912-14)

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  Gordon Bell’s accident came at a time when important new designs were taking shape at Eastchurch, and his place was filled temporarily by Sydney Pickles, also a well-known freelance test pilot. Three new types of tractor seaplane were on the stocks, two for the Admiralty and one as Frank McClean’s private entry in the 1913 Circuit of Britain seaplane race. First to be completed was a large patrol seaplane, with a two-row 14-cylinder Gnome engine of 160 hp. Two of these had been ordered, plus seven with 100 hp Gnomes. They were developed from Horace Short’s original 42, modified in accordance with naval requirements resulting from the previous year’s service trials. Wing area was increased, stronger and larger rubber-sprung floats gave a reserve of buoyancy and the balanced rudders had triangular fixed fins in front. The roomy front cockpit provided ample stowage for wireless and other gear, and the pilot occupied the rear cockpit. The high aspect ratio wings were of the latest type with steel-tube struts, originally in two bays, with strut-braced upper extensions and uncompensated wide-span ailerons. The first seaplane with 160 hp Gnome (S.63, serial 81) was accepted after test flights by Samson (in Bell’s absence) on 17 July, 1913, and taken aboard H.M.S. Hermes, the Navy’s new depot ship, at Sheerness. Samson continued to fly 81 throughout the Naval manoeuvres, which lasted from 24 July till 1 August, with Fitzmaurice as his observer; Hermes was based on Great Yarmouth, and 81 was lowered overside whenever the rather heavy swell permitted, and flew successfully on 26, 27 and 31 July, reporting back the positions of ships by means of a Rouzet transmitter. On 1 August, 81 flew about 50 miles out, but on the return trip part of the cowling came adrift and cut several of the sparking-plug leads, stopping the engine; Hermes came to the rescue and found the drifting seaplane near its last reported position. It appears that 81 had been fitted with folding wings before taking part in this exercise, but they could only have been simply hinged, needing man-handling and locking from outside. It was decided soon afterwards that Hermes should be permanently equipped as a seaplane carrier, and for this purpose wing-folding became a necessity for all but the smallest scouts carried aboard her. The second 160 hp seaplane (S.64, serial 82) was completed in March 1914, and was followed by two more (S.65-6, 89 and 90), after a mechanical folding gear, operated from the cockpit, had been devised and tested. The development of this gear, covered by patents Nos. 1,792, 15,727 and 28,610 of 1913, was worked out on the original S.41, which was extensively rebuilt and reappeared, bearing its old serial 10, in November 1913, being among the 22 aeroplanes inspected at Eastchurch by Winston Churchill on 29 November. It had its original two-wheeled landing gear with skids, and the original fuselage had been reconditioned, with reinforced engine bearers, but the wings and tail surfaces were completely new and resembled those of 81, with two bays and steel struts; the wings were folded back for inspection by the First Lord, and it was flown by Gordon Bell later in the day.
  Gordon Bell had made a good recovery and returned to duty at Eastchurch during September, just in time to take the place of his erstwhile deputy Sydney Pickles, who, by an unhappy coincidence, had been the victim of an accident similar to Bell’s. This time it was not due to reckless flying, for the rudder-bar became jammed on the Champel biplane he was flying at Hendon on 20 September, causing him to spin in out of control; this time, too, his passenger (Mrs de Beauvoir Stocks) did not die, although her injuries prevented her from resuming her career as one of the few British women pilots of that time. Pickles himself returned to Eastchurch in April 1914, intending then to fly only his own Bleriot for pleasure, but five months later he volunteered for war service, and thereafter became a much sought-after seaplane test pilot, doing valuable work at Rochester and elsewhere. Rochester works were built between October 1913 and January 1914 on a site beside the Medway upstream from the bridge, this location being chosen partly because of the difficulty of testing seaplanes built at Eastchurch (they had to be taken along narrow roads to either Sheerness or Leysdown and there rigged before launching) but more because of the plentiful labour available in the Chatham district.
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  The production batch of 100 hp Gnome seaplanes for the Navy reached completion at the end of 1913. Somewhat lighter and of less wing area than 81, they had three-bay non-folding wings, being intended for coastal patrol from shore stations. The first of them, S.69, was test-flown by Gordon Bell on 4 and 7 January, 1914, C. R. Fairey being observer on the first occasion and Maurice Wright on the second, which included the delivery flight to Grain, where it received the serial 74. Bell tested S.70, the second of the batch, on 16 January, taking up both Fairey and Wright together on one flight. Four more (S.71-74) were tested during the last week of January, and the last (S.75) was flown straight to Grain without landing on 1 February. It is not clear from the records whether these seven aircraft were test flown from Leysdown or Sheerness, but the latter seems probable because there was a crane there for launching after rigging the floats and wings on the pierhead; the ‘folders’ could, of course, be taken from Eastchurch to the pier by road without dismantling. These seven non-folding seaplanes (74-80) were shared between the air stations at Grain (with detachments at Clacton and Westgate) and Dundee, and the latter provided a flight of four for the Spithead Royal Naval Review on 18-22 July, 1914. On the same occasion were flown four of the latest 160 hp ‘folders’ (S.82-85, serials 119-122'), which had gone into service at Grain in May and June. Their double-row engines still gave trouble and old No. 10 had been fitted with a similar 140 hp Gnome in May for Samson to experiment with; overheating had been reduced by fitting large vertical exhaust stacks in the tops of the cowlings, discharging over the upper wings clear of the crews; in true nautical style, these funnels were decorated with one, two, three and four white rings to identify the four ‘folders’ which took part in the Review. These four and a fifth (S.86, 186) differed from the first four in having longer fuselages and larger fins to match their three-bay wings of increased span, but 89 and 90 had three-bay wings of the same span as the two-bay 81 and 82 and retained the original fuselage length and fin area. Four more non-folding seaplanes similar to 74 were assembled at Eastchurch in July 1914, apparently from spares, and became 180-183; of these, 181 had an 80 hp Gnome and the others 100 hp Gnome-Monosoupapes.
  On 15 June, 1914, the Calshot seaplane station, commanded by Longmore, had been inspected by the Board of Admiralty, including Prince Louis of Battenberg (First Sea Lord) and Winston Churchill (First Lord). The latter asked Longmore whether torpedo-dropping experiments already started by Flt Lieut Hyde-Thomson at Calshot could be speeded up; Longmore said they could if he were permitted to retain a certain 160 hp Short seaplane (which was 121), when he would undertake at an early date to carry and release a 14-in torpedo weighing 810 lb, which he had not so far been able to do with the Sopwith seaplane specially built for this task. This was agreed and (in Oswald Short’s own words):
  ‘Horace at once put in hand two new main float cross-bars, bent upward in the middle to allow the torpedo to be swung between the main floats clear of the water, and fitted a quick release catch [designed by Hyde-Thomson] to release the torpedo. With the late Gordon Bell, who was our test pilot, and Mr Bibby, one of our foremen, I went to Calshot Seaplane Base and erected the machine in a few hours. As I was talking to [Longmore] at his office door he received a telegram. He opened it and, having read it, remarked “We were nearer to war in 1911 than we are now”, but I did not know to what he was referring. ... By the time the machine was ready to take off it was already dusk. There was much activity too with the Sopwith torpedoplane which had been specially constructed for the purpose. It was at the water’s edge and mechanics were working on the engine. At Bell’s first attempt to take off, the Short seaplane did not gain enough speed even to straighten out the ailerons. I heard one of the rival mechanics say, “Safe as a house!” Gordon Bell returned to shore and reported one cylinder missing; this was soon put right and at the next attempt the seaplane took off, the torpedo was dropped and a magnesium flare attached to it enabled it to be found and picked up. It was now dark. This was the first torpedo taken up and launched from a seaplane in Great Britain, only a few days before war broke out.’
  In fact, the date was 27 July, 1914, and from this account it is clear that, even though Longmore flew 121 with a torpedo next day, it is to Gordon Bell that the credit of having made the first drop should go. With such a load the aircraft was flown solo and could only carry fuel for about 30 minutes; even so, it was loaded well beyond the stress limits permissible even in 1914 for regular service, so it was far from being an operational weapon; in spite of this, the other four 160 hp ‘folders’ were later equipped with torpedo gear and carried on Engadine, one of three converted cross-Channel steamers, but no torpedo was ever launched by them in action. In March 1915, 120-122 were shipped to Durban on the armed liner Laconia and thence taken on 23 April to Niororo Island; there they were intended to assist the Navy in flushing the German light cruiser Konigsberg from deep cover in the Rufiji delta, but their performance in that hot, humid climate was totally inadequate.
  The unreliability of the double-row Gnome led to alternatives being sought; in the case of the 100 hp seaplanes the remedy was found by replacing the original ten-cylinder two-row Gnomes by nine-cylinder single-row Gnome-Monosoupapes, and this may have been done at Grain before entry into service. An alternative to the 160 hp Gnome was more difficult to find, but the new range of water-cooled radial Canton-Unne engines produced in France by Salmson seemed promising. They were to be built under licence in England by the Dudbridge Ironworks of Stroud, Glos., and were already in use in the larger Farman, Sopwith and Wight seaplanes.
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RNAS 74-80 - Span 57 ft (17-35 m); length 39 ft (11-9 tn); area 580 sq ft (54 m2); empty weight 2,100 lb (952 kg); loaded weight 2,700 lb (1,225 kg); max speed 65 mph (104-6 km/h); duration 5 hr.
RNAS 81-82 - Span 56 ft (17-05 m); length 40 ft (12 2 m); area 550 sq ft (51-1 m2); empty weight 2,400 lb (1,089 kg); loaded weight 3,100 lb (1,407 kg); max speed 78 mph (125-5 km/h); duration 5 hr.
RNAS 89-90 - Span 61 ft (18-58 m); length 40 ft 6 in (12-3 tn); area 610 sq ft (56-7 m2); empty weight 2,500 lb (1,133 kg); loaded weight 3,400 lb (1,542 kg); max speed 78 mph (125 5 km/h); duration 5 hr.
RNAS 119-122, 186 - Span 67 ft (20-4 m); length 42 ft (12 8 m); area 690 sq ft (64-2 m2); empty weight 3,050 lb (1,385 kg); loaded weight 3,500 lb (1,589 kg); max speed 78 mph (125-5 km/h); duration 5 hr.
Non-folding 100 hp seaplane, RNAS 75, at Spithead in July 1914.
Winston Churchill as Commander Samson's passenger in RNAS 76 at Grain in 1914.
RNAS 82, the second two-bay ‘folder’, at Spithead in July 1914.
Gordon Bell flying RNAS 89, the first three-bay ‘folder’, at Leysdown in March 1914.
Three-bay Short Folder No 120 at the RNAS Station, Westgate, in about September 1914. It had previously been at Calshot where it had been flown on 21 July with a dummy torpedo, weighing little more than 500 lb; as far as is known it never flew with the real 810 lb weapon, but this was said to have been due to a recalcitrant engine. No 120, carrying bombs and flown by Flt-Lt Arnold John Miley RN, accompanied the raid against Cuxhaven on Christmas Day, 1914.
One of the last batch of 160 hp three-bay ‘folders’ newly launched at Sheerness Pier in July 1914.
121, the first British seaplane to launch a torpedo; here seen at Grain in 1915.
816, one of the eight Improved Type 74 seaplanes built at Rochester in 1914; they were basically Type 830, with 100 hp Mono-Gnomes substituted because of a shortage of Salmsons, and smaller fins.
Short Folder (Two Bay)
Short Tractor Seaplanes (1912-14)

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  In September 1913 the Admiralty ordered two similar prototype Short seaplanes, one with the single-row Salmson of 135 hp and the other, slightly larger, with the double-row version rated at 200 hp. These were built at Eastchurch during March and April 1914 and resembled the 160 hp ‘folder’, but had stronger two-bay wings with strut-braced extensions and inversely tapered ailerons. Entirely by coincidence, the smaller seaplane was allotted the serial 135 and the larger 136; they were delivered to Grain in July and September 1914 respectively. On Christmas Eve they formed part of the complement of nine seaplanes, seven of them Shorts, aboard the three carriers Engadine, Empress and Riviera, which sailed with an escort from Harwich in an attempt to bomb the Zeppelin base at Cuxhaven. Early on Christmas Day all seven Shorts, which included also the 160 hp ‘folders’ 119 and 120 and three of a later class of 100 hp Mono-Gnome ‘folders’ {811, 814 and 815), got off the water with their bombs at a point 12 miles north of Heligoland; they failed to find the airship shed, but attacked other targets along the Kiel canal; three of them, including 136, returned to their flotilla after 3 hours, but 135 had engine failure and the pilot, Flt Lieut F. E. T. Hewlett (flying solo), was rescued by a Dutch fishing vessel, interned in Holland and later repatriated as a ‘shipwrecked mariner’. The other three seaplanes alighted near Norderney and their pilots were picked up by the submarine E11, but the aircraft had to be sunk to avoid capture. 136 was later allotted to the newly commissioned seaplane-carrier Ark Royal, which sailed from Harwich on 1 February, 1915, for the Dardanelles, arriving at Tenedos on 17 February. 136 was reported to be ‘the most valuable and only rough-weather seaplane on board the ship’, but was shot at by Turkish gunfire during a reconnaissance on 27 April, which damaged the floats and chassis and caused it to sink on alighting; it was hoisted aboard and patched up, but the engine never recovered from its immersion, and 136 had to be condemned on this account.

