Short Kent Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

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Short Kent Aircraft Information

Short Kent

S.17 Kent

Manufacturer: Short Brothers
First flight: 24 February 1931
Introduced: 1931
Retired: 1938
Primary user: Imperial Airways
Produced: Rochester
Number built: 3

The Short S.17 Kent was a British 4-engined 15-seat biplane luxury flying-boat airliner, designed and built by Shorts to meet a requirement from Imperial Airways Limited for an aircraft with greater range than the Calcutta. The new aircraft was to have sufficient range to fly the stage from Mirabella, Crete, to Alexandria in Egypt without the need for refuelling stops in Italian colonial territory, there having been a political row which had led the Italian Government to ban British aircraft from its ports.

Three aircraft were built, each receiving its own name: "Scipio", "Sylvanus" and "Satyrus"; they were referred to collectively within Imperial Airlines as the "Scipio Class" boats. Each had an aircrew of three (two pilots and a radio operator/navigator) and a steward to prepare meals and light refreshments for the passengers.


The Short Kent Flying boat was essentially an enlarged, four-engined version of the Calcutta, with the same passenger carrying capacity but with an increased payload for mail. It was powered by four Bristol Jupiter XFBM radial engines mounted on vertical struts between the upper and lower planes.

The wings were constructed using corrugated duralumin box spars, tubular rib assemblies, with a fabric covering and Frise ailerons on all four wings. Duralumin walkways were provided to allow ready access to the engines for maintenance purposes. The tail unit comprised a braced monoplane tailpane with a single fin; the rudder was fitted with a Flettner trimming aerofoil (visible here) on the Short Scylla which had the same aerostructure as the Kent.

The anodised duralumin fuselage was mounted below the lower wing, with the planing bottom of the hull made of stainless steel (as on the Singapore II) with a transverse main step. The use of stainless steel reduced the frequency of land inspections of the hull. The bimetallic corrosion problems experienced on the Singapore II hull had been solved, so Short Brothers became the first company to master the technique of building seaplane floats and flying-boat hulls in this combination of metals.

A quick-release hook (controlled by the pilots) was provided, which enabled the captain to start, warm up and (when required) run all four engines up to full power for take-off while the aircraft was still attached to the mooring buoy.

Maximum comfort was required for passengers and crew: the Kent's passenger cabin was 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) wide and 14 ft (4.27 m) long. The seating was arranged in four rows of facing pairs, with a centre aisle, Pullman style. The steward's pantry, situated on the port side aft of the passenger cabin, was equipped with twin-burner oil stoves on which IAL Stewards (and the valets of valued passengers) could cook meals in flight. The toilet and washroom were opposite the pantry; the mail and freight compartment was further aft.

Special attention was paid to sound levels in the passenger cabin and crew's stations; accordingly the engines were fitted with exhaust collector rings and long tail pipes, to reduce exhaust noise inside the hull.

The cockpit, for two pilots, was fully enclosed with a separate Radio Officer's station directly aft of the cockpit.


In October 1930, Short Bros. started building the first of the three S.17 Kent flying-boats (G-ABFA, named Scipio). It was launched and flown on 24 February 1931 by Shorts' Chief Test Pilot J. Lankester Parker and was in service in the Mediterranean in May of that year. The second (G-ABFB, named Sylvanus) was launched on 31 March 1931; the third Kent (G-ABFC, Satyrus) was launched on 30 April 1931 and flown for the first time on 2 May 1931.

Imperial Airways used the Kent aircraft on the Mediterranean stages of its routes to India and beyond, also using them to survey planned routes to South Africa and Australia.

On 22 August 1936 "Scipio", on its way back from India, flipped over and sank in "Mirabella Harbour" (between the mainland and the island of Spinalonga) after landing heavily, killing the two crew members. "Sylvanus" was destroyed by fire at Brindisi on 9 November 1935, killing all on board. Only "Satyrus" survived to be taken out of service and scrapped in June 1938.

In 1933 Imperial Airways placed an order for two landplanes based on the Kent; known initially as the S.17/L and later as the L.17, these became the Short Scylla, of which two were built and given the names "Scylla" and "Syrinx".

British Movietone News film footage of the Kent is available here.


United Kingdom

Imperial Airways


Data from British Civil Aircraft 1919-1972

General characteristics

Crew: 4
Capacity: 16
Length: 78 ft 5 in (23.91 m)
Wingspan: 113 ft 0 in (34.45 m)
Height: 28 ft 0 in (8.51 m)
Wing area: 2,640 ft (245 m)
Empty weight: 20,460 lb (9,300 kg)
Loaded weight: 32,000 lb (14,545 kg)
Powerplant: 4x Bristol Jupiter XFBM air-cooled single-row radial poppet valve piston engine, 555 hp (414 kW) each


Maximum speed: 137 mph (119 knots, 220 km/h)
Cruise speed: 105 mph (91 knots, 169 km/h)
Range: 450 miles (391 NM, 725 km)
Service ceiling: 17,500 ft (5,340 m)
Rate of climb: 840 ft/min (4.3 m/s)

Related development

Short L.17 Scylla

"The Short "Kent" Class: 162,000 Miles Flown Without Trouble". Flight (19 August 1932): pp.780-781.
Barnes, C.H.; James D.N (1989). Shorts Aircraft since 1900. London: Putnam. pp. 560. ISBN 0-85177-819-4.
Cassidy, Brian (2004). "Flying Empires: Short ‘C’ class Empire flying boats" (pdf). Queens Parade Press. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
Jackson, A.J. (1988). British Civil Aircraft 1919-1972:Volume III. London: Putnam. ISBN 0 85177 818 6.
" Short Kent". Retrieved 2007-01-18.
"British Aircraft Directory: Short Kent". British Aircraft Directory. Retrieved 2007-01-18.

Short Kent Pictures

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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