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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Miscellaneous British types

Updated: May 20

IN106 is the only survivor of ten Sealands delivered to the Indian Naval Air Service in 1953 (Ralph M. Pettersen; Dabolim-off INS Hansa, GOA, 07May24)

Blackburn B.101 Beverley

 

The Beverley was designed to meet an Air Ministry specification for a short range, heavy-lift transport. It began life as the General Aircraft GAL60, essentially a powered derivative of the Hamilcar glider, but became known as the Blackburn and General Aircraft Universal Freighter after the two companies merged. It was the Royal Air Force which bestowed the Beverley name when it placed its first order, in 1952. The aircraft proved a hardy and reliable transporter, with excellent short field performance and it served with distinction until withdrawal in 1967. The Solway Aviation Museum hopes to save the sole survivor, and at the time of writing had raised around three-quarters of the £60,000 required to transport the aircraft from its current location at Fort Paull to Carlisle airport.

 

First flight: 20 Jun 50 (c/n 1000, WF320)

Production: 47, at Brough, UK

First delivery: 13 Jun 55 (c/n 1003, XB260)

Last delivery: 28 May 58 (c/n 1048, XM112)

Variants: Universal Freighter I - prototype, powered by 4 Bristol Hercules; Universal Freighter Mk.2 known as the Beverley C.1 in RAF service - production version powered by Bristol Centaurus 273s, featuring removal clam-shell doors in place of the rear ramp and load carrying capability in the twin booms.

 

General Aircraft Monospar

 

General Aircraft was established at Croydon on 27 September 1931 to build the so-called mono-spar wing designs of Swiss-born engineer, Helmut Stieger. The company re-capitalised in October 1934 and moved to London Air Park at Hanworth, where production re-started with the ST-10. The most successful of the Monospars was the final version produced, the ST-25, its designation and ‘Jubilee’ name reflecting the silver jubilee of King George V. Many Monospars were impressed during World War II including several unsold Universals, but few survived beyond the end of the war. Two Monospars remain, an ST-12 at Newark Air Museum and a Universal configured as an air ambulance in Denmark.

 

First flight: May 32 (c/n 1, G-ABUZ)

Production: 105 in the UK, comprising 31 at Croydon and 74 at Hanworth

First delivery: Aug 32

Last delivery: Mar 40, a batch of five unsold aircraft to the RAF (c/ns 99-103, X9333, X9334, X9331, X9330 and X9335 respectively).

Variants: ST-4 – initial production version, powered by 2 Pobjoy R radial engines with seating for four (29 built, at Croydon);

ST-6 – improved version of the ST-4, with manually-operated retractable undercarriage and re-designed nose section allowing a fifth seat (2 built at Croydon, one with Pobjoy R and one with Niagara I engines);

ST-10 – ST-4 with improved forward visibility, powered by 2 Pobjoy Niagara I radials (2 built, at Hanworth);

ST-11 – ST-10 with retractable undercarriage (2 built, at Hanworth);

ST-12 – ST-10 powered by 2 Gipsy Major engines (10 built, at Hanworth);

ST-18 Croydon – new development aimed at the airliner market, powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior SB-9 radials and with seating for 10 passengers (1 built, at Hanworth);

ST-25 Jubilee – developed version of ST-10 powered by Pobjoy Niagara II engines (32 built, at Hanworth; first flight 19 Jun 35);

ST-25 De Luxe – Jubilee with enlarged fin, powered by Niagara III engines (1 built, at Hanworth);

ST-25 Universal – De Luxe with re-designed tail section featuring twin fins (26 built, at Hanworth)

 

Percival Q.6

 

The Type Q was the Percival Aircraft Company’s first twin-engine aircraft. Based on the successful Gull series of tourers, the Type Q got off to an inauspicious start, when a fuel leak resulted in the first flight ending prematurely with an off-airfield precautionary landing. A total of 26 production Q.6s were built, all delivered over a 13-month period just before World War II. Customers included several establishment figures in the United Kingdom (including the Marquess of Londonderry and Sir Philip Sassoon), the King of Iraq, Lithuanian Airlines, and the Australian Civil Aviation Board. Several Q.6s were impressed during World War II, and these, along with the batch of seven acquired from new by the Royal Air Force, were known unofficially as Petrels. The sole survivor, the subject of an ongoing restoration to fly, is the first production aircraft.

 

First flight: 14 Sep 37 (c/n Q.20, G-AEYE)

Production: 27, at Luton

First delivery: approx. Mar 38 to Sir Philip Sassoon (c/n Q.21, G-AFFD)

Last delivery: Apr 39 to the Royal Air Force (Q.45 and Q.46, P5640 and P5641)

Variants: Q.6 Mk.I – prototype, powered by two Gipsy Six Series II inverted inline pistons (1 built);

Q.6 Mk.II – production version with six passenger seats and fixed undercarriage (13 built);

Q.6 Mk.III – version with retractable undercarriage (5 built);

Q.6 Mk.IV – proposed version optimized for air survey;

Q.6 Mk.V – version for military communications, with accommodation for four passengers (8 built);

Q.4 – proposed 4-seat executive aircraft with shortened wing, powered by two Gipsy Major IIs.