RNAS 135 - Span 52 ft (15-84 m); length 37 ft (11-43 m); area 530 sq ft (48-3 m2); empty weight 2,700 lb (1,225 kg); loaded weight 3,400 lb (1,542 kg); max speed 65 mph (104-6 km/h); duration 4-5 hr.
RNAS 136 - Span 54 ft 6 in (16 6 m); length 40 ft (12-2 m); area 570 sq ft (53 m2); empty weight 3,000 lb (1,361 kg); loaded weight 3,700 lb (1,679 kg); max speed 72 mph (116 km/h); duration 4 hr.
Short 135
Short Seaplanes (1914-16): Admiralty Types 166, 827 and 830

  The first proposal for an aircraft carrier was submitted to the Board of Admiralty by the Air Department in December 1912, based on a design by Beardmores of Dalmuir; but it was not accepted, because the Admiralty had already decided to equip the cruiser Hermes as a seaplane depot ship. Hermes was commissioned in May 1913 and carried Short seaplane 81 and a Caudron seaplane during the manoeuvres in July, in the course of which the Caudron was flown off a forecastle platform, as S.38 had done from Hibernia a year previously. The Caudron was considered too small for operational use, but the Short, the first to have folding wings, was highly commended. Subsequent production of the 160 hp ‘folder’ has already been described, together with the operational use of the two Salmson-engined prototypes 135 and 136.
  The reserve of power of 136 suggested its possible use as a torpedo-carrier, while 135, though underpowered, had established the basic reliability of the 135 hp Salmson engine. The Air Department therefore ordered small production batches of folding seaplanes with both types of engine, the lower-powered type being somewhat smaller to reduce stowage space on seaplane-carriers, the first of which, Ark Royal, ms bought late in 1913 from the Blyth Shipbuilding Co, Sunderland, while still building as a tramp steamer. After extensive redesign and conversion she was still not ready when war broke out and was in fact not commissioned till 9 December, 1914, too late to be used in the famous Cuxhaven raid on Christmas Day. For this operation, as already related, only the makeshift converted Channel packets Empress, Engadine and Riviera were available to serve as seaplane-carriers, but they proved so successful that they were joined later by the Isle of Man packets Ben-my-Chree, Manxman and Vindex. All these ships had hangars, cranes for hoisting outboard and very limited workshop equipment; only the last two had small forward flying-off decks. The seaplanes initially tailored to fit the Ark Royal proved to be well suited to the converted packets, as the Cuxhaven raid and Gallipoli campaign showed.
  The production version of the larger prototype, 136, was generally similar except that the wing extensions were braced by king-posts and cables instead of lift struts. This saved weight at the expense of a small increase in drag, but the practical advantages were that the sloping lift struts were all too easily damaged because of their small clearance from the tailplane when folded, and the stranded cables that replaced them were a normal product of seafaring skill, whereas the repair of struts was a specialised workshop job; at little increase of drag the cables could be duplicated, giving a valuable ‘fail-safe’ advantage under enemy fire. The first production batch of six 200 hp seaplanes (S.90-95), known as Short Type A, was already in hand at Eastchurch when war broke out; they received serials 161-166 and were referred to in Admiralty records as Type 166, in accordance with the early system of naval nomenclature. They were embarked in Ark Royal in November 1915 and acquitted themselves well at Salonika, bombing enemy batteries and spotting for the guns of the monitors Raglan and Roberts. They never carried torpedoes, although equipped to do so, and later in the campaign 163 and 166 were flown as landplanes from the R.N.A.S. airfield at Thasos. No further production of Type 166 was ordered from Short Brothers, but a batch of 20 (9751-9770) without torpedo gear was built by the Westland Aircraft Works, Yeovil, and of these 9754 also became a landplane at Thasos. They were delivered to Hamble by rail in July 1916 and test-flown there by Sydney Pickles; they were fitted to carry wireless and three 112-lb bombs, and the observer in the rear cockpit was armed with a Lewis gun. Somewhat similar in dimensions and role to Type 166 was the prototype Type B ordered as 178 but cancelled after war began, and so never built. This was an attempt to improve the crew’s view by placing them ahead of the wings and moving the engine aft to maintain balance, driving the airscrew through a long shaft; the engine proposed was a 200 hp Le Rhone two-row rotary, and some indication of the layout is given in patent No. 13,021 of 27 May, 1914.
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Type 166 - Span 57 ft 3 in (17 45 m); length 40 ft 7 in (12-4 m); area 575 sq ft (53-5 m2); empty weight 3,500 lb (1,589 kg); all-up weight 4,580 lb (2,080 kg); max speed 65 mph (104 6 km/h); duration 4 hr.
No 166 being hoisted by steam crane outboard from the seaplane carrier Ark Royal at Mitylene, Greece, in 1916.
Short Type 166
Short Seaplanes (1914-16): Admiralty Types 166, 827 and 830

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  The smaller seaplanes, at first known at Eastchurch as Short Type C, were more numerous than Type 166 and went farther afield. Originally they had constant-chord ailerons and a span of 52 ft 4 in, but both the span and the aileron area were increased before they were flown. They were the first to be built at Rochester seaplane works when production there began in April 1914. Salmson engines were scarce at that date, and the first eight out of Rochester had to be completed with 100 hp Gnome-Monosoupapes; somewhat misleadingly, the Admiralty called them Improved Type 74, but they were identical in design to the Salmson seaplanes except for the deeply cowled overhung engine mounting and a much smaller fixed fin. These eight (811 - 818) were all assigned to Empress, Engadine and Riviera, and 811, 814 and 815 took part in the Cuxhaven raid, flown by Edmonds, Gaskell Blackburn and Oliver respectively. 135 hp Salmsons were available for the next six off the Rochester line, and the old S.41 was rebuilt to the same standard to serve as a development prototype, still with its original serial No. 70; finally, it saw active service with No. 2 Wing, R.N.A.S., as a landplane at Imbros in 1915. Meanwhile a promising new alternative engine had come into production - the 150 hp Sunbeam V-8 water-cooled engine, later named Nubian. Its makers, John Marston & Sons Ltd of Wolverhampton, were originally bicycle manufacturers, who added motor-cars to their products early in the 20th century and soon earned a name for quality; in 1909 they engaged as chief engineer Louis Coatalen, who designed a 3-litre Sunbeam racing car which won the Coupe des Voiturettes at Dieppe in 1912. Combining two banks of the racing car engine to make a V-8 aero-engine, Coatalen installed it in a Maurice Farman, which was flown for long periods at Brooklands by Jack Alcock during the summer of 1913. Having demonstrated its reliability, it was adopted by the Admiralty, together with a V-12 development of 225 hp, for both seaplanes and airships.
  The smaller Short seaplane was readily modified to take the Sunbeam engine, and its performance was enhanced by an extra 15 hp for the same installed weight as the Salmson. After the early difficulties with the radiator on the 1913 Circuit of Britain seaplane, Horace Short had decided that only a robust unit of rectangular formation would stand up to severe vibration, so he based his design on marine condenser practice, with vertical spiral tubes assembled into flat elements arranged in four rows edge-on to the slipstream and to the pilot’s line of sight. This highly individual design remained a constant feature of Short seaplanes for several years, and has sometimes been disparaged as clumsy and unsightly, but in fact it was efficient and reliable, did not seriously interfere with the pilot’s vision and helped to keep the crew warm in winter; being located above the engine, its circulation was assisted by the natural thermosiphon effect, so that engine cooling was not wholly dependent on water-pump efficiency; in a hot climate, if (as it frequently did) the water boiled away, the cylinders remained immersed for as long as possible, and forced landings were more often averted. Introduced on 135 and 136, this block radiator was a standard unit for either the 135 hp Salmson or the 150 hp Sunbeam in one size, or for the 200 hp Salmson and 225 hp Sunbeam in a larger size. So of the remainder of the first production batch at Rochester, six (819-821 and 828-830) were built with Salmsons and were called Type 830, while 822-822 had Sunbeams and were called Type 827; 827 itself, however, was tested with both engines in turn at Rochester. Since the engine weight was less than in the 200 hp seaplane, the observer was moved forward to a point above the c.g., which also made ballast unnecessary for solo flying; the cockpit under the centre-section required a longer fuselage bay than the wing-spar pitch, so the rear struts had to be raked instead of vertical; all the wing struts were of oval-section steel tube without additional fairings and the ailerons were inversely tapered with straight trailing edges. Only one other batch of Type 830 was built, comprising 1335-1346, which followed 161-166 at Eastchurch; after war began all these seaplanes were camouflaged before being taken by road to Queenborough Pier, where they were lowered into the water by crane for flight test; this pier, built for the Queenborough-Flushing railway steamers, was commandeered by the Admiralty to avoid having to take seaplanes to Sheerness for launching.
  After satisfactory trials with 824 and 826 from H.M.S. Campania in June 1915, Type 827 was adopted for wider production, 30 (3063-3072/3093-3112) being built at Rochester, while 72 were subcontracted, 20 each to the Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd, Loughborough; Parnail & Sons Ltd, Bristol, and the Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd, Wolverhampton; also 12 to the Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex, a new aircraft company set up in 1915 by C. R. Fairey, who had been Short Brothers’ works manager and assistant designer at Eastchurch, after previously working there for the Blair Atholl Syndicate. These arrangements resulted from the vastly increased demand for seaplanes after war began, far beyond the combined resources of Eastchurch and Rochester, to meet which a number of Admiralty contractors without aircraft experience were asked to undertake seaplane manufacture under Short Brothers’ supervision, for which they were entitled to claim an agreed royalty after the war was over. Type 827 was the standard equipment from 1915 onwards of many R.N.A.S. coastal stations, including Grain, Calshot, Dundee, Killingholme and Great Yarmouth, for both patrol duties and training; 3063, 3064, 3106 and 3107, allotted to Grain in April 1916, were still there in the Nore Patrol Flight in April 1918. On 25 April, 1916, Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Southwold were shelled by battleships of the German High Seas Fleet, which in turn were bombed by R.N.A.S. seaplanes, including 3108 flown by Flt Sub-Lts Hall and Evans from Great Yarmouth. Three 827s were sent to Mombasa on the armed liner Laconia in July 1915 to help the monitors Severn and Mersey to destroy the Konigsberg in the Rufiji delta, but arrived too late to participate in the final action and were sent on in August to Mesopotamia; there they proved unable to take-off from the Shatt al Arab at Basra because of the heat and limited clear fairway; two were converted into landplanes and pressed into service as bombers against the Turkish advance on Kut-al-Amara in December 1915. Four more 827s equipped No. 8 Squadron R.N.A.S. when it arrived at Zanzibar on the Laconia in March 1916 and were flown from Chukwani Bay, their limited range being later increased by carrying one on board each of the three ships in the area, Laconia, Himalaya and Manica. They spotted for the guns of the monitor Severn at Lindi and reconnoitred enemy positions to assist British landings. Finally, these four (Short-built 3093-3095 and Parnall-built 8219) were handed over in March 1916 to the Belgian volunteer force opposing the Germans on Lake Tanganyika. Shipped in crates from Zanzibar to Matadi, they were transported up the Congo and overland to Lukuga (Albertville) and finally reerected on the shore of Lake Tongwe at Mtoa, whence the first seaplane was flown on 14 May, 1916; this feat was a tribute to both the endurance of the party and the relative ease of assembly of the seaplane with only the crudest of skill and facilities. In spite of their marginal performance in that climate, two of the seaplanes bombed the German lake cruiser Graf von Goetzen in harbour at Kigoma on 23 July, and three days later the town surrendered. Two more 827s, 3097 and 8218 were sent to Zanzibar as replacements for use on Manica and were supplemented by Sunbeam-built 8641-2 shipped from Grain on 29 May, 1916; 8641 was still on Manica in February 1917. Other 827s served in the Mediterranean, at Otranto and on Ben-my-Chree', Parnall-built 8251 was sent to Grain for gunnery trials as late as April 1918, no doubt for use as a target, but in October 1918 three survived at home stations and one at Otranto. They were flown also as dual-control trainers at Windermere, and at least one of these had small boat-built wing-tip floats in place of the usual air-bags.
  Single examples of both Type 827 and Type 830 were modified by R.N.A.S. stations for their own purposes. On one of the latter, whose identity has not been ascertained, the wings were modified to a constant-chord plan-form, with stiff trailing edges, parallel ailerons and elliptical wing-tips; this may have been connected with experiments on new aerofoil sections by the Admiralty Board of Invention and Research. The 827, Brush-built 8237, was more drastically altered at Calshot in 1917 and was flown with equal-span constant-chord three-bay wings, with strut-linked ailerons and wing-tip floats mounted directly on the lower surface; these features were typical of Howard T. Wright’s designs for J. Samuel White & Co of Cowes, and may have been suggested as a means of combining the best Short and Wight design features in one seaplane. The purpose of this modification seems to have been to adapt Type 827 as a trainer reproducing the handling characteristics of the Short 184.
  
