C.Barnes Short Aircraft since 1900 (Putnam)
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.
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.
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.
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
Another Short floatplane design which remained simply a prototype was the S.364, a two-seat, two-bay, equal-span biplane which represented a complete breakaway from the usual intricate type of seaplane layout which had succeeded design after design from Rochester. Remarkably clean folding wing cellules, with a straight trailing edge and elliptical tips, housed upper and lower ailerons, and the 200 h.p. Sunbeam Afridi engine and its frontal radiator were neatly cowled into the fuselage of simple lines. The centresection struts were exceedingly slim and encompassed the pilot’s cockpit. His observer sat some way aft of the trailing edges in a cockpit surmounted by a Scarff ring-mounting for his Lewis gun. The S.364 was out of the factory in March, 1917, but made no headway towards a production order, despite its promising appearance.
P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
March, 1917, saw the appearance of another Short scout seaplane, the S.364 two-seat biplane powered with the 200 h.p. Sunbeam Afridi. Two-bay wings of equal span were used and, compared with the ungainly angularity of other Short products of the period, the S.364 presented a far tidier picture. A single Lewis gun was provided for the rear cockpit’s Scarff ring but the S.364 was not developed beyond the prototype stage.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Short S.364 (Scout No 3)
Although Short Bros Ltd was better known for the company’s large torpedo-carrying seaplanes during the First World War, both Horace and Oswald Short became interested in producing designs intended to meet the Air Department’s Specification N.2A for a two-seat float-equipped scout. What came to be known as Experimental Scout No 1, N36, was designed by Horace in 1916 and was in some respects a scaled-down adaptation of the large Type 310A seaplane. Launched at Rochester on 2 January 1917, the aircraft failed to get airborne in its initial form and, although the fuselage was lengthened to increase the elevator moment and the aircraft was flown by Ronald Kemp three weeks later, it was clear that the design would not interest the Admiralty. (Horace Short was to die on 6 April after a short illness, and his younger brother Oswald took over responsibility for leading the company’s design staff.)
A more realistic approach had, however, already be adopted by Oswald, producing a somewhat more compact two-bay biplane with unstaggered wings of equal span. This was referred to by its company sequence number S.364 (and also as Scout No 3) and, with a 200hp Sunbeam Afridi engine, was first flown by John Lankester Parker on 27 March. It was however found to be underpowered and in due course the engine was replaced by a 260hp Sunbeam Maori.
The fuselage was a box-girder structure with rounded top decking. The twin main floats had been found to be too narrow for safety on the water and were replaced by wider and deeper floats; small cylindrical wing floats were attached under the lower wings directly below the outboard interplane struts. The wings were of an experimental Admiralty aerofoil design, BRI.31, intended to give moderate lift but low drag. No forward gun was envisaged, the armament consisting solely of a Lewis gun on the observer’s cockpit with a Scarff ring.
Although the Admiralty expressed polite interest in the S.364, which had, after all, been designed to the N.2A Specification, the aircraft - as with most Short seaplanes - was expensive, the airframe being costed at f 1,200 and the Maori engine at almost £1,400. By contrast, the Sopwith Pup in its ship-borne version, cost £770, plus just under £700 for the 100hp Gnome, apart from being armed with a front gun and possessing a top speed some 20 mph greater than the S.364. Of course the two aircraft were in no way comparable, yet it was the Pup’s ability to operate from a fairly wide range of vessels with a wheel undercarriage that rendered the N.2A Specification largely superfluous.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, twin-float, two-bay biplane scout seaplane.
Manufacturer: Short Bros Ltd, Rochester, Kent.
Powerplant: One 200hp Sunbeam Afridi liquid-cooled in-line engine; later replaced by 260hp Sunbeam Maori twelve-cylinder in-line engine.
Dimensions: Span, 39ft 0in; length, 28ft 0in; wing area, 375 sq ft.
Armament: One 0.303in Lewis machine gun with Scarff ring on rear cockpit; provision to carry two 65lb bombs.
Prototype: One (first flown by John Lankester Parker on 27 March 1917); no production.
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
THE Short seaplane which bore the works number S.364. was quite the neatest and cleanest seaplane built by Short Brothers during the 1914-18 war. It appeared in March, 1917, a two-bay equal-span biplane of rather small overall dimensions, powered by a 200 h.p. Sunbeam engine. The wings had finely-shaped elliptical tips and were designed to fold; they had a rigid trailing edge in place of the wire which had been used on earlier Shorts, and therefore did not have the characteristic scalloped appearance. The tail-unit was much smaller than that of any Short seaplane since the S.41.
The fuselage was a simple box structure with a rounded top-decking; the pilot sat under the centresection and the observer’s cockpit, surmounted by a Scarff ring-mounting, was some considerable distance farther aft. An experimental aerofoil section, designed to Admiralty Specification B.I.R.31, was used.
The S.364 was probably designed for use from light cruisers and other vessels not equipped for carrying aircraft. The fact that it was not developed further may have been due to the successful use of landplanes such as the Sopwith Pup for shipboard flying.
Manufacturers: Short Brothers, Rochester.
Power: 200 h.p. Sunbeam Afridi.
Armament: One Lewis machine-gun on Scarff ring-mounting on the rear cockpit; two 65-lb bombs.
Serial Number: The serial number N.36 was allotted to a 200 h.p. Short seaplane, and was probably appropriate to the Short S.364.