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Short S.26 Aircraft Information

Short S.26


Manufacturer: Short Brothers
First flight: 21 July 1939
Primary users: Royal Air Force Imperial Airways/BOAC
Number built: 3
Developed from: Short Empire

The Short S.26 G-class was a large transport flying-boat with non-stop transatlantic capability intended for commercial service. Three aircraft were ordered by Imperial Airways, with the help of an Air Ministry subsidy in view of their potential for military use. With the onset of World War II, all three were pressed into military service; only one aircraft was in operation when hostilities ended, remaining in service until 1947.

Design and development

The S.26 was designed as an enlarged Short C-Class Empire flying boat, also incorporating features from the Short Sunderland. Powered by four 1,400 hp (1,044 kW) Bristol Hercules sleeve valve radial engines, the Short S.26s (or "Golden Boats") were designed with the capability of crossing the Atlantic without refuelling, and were intended to form the backbone of Imperial Airways' Empire services.

The first aircraft, (G-AFCI "Golden Hind"), was first flown by Shorts' chief test pilot, John Lankester Parker, on 21 July 1939; the second (G-AFCJ "Golden Fleece") and third (G-AFCK "Golden Horn") aircraft were flown on 24 February and 8 July 1940 respectively. Although two aircraft were handed over to Imperial Airways for crew training, all three were pressed (along with their crews) into the RAF in 1939 before starting civilian operation. They were modified by Shorts to S.26/M military configuration before delivery to the RAF as X8275, X8274 and X8273 respectively. Armament comprised eight 500 lb (227 kg) bombs under the wings, two dorsal and one tail Boulton Paul BPA Mk II four-gun turrets and internal stowage for 20 reconnaissance flares, 28 flame floats and 8 smoke floats. Air to surface vessel (ASV) radar was fitted, as was armour plating for the internal fuel tanks and the crew stations. After modification at Rochester, and before they entered service, an Airborne Surveillance Radar was fitted by Blackburn Aircraft Limited at Dumbarton in Scotland.


The G-Boats served with No. 119 Squadron RAF from early 1941 and with No. 10 Squadron RAAF, flying stores to Gibraltar and the Middle East, during which X8274 (Golden Fleece ) was lost off Cape Finisterre on 20 June 1941 when it broke up following a heavy forced-landing due to the simultaneous failure of two engines. Golden Horn and Golden Hind were returned in December 1941 to BOAC (created in November 1939 by the merger of Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd.) and fitted out for 40 passengers in 'austerity' seating and operated between the UK and Nigeria. Golden Horn was lost at Lisbon on 9 January 1943 when an engine seized and caught fire on a test flight following an engine overhaul; Golden Hind was employed on other routes in UK and West Africa until the end of the war and remained in service with BOAC until 1947; she was eventually scrapped in 1954 without ever having been employed again.



Royal Australian Air Force
No. 10 Squadron RAAF

United Kingdom

British Overseas Airways Corporation
Royal Air Force
No. 119 Squadron RAF


Data from British Civil Aircraft 1919-1972:Volume III

General characteristics

Crew: 7
Capacity: 38
Length: 101 ft 4 in (30.9 m)
Wingspan: 134 ft 4 in (40.9 m)
Height: 37 ft 7 in (11.46 m)
Wing area: 2,160 ft (201 m)
Empty weight: 37,705 lb (17,100 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 73,500 lb (33,400 kg)
Powerplant: 4x Bristol Hercules IV sleeve valve radial engines, 1,380 hp (1,029 kW) each


Maximum speed: 209 mph (182 kn, 336 km/h)
Cruise speed: 180 mph (157 kn, 299 km/h)
Range: 3,200 mi (2,783 nmi, 5,152 km)


Guns: 2 x dorsal and 1 x tail Boulton Paul BPA Mk. II four-gun turrets
8 x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs under the wings
20 x reconnaissance flares
28 x flame floats
8 x smoke floats

Related development

Short Empire

Barnes, C.H.; James D.N. (1989). Shorts Aircraft since 1900. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-819-4.
Green, William (1968). War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Five Flying Boats. London: Macdonald. ISBN 356 01449 5.
Jackson, A.J. (1988). British Civil Aircraft 1919-1972;Volume III. London: Putnam. ISBN 0 85177 818 6.

Short S.26 Pictures

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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