Type 827 - Span 53 ft 11 in (16-4 m); length 35 ft 3 in (10 75 m); area 506 sq ft (47 m2); empty weight 2,700 lb (1,225 kg); all-up weight 3,400 lb (1,542 kg); max speed 62 mph (100 km/h); duration 3-5 hr.
Type 830 - Dimensions and area as for Type 827; empty weight 2,624 lb (1,192 kg); all-up weight 3,324 lb (1,510 kg); max speed 70 mph (113 km/h); duration 3-5 hr.


  Ten later Salmson-engined Short seaplanes, S.301-310 (9781-9790), were built at Rochester in 1916, primarily for training duties at Calshot. They were a hybrid design, with the wide-span wings and long fuselage of Type 166, and the straight-edged ailerons and forward observer’s position of Type 830. The power plant was a 140 hp single-row Dudbridge-built Salmson and the top centre-section was left open to afford easy access for slinging; the seaplane was unarmed, but carried a rack for practice bombs. The long fuselage enhanced its appearance and doubtless improved its flying qualities, but by the time this variant appeared, the earlier Short seaplanes had been almost superseded by the larger and sturdier Type 184 with 225 hp Sunbeam, which became the best-known and most numerous of all the seaplanes of the First World War.

S.301-310 - as for Type 830 except length 40 ft 7 in (12 3 m).
Type 827 8229 being launched at Calshot in 1916.
Eastchurch-built Type 830 1335 at Queenborough Pier in 1915.
S.41 in its final state as a Type 830 landplane with No. 2 Wing, RNAS, at Imbros in 1915; it has the same small fin as the Improved Type 74.
8231, the Type 827 rebuilt at Calshot with equal-span wings, flying at Lee-on-Solent in 1918.
SHORT (140 hp SALMSON) SEAPLANE. Ten seaplanes of this type were built, Nos.9781 to 9790.
S.310 (9790) starting on a test flight from Rochester in 1916.
Short 830
The Short Bomber (1915-16)

  In the early days of aviation, though forced into a defensive role, the R.N.A.S. never lost sight of the aeroplane’s potential as a long-range gun, and was more progressive than the Military Wing in developing basic bombing techniques. The functions of ‘Britain’s Sure Shield’ have never been solely defensive, and have always included the ability to strike the enemy on his own doorstep. Consequently, one of the first objectives of the R.N.A.S. in August 1914 was the destruction of the German High Seas Fleet in its base at Kiel before it could begin to prey on our merchant shipping. Neither naval bombers nor torpedo-planes existed at that date which could tackle such a task, and we have seen how Capt Murray Sueter set about obtaining operationally capable torpedo seaplanes. At the same time he called for a long-range land-based bomber to carry six 112-lb bombs in addition to a crew of two, and specified two engines, partly from the safety viewpoint, but mainly because the task required 300-400 hp, and no engines of this power existed. As is well known, the design chosen was Handley Page’s ‘Bloody Paralyser’, but this could not be produced before the end of 1915 and, after the fall of Antwerp, in October 1914, and the increasing U-boat and Zeppelin activity that followed, various stop-gap bombers were urgently pressed into service, beginning with the famous four Avros which raided the Friedrichshafen airship sheds on 21 November. The Short 184, with its big Sunbeam engine, was an obvious candidate for conversion into a landplane bomber, and a prototype was put in hand at Eastchurch concurrently with the emergence of 184 and 185 at Rochester, early in 1915.
  The initial conversion was ready in only a few weeks, and the only alteration in the fuselage was the exchange of crew positions; the pilot’s controls were in the rear cockpit and the observer sat in front and was expected to climb on to the decking to fire a Lewis gun on a pillar mounting above the upper wing. The floats were replaced by a sturdy four-wheeled undercarriage, with band-brakes on the rear wheels, which were larger than the front ones. The wings were entirely new and developed from those of the Type 166 seaplane; they had two bays with a large top wing overhang braced by cables over kingposts above the outer struts. The large ailerons, on the top wing only, were inversely tapered, but the lower wing and remainder of the upper wing had a constant chord of 6 ft. The gap was increased by 9 in to 6 ft 3 in and the standard wing-folding arrangements were unaltered; a simple rubber-sprung tailskid replaced the tail-float. In this form the Bomber prototype (S.248, later 3106) flew steadily but was unable to lift a full load of bombs in addition to a crew of two, so the next step was to insert an extra 6 ft bay in each side of the wing assembly. With the span thus increased from 72 to 84 ft, the Bomber could take off with full load, but was totally unstable in pitch and yaw, being very difficult to fly on a course even in fine weather. When Wing Cdr Longmore came over from Dunkerque to try the first production Bomber, he rejected it as hopeless for its role of night bombing in any kind of weather.
  Kemp and Longmore knew that the cure was simply a longer tail arm, but Horace Short refused to make this change without restressing the whole airframe, and Longmore was anxious to get the German batteries silenced as quickly as possible. So he arranged for Horace to receive an invitation from the Admiral commanding Naval forces in Belgium to visit the R.N.A.S. base at Dunkerque and possibly, it was hinted, be flown as an observer over the German lines. This was a bait that Horace could not resist, and he set off from Dover in high glee as an honoured guest on board a destroyer; immediately he had left Eastchurch, Longmore and Kemp got busy with handsaws, parted the longerons behind the rear cockpit and scarfed in a new parallel fuselage section of the correct length to permit normal wing folding, which proved to be 8 ft 6 in. They finished the job quickly, but when they wheeled the Bomber out for a test flight Horace Short’s secretary sent him a telegram saying that ‘monkey business’ was afoot. Horace came back at the double, and when Kemp met his train at Sittingbourne station he was obviously very angry and refused to speak to him. On arriving at Eastchurch, he examined the unofficial modification very closely and stumped off into his office, still without a word to anybody. Next morning, Kemp and Longmore braced themselves for the explosion, but apparently Horace had stayed up all night checking the strength of the lengthened fuselage, and they were greeted with one of his broadest smiles and an announcement that the job was already cleared for production; Horace knew when he himself had been ‘spike-bozzled’ - a very rare occurrence.
  Before this episode orders had been placed with Short Brothers for 50 Bombers (S.249-283, 9306-9355), for which 250 hp Rolls-Royce engines were promised, and with the Sunbeam Motor Car Co of Wolverhampton for 20 (9356-9375) with 225 hp Sunbeam engines; soon more Rolls-Royce engines were released, and further orders were then placed with Mann, Egerton & Co of Norwich for 20 (9476-9495) and for ten each with Parnail & Sons, Bristol (9771-9780), and Phoenix Dynamo Co, Bradford (9831-9840), all with these engines. The first Sunbeam and Mann Egerton Bombers, like Shorts’ own 9306, were completed quickly early in 1916 to the unmodified drawings, and both were flown by Sydney Pickles, who agreed with Ronald Kemp that the tail was too short and refused to fly the first Parnall machine 9771 until it had been modified; all the fuselages were lengthened before acceptance, and at the same time the fin area of the Sunbeam-engined variant was slightly reduced by straightening the leading edge; this was also tried out on an early Short-built Rolls-Royce machine, but the latter was found to be better with the original fin unaltered. With the long fuselage, elevator control was powerful, and in conjunction with the four-wheeled undercarriage Kemp was able to taxi across some of the deeper ditches in the outlying areas of Eastchurch aerodrome; he would approach the ditch with the control wheel hard back, apply the band-brakes on the rear wheels as soon as the front wheels were across, then with the control wheel fully forward, he would release the brakes and lift the rear wheels across with a burst of throttle.
  All production Bombers reverted to the normal crew arrangement, because gun-rings had become available for the rear cockpit, which was built up above the decking. Dual control was installed and the main fuel tanks were protected by armour plate; in both engine installations fuel was pumped into a small streamlined gravity tank above the cowling. The radiators were flank-mounted, alongside the Rolls-Royce and a little farther aft for the Sunbeam, to give access to magnetos and carburettors in each case. The bombs were carried under the wing on four racks whose attachment lugs were braced by cables to the tops of the adjacent wing struts. The somewhat heavy Woolwich carriers were specified, but Short Brothers saved weight by hanging the bombs from nose-rings, which had little effect on aiming accuracy; skeleton carriers were later standardised, the designed maximum bomb load being eight 112-lb bombs, although 65-lb were usually carried instead to increase range.
  In September 1915 the first Zeppelin raid was made on London, inflicting unexpectedly high civilian casualties, and the demand for retaliation in kind, coupled with the more logical necessity of bombing the U-boat assembly yards at Antwerp, drew Parliamentary attention to the absence of effective R.N.A.S. bombers. Murray Sueter was continually pressed to confute the critics, and when at last the first long-fuselage Bomber arrived at Grain from Wolverhampton he had it photographed from a fixed point in four different locations on the aerodrome; a composite print gave the impression of four Bombers awaiting dispatch, and the photograph was circulated to M.P.s without comment, but was carefully kept from the Press; the deception was justifiable as a way of keeping up morale at a critical juncture, and disclosure could only have exacerbated the hostility between the Army and Navy supply departments, which came to a head in 1916 before the Bailhache and Burbidge Committees.
  The Short Bomber deserves a place in history, if for no other reason, as the first big landplane flown by John Lankester Parker when, at Murray Sueter’s suggestion, he came from Windermere to Eastchurch to take up part-time test-flying for Short Bros, as assistant to Ronald Kemp. At first Horace Short refused to allow ‘that bit of a boy’ to fly at all, but when in desperation Parker tendered his resignation, Horace pointed out six Bombers waiting to be tested and said, ‘Go and break your bloody neck on those’, then drove quickly away so as not to witness the ensuing disaster; but there was no disaster, and Parker flew three of the Bombers (9328, 9329 and 9331) that day (17 October, 1916) and the other three (9326, 9327 and 9333) the next day; while he was climbing the fourth machine to 6,500 ft in 21 minutes, Horace looked up in wonderment and conceded to Oswald, ‘He’s a first rate pilot!’ He flew two more Short-built Bombers (9332 and 9330) on 28 October and then his first Sunbeam machine (9361) on 2 November. On 11 December he had to make two successive forced landings in 9362, which developed a punctured carburettor float, and brought these off successfully, but on 13 December 9339 had engine failure at 5,000 ft and had to be put down outside the aerodrome, running into a ridge in the ground and breaking two chassis struts. This skilful ‘deadstick’ landing considerably impressed his passenger, Lieut Wardle (the Admiralty acceptance officer), although Parker had expected a reprimand for not reaching the aerodrome from that height. Most new Bombers were first flown at Eastchurch, but a few were erected at Manston, where Parker tested Sunbeam-built 9366 on 7 December, Phoenix-built 9836 on 14 December and Parnall-built 9775 on 17 December.
  Meanwhile, as Short Bombers were accepted for service, they had reequipped No. 7 Wing, R.N.A.S., at Coudekerque and went into action as night-bombers on 15 November, 1916, when four of them, each with eight 65-lb bombs, raided submarine pens at Zeebrugge. Fifteen more were attached to the newly formed 3rd Wing, R.N.A.S., at Luxeuil, whose task was to carry the war into the Saar Valley; from this unit grew the Independent Force, R.A.F., of 1918, the lineal ancestor of Bomber Command. In June 1916 the R.F.C. itself was desperately in need of more aircraft for the Somme offensive, and General Trenchard had asked the Admiralty most urgently to release as many machines as possible; the Admiralty responded generously to this cri-de-coeur, even though this put back the 3rd Wing’s own offensive till October; eventually 14 Short Bombers (9315, 9319, 9320, 9325, 9476-9, 9482-5 and 9487-8) were transferred to the R.F.C., in addition to one new Phoenix-built machine, A3932. With the arrival of Handley Page O/100 twin-engined bombers in November, the crisis was over and Short Bombers not yet delivered were cancelled, including the last 15 from Short Brothers, the last five from Sunbeam and the last four from each of the Parnall and Phoenix contracts, but Mann Egerton had delivered all their quota before the axe fell and these had been test-flown at Norwich by Clifford Prodger. A few Short Bombers remained with the 5th Wing at Dunkerque from January 1917 onwards, and on four successive nights in April they attacked the Zeebrugge Mole with 520-lb bombs in preparation for the famous naval raid on St George’s Day. Apart from those transferred to the R.F.C., 9311 was presented to the French Armee de l’Air for evaluation against their standard Caudrons and Breguets. One of the last Bombers on charge was the final one built by Shorts at Eastchurch, S.283 (9340), which was flown from Martlesham Heath to Grain on 9 November, 1917, but as late as April 1918 the first production Bomber S.249 (9306) was returned to Grain for gunnery trials, presumably as a target.
  The Short Bomber came into existence only as a stop-gap; it did its job and, when no longer needed, bowed itself out and was gone. No further development took place, but apparently a twin-engined Short bomber had been contemplated in 1916, because serials N507-8 were reserved for prototypes of this description; the engines were to have been 200 hp Sunbeams (Afridis or Arabs), but the project was cancelled before any work was done on it, probably because of Horace Short’s death; it was possibly a landplane derived from the twin-fuselage tandem-engined seaplane depicted in Oswald Short’s patent No. 3,203 of February 1915.

