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A26 Short Sunderland

The prototype Short Sunderland flying boat first flew on 16 October 1937, and nine Mk I versions were ordered for the RAAF under the A18 designation. However, when No 10 Squadron accepted the first aircraft, P9048, at Pembroke Dock on 11 September 1939, the squadron remained in the UK with RAF-serialled Sunderlands, and was later joined by No 461 Squadron. From the first confirmed submarine "kill" by Flight Lieutenant W. N. Gibson's crew on 1 July 1940, the two squadrons destroyed almost a dozen U-boats.

No 10 Squadron also introduced many modifications, including increased defensive armament, and the installation of Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasps, which resulted in the Sunderland Mk V. Not to be outdone, No 461 Squadron safely landed the first Sunderland on an airfield (through necessity), looped another (somewhat inadvertently) and, on 2 July 1943, Flight Lieutenant Walker in N461 engaged eight JU88s, claiming three destroyed, one probable, one possible, and damage to the other three.

Thus, in 1944, when six Sunderland Mk IIIs (ML730 to ML734, and DP192) were flown from No 10 Squadron to the Pacific, the flying boats were well known to Australians. By this time the A18 serials were redundant, as the last Short Empire flying boat had been returned to Qantas in 1943, so the Sunderlands were renumbered A26-1 to A26-6 respectively. The aircraft operated with No 40 Squadron on transport duties, and on 28 November 1944, A26-6 was severely damaged at Townsville.

The remaining five Sunderlands were sold to B. Monkton in 1947, and at least two (VH-AKO ex A26-4, and VH-AKP ex A26-5) were modified and registered with DCA (Department of Civil Aviation) as Short S25 Hythe flying boats.

TECHNICAL DATA: Short S25 Sunderland Mk III


Long-range general reconnaissance flying boat with 13 crew. All metal stressed-skin construction.


Four 1065 hp Bristol Pegasus XVIII aircooled radials.


Span 34.38 m (112 ft 9.5 in); length 26.01 m (85 ft 4 in); height 9.79 m (32 ft 11.75 in).


Empty 15 649 kg (34 500 lb); loaded 26 309 kg (58 000 lb).


Max speed 339 km/h (182 kt); Cruising speed 286 km/h (155 kt); Initial climb 219 m (720 ft)/min; Range 4667 km (2520 nm); Service ceiling 16,000ft (4877 m).


Four 0.303 guns in each of the nose and tail turrets plus two 0.50 beam guns; Some aircraft fitted with four fixed 0.303 guns in bow; Bomb load, 907 kg (2,000 lb). Back to top

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