B.8/41 "Super Stirling"

This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Master Sergeant
Nov 9, 2004
Bristol, UK
I was reading in the library that there was a proposal by Short Brothers to create a vastly improved Stirling bomber to replace the one already in service, with the flaws inherent in the original concept ironed out.

It was to be powered by 4 Bristol Centaurus radials, and have a longer wingspan (135 ft 9 inches), much larger bomb bay designed to carry a catholic range of different stores, and four punchy 20mm cannon in both dorsal and ventral turrets on top of the original tail, upper, and nose positions.

It was estimated that such an aircraft would have a range of 4000 miles, a top speed of 300 Mph, weapons load of 10000 lb and a service ceiling of 29000 feet.

The Air Ministry rejected the project, as it would have meant diverting production from the existing Stirling lines, which were providing 'Sterling' service as glider tugs and mine layers. In addition, the Lancaster had already filled the role for which the Super Stirling was intended.

Does anyone know anymore about this?
Well duh nothing sunshine! That's what was quoted both in the book I read and on several sites I looked up. The extra armaments would have gobbled up a lot of weight.
the largest bomb the stirling could carry was the 2,000lb bomb due to the fact that the bomb bay was split into 3 sections...............
Yeah, that's a shame they didn't follow through on that...I often feel that Bomber Command aircraft needed heavier armament....The book I'm currently reading was by a local chap, and he was on Stirlings first, and spoke very highly of them, and although he ended-up on Lancasters, felt that they performed really well on the missions they did at that time of the War...I was quite surprised at their capacity, I know they didn't have quite the attributes of it's partners-in-bombing, the Halifax and Lancaster, but it's refreshing to read they did a great job nonetheless, as I've heard some disparaging remarks made about them.....Be interesting if more comes to light, hmmm?......


  • raf_487__nz__sqn._-_on_the_hunt..._393.jpg
    16 KB · Views: 484
When would a Centaurus powered Sterling be ready? The war would either be over or the Germans would be flying aircraft like the 520mph Arado 234P or the 430mph Ju 388J.

Both aircraft would have a FuG 245 microwave radar, automatic blindfire capabillity and likely be firing proximity fused R100 or R100 BS missiles. The RAF certainly would have and idea of
what might be possible for the Germans to produce and by that standard the super Sterling would tend to fall short. After the sucess of the Mosquito and after the war the
British never produced an armed bomber again.

Nevertheless the Sterling is certainly much over maligned and I am sure it could have been incrementally improved: with wing tip extensions, more powerfull engines, perhaps even R-2600's
Sorry to drag up this again, but you might find this of interest. Short S.36 Stirling III, or 'Super Stirling', a little info from British Secret Projects, Fighters and Bombers 1935 - 1950 by Tony Butttttler:

The S.36 had redesigned wings and a longer fuselage which featured a large central bomb bay for various loads, including one 8,000 lb weapon; this represented a big improvement over the Stirling's individual bomb cells, while six more wing cells could each take a 1,000 lb bomb. There were also changes to the empennage but a large proportion of the 'bits and pieces' used in the fuselage were retained. CRD described the new type as 'a typical night bomber having high useful load at a comparatively slow, economical cruising speed' (214 mph) at 15,000 ft, just 6 mph more than the Stirling, but he recommended that a production order be placed. The S.26 had a defensive armament of two .50 in machine guns in the nose, four more in both mid upper and tail turrets plus an under turret with two .303 in machine guns. It was not seen as an all new type, but shared a 'general similarity' to the Stirling.

The first estimates were completed on 15 July 1941 and gave an all up weight of 103,000 lbs and at 80,000 lb weight a top speed of 311 mph at 20,000 ft and service ceiling 29,300 ft. A month later Liptrot revised this to 105,000 lbs and 295 mph at 20,000 ft against 70,000 lb and 282 mph at 12,500 ft for the Stirling, but he considered the project 'to be well conceived and to be a logical next stage in the development of the heavy bomber.' The project was seen to have a similar take-off and flight performance to the Stirling but with much increased bomb load/range characteristics. Over 1,000 miles the S.36 could carry 23,500 lb of bombs against the Stirling's 14,000 lbs for 2,300 miles range it could take 10,000 lbs against 4,500 lbs.

On 19 November Specification B.8/41 was raised to cover the project, but from the point of view of heavy bomber production some within the Air Ministry were apprehensive about introducing the new type. The Controller General stated that the present Stirling is not designed for larger scale production as efficiently as the Halifax or Lancaster and it would be better to ask Handley Page or Avro to design a super bomber.

Users who are viewing this thread