Span 84 ft (25-6 m); length 36 ft 6 in (11-15 tn), later 45 ft (13-7 m); area 870 sq ft (80-9 m2); empty weight 5,000 lb (2,268 kg); all-up weight 6,800 lb (3,082 kg); max speed (Sunbeam) 72 mph (116 km/h), (R-R) 77 mph (124 km/h); duration 6 hr.
Original two-bay Bomber prototype 3706 at Eastchurch in 1915, showing the proposed Lewis gun mounting, for which a retractable telescopic fairing was intended to protect the gunner while standing.
Mann Egerton’s first Bomber, 9476, as originally built with short fuselage.
3706 with three-bay wings and experimental landing-gear.
Sunbeam-built Bomber 9356 at Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, after its fuselage had been lengthened, showing the straight-edged fin.
Short Bomber (1916)
Short Admiralty Type 184 Seaplanes

  The failure of the Green-engined Circuit of Britain seaplane in 1913 must have been a great disappointment to Horace Short, not so much because it had to be scratched from the race but because Short Brothers were more concerned with the improvement of the art than with public acclaim and never allowed their products to compete in events unless there was some experimental value in doing so. In modifying the special seaplane for Frank McClean to fly in the Daily Mail’s competition, Horace Short had introduced several new features, the most striking being the arrangement of high aspect ratio equal-span wings with an unusually small gap. Although he employed the same camber for upper and lower wings, it seems probable that he intended later to try the effect of reducing nose camber on the lower wing, as proposed in patent No. 23,708 of 20 October, 1913; such an arrangement offered in theory less interference between the planes, and consequently lower drag. The usual way of minimising interference was by staggering the planes, but this conflicted with easy wing-folding. Horace’s views on high aspect ratio no doubt stemmed partly from observations of the albatross during his early voyages in the Pacific, and also from his experience in designing cascades of blades for Parsons steam turbines; he would not have overlooked the space saving afforded by narrow-chord wings when folded, particularly on a seaplane-carrier.
  The fatal vibration encountered when the 100 hp six-cylinder Green was run at full power was partly due to its insufficiently stiff crankcase, and it was otherwise a sound design which later won the first prize of £5,000 in a rigorously supervised competition at Farnborough in 1914; no doubt the massive test bench masked resonance peaks which showed up in a much less rigid airframe installation. At all events, the Air Department of the Admiralty was not discouraged from developing six-in-line engines, and William Beardmore & Co took up the licensed manufacture of the very successful 120 hp Austro-Daimler (designed by the eldest Ferdinand Porsche) some months before war began; the Royal Aircraft Factory had specified it for their R.E.5 biplane, and the Admiralty had gained a good impression of the smaller 90 hp four-in-line version in several prototypes, including a trial in the Short Sociable pusher 145 at Eastchurch. About the same time Louis Coatalen began work on the 12-cylinder version of his 150 hp V-8 engine, and Capt Murray Sueter, Director of the Air Department, saw this as an excellent power plant for a long-range torpedo-carrier, with a substantially better performance than the 200 hp Salmson could offer. Capt Sueter, with Lieut Hyde-Thomson, had drawn up a detailed specification for a seaplane to carry a 14-in Whitehead torpedo, with a crew of two and wireless, and the Short Type 166 and Sopwith Type C seaplanes had shown this task to be too much for the Salmson. So in September 1914 a revised specification based on the 225 hp Sunbeam was drafted for issue to Short Brothers, Sopwith and J. Samuel White, each of whom was invited to submit proposals. When Murray Sueter first explained his requirements to Horace Short, the latter replied, ‘Well, if you particularly wish this done, I will produce a seaplane that will satisfy you’, and on the strength of that statement two prototypes were ordered, for which serials 184 and 185 were reserved; from this the type became officially known as the Short Type 184 Seaplane, though quite as frequently called the Two-Two-Five from the horsepower of its engine.
  The Short 184 was a direct development of the 1913 Circuit seaplane, strengthened but not much enlarged, with its weight-lifting ability enhanced by a robust engine of more than twice the power. It had the block-type radiator introduced for the 200 hp Salmson, equal-span wings of small chord and gap, improved wing-folding arrangements designed by Horace Short and large compartmented sprung twin floats designed by Oswald Short. Not only could the wings be swung and locked into flying position by means of a cockpit windlass but the front spar lock was a splined and threaded spigot and socket, locked or unlocked by a quarter-turn like the breech-block of a field-gun (patents Nos. 5,290/14 and 20,537/14); when folded, the wings were supported and locked by a cross-shaft in the rear fuselage with upturned ends engaging in slots in the rear middle wing struts; these ends could be rotated, after engagement, by a lever in the cockpit, so that the whole operation could be done single-handed by the pilot (patent No. 9,276/15). The usual cylindrical air-bags served as wing-tip floats, and the wooden tail-float was supported on struts which permitted a limited fore-and-aft movement as well as rotation about a transverse axis, both movements being restrained by rubber cords. The small water-rudder at the stern of the tail-float was actuated from the main rudder through sliding telescopic torque-tubes of oval section. The float chassis comprised a pair of main struts attached to the front cross-tube and two pairs to the rear cross-tube; the cross-tubes were arched in the middle to accommodate the torpedo crutches, and their centres were braced by auxiliary struts to the bottom longerons, the torpedo release strop being mounted on the rear tube centre. A feature peculiar to this and one other type of Short seaplane was that the rear main struts did not meet on the centreline of the float but straddled it, relying on the stiffness of the cross-tube to take care of the eccentric loading; thus both resilience and redundancy were obtained without weight penalty at a highly stressed point where a collapse due to a single failure could not be risked; it also simplified assembly and repair by avoiding a built-up V-strut. The floats themselves were slotted to move vertically relative to the cross-tubes and were suspended on rubber cords.
  The wings were braced in three bays by stranded cables, with jury-struts at the front spar root-ends to maintain tension while folded. In the outermost bays the anti-lift cables were deflected upwards by bobstays to clear the tailplane and elevators when folded; this requirement had not arisen in earlier designs, whose outer bays when folded did not enclose the tailplane. The lower wing had constant chord and no ailerons; the upper wing was inversely tapered from the root to two-thirds of the semi-span and parallel from there to the tip. The ailerons were of wide span and uncompensated, and the wing struts were of round steel tube with wood and fabric fairings. The fuselage was a conventional four-longeron wire-braced girder, entirely of spruce with manganese-steel fittings of high strength. The longerons were spindled-out where possible to save weight and were carried forward to the front of the engine, which was mounted on separate bearers carried by pressed-steel transverse frames, thus providing a stiff and accessible installation. The engine cowling was readily detachable and also had large side doors for daily servicing, the magnetos and carburettors being easily reached without risk of contact with hot spots such as the exhaust manifolds; since the exhaust ports faced inwards, the manifold lay centrally between the cylinder banks and the exhaust pipe was swept down the front of the engine to terminate just outside the bottom cowling panel. The remainder of the fuselage was fabric-covered, and alongside the cockpits the bottom longerons were reinforced on both sides by side-plates having foot-steps cut in them. The tail unit was of standard Short pattern, with a balanced rudder and a large dorsal fin. The pilot’s controls, with a handwheel for the ailerons, were in the front cockpit, with the fuel tank in the next bay forward; the rear cockpit contained the observer’s seat and stowages for all his varied gear, including the W/T transmitter and receiver, signalling lamp, smoke flares, Very pistol, sea anchor and basket of pigeons, to which were later added a Lewis gun with spare trays of ammunition and even two more small bombs, stowed loose.
  Before the two prototypes flew, orders for trial batches of ten more seaplanes were placed with Short Brothers, similar orders being given also to Sopwith for ten of their Type 860 and to J. Samuel White for ten of the Wight Type 840 designed by Howard T. Wright. From the beginning the superiority of the Short design was obvious, and when the two prototypes (S.106-7) emerged at Rochester in the early spring of 1915 they certainly looked like redeeming Horace Short’s promise to Murray Sueter. Furthermore, they were delivered punctually, and the initial order for ten (S.120-128 and 130, 841-850) was quickly followed by massive contracts (for those days) too big to be undertaken in Shorts’ own two factories. So with Rochester fully occupied with a main order for 75 (S.173-247, 8031-8105), a batch of 30 was ordered from S. E. Saunders Ltd of Cowes (8001-8030) and batches of 12 each from Mann, Egerton & Co of Norwich (8344-8355), the Westland Aircraft works of Petters Ltd of Yeovil (8356-8367), Phoenix Dynamo Co, Bradford (8368-8379) and Frederick Sage & Co, Peterborough (8380-8391), all for delivery in 1915. In fact, Sages, under the energetic direction of Eric Gordon England, got their first machine away in November, followed by Mann Egerton in December and Phoenix and Westland in January 1916.
  This was a very stout effort, because early flights of 184 at Grain revealed the need for modifications, the most serious of these being to improve lateral control. The large uncompensated ailerons were unmanageable when taxying downwind and hardly adequate for control at low speeds; so balancing rubber cords were introduced above the top wing to hold them up in the neutral position, except when pulled down by the pilot’s control, when each aileron moved separately in the downward direction only, because the design of the hinges did not permit up-float. Lateral control was still marginal, so next narrow-chord ailerons were added to the lower wings; these were linked to the upper ailerons by separate cables running in pulleys at the top and bottom of the middle and outer front struts and vertically down the front of these struts, the rubber cords being transferred from the upper wings to the top of the rear struts, from which they pulled up the bottom ailerons and maintained tension in the link cables; cumbersome though it appeared by comparison with the more orthodox closed spanwise circuit, it was preferred because it suited the existing folding gear, and the prevention of up-float probably reduced the risk of dropping the inside wing during a turn close to the sea. Later the aileron circuit was altered to the orthodox layout in a batch of Eastchurch-built 184s, but the old system was retained in the latest subcontracted batches, even when they had been improved in many other respects. Incidentally, Sopwith was willing to pay a royalty to use the Short wing-folding patents, but Howard Wright designed a heavier and less-satisfactory worm-and-rack spar-locking device to avoid infringement; later on, the Short patents were successfully challenged on the grounds that gates had hinges and birds had folding wings, and it became unprofitable to contest infringements. Other modifications included bomb-racks and compressed-air starting; at some point in its career, 184 itself had its tail damaged and was repaired with the fin and rudder from a spare airframe (S.129), with the balance portion of the rudder deleted and the fin extended back to the hinge line, but this seems to have been an improvisation rather than a modification.
  By the time Phoenix Dynamo began deliveries, on 21 January, 1916, a second round of orders had been placed for 20 each from Robey & Co, Lincoln (9041-9060), and Sage (9065-9084). Meanwhile the Short 184 had been in action and acquitted itself well. In October 1914 the original R.N.A.S. depot ship Hermes had been fully refitted as a seaplane-carrier, but within a few weeks of commissioning she was torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel. The stop-gap conversion of Engadine, Empress and Riviera and their exploits on Christmas Day 1914 have already been mentioned, and more extensive conversions were made of the old Cunard liner Campania and several Isle of Man packets. One of the latter, Ben-my-Chree, had been commissioned about the same time as the first flight of 184, and on 21 May, 1915, left Harwich for the Dardanelles carrying 184,185 and one spare airframe (S.129) unassembled, together with two Sopwith Schneiders. She arrived at Mitylene on 12 June, and two months later both 184 and 185 launched their torpedoes in anger and with effect. Horace Short had just succeeded in meeting Murray Sueter’s specification, but with insufficient margin to make up for the high temperature and humidity of the Aegean climate. When Flt Cdr C. H. K. Edmonds took off in 184 from the Gulf of Xeros on 12 August, 1915, he had to fly solo and with petrol for only 45 minutes. With his torpedo he could not climb above 800 ft, nevertheless he crossed the Bulair peninsular into the Straits, where he found an enemy transport off Gallipoli; coming down to 15 ft above the water, he launched his torpedo from 300 yards and scored a direct hit; later he was told the ship had already been crippled by a submarine, but on 17 August he repeated his exploit and torpedoed the middle one of three transport ships off Ak Bashi Liman, leaving her on fire. On that day Flt Cdr G. B. Dacre, who was flying 185, had to alight in the Straits with a failing engine, but then saw an enemy tug which he torpedoed while taxying. Lightened of its load, the seaplane managed to take off, cleared Bulair very low and got back safely to Ben-my-Chree. These, however, were the only successes the 184 ever had as a torpedo-carrier, although trials continued with 8349 at Felixstowe during 1916 and 1917; this machine also was flown solo, with the rear cockpit stripped of equipment and faired over. Loss of power through low atmospheric density, oiled-up sparking plugs, burnt exhaust valves and boiling radiators in the Aegean environment made full-throttle sorties with torpedoes impracticable except with nearly new aircraft and engines, and all future attacks were made with two 112-lb bombs, which allowed a crew of two as well as a useful increase in range. Thus equipped on 8 November, 1915, Edmonds and Dacre flew their 184s more than 100 miles overland to bomb the Maritza railway bridge on the enemy’s main supply route from Germany through Bulgaria. Less spectacularly, but more continuously, the 184s shared with earlier Short seaplanes the task of directing the gunfire of naval monitors, which shelled enemy shipping out of sight in the Straits with sufficient accuracy and persistence to persuade the Turks to stop reinforcing the Dardanelles forts by sea.
  Nearer home, the enemy had begun to mount their U-boat blockade soon after capturing Ostend and Zeebrugge in October 1914, using them as bases for submarines built in the Antwerp shipyards. Short seaplanes of earlier types operated from new bases at Dover and Dunkerque, but were relatively ineffective, and 184s were brought in as soon as possible to take on longer-range patrols after the sinking of the Lusitania and Arabic in May 1915. Even in the cooler climate of the North Sea and English Channel, engine trouble occurred frequently, and forced landings were rarely successful in anything but a dead calm; in such events many crews owed their lives to the carrier pigeons always taken on patrol, whose prompt delivery of SOS messages was more reliable than W/T. 184s were included in the complement of most of the seaplane-carriers, from one of which, Vindex, three of them attempted on 25 March, 1916, to bomb the Zeppelin sheds at Tondern, but without success. Some of them led charmed lives, and 8086, which had gone out from Grain on 1 March, 1916, to search for the Curtiss H.4 1230 missing from Felixstowe, was still on the strength of the Nore Patrol at Grain in April 1918, together with 8354. At Grain they were widely employed for armament experiments and in April 1916 8364 undertook trials of a 2-pounder Davis gun fitted with a Hamilton sight; six rounds were fired (on six successive flights, since the gun could not be reloaded in the air) with fair success at an obsolete Wight seaplane towed by two motor-boats; bombing trials were also made by 184s on an armoured roof target at Kingsnorth, on which a 500-lb bomb was dropped for the first time on 9 May, 1916, by 8052 from 4,000 ft using a C.F.S. bomb-sight designed by Bourdillon and Tizard. One was sent up from Engadine on 31 May, 1916, just before the Battle of Jutland, but on many other occasions, as on 18 August, the sea was too rough for take-off.
  In home waters 184s could at least rely on being able to take-off from their base in fair weather, which was more than Cdr Samson found possible when he took Ben-my-Chree and two smaller seaplane-carriers to the eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean in 1916 and 1917. In May 1916 he had not previously flown the 184, and after some experience of its marginal performance in a hot climate, even with a four-bladed airscrew and a 240 hp engine, he decided to reduce the lower wing span and fin area of one of them, with encouraging results; in fact, he claimed to have gained ‘six knots in speed and about 15 per cent in climb’ with the ‘Cut-Short’, as Murray Sueter called it; this machine has not been positively identified, but may have been Rochester-built 8070; apart from reducing the wing and fin area, Samson replaced the wing-tip floats by simple ‘surf-boards’, which saved a bit more drag. In March Samson was ordered to Aden to seek out and destroy the German raider Wolf and took the ‘Cut-Short’ into the Indian Ocean on board the carrier Raven II, which he commanded after Ben-my-Chree was sunk at Castellorizo in January 1917. It made several patrol flights in the Laccadive Islands in search of Wolf, but finally its floats collapsed in a heavy swell off Kalpeni, and its crew were rescued just in time from shark-infested waters. Possibly as a result of Samson’s earlier dispatches, the second batch of Short 184s ordered from Mann, Egerton & Co was required to incorporate a modified wing arrangement somewhat resembling that of Type 166; this was called 184 Type B, and Mann Egerton were asked to help in detailing and stressing the modifications, which comprised an increase in the upper wing span to 72 ft, new lower wings without ailerons, increased gap, raised engine bearers and deletion of torpedo gear. Known in Norwich as the Mann Egerton Type B, the first of these ten seaplanes (9085-9094) was delivered in mid-1916 from Norwich to Felixstowe, where it was test-flown by Sydney Pickles before being handed over to the Admiralty; according to Mann Egerton’s aircraft manager, George Wilford, who was present on that occasion, it ‘put up an exceptional performance, and subsequently broke the then existing records for seaplanes, both for climbing speed and height’. So evidently Samson had something when he increased the gap and reduced the aspect ratio, and although only these ten were built, one or two of this variant were still in service when the war ended.
  The last three of the main Rochester batch were retained there and at Grain for experimental work. In July 1916, S.245 {8103) was converted into a single-seat bomber (known as Type D) with the front cockpit deleted and its space occupied by internal stowage for nine 65-lb bombs slung from their noses; this gave a useful reduction in drag, and a few others were similarly converted, but the variant did not go into production; possibly the real intention was to carry a 500-lb bomb internally as an insurance against late delivery of Handley Page O/100s. In January 1917, S.246 {8104) was flown with a 250 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IV installed, which gave it an enhanced performance; the engine cowling was taller than normal, and side radiators were used instead of the central block; extra fuel was carried in a tank faired into the underside of the fuselage between the lower wing roots. Although tested with some success at Grain, it did not go into production. The last of the batch, S.247 {8105), eventually went into regular service at Great Yarmouth, but before delivery was tested at Rochester and Grain in July 1916 with a four-bladed airscrew and high chassis; in fact, it appeared somewhat higher than it actually was, because of the reduced diameter of the airscrew. Apparently the purpose of this installation was to compare the spray pick-up of two- and four-bladed airscrews in preparation for the standardisation of the 260 hp Sunbeam engine for final 184 production. Before this engine became available in quantity, a few 184s were fitted with 240 hp Sunbeams, while an interim variant produced in some numbers had the 240 hp Renault engine (dubbed ‘Renault-Mercedes’ because of a coincidental resemblance to the contemporary German Mercedes in the design of its cylinders and valve-gear). The Renault rotated the opposite way to the Sunbeam and had a bulbous central exhaust manifold with a stubby stack outlet; at first this installation had side radiators, but later the standard central block was reinstated; on some production lines a change was made from the Renault to the 260 hp Sunbeam before the latter installation had been finalised, and in these cases the Renault manifold had to be adapted to the Sunbeam, with the result that the radiator was raised higher than usual. The full 260 hp Sunbeam modification included a level manifold with a sloping stack pipe forward of the radiator; both the Renault and later Sunbeam versions carried bombs on a long central rack under the fuselage and had a Whitehouse or Scarff ring for the observer’s Lewis gun; the arched float cross-tubes for the torpedo gear had been replaced by straight tubes on production aircraft some time previously.
  Twenty (S.314-333, N1080-1099) were built at Eastchurch early in 1917, and in N1089 the engine bearers were lightened and the tail-float was enlarged by 30 per cent and mounted closer to the fuselage; this form, with either engine, was officially called the Improved 184 and also had an orthodox aileron circuit and Rafwire bracing instead of stranded cables, but shortages inevitably brought about reversions to the older designs, of which there were plentiful supplies already in stock; sometimes this state of affairs was acknowledged in the contract papers by use of the term Intermediate Type 184, but there was considerable flexibility in determining the actual acceptance standard of each aircraft; S.332 (N1098) was evaluated with a neat ‘car-bonnet’ hinged cowling and frontal honeycomb radiator for its 260 hp Sunbeam, which drove a four-bladed airscrew, always used with this engine; those intended to cope with the rough seas and heavy swells of the Dover Patrol stations at Newhaven and Cherbourg also had larger main floats and streamlined wing-tip floats and were known as the Dover Type 184. Only ten more 184s were built by Short Brothers (S.389-398, N1580-1589), and these all had Renaults, but production by other contractors continued up till the Armistice, when the total number built outside Rochester and Eastchurch amounted to 829; in addition to the firms already mentioned, the Brush Electrical Engineering Co of Loughborough built no fewer than 190 in five batches, and the Supermarine Aviation works built 15 at Woolston, Southampton; orders for a further 145 were cancelled after the Armistice.
  Testing of 184s built at Rochester, or delivered there by sub-contractors, was normally done by Ronald Kemp, who had succeeded Gordon Bell in August 1914; Bell had become an official A.I.D. test pilot and was killed in France in July 1918 in this capacity. Ronald Kemp’s elder brother, William Pitcairn (invariably called Peter) Kemp was Admiralty overseer at several aircraft firms, including the Bristol Tramway works at Brislington; when Bristol Scout contracts were completed he came to Rochester and stayed on after the war as Oswald Short’s works manager, although Ronald himself left the firm early in 1918. By 1916 Ronald Kemp was having to receive occasional help from other freelance pilots, including Sydney Pickles, Clifford Prodger and John Lankester Parker, all of whom tested aircraft at other factories and belonged to the Prodger-Isaacs Syndicate managed by Bernard Isaacs, prewar manager of Hendon Aerodrome for Grahame-White; most of the 184s built at Eastchurch were first flown by Parker from Queenborough Pier. It was a tribute to Shorts’ methods of manufacture and supervision that production could be so widely and successfully undertaken by firms entirely new to the aircraft industry; Short Brothers’ own production of the 184 amounted to no more than 117, including the prototypes, but there were 312 on R.A.F. charge at the Armistice, all but 30 having 260 hp Sunbeams. They remained in service at least until the end of 1920, and Felixstowe still had several in store in 1921, but all had been struck off charge by the time of the Geddes ‘Axe’ Report in 1922. Short Brothers received a royalty of 3 per cent on all aircraft of their design built by other firms during the war, including spares supplied therewith; the agreement, drawn up by Horace Short, was intended to cover all spares, but when Oswald Short put in his claim after the Armistice the Treasury held that the words ‘spares supplied therewith’ meant only those supplied at the same time, and not subsequently; had the word been ‘therefor’ Short Brothers would have received a further £170,000 in royalties.
  Short 184s served in all European waters on essential but unspectacular duties and penetrated to the Arctic Circle in the Archangel campaign of 1919, when they were embarked in the carrier Pegasus; at the other extreme they had carried supplies to the beleaguered troops in Kut-al-Amara in the Mesopotamian desert. After the Armistice they were mainly employed for spotting mines in the shipping lanes; many of the last deliveries were fitted with 275 hp Sunbeam Maori III engines, and in March 1919 N9135 was flown at Grain with a 300 hp Sunbeam Manitou. A small number were sold abroad to Chile, Estonia, Greece and Japan, and five came on to the British civil register after conversion to five-seaters for seaside joy-riding; all these had the latest Maori III engines with outside exhaust ports and were certificated for one year only; four were built by J. Samuel White (G-EAJT, G-EBGP, G-EALC and G-EBBN, ex N2968, N2996, N2998 and N9118 respectively) and one (G-EBBM ex N9096) by Brush. The eight supplied to the Estonian Air Force in 1919, also built by J. Samuel White, remained in service until November 1933, during which time only two were lost in crashes.
  Excluding armament development and trials of experimental floats, there were only two major experimental variants of the Short 184. One was the use of a version of the G.R.W. wheel gear to permit take-off from the deck of an aircraft carrier, to avoid the danger from submarine attack incurred by stopping the ship to lower the seaplane overside. The first deck take-off with a 184 was made from Campania on 3 June, 1916, and in July 1917 flights were made from the fore-deck of Furious soon after she was commissioned as an aircraft carrier. At first the wheels remained attached to the floats and were jettisoned after take-off, but an improved scheme was devised whereby the wheeled trolley was retained in a slot in the deck with a buffer at the forward end; the pilot for these trials, which took place near Scapa Flow, was Flt Lieut Gallihawk and the observer was Warr Off Flemming. The other experiment was the installation of Martin stabilisers on the upper wing-tips of 8016 at Grain; these were a form of pendulum control claimed by the American inventor to ensure automatic lateral stability, but were not a success.
  The last surviving Short 184 was Westland-built 8359, flown by Flt Lieut F. J. Rutland and Asst Pmr Trewin from Engadine at the beginning of the Battle of Jutland on 31 May, 1916, when three enemy cruisers and ten destroyers were spotted and reported shortly before action began; further reconnaissance was hampered by fog, which fortunately also prevented Admiral Scheer from getting any information from his Zeppelins. This seaplane was exhibited at the Crystal Palace after the war ended and was earmarked for permanent preservation in the Imperial War Museum, where it remained until 1940, when it was badly damaged during an air raid. After a survey it was decided that the remains could be restored but only the fuselage of 8359 is now exhibited in the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.

