C.Barnes Short Aircraft since 1900 (Putnam)
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).
A.Jackson British Civil Aircraft since 1919 vol.3 (Putnam)
Commercial seaplane sometimes known as the Short Sporting Type, powered by one 240 h.p. Siddeley Puma, built at Rochester 1919-20. Two front seats in tandem with dual control, two rear seats side by side. Three aircraft only: G-EAPZ, c/n S.540, initially with 160 h.p. Beardmore, sold in Australia 3.21 as G-AUPZ; G-EAUA, c/n S.541, exhibited at Olympia 7.20, damaged in heavy landing, Rochester 24.9.20, rebuilt with 300 h.p. Hispano-Suiza and camber-changing flaps; G-EAUB, c/n S.542, first flown 21.1.21, dismantled 1924.
Span, 44 ft. 6 in. Length, 36 ft. 9 in. A.U.W., 3,554 lb. Max. speed, 85 m.p.h.