 

Short Sealand

 

The Sealand was the only one of a trio of post-war commercial seaplane designs by Short Brothers to get beyond the concept stage. Launched in June 1946, the Sealand was intended to fulfil a market for a light amphibian capable of being flown as a feeder aircraft or corporate transport from lakes, rivers, and harbours. The Ministry of Civil Aviation placed an order for 14 to create stock for the anticipated surge of orders. However, marketing was difficult, compounded by the loss of the first production aircraft on 15 August 1949 during a promotional tour of Scandinavia. The next year, the only other customer, British West Indian Airways, cancelled its order after it became clear the Sealand was not capable of operating from open water. An extensive sales tour of the Americas followed in 1951, but this could not add to the Ministry of Civil Aviation order. Notwithstanding these early setbacks, all 14 were eventually sold, and a second batch of 10 laid down to fulfil an Indian Navy order. Sealands were also sold to J.A.T., Shell Petroleum (for use in Borneo and Venezuela), the East Bengal Transport Commission and to the owner of a jute plantation in Bengal. The three survivors can be found in museums in India, Serbia and close to the Sealand’s Belfast birthplace.

 

First flight: 22 Jan 48 (c/n SH.1555, G-AIVX)

Production: 25, at Belfast-Queen’s Island, UK

First delivery: 31 Dec 50 to the Christian and Military Alliance of New York (c/n SH.1568, PK-CMA)

Last delivery: Nov 53 to the Christian and Military Alliance of New York (c/n SH.1769, JZ-PTA)

Variants: S.A.6 Sealand 1 - light amphibian powered by De Havilland Gipsy Queen in-line engines, with seating for up to 7 passengers (23 built, including 10 with additional fuel capacity for the Indian Navy);

 S.B.2 Sealand 2 - proposed version powered by Alvis Leonides radials;

 S.B.7 Sealand 3 - version with landing gear removed for Vestlandske Luftfartselskap (2 built).

 

Short S.C.5 Belfast

 

Following delivery in 1953 of the last Sandringham conversion, Short Brothers began to turn its attention to landplanes, with work initially centering on the manufacture of Comet fuselages for De Havilland. In 1954, the Bristol Aeroplane Company purchased shares in Short Brothers, set up a second production line for its Britannia at Queen’s Island, and awarded Short Brothers design rights to the type. The two companies then began to work on follow-on designs in conjunction with Canadair, which also had a design and manufacturing license for the Britannia. Short Brothers focused on six studies for a strategic airlifter for the Royal Air Force (RAF) to use in support of the Titan and Blue Streak missile programmes. Work eventually crystalised around a combination of two of the studies, known as Britannic 3, and this was offered to the RAF in April 1959 as the Short S.C.5/10. A production contract for ten was awarded late in 1960 and the name Belfast selected. Although Short Brothers offered modified versions of the Belfast to fulfil other airlift requirements, no further order was received. The type had a relatively short service life, falling victim of the 1976 round of defence cuts and the Belfast was retired from RAF service on 14 September the same year. Eight were bought by Rolls-Royce and ferried to Hucknall, where four were broken up. Three were sold to TAC Heavylift, a company formed specifically to operate the Belfast commercially. These were ultimately replaced by Antonov jets, although one Belfast remained active operating from Australia’s Gold Coast until 2010. There are persistent rumours this aircraft may be brought out of retirement to support efforts to combat Australia’s growing wildfire problem.

 

First flight: 5 Jan 64 (c/n SH.1816, XR362)

Production: 10, at Belfast-Sydenham, UK

First delivery: 20 Jan 66 (c/n SH.1821, XR367)

Last delivery: 3 Jul 67 (c/n SH.1825, XR371)

Variants: S.C.5 Belfast C.1 – heavy strategic airlifter with 100,000 lb payload, powered by 4 Rolls-Royce Tyne 12 turboprops.

 

Supermarine Stranraer

 

The Stranraer was developed in response to Air Ministry specification R.24/31 for a twin-engine coastal patrol flying boat. Although initially rejected (Saunders-Roe won the tender with the A.27 London), Supermarine persevered and on 29 August 1935 was awarded a a production contract for 17 aircraft in fulfilment of specification 17/35. The last of the large biplane flying boats, the Stranraer earned a poor reputation in service and performance was assessed to be “marginal”. It became known by crews as the “Whistling Shithouse” on account of the noise caused by airflow through the toilet when the seat was lifted. The Stranraer was relegated to training duties in March 1941 and retired from Royal Air Force service in October 1942. The type fared slightly better in Canada, where it remained in service until 1946. The sole survivor can be found in the Royal Air Force Museum. It was built in Canada and became the prototype civil conversion when sold to Labrador Mining & Exploration in 1944. It subsequently saw service with several operators and, whilst with Queen Charlotte Airlines, was re-engined with Wright Cyclones. A detailed history of the airframe can be found on the Royal Air Force Museum website.

 

First flight: 27 Jul 34 (K3973)

Production: 58, comprising 18 at Southampton, UK and 40 by Canadian Vickers at Montréal, QC.

First delivery: 16 Apr 37, to Royal Air Force (K7287)

Last delivery: 17 Nov 41, a batch of 5 to the Royal Canadian Air Force (c/ns CV-232 to 236, serials 953 to 957 respectively)

Variants: Southampton V – prototype based on earlier versions of the Southampton, powered by Bristol Pegasus IIIM radials (1 built); Stranraer 1 - production version, powered by Bristol Pegasus Xs (57 built).

Conversions: a number were re-engined by Queen Charlotte Airlines with Wright GR-1820-G202GA Cyclone radials under the designation Super Stranraer.


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