Type 184 - Span 63 ft 6 in (19-7 m); length 40 ft 7 in (12-3 m); area 688 sq ft (64 m2); empty weight 3,500-3,800 lb (1,588-1,725 kg); all-up weight 5,100-5,560 lb (2,315- 2,480 kg); max speed 75-88 mph (121-142 km/h); duration 4-5 - 2-75 hr.
The original Short 184 (S.106) before its first launching at Rochester early in 1915; in the background the frames of No.2 Shop are being erected.
184 with compensated ailerons at Grain in April 1915.
Phoenix-built 8372 on Manxman's topping lift, with four-bladed airscrew and torpedo, in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1918, possibly at the time of the Goeben's mishap at Nagara Burnu.
9085, first of ten 184 Type B seaplanes built by Mann, Egerton & Co at Norwich in 1916.
Eastchurch-built N1084 with Renault engine and flank radiators, at Queenborough Pier in May 1917.
Eastchurch-built Improved 184 N1098 at Queenborough in June 1917, fitted with 260 hp Sunbeam Maori I and experimental frontal honeycomb radiator.
Assembly of Dover-type Short 184 N1636 in the Phoenix Dynamo factory at Bradford in 1917.
Brush-built Dover-Type 184 N1670 taking off from the Firth of Tay at Dundee in 1918; this shows the high radiator position resulting from using a Renault exhaust stack with a Maori I engine.
Samuel White-built improved 184 N2987 with Maori III, showing the outside exhaust manifolds at Lee-on-Solent in 1918.
Improved 184 with Renault engine and top radiator, off Queenborough in June 1917.
Samson’s ‘Cut-Short’ (probably 8070) in 1917.
Ronald Kemp in 184 Type DS.245 (8103), at Rochester in July 1916.
The Short 184 Type D, 8103, carried nine 65-lb bombs internally, the location of the bomb beams being indicated in the original of this photograph by three dark fittings on the side of the fuselage forward of the cockpit.
Ronald Kemp in S.246 (8104), fitted with Rolls-Royce Eagle IV, at Rochester in January 1917.
Nos. 40 and 41, the last two of eight 184s supplied to the Estonian Air Force in 1919, survived till No. 40 crashed in the Gulf of Finland on 3 November, 1933, the crew being rescued after 19 hours in the icy water.
Short 184
Short 310 hp Seaplanes, 1916-19

