short shrift for the Short Stirling?

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twoeagles

Senior Airman
666
13
Oct 18, 2006
Chambersburg
Many years ago when I worked for Garrett AiResearch in Phoenix, I had a boss
who had flown Hawker Hinds in Afghanistan, and then in WW2 flew the Short Stirling, an aircraft about which he waxed so sentimental as to be a little bit embarrassing, especially since I drew a blank on the Stirling.

Older and wiser myself now, I am embarrassed at my genuine lack of knowledge of all but the really famous Brit bombers - the Lancaster, Wellington, and to a lesser extent the Halifax. I am not even sure there
is a surviving Stirling anywhere. In the end, do you think the Stirling became
a kind of footnote to the air campaign, so overshadowed by the Lanc
that nobody even thought it worth preserving one? Yet I keep remembering
how old Bill Burley would spend hours regaling me with stories about his
lovely Stirling - wish I had written them down now...
 
The Stirling was a pretty lame bomber with a load most times it would be hardpressed to get to 12000ft i believe towards the end it was a glider tug
 
i can't give you a full proper history off the top of my head but there're plenty of sites out there that can! i know there's an exceptionally good one around dedicated to the stirling.........

The stirling started life as the first of the 3 british 4 engined heavies (and interestingly the only one to start her design life with 4 engines), following trials with a half sized model (wich are adorably cute by the way) the prototype first flew 14th May 1939, and her legs snapped on landing and the aircraft was written off :lol: the landing gear was to prove problematic throught her career, one of the many problems :lol:

the first production model flew 7th May 1940 and she was "blooded" on the night of 10/11 February 1941 with No.7 Sqn

to start off with she was much loved by crews, she was even dubbed "the fighting bomber" as she was so manouverable (a trait of all 3 british heavies), however she had two massive draw backs:-

1) In order that the winning design would fit inside a standard RAF hangar the original specification (B.12/36) said it was to have a wingspan off less than 100ft, whilst making the stirling manouverable, this meant she had a very low ceiling, unable to reach 20,000ft even! which, whilst the other heavies weren't that much better, a ceiling of 17,000ft (Mk.III) was just too low!

2) her long bomb bay was split into 3 along it's entire length, limiting the maximum size of bomb she could carry to 2,000lbs, which is fine if you're american (snigger), but by this time the RAF was introducing much bigger bombs!

as there were now enough Halibags and lancs around the Stirling flew her last operational sortie with Bomber Command on 8th September 1944 after a bombing career spanning 13 squadrons and 1,759 bombing varients produced

from the start of 1944 however her primary role had already changed to glider tug and transport. On D-Day she was a primary tug aircraft, being 4 engined she was able to tow 2 horsas in the combat role (up to a massive 5 Hotspurs for ferry flights/training), and she dropped paratroopers over Arnhem and across the Rhine, also enjoying a special duties role dropping supplies to the resistance in France

the final varient (Mk.V) was a transport varient with hinged nose and loading ramps for the read door, she could take a wide range of payloads including two jeeps or a jeep and feild gun, trailer and ammo, they were eventually replaced by Avro Yorks

official RAF figures say she made 18,440 sorties, dropping 27,821 tons of bombs and 20,000 mines for the loss of 769

obviously like i say this is an overview, plenty of sites will have more info and obviously we'll try to answer any more specific questions........
 
Good post Lanc. And no offense, but the Stirling is by far my most favorite of the Brit heavies. Sitting in the field, head proud with those HUGE balloon tires. What's not to like.

{Pic source unknown, you see it everywhere}
 

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Thank you, Lanc, for the lovely summary. Will look for pilot's recollections
of what kind of lady she was in the air; and could she take a beating as well
as dish it out? Am I correct - there are none surviving?

And since people who know about British bombers will likely be reading this post, let me ask one more question: why was the "cookie bomb" named that???
 
the stirling could absorb massive amounts of damage, comparable even to the B-17 in some respects, and you're right there are no survivors today.........

RE the cookie it's not something i've actually ever given any thought :lol:
 
The landing gear was not pretty, it had to be mechanically compresed verticaly before being folded into the wing, a constant source of problems for mechanics.

there was space made between the fuselage and inner engne for more bombs in wing bays.
 

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Thank you, Lanc, for the lovely summary. Will look for pilot's recollections
of what kind of lady she was in the air; and could she take a beating as well
as dish it out? Am I correct - there are none surviving?

And since people who know about British bombers will likely be reading this post, let me ask one more question: why was the "cookie bomb" named that???

Great pics K9kiwi. The cookie bomb had explosive components arranged in longitudinal slices...like a cookie. The bomb was massive and shaped like a cylinder. Not very aerodynamic.
 
Not very aerodynamic

when your sole job is to blow roofs off it doesn't really matter :lol: the airflow over the bomb when dropped would actually sometimes fire the triggering pistols even if the bomb was still dropped "safe"

and no there're no surviving examples..........
 
There's a reason why the undercart was so long - if the aircraft did not have that upward angle during take-off, it wasn't going to take off - not on a normal length of runway, anyway!
 
this is true, that's one of the things they found out with the half scale model, the original plans called for legs a whole 3ft shorter!
 

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