Origin of Short Sterling Long Landing Gear?

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


Glock Perfection
Apr 12, 2005
Washington State
One of my most favorite British bombers of WWII is the Short Stirling. So brutally ugly and purposeful. However, at almost 23 feet off the ground, maintenance must have been a challenge and accidents must have occurred.

A question though. What was the technical origin for the rather lengthy main gear struts? I've read that with the narrow wings driven by RAF specifications to keep them 100ft or less resulted in changes to configurations to minimize take-off rolls. Changes included both wing incidence and gear extension. But good God man...that much? Besides as a tail dragger the aft will rise as V1 approaches. I've read that the gear was extended to account for a 3 degree increase in incidence. Are they referring to a realized 3 degrees at V2?

What do you think?


  • Short Sterling.jpg
    Short Sterling.jpg
    22.1 KB · Views: 739
This is the story I remember: First off, the Stirling was designed to fit in existing RAF hangers, which dictated a 100 ft. wingspan. That in turn ment the wing had to have a very high aspect ratio. While that gave the Stirling good manoeuvability, it also restricted the operational ceiling, and required quite a bit of wing incidence for take-off. To avoid a nose-down flight attitude, and due to the mid-upper wing mounting the long landing gear was required.
A very good question, which is however easily answered.

the stirling started life as the S.31 (better known as the M4), a half scale plywood model powered by four 90hp engines (very cute by aircraft standards), her cheif designer did want a 112ft wingspan but the air ministry were having none of it, insisting on the 100ft still, which reduced range but also made the stirling manouverable enough to earn it the nicname "The Fighting Bomber", it also hugely increased the lake off and landing runs

It was found with using the S.31 that an extra 3 degrees of wing incidence would hugely help the problem, and so the landing gear was lenthened to give the extra 3 degrees, hance all stirlings had the long legs

this wasn't the only problem, the landing gear was too long to retract into the nacelles! so a two stage system was introduced, first the gear was taken virtically upwards, then backwards, the motors for this process bing inside the fusilage in case of a motor failure

this wasn't to be the stirling's last undercarriage problem though, the gear on the first full size prototype's first flight collapsed on landing! this was to do with the alloy used for the legs which was later replaced by steel, and the indercarriage problems were finally solved! so there you go, long legs= higher incidence..........
Just by looking at that photo might it be something to do with clearance for loading the rear of the bomb bay(s didn't it have hundreds of them?)
Thanks Lanc. That's what I thought too. Seems like overkill to me though. Hole has a point, but this must have been a secondary consideration over flight characteristics.
A grand uncle of mine flew Halifax's and was telling me last time I spoke to him that the Stirling had a lot of problems with the landing gear and that it would often collapse.
Are there any Sterlings still fyling?i
i can't give you numbers but baisically the Mk.V was stripped of all turrets and other bombing equiptment, everything else was faired over and the rear end was fitted with the nessisairy towing gear, little structural work was needed because she was immencely strong anyway.........

Users who are viewing this thread