  When the Short 184 failed to repeat its first operational success as a torpedo-plane, due mainly to insufficient power in reserve to cope with both a torpedo and ample fuel, particularly in hot weather, Capt Murray Sueter and Lieut Hyde Thomson realised that they would have to face the complication of twin engines or wait for a power unit giving at least 300 hp, preferably at a weight no greater than that of current 200 hp engines. Early experience with the Wight twin-fuselage torpedo seaplane had provided only double trouble with no advantage in performance, plus an unnecessarily large aircraft for the task. Nevertheless, a twin-engined prototype torpedo-seaplane with 225 hp Sunbeam engines was ordered from the Blackburn Aeroplane Co and Louis Coatalen was urged to press on with the development of a 300 hp Sunbeam engine in competition with the rapidly improving Rolls-Royce Eagle; all supplies of the latter were already earmarked for bombers (D.H.4 and Handley Page O/100) and for Curtiss and Porte flying-boats which had begun to prove their ability to fight off and destroy Zeppelins at long range. The Admiralty’s objectives of torpedoing the German and Austrian fleets in their respective anchorages at Wilhelmshaven and Pola had to yield priority to the urgent needs of the Western Front and North Sea battles, and consequently no Rolls-Royce Eagles could be spared for float seaplanes in 1916.
  Meanwhile, Horace and Oswald Short prepared two designs based on the new Sunbeam engine; the first was a cleaned-up and strengthened torpedo-seaplane of almost the same size as the Mann Egerton Type B, with a roomier fuselage, increased chord and gap and similar wing arrangement; the second was a patrol seaplane with the same fuselage and chassis as the first, but having equal-span three-bay wings analogous to Type 184. Two prototypes of each were ordered as a batch of four, the torpedo-planes (310 Type A) being S.299-300 (serials 8317-8318) and the patrol seaplanes (310 Type B) being S.311-312 (serials 8319-8320); the latter were alternatively known as ‘North Sea Scouts’. The Sunbeam engine, later named Cossack, was rated at 310 hp (normal) and 320 hp (maximum), but in production batches the normal rating was soon raised to 320 hp. Maximum priority was accorded to the torpedo version, once the engines were available, with a view to putting them to use in the Adriatic as soon as possible. General design features were similar to the 184’s, but the 18-in Mark IX torpedo (weighing 1,000 lb against the 810 lb of the 14-in Whitehead) was carried close under the belly of the fuselage. The rear cross-strut of the float chassis was made detachable to permit a clear passage when the torpedo was launched, and extra struts were provided to secure the inner faces of the floats while the cross-strut was removed. The engine installation was generally similar to that of the 260 hp Sunbeam in the 184, with the same block radiator above and an auxiliary radiator and oil cooler on the port side of the fuselage between the wings; in later production batches the main radiator was enlarged and the auxiliary unit deleted. At first the central exhaust manifold had a downswept stack, but this resulted in fumes in the cockpit and only after various vertical and lateral pipes had been tried was the final stack, upswept and canted to port, found satisfactory; for a time the prototypes had a parallel pair of pipes close together. The prototypes had four-bladed airscrews, but two-bladers were standard on production aircraft. The pilot occupied the rear cockpit, to obviate the need for ballast under a variety of loading conditions, and the front cockpit provided all the normal stowages and equipment for the observer, including W/T; in later batches there was also a Scarff ring mounted on struts level with the upper-wing trailing edge, which gave the observer a clear field of fire for a Lewis gun, but was a position of great exposure for which no alternative could be found; however, the observer could not be carried at the same time as a torpedo.
  The first prototype was ready for flight at Rochester in July 1916, and the second in August, both being first flown by Ronald Kemp. After acceptance, the two prototypes were urgently dispatched to the R.N.A.S. seaplane base at Otranto, where it was intended to station 12 of the type, but during early torpedo trials both seaplanes broke up in the air. At first it was thought that the rebound from suddenly releasing so great a weight might have been responsible for structural failure, but the defect was traced to the rear float attachment; this was redesigned with modified floats pitched farther apart and extra struts bracing the floats to the lower wings; the extra float struts were V-shaped welded tube assemblies which swung down when released for wing folding; a notice prominently painted on both sides of the fuselage read: ’Very Important: The Removable Rear Crossbar Must always be in Position Before the Wings are Folded’’, in this form the aircraft was designated the 310-A4. The second 310-B (S.312) was converted during construction into an additional 310-A4 in February 1917 and renumbered N1480. Production had already begun at Rochester with a batch of 30 (S.354-363, N1150-1159, and S.334-353, N1300-1319) for urgent delivery to Otranto and Malta, to be followed by batches of 24 (S.365-388, N1481-1504) and 20 (S.399-418, N1390-1409). Concurrently a contract was placed with Sunbeam for batches of 30 (N1360-1389) and 20 (N1690-1709) respectively; it seems that the final batches from Short Bros and Sunbeam were exchanged, probably to ease temporary supply difficulties. No later production was undertaken because official policy had changed in favour of deck-landing torpedo-planes, following successful trials after the second refit of H.M.S. Furious. On its first operation the 310-A4 was robbed of success by a sudden gale which wrecked all six of those detailed for a torpedo attack on the night of 3 September, 1917, against a flotilla of enemy submarines off Cattaro in the Adriatic. To conserve fuel, they were towed on rafts to Traste Bay, where they arrived successfully but were capsized by a sudden storm at 4 am, just at zero hour for take-off; so the opportunity passed, and no other chance presented itself within the capability of the aircraft for several months. Then, in January 1918, the German cruiser Goeben made a bolt for freedom through the Dardanelles but ran aground at Nagara Burnu; while stuck fast, she was repeatedly bombed without effect by the R.N.A.S., and two 310-A4s, with torpedoes, were hastily embarked on Manxman, but arrived too late to join in the attack, for after a week the Goeben’s crew refloated her and she escaped to shelter in the Bosphorus.
  To improve experience of torpedo launching, a series of trials were run at Calshot in February 1918, in which 40 torpedoes were launched by four 310-A4s; only three weapons were lost, and the lessons learned were put to use at the Torpedo School at Kalafrana, Malta. The majority of the 310-A4s in service were used in the long-range patrol role, when they had an endurance of six hours while carrying a crew of two and two 230-lb bombs. No submarine kill by a 310-A4 was ever confirmed, although a probable was scored by one from Kalafrana on a U-boat which attacked a French battleship off Malta on 8 February, 1918. The total number of 310-As built was 127, of which 50 remained in service with the R.A.F. at the Armistice; N1404 and N1409 were in use at Grain for experimental work in June 1918, and six, believed to be S.370-375 (N1485-1490), were supplied to the Imperial Japanese Navy for training and trials at the end of 1917.
  The 310-B, completed in September 1916, was not adopted for production, being not a sufficient improvement on the 184. Possibly if all the torpedo-seaplanes had been needed in their original role there would have been some justification for a structurally similar long-range Scout, but, with no niche to fill, the prototype S.311 (8319) was used in April 1917 only for air-firing trials at Grain of a 6-pounder Davis recoilless gun, arranged to fire upwards and forwards as an anti-Zeppelin weapon. It was mounted on a trammel across the rear cockpit, which also had a Lewis gun for self-defence; the pilot was in front as in the 184, which the 310-B closely resembled in layout, although it was bigger all round and its deeper fuselage gave better protection to the crew. For some reason, no doubt to improve the pilot’s view ahead as well as to avoid muzzle blast damage from the Davis gun, the top centre-section was left open and the radiator was separated laterally into two parallel blocks, with a clear space in the middle. The gun was a later model of that tested at Great Yarmouth in 1915 on Short pusher S.81 (726), but was still a single-shot type incapable of being reloaded in the air; in any case it could only be aimed at an angle to the flight path, so it was quite unsuitable for aerial use, even when directed downwards as an anti-submarine weapon.

Type 310-A4 - Span 75 ft (22-85 m); length 45 ft 9 in (13-9 in); area 810 sq ft (75-3 m2); empty weight 4,900 lb (2,222 kg); all-up weight 7,020 lb (3,185 kg); max speed 79 mph (127 km/h); duration 6 hr.
Type 310-B - Span 68 ft 6 in (20-85 m); area 800 sq ft (74-4 tn2); max speed 72 mph (116 km/h); all other data as for Type 310-A4.
The first prototype Short Type 310A, S.299, No 8317, carrying a torpedo at Rochester in July 1916. The figure on the extreme right ts Oswald Short.
Production 310-A4 N1397 ready for launching at Rochester in January 1918.
Ronald Kemp in N1150 at Rochester in February 1917; note slender vertical exhaust stack.
N1152 being unfolded on the jetty at Rochester in February 1917, showing alternative position of slender exhaust stack.
The first and only 310-B, S.311 (8319) at Rochester in September 1916.
8319 about to take off for trials of 6-pounder Davis gun at Grain in April 1917.
Short 310-A4
Short Experimental Seaplanes N.2A and N.2B

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  Horace Short died after a few days’ illness on 6 April, 1917, and Oswald rose nobly to the occasion and took over the supervision of all design, in which he was assisted by Francis Webber at Rochester and C. P. T. Lipscomb at Cardington; Eustace Short reserved his interest, as hitherto, for the balloon and airship side of the business, which occupied the works at Battersea and Cardington. The first completely new design produced after Horace Short’s death was a long-range two-seat patrol seaplane intended as a replacement for Type 184 as defined by Admiralty specification N.2B. Several prototypes were ordered, but only two (S.419-420, N66-67) were actually built, both having the 260 hp Sunbeam Maori I engine. Competitive designs were ordered from Fairey and J. Samuel White, and both these went into production with Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, but the Short N.2B was less favoured, and Oswald Short’s request to be allowed to fit an Eagle was rejected by Alec Ogilvie, who in 1917 had become Controller of Technical Design at the Air Board.
  The first prototype, N66, was launched at Rochester on 22 December, 1917; it had originally been designed with a radiator mounted on the upper centre-section, but was built with a frontal honeycomb radiator similar to that designed for Scout No.3. The engine cowling panels were hinged and liberally provided with louvres, and the fuselage was a refined version of Type 184’s, with a Scarff ring for the observer in the rear cockpit; the fin was smaller than the 184’s and of higher aspect ratio, as in Scout No. 3. The wings were unstaggered and folded back, but the upper wing was flat and its extended tips were strut-braced; the lower wing had dihedral and carried plywood floats attached directly under each wing-tip, as in Scout No. 1. N66 went to Grain for evaluation, and when tested there on 2 February, 1918, by Maurice Wright was found to have no better performance than Type 184 with the same engine, the climb to 10,000 ft taking 69 minutes. Oswald Short knew that with its original two-bladed airscrew its time to this height was less than 45 minutes and found that the testing station had substituted a four-blader; he insisted on the original airscrew being refitted, and on 22 March, 1918, an official test figure of 10,000 ft in 40 1/2 minutes was confirmed, but by then the decision to adopt the rival Fairey IIIC for the R.A.F. had been taken. The N.2B was unofficially dubbed the Camel Short because of the absence of dihedral on the top wing, and it seems that this association of ideas created an entirely unfounded prejudice against it in the minds of those who had unhappy memories of the Sopwith Camel.
  In the first prototype an attempt was made to improve performance by fairing the float to a point aft of the step and making the float bottom concave forward of the step; this was a compromise between the plain flat-bottomed pontoon and the long-heeled type developed for the German Hansa-Brandenburg monoplanes, which had operated so successfully from bases in the Heligoland Bight and the Friesian Islands. British attempts to emulate the Germans were unrewarding as a means of eliminating the parasitic tail and wing-tip floats, and after early trials of N66 normal flat-bottomed pontoons were adopted for the second N.2B, N67, which consequently had a larger tail-float; it also had smoother engine cowlings with fewer louvres, and the central exhaust stack was inclined to starboard to keep fumes out of the cockpits. N66 was allocated to Westgate for operational trials on 21 April, 1918, and on 16 May N67 was delivered from Rochester to Grain for seaworthiness trials in comparison with the second Farnborough-designed C.E.1 flying-boat N98, which also had a Maori engine. On 17 August N67 was damaged, new floats and new wings with reduced aileron area being fitted in September; it was serviceable again by 2 November and was sent to Westgate for operational trials from December 1918 to February 1919, after which it was loaned back to Short Brothers to be used as a basis for initial post-war civil projects. In February 1919 a mock-up was made of a modified N.2B fuselage with an enclosed cabin for six passengers between the wings and the pilot’s cockpit aft, foreshadowing later de Havilland designs. A 375 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine was proposed for this project, which was never built because no definite orders were promised. John Parker, who had not previously flown the N.2B, ferried N67 back to Rochester from Westgate on 1 March, 1919, and on 9 April repeated Frank McClean’s feat of flying through Tower Bridge on his way up the Thames to Westminster; this time he had as his passenger the Under-Secretary of State for War, General Seely, who had been summoned to reply to a Parliamentary Question while on a visit to Rochester and gladly accepted Oswald Short’s offer of ‘door-to-door’ air transport; although the overall flight time of 43 minutes was unspectacular, the ease with which Parker alighted alongside the terrace of the House of Commons and took off again after transferring his passenger to a motor-launch attracted favourable notice and focused public attention on the impending legalisation of civil aviation on 1 May, 1919, and the possibility of seaplane operation from sheltered water near a city centre.
  With this in mind and in defiance of the Air Ministry’s refusal to allow a Rolls-Royce Eagle to be officially tested in the N.2B, Oswald Short took the opportunity of extending the loan of the engine already borrowed for the Shamrock (as described later) from stocks reserved for the current F.3 flyingboat contract; this engine, a low-compression Eagle VIII (No. 5058), was installed in N67, using the radiator and cowling also salvaged from the Shamrock, and Parker flew it on 24 May with Oscar Gnosspelius as passenger; with the more powerful, but scarcely heavier, engine the N.2B’s performance was completely transformed, and it was off the water in four seconds and 50 yards; a brief first handling test of three minutes at 800 ft was followed by an hour’s flight, during which Parker climbed from 5,000 to 11,600 ft in 18 minutes. On 27 May Parker took Oswald Short for an 83-minute flight over London, climbing to 16,200 ft in 50 minutes and gliding back to the Medway with engine off in half an hour; but the top speed was increased by only 8 mph, and after one more flight over the marked speed course, with Gnosspelius as observer, the two-bladed airscrew was exchanged for a four-blader, which gave a speed of 90 mph at 2,000 ft when tested on 29 May. N67 was demonstrated to Sir Frederick Sykes on 1 June, when Parker and Gnosspelius reached 3,000 ft in 4 1/4 minutes. On 10 July it was taxied around on land for seven minutes with wheels attached to the floats, possibly to assess its prospects in the amphibian class of the Air Ministry’s proposed competition for civil aeroplanes, but no further work was done on these lines. On 26 July it was flown at a full load of 4,911 lb to 10,000 ft in 33 minutes and reached 93 mph at 2,000 ft, which put it ahead of the Fairey IIIC, but having illegally installed the forbidden Eagle, Oswald Short could hardly claim to have it retested at Grain. So, after one or two more flights, in which Parker took off straight across the Medway over Cuxton, the borrowed engine was returned to its crate and the Maori was reinstalled in N67, in which condition it was finally taken on charge by the R.A.F. at Grain on 2 January, 1920.

