C.Barnes Short Aircraft since 1900 (Putnam)
Short Experimental Seaplanes N.2A and N.2B
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.
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.
F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
The first new seaplane produced by the Rochester manufacturers, Short Bros Ltd, after the death of Horace Short on 6 April 1917, was designed to Air Board Specification N.2B, and was therefore in direct competition with the Fairey III and the Wight Converted Seaplane.
Design of the Short N.2B was the responsibility of Francis Webber, under the supervision of Oswald Short, and the first aircraft appeared rather later than its rivals, the prototypes being based on use of the 260hp Sunbeam Maori I engine. As both the Fairey and Wight had been ordered into production with Rolls-Royce Eagles, Oswald sought permission to use the same engine but, owing to an anticipated shortage of these engines, his request was refused.
Eight prototype Short N.2Bs were ordered but only the first two were completed. The aircraft was a two-seat, two-bay folding biplane with prominent wing overhang, braced by outward-raked pairs of struts. The Maori was fully cowled with copious provision of cooling louvres and with a frontal radiator. The main floats were complemented by an outrigged tail float and wingtip floats, and the bomb load of two 230 lb bombs was carried on side-by-side racks under the fuselage.
The first aircraft, N66, was launched at Rochester on 22 December 1917 and flown before the end of that month, being delivered for evaluation at the Isle of Grain on 2 Februarv 1918. Here it was seen to possess no better performance than the established Short Type 184, and subsequent efforts to reduce drag, and therefore improve performance, achieved little benefit.
A second prototype, N67, was flown early in 1918 with shorter floats and a generally tidied-up engine cowling with fewer louvres, but it was obvious that, no matter what cosmetic treatment was applied, the Maori engine did not impart adequate power, and work on the other prototypes was abandoned.
Rather later, in 1919, Oswald Short had a borrowed, low-compression Rolls-Royce Eagle installed in N67 but, although this imparted a small speed improvement, it was much too late to consider the aircraft in the context of Specification N.2B. N67 had its Maori reinstated at the end of that year and was taken on RAF charge in January 1920.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, two-bay biplane, patrol bomber twin-float seaplane.
Air Board Specification: Type N.2B
Manufacturer: Short Brothers, Rochester, Kent.
Powerplant: One 260hp Sunbeam Maori I water-cooled in-line engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 55ft 2in; length, 40ft 2in; height, 13ft 9in; wing area, 678 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 3,280 lb; all-up, 4,911 lb.
Performance: Max speed, 92 mph at sea level; climb to 6,500ft, 19 min 30 sec; service ceiling, 10,600ft.
Armament: One 0.303in Lewis machine gun with Scarff ring on rear cockpit; bomb load of two 230 lb bombs on underfuselage racks.
Prototypes: Two, N66 and N67. N66 first flown in December 1917. No production. (Six other aircraft, N68-N73, cancelled.)
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
Most prolific producers of seaplane designs during the war, Short Brothers built two examples - N66 and N67 - of the N.2B patrol-bomber, their final floatplane to appear before the Armistice. A far tidier design than were most of those emanating from Rochester in the course of the 1914-18 War, N66 made its bow on 22nd September, 1917, powered by a neatly-cowled 275 h.p. Sunbeam Maori. Although the N.2B was cleaner than its predecessors, one of the less happy aspects of the design was that of the considerable gap which separated the two cockpits - already established clearly as a bad feature in a multi-seater.
The N.2B departed from previous Short practice in several respects. Although it retained the usual unequal-span, two-bay wing cellules, bracing of the upper tips’ overhang was by a pair of splayed struts instead of the wire and kingpost arrangement employed hitherto. A frontal radiator took the place of the customary view-obstructing box type so often installed on the fore-decking before the pilot. Flush-fitted wooden floats served under the wingtips instead of the old style of wrinkled air-bags, but the main floats followed the normal pattern of flat-sided pontoons. Those fitted to N66 were shaped with one step and concave undersides, but N67 received a pair with unbroken bottoms. The N.2B’s offensive load consisted of two 230 lb. bombs stored beneath the fuselage; a Scarff ring around the rear cockpit held the observer’s Lewis gun.
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
THE last Short seaplane of the war period was the Type N.2B, fitted with the 275 h.p. Sunbeam Maori engine, which appeared on December 22nd, 1917. It was a two-bay biplane with extensions on the upper wing; the extensions were neatly braced by struts in place of the copious cable and king-post bracing which had been used on earlier types. Ailerons were fitted to the upper wing only, which had no dihedral; the lower wing was rigged with a marked dihedral angle.