N.2B - Span 55 ft 2 in (16-8 tn); length 40 ft 2 in (12-2 m); area 678 sq ft (63 tn2); empty weight (Sunbeam) 3,120 lb (1,415 kg), (R-R) 3,200 lb (1,452 kg); all-up weight (Sunbeam) 4,741 lb (2,150 kg), (R-R) 4,912 lb (2,230 kg); max speed (Sunbeam) 92 mph (148 km/h), (R-R) 95 mph (152 km/h); duration 4-5 hr.
View of the first N.2B, N66, at Rochester in January 1918, showing main float-tail fairings and bomb racks.
N66, the first Short N.2B.
N67 with Rolls-Royce Eagle ‘illegally’ installed about to take off at Rochester on 24 May, 1919, with two-bladed airscrew.
N67 flying with ‘illegal Eagle’ and four-blader on 1 June, 1919.
John Parker and General Seely arriving at Westminster in N67 on 9 April, 1919, having flown through Tower Bridge en route; soon after 1 May, when civil aviation legally began, flights through Tower Bridge were prohibited.
The second N.2B, N67, at Grain in 1920, showing plain floats and revised engine cowling.
Short N.2b (First machine), N.2b (Second machine)
Short Experimental Seaplanes N.2A and N.2B

  The Royal Naval Air Service employed single-seat scout seaplanes from the earliest days of the war, and by 1916 had gained a comprehensive knowledge of their capabilities and limitations; they were almost exclusively derived from the Sopwith Tabloid, winner of the Schneider Trophy in 1914, and Sopwith Babies were built in large numbers by both the parent company and Blackburn; there was also an improved version redesigned by Fairey, called the Hamble Baby and built by both Fairey and Parnall. They were flown from many shore stations and formed part of the complement of most of the early seaplane carriers. As the U-boat menace increased, the diversity and quantity of gear required to be carried by anti-submarine scouts became too much for a solo pilot to cope with, and the need for a small fast two-seat seaplane became evident. During the latter part of 1916 Short Brothers put forward two designs for this role; the first was a ‘pint-size’ version of the 310-A seaplane, proposed by Horace Short, while the second represented a different approach by Oswald Short in collaboration with the Admiralty Board of Inventions and Research; both designs were intended to satisfy the Air Department’s specification N.2A, which covered seaplanes and deck-landing landplanes. One prototype of each was ordered, the first from Rochester and the second from Eastchurch, both with the same engine, the 200 hp Sunbeam Afridi.
  The Rochester machine, Experimental Scout No. 1, S.313 (serial N36), was ready first and was launched on 2 January, 1917; it was a stubby single-bay sesquiplane with the upper wing span much greater than the lower; the crew were placed close together behind the wings, which carried plywood wing-tip floats and were slightly staggered. The top centre section was open and incorporated a false spar aft of the true rear spar so as to provide vertical hinges for wing folding. A refinement was the completely submerged radiator below the engine, for which cooling air was taken in through the open front cowling and discharged through side ducts above the lower wing roots. The engine was enclosed in a hinged, many-louvred bonnet, like a motor-car, and had bifurcated downswept exhaust pipes in front. Official insistence on compactness had resulted in the fuselage being shortened to the limit, and consequently Ronald Kemp found it nose-heavy and could not get it off the water, as it had insufficient elevator control; to put matters right an extra bay was inserted in the rear fuselage, increasing the tail arm by 2 ft; thus modified, it was redesignated Experimental Scout No. 2 and was flown rather precariously by Kemp on 23 January, but its handling and performance were disappointing, so it was abandoned.
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Scout No. 1 - Span 46 ft (14 m); length 31 ft 6 in (96 tn); area 450 sq ft (41-8 m3). Scout No. 2—Length 33 ft 6 in (10-2 m); otherwise as for Scout No. 1.
Scout No.1, S.313, on the jetty outside No.2 Shop at Rochester in January 1917.
More views of S.313, showing the false rear spar for wing-folding and the air outlet from the buried radiator, also the boat-built wing-tip floats.
Scout No. 2 on the water at Rochester on 23 January, 1917; it was simply Scout No.1 with an extra 2-ft bay inserted aft of the gunner’s cockpit.
Short Experimental Seaplanes N.2A and N.2B

  The Royal Naval Air Service employed single-seat scout seaplanes from the earliest days of the war, and by 1916 had gained a comprehensive knowledge of their capabilities and limitations; they were almost exclusively derived from the Sopwith Tabloid, winner of the Schneider Trophy in 1914, and Sopwith Babies were built in large numbers by both the parent company and Blackburn; there was also an improved version redesigned by Fairey, called the Hamble Baby and built by both Fairey and Parnall. They were flown from many shore stations and formed part of the complement of most of the early seaplane carriers. As the U-boat menace increased, the diversity and quantity of gear required to be carried by anti-submarine scouts became too much for a solo pilot to cope with, and the need for a small fast two-seat seaplane became evident. During the latter part of 1916 Short Brothers put forward two designs for this role; the first was a ‘pint-size’ version of the 310-A seaplane, proposed by Horace Short, while the second represented a different approach by Oswald Short in collaboration with the Admiralty Board of Inventions and Research; both designs were intended to satisfy the Air Department’s specification N.2A, which covered seaplanes and deck-landing landplanes. One prototype of each was ordered, the first from Rochester and the second from Eastchurch, both with the same engine, the 200 hp Sunbeam Afridi.
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  Experimental Scout No. 3, S.364, was entirely different in layout and indicated the divergence of young Oswald Short’s ideas from those of his eldest brother. Although both were empiricists first and last, and Oswald had learned the art of design from Horace, he had taken notice of some wind-tunnel results obtained at the N.P.L. on various aerofoil sections and wing-plan shapes. While agreeing with Horace’s preference for ‘plenty of leading edge’, i.e. a high aspect ratio, he wanted to try the effect of low-drag wings of B.I.R.31 section, combined with elliptical wing-tips, a large gap and a reduced fin area. So when S.364 appeared on Queenborough Pier on 9 March, 1917, its slender lines and generally ‘tall’ aspect were in marked contrast to the traditional Short layout. Another difference was the stiff straight trailing edge, which replaced the familiar cusped boundary formed by a hemp cord stretched between the tails of the ribs; cord had been used for some years to avoid the salt-water corrosion which attacked stranded wire trailing edges, causing the fabric to rot and split, however carefully protected. S.364 was first flown by John Parker on 27 March and found to be tail-heavy and seriously under-powered. Later a 260 hp Sunbeam Maori I engine replaced the Afridi and larger floats were fitted to carry the increased weight, but even then the military load was limited to two 65-lb bombs in addition to the observer’s Scarff ring and Lewis gun. At the same time Admiralty policy veered in favour of deck-landing aeroplanes, following initial experiments on the aircraft-carrier Furious, so further development of small two-seater seaplanes ceased early in 1918.
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Scout No. 3 - Span 39 ft (11-8 m); length 28 ft (8-53 m); area 375 sq ft (35-9 m2); weights and performance not recorded.
Scout No.3, S.364, was built at Eastchurch and is here seen after launching at Queenborough on 9 March, 1917.
Scout No.3 at Grain in August 1917, with larger main floats.
The Short N.1B Shirl

  The story of how the first carrier-borne torpedo-aeroplane, the Sopwith Cuckoo, came into existence has been well told elsewhere, and it is only necessary to recall here that the R.N.A.S. might never have had such a weapon after Commodore Murray Sueter’s posting to the Mediterranean in January 1917, had not work on the prototype been revived six months later at the instigation of Wing Commander Arthur Longmore, who noticed it, set aside half-finished, during a visit to the Sopwith works. The Cuckoo proved to be an excellent aeroplane, its main drawback being that its 1,000-lb Mark IX torpedo was not powerful enough to be effective against large warships. The Admiralty therefore called, in the autumn of 1917, for a generally similar single-seat aeroplane to carry a Mark VIII torpedo weighing 1,423 lb, with a warhead 50 per cent larger than the Mark IX’s; the requirements were embodied in specification N.1B (which was revised as RAF XXII after April 1918), and since deck-landing was not yet operationally practicable, because of delays in completing the new carriers Argus and Eagle, ditching gear and jettisonable wheels were specified, so that the returning aircraft could be salvaged if unable to reach a shore base after launching its missile. Tenders were submitted by two firms, Blackburn and Short Bros, and each received a contract for three prototypes to be powered by the Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine of 385 hp.
  The Short proposal, later named Shirl, was a simple, solid, two-bay biplane; its fuselage was covered throughout with plywood to resist the effects of temporary immersion, and the wings and tail-unit were similar in construction to those of Oswald Short’s previous design, the N.2B, with four ailerons, cord trailing edges and folding gear; the wings were of equal span, with square tips and neither stagger nor sweep-back. The engine was neatly cowled, with a frontal honeycomb radiator, and the landing chassis was arranged for release after take-off. At first this was a simple expendable two-wheeled cross-axle arrangement, and in this form the first prototype Shirl (S.421, N110) was flown at Grain on 27 May, 1918, by John Parker, climbing to 10,000 ft with full load in 21 minutes; next day the test was repeated with a four-bladed airscrew but found inferior, so the original two-blader was refitted on 29 May. A few days later he delivered it by air to Martlesham Heath, carrying a dummy Mark VIII torpedo; five minutes after take-off the petrol-pump drive sheared and he had to make a hurried forced landing, but the trouble was quickly rectified and he was able to take off again; he then found that the throttle control adjustment had been displaced during the repair and that he was unable to close it. As he was determined not to abandon the delivery flight, he stayed on his course and prevented the engine from overspeeding by maintaining a steady climb; this resulted in his arrival over Martlesham at a height of 12,000 ft, from which he executed a masterly ‘deadstick’ landing with the ignition switched off.
  On completion of its official tests, with a temporary restriction of the engine to 345 hp, the first Shirl was returned to Rochester for modifications, including incorporation of a small amount of sweep-back to counteract tail heaviness when flotation bags were installed in the rear fuselage. At the same time a new landing chassis was fitted to permit either normal landing or ditching to be selected, irrespective of when the torpedo was launched. The revised chassis comprised two separate units, each with a tubular skid carrying a pair of wheels on a short cross-axle, a large flotation bag which could be inflated rapidly from a compressed-air bottle and a small hydrovane at the forward end of the skid. The axles were rubber-sprung and could be jettisoned for deck-landing or ditching, and the skids were carried by inclined struts from the bottom longerons and from the wing spars below the inner interplane struts. This arrangement allowed the torpedo to be launched without affecting the landing-gear configuration, although jury struts had to be rigged before the wings could be folded. N110 was completed in this form on 1 July, 1918, and underwent satisfactory ditching trials at Grain. The second Shirl (S.422, N111), built to the same overall standard, but with larger ailerons and a fixed tailplane, was dispatched to Grain from Rochester on 8 July; it was urgently needed for trials at the Torpedo Aeroplane School at East Fortune, near Dunbar, and Parker hoped to be able to fly it there immediately after a preliminary test flight at Grain. Unfortunately his first brief handling trial showed N111 to be considerably more tail-heavy than expected, but a rapid consultation with Oswald Short indicated that an increase of tailplane incidence by 4 degrees would put matters right; the tailplane was removed at noon, new fittings were made in the Grain workshops and by four o’clock Parker was ready for a second flight, before which he took on a full load of fuel; he found longitudinal control satisfactory, so flew straight on to arrive at East Fortune 4 1/2 hours later. He cruised most of the 400 miles at 13,000 ft, his only instruments being radiator thermometer, engine tachometer, altimeter, cross-level, fore-and-aft level, an air-speed indicator that did not indicate and a small compass which had not been swung; but he found the Shirl a remarkably stable and untiring machine to fly and arrived with plenty of fuel in reserve, which proved the aerodynamic efficiency of the design.
  At East Fortune the Shirl took part in operational torpedo trials along with the Blackburn Blackburd, but in spite of their higher power and weight-lifting ability, both lacked the agility of the Sopwith Cuckoo in taking evasive action after an attack. After these trials N111 went to Martlesham for performance testing on 24 August, 1918, and was flown at a gross weight of over 6,000 lb; although its performance was excellent, it was criticised for not having a tailplane incidence adjuster like N110; consequently N111 was found to be tail-heavy with the torpedo and nose-heavy without it. The third Shirl (S.423, N112) was not completed till 11 December and was delivered to Gosport early in 1919, being flown back to Eastchurch by Parker on 28 March in a hailstorm; thereafter it was flown at various weights to assess its potential as a civil mail-carrier; for this role a large plywood container of half a ton capacity was slung from the torpedo rack; on 1 April it failed to take-off at 7,400 lb, but three days later it climbed to 5,000 ft in 25 minutes at 6,762 lb. It had a revised tailplane adjuster and a new chassis which dispensed with the underwing struts, so that no jury struts were needed for wing folding. Shorts had been invited to quote for a batch of 20 Shirls in February 1919 and promised delivery in April, but the order was not confirmed, and a production contract already awarded to Blackburn for 100 Shirls was also cancelled in favour of more Cuckoos.
  The Shirl’s stability, fuel economy and weight-lifting ability made it an attractive proposition for an attempt to win the Daily Mail’s £10,000 prize for the first non-stop crossing of the North Atlantic, first offered in 1914 and revived in March 1919. It was proposed to convert N112 into a two-seater for this purpose, and a few retouched photographs were issued by Short Brothers to show it as such, but the conversion was never made because the Air Ministry refused to lend it for this purpose, although they offered to make an engine available. Thereupon Short Brothers decided to sponsor the flight as a private venture and built a special variant of the Shirl, S.538, with increased wing area and an external fuel tank giving a still-air range of 3,200 miles, the total tankage being 435 gallons of petrol, 30 gallons of oil and 18 gallons of water. This was sufficient for an east-west flight against the prevailing summer headwinds, and it was planned to start from The Curragh, near Kildare in Ireland, where three square miles of level turf could provide a long unobstructed take-off path in any direction. S.538, nicknamed the Shamrock, was completed at Rochester at the end of March, with three-bay wings of 62 ft 2 in span and a large cylindrical fuel tank slung from the torpedo-rack attachment points; its low-compression Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine (No. 5058) was a short-term loan from Air Ministry stocks already held for the F.3 flying-boats being built at Rochester. The Shamrock was unregistered, but its fuselage and wing struts were painted white, with roundels on the khaki-doped wings, the Union Jack emblazoned on the fin and rudder and the maker’s name and address prominently displayed on the fuselage sides; in addition to its crew of two, it carried their food, electrically heated clothing, lighting, maps, sextant, long-range W/T and direction-finding radio; to save weight it used a plain cross-axle chassis of the type initially fitted to the first Shirl; it also had a very large two-bladed airscrew whose pitch was coarse enough to prevent the engine exceeding its most economic cruising rpm; this limited it to 1,400 rpm on the ground, and was one of the reasons for choosing The Curragh as the starting-point. The pilot for the Atlantic flight was Major J. C. P. Wood and his navigator was Capt C. C. Wyllie; substantial support was given by C. C. Wakefield & Co, proprietors of Castrol engine oil. Parker made four preliminary test flights in the Shamrock, the first (of four minutes) on 8 April, when it was found to be tail-heavy, and the second next day, when he climbed to 9,000 ft in 28 minutes with 200 gallons of fuel and Major Wood as passenger.
  On 18 April, 1919, at a gross weight of8,400 lb, the Shamrock took off from Eastchurch at 3.15 pm to fly to The Curragh, and was accompanied by Parker flying N112. The two aircraft flew at 3,500 ft and passed over Holyhead at 7.20 pm, but 12 miles out to sea the Shamrock’s engine stopped and, finding that he could not restart it, Major Wood turned back in an attempt to reach land by gliding; he nearly succeeded, but had to ditch about a mile off Anglesey. Wood and Wyllie were both rescued by H.M.S. Paisley, and Parker managed to land his Shirl in a very small field, but broke the airscrew and some chassis struts against a stone boundary wall. The Shamrock floated well, and was in the water for 22 hours before it could be towed into Holyhead and beached; it was taken back to Rochester for inspection and repair, and the cause of the engine stoppage was found to be an air-lock in the fuel transfer system. It was hoped to make a further attempt, but the effects of a whole day’s immersion in sea-water were too serious for a quick overhaul, and in July the prize was won by Alcock and Brown in a Vickers Vimy, as everyone knows. Meanwhile, the Shamrock’s, radiator and engine had been borrowed for temporary installation in the second N.2B seaplane N67, as already recorded. So the Shamrock was abandoned, but the Shirl N112 was repaired and again test-flown by Parker at Eastchurch for 40 minutes on 28 July, 1919, before final delivery to the R.A.F. Twenty years later, when Short Brothers established their new factory at Belfast, Sqn Ldr J. C. P. Wood had become Officer Commanding R.A.F. Station Aldergrove; as the senior R.A.F. officer in Northern Ireland, it was his duty to attend official ceremonies, including the Opening of Parliament at Stormont, in full ‘plumage’, but he was known everywhere by his nickname ‘Atlantic Jim’.

Shirl - Span 52 ft (15-85 m); length 35 ft (10-66 m); area 791 sq ft (73-5 m2); empty weight 3,300 lb (1,497 kg); normal all-up weight 5,950 lb (2,700 kg); max speed 92 mph (148 km/h); normal duration 6-5 hr; max overload weight 6,762 lb (3,065 kg) associated with 85 mph (137 km/h) and duration 10 hr.
Shamrock - Span 62 ft 2 in (18-95 m); length 35 ft (10-66 m); area 1,015 sq ft (94 3 m2); empty weight 3,962 lb (1,798 kg); max weight 8,400 lb (3,810 kg); duration 40 hr at 80 mph (129 km/h).
First Shirl, N110, at Grain on 27 May, 1918.
The second Short Shirl, N111, at the Isle of Grain in July 1918, before its flight to East Fortune; note the twin-wheel and skid undercarriage.
N111 launching a torpedo off Dunbar in July 1918.
Third Shirl, N112, at Eastchurch in April 1919, showing the final chassis design and the experimental half-ton mail container.
The Shamrock, S.538, being prepared for flight at Grain on 8 April, 1919.
The Shamrock about to take off from Grain for Ireland on 18 April, 1919.
Short Shirl, Shamrock
The Short Sporting Type Seaplane

  Short Brothers’ first post-war product was a single-engined twin-float biplane called the Sporting Type Seaplane, which originated from a cancelled contract of early 1918 for two prototype training seaplanes to specification RAF XXXII. The Sporting Type had an overall resemblance to the N.2B, having a flat top wing and hollow-bottomed main floats with short faired tails aft of the steps, but the wings were of equal span and chord; the standard Short wing-folding gear was fitted. Nominally a four-seater, it had two cockpits, the front one seating two pilots in tandem with full dual controls, and the rear one seating two passengers side-by-side, or equivalent cargo; thus the seaplane could be used equally well as a trainer or a transport. The fuselage was a semi-monocoque structure with curved sides, flat top and bottom and several bulkheads, all in plywood; the fuselage top was faired by a lightweight fabric-coveted decking. The wing structure was equally novel, with steel-tube spars and struts and fretted plywood ribs; it was the last Short design to employ the characteristic flexible cord trailing edge and represented Francis Webber’s boldest essay in plywood at a time when Oswald Short was preparing to abandon wood altogether. The engine installed in the first machine was a 160 hp Beardmore of proven reliability and reasonable economy, with an oval frontal honeycomb radiator equipped with horizontal shutters. Fuel was carried in a 20-gallon main tank in the fuselage, whence it was pumped to a 12-gallon gravity tank on the centre-section. There were no wing-tip floats and the tail-float was directly attached to the underside of the fuselage and carried a hollow water rudder containing a spring-loaded drop-plate, which improved steering while taxying and hinged upwards on grounding in shallow water. Watertight transverse tubes were provided in the main floats forward of the steps, to accept an axle with two wheels for beaching, and the tail-float had a vertical socket into which a swivelling jockey wheel could be plugged. Three versions of the Sporting Type were offered: the original Beardmore model for touring, a primary trainer with a Siddeley Puma of 230 hp and an advanced trainer with a 300 hp Hispano-Suiza.
  Three seaplanes (S.540, 541 and 542) were built, and John Parker flew the first with the Beardmore on 10 December, 1919, and found it handled well; named Shrimp as an afterthought, it was registered G-EAPZ, and in February 1920 it was enamelled white and demonstrated to Lebbaeus Hordern of Sydney, who bought it and learned to fly on it, taught by Parker; on 22 March the registration was transferred to his name, and after substituting a Puma engine he shipped it to Australia in June 1921. It was entered on the Australian Civil Register in June 1922 as G-AUPZ and thereafter flown by Capt Frank Hurley, an explorer, who made two surveys of the coast of New Guinea recorded by cine camera and gramophone, out of which was made a travel film entitled Pearls and Savages', this would have delighted Horace Short had he survived a few more years, in view of his adventures in those parts 30 years before. The film featured the Shrimp at Port Moresby and Elavala, and ran for three months at the Regent Street Polytechnic Cinema in London in 1924. The Shrimp created much interest among the Papuans, who recognised the twin floats as something akin to their own traditional catamarans, and called it ‘the canoe that goes for up’. Capt Hurley found it excellently suited to this kind of exploration, with a good tropical performance, but the wooden floats gave constant trouble, as they dried out during flight and leaked on re-immersion; all-metal floats would have avoided this defect. Finally, G-AUPZ was written off after crashing in Sydney Harbour on its return from New Guinea in January 1923.
  The second Sporting Type was shown at Olympia in July 1920 and differed from the Shrimp in having equal dihedral on both wings; registered G-EAUA, it was flown by Parker with a Puma engine on 28 July and again on several days between 11 and 27 August. Ronald Kemp was interested in it as possible equipment for the Air Survey Company, but damaged it in a heavy landing at Rochester on 24 September; while under repair, the opportunity was taken to install a 300 hp Hispano-Suiza and full-span camber-changing flaps; thus modified, it was first flown by Reggie Kenworthy on 10 December, 1921, while Parker was in Japan. Parker himself flew it for the first time on 1 September, 1922, but found it a poor climber, at its best with normal camber; after a further flight on 16 September, he confirmed that variable camber was ineffective on this particular design, and the second aircraft, with dihedral on both wings, was more stable laterally than the first had been. G-EAUA was flown only twice more, on 7 and 28 March, 1923, when Parker gave dual instruction for 40 minutes on each day to four pilots converting to seaplanes. The third seaplane, G-EAUB, was identical to the second as originally built, and was first flown on 21 January, 1921, by Parker, who demonstrated it to various prospective buyers during February, but without effecting a sale; then it was stored during his absence in Japan and had still not found a buyer in 1923, in spite of being advertised at a bargain price; both the second and third airframes were scrapped in 1924, their engines and instruments having been borrowed for other purposes. The Beardmore originally fitted to the Shrimp was used in May 1921 in an experimental ‘water glider’, and the 300 hp Hispano-Suiza from the second machine was the basis of a larger twin-float high-speed ‘skimmer’ in which Parker reached 40 kt on the Medway on 17 May, 1924. These craft were intended for shallow waterways and lagoons and anticipated the later exploitation of hovercraft for the same purpose, although they were not, of course, amphibious like a ground-effect machine.

Span 44 ft 6 in (13-6 m); length 36 ft 9 in (11-2 m); area 510 sq ft (47-4 m2); all-up weight (Beardmore) 3,100 lb (1,407 kg), (Puma and H-S) 3,554 lb (1,613 kg); max speed (Beardmore) 83 mph (134 km/h), (Puma) 95 mph (153 km/h), (Hispano-Suiza) 100 mph (161 km/h); range (Puma) 270 miles (434 km).
The first Sporting Type Seaplane on its beaching wheels at Rochester in December 1919.
Four up in the Shrimp G-EAPZ in February, 1920.
The first Sporting Type taking off from the Medway on 10 December, 1919.
Short Sporting Type Seaplane