The pilot sat under the centre-section, and the observer was situated several feet farther aft. The original design envisaged a radiator on the leading edge of the centre-section, but the N.2B appeared with a neat frontal radiator disposed round the airscrew shaft. The tail-unit was still of characteristic Short design, but the fin and rudder were of smaller area than those of the earlier Short two-seat patrol seaplanes with the exception of the S.364.
For the first time on a Short machine, the wing-tip floats were covered with mahogany and were attached directly to the spars of the lower wings; the earlier Shorts had all had simple fabric-covered canisters mounted on short struts below the wings.
The main floats of the first N.2B, which was numbered N.66, were single-step structures which had concave undersides; but when N.67 appeared it had conventional pontoon-type floats with flat-bottom surfaces. This second N.2B had a different radiator and slightly shorter ailerons; and its exhaust stack was canted over to starboard.
The N.2B was intended for service as a patrol bomber and had quite a good performance in its day. However, it seems to have appeared too late for development and production to be undertaken. The N.2Bs were not scrapped immediately the war ended, for N.67 gave Londoners a fine close-up of a Service seaplane on April 9th, 1919, when it landed on the Thames at Westminster. Its passenger was the Under Secretary of State for Air, General Seely, who had flown from Rochester in the aircraft.
Manufacturers: Short Brothers, Rochester.
Power: 275 h.p. Sunbeam Maori.
Dimensions: Span: upper 55 ft 2 in. Length: 40 ft 2 in. Height: 13 ft 9 in. Chord: upper 7 ft 6in., lower 6 ft 6 in. Gap: maximum 7 ft. Span of tail: 15 ft 6 in. Airscrew diameter: 10 ft 6 in.
Weights (lb) and Performance:
No. of Trial Report N.M.119 N.M. 136
Date of Trial Report February 2nd, 1918 March 22nd, 1918
Type of airscrew used on trial A.B.716 -
Weight empty 3,119 3,280
Military load 659 673
Crew 360 360
Fuel and oil 603 598
Weight loaded 4,741 4,911
Maximum speed (m.p.h.) at
sea level - 92
2,000 ft 88 90
6,500 ft 86 88-5
10,000 ft 83-5 83-5
m. s. m. s.
2,000 ft 5 25 4 50
6,500 ft 24 30 19 30
10,000 ft 69 00 40 35
Service ceiling (feet) 8,400 10,600
Endurance (hours) 4 1/2 -
Areas: Wings: 678 sq ft.
Tankage: Petrol: 70 gallons.
Armament: One Lewis machine-gun on Scarff ring-mounting on rear cockpit. Two 230-lb bombs on racks under the fuselage.
Production: It is believed that only two prototypes, N.66 and N.67, were built.
Serial Numbers: N.66-N.73.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
N.2B. A two-seater patrol seaplane of 1917, this type carried two 230-lb bombs (or equivalent) side by side under the fuselage. The pilot had no gun, but there was a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring for the observer. An earlier experimental machine of this general type carried two 65-lb bombs.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
The Short N2B bombing seaplane is the latest of the many types of float seaplanes produced by Messrs. Short Bros. before and during the war, and used by the R.N.A.S. and subsequently the R.A.F. as sea patrols, etc. The upper main plane has no dihedral and has a slight overhang over the bottom plane which has a dihedral. Two large pontoon floats are fitted to the fuselage by faired struts. The tail unit is on conventional lines except that a very large fin is used in conjunction with a balanced rudder. Wing-tip and tail floats of ample proportions are fitted, the tad float having a small water rudder. The pilot sits under the centre section wherein are carried the petrol gravity tank, and radiator. The observer sits well back and is armed with Lewis Gun carried in a Scarff mounting,
Type of machine Float Seaplane.
Name or type No. of machine Short N.2 B.
Purpose for which intended Bombing.
Span 55 ft.
Gap, maximum 7 ft.
Overall length 40 ft.
Maximum height 13 ft. 9 in.
Chord 7 ft. 6 in.
Span of Tail 15 ft. 6 in.
Maximum cross section of body 11.5 sq. ft.
Engine type and h.p. Sunbeam - Coatalen "Maori", 275 h.p.
Airscrew diam. 10 ft. 6 in.
Weight of machine empty 3,050 lbs.
Tank capacity in hours 4 1/2 hours.
Tank capacity In gallons 70 gallons.
Speed low down 90 m.p.h.
Speed at 10,000 feet 88 m.p.h.
To 5,000 ft. 12 1/2 minutes.
To 10,000 ft. 40 minutes.
Disposable load apart from fuel 1,170 lbs.
Total weight of machine loaded 4,800 lbs.