Stirling not ordered

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by merlin, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. merlin

    merlin Member

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    If the Stirling is not selected (it's not relevant what is), how many more Flying boats Sunderlands etc., can Shorts build before they are co-opted to build the new (selected) bomber?

    I have posted something similar elsewhere, just curious what comments I get here.
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    All I can say that IIRC Sunderlands were built initially on the NW shore of Medway near the railway bridge and Stirlings at the airport.
     
  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Short Bros also established the factory at Queen's Island, Belfast in 1936 to build Sunderlands owing to there not being enough workshop space at Rochester. Stirlings were also built there. I think in hindsight the benefits of not building Stirlings in favour of Sunderlands would be arguable. What would be the strategic implications on Bomber and Coastal Commands respectively during the war might be a more pertinent question. The work force utilised in designing the Stirling would be put to use on something else at any rate; P.13/36, although Short's design to that resembled a mini twin engined Stirling.
     
  4. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    I've heard it claimed that the Stirling used the same wing as the Sunderland with slight differences at the wing roots And tips. They certainly had the same Goetingen Wing Sections. If that is the case the two aircraft share many economies due to similar parts and jigs.
     
  5. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    Sunderlands couldn't bomb Germany.
     
  6. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    but they could bomb U-boats.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Aside from which command got which air plane flyingboats need to be built in factories with waterfront. The assembly halls may need to be taller too. Not all factories are suited to making any aircraft you want.
     
  8. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    For a while Sunderlands were assembled next to Lake Windermere in Cumbria England a lot of effort for 35 AC

    Windermere II (White Cross Bay) - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust - UK
     
  9. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    No, not at all, there might have been interchangeable small components here and there, but structurally the two's wings were very different. They don't even resemble each other in outline, the ailerons and flaps are completely different and the Stirling had bomb bays in the inboard wings.

    Like I mentioned earlier, Queen's Island, Belfast was built specifically to build Sunderlands, but also built Stirlings after Rochester got bombed. The Belfast plant was on the waterfront and the land belonged to Harland and Wolff ship builders, who Short Brothers was co-owned by. A subsidiary firm Short and Harland Ltd was set up to manage Queen's Island. Of course, historically, Harland and Wolff at Belfast built the Titanic and I remember the quote one wag made after it sank; "it was fine when it left here!"
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #10 stona, Apr 30, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
    Short Harland also built a bunch of Bristol Bombays and Handley Page Herefords. Whilst this might have been in keeping with the British tradition of wasting resources on building a majority of aircraft that were obsolete the minute a real war started, with one or two brilliant exceptions, I feel that the resources devoted to these 200 or so aircraft might well have been better spent elsewhere.

    Shorts was a company with serious management problems throughout the immediate pre-war period and until it's nationalisation in 1943. The board was headed by Oswald Short who was a more competent alcoholic than he was manager. The company invariably failed to come close to its production targets. It's why the Lancaster was never built by Shorts, despite a promise to Harris from Sinclair that this would happen as the Stirling was phased out. The Lancaster went to Longbridge, the first Birmingham built aircraft rolling of the line in March 1944.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Only if they could find them, which at sea, in the time frame we are interested in, was next to impossible. The Stirling on the other hand, at least in the fevered imaginations of the panjandrums at the Air Ministry and running Bomber Command, could bomb and destroy the means of producing those U-Boats and the facilities that serviced them.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Both good points Steve. As for the U-boats, the Brits are fortunate that in the first year or two of the war German torpedoes were so unreliable that the U-boats' operations were literally a hit-and-miss affair.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Small number of U-boats that were operating in same time also helped, early in the war.
     
  14. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Not ordering the Stirling would be beneficial to the RAF even if nothing else was ordered.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The poor old Stirling suffered from the problem that beset many designs, particularly for larger aircraft, in the 1930s. The weight of the aircraft moved decisively ahead of the available power output from the available engines. It never came close to the specification it was supposedly built to (B12/36) but then the specification was very optimistic given the technology available at the time. Everything, take off distance, the maximum and cruising speeds, rate of climb and service ceiling were all deficient to a greater or lesser extent. Most reports suggest that it was a pleasant aircraft to fly, and manoeuvrable for such a big machine, but this does not make up for the defficiencies. The Stirling was 'a bridge too far' in terms of 1930s aircraft design. It wasn't a bad aircraft, it soldiered on for some time, but it was and will be judged a failure, particularly when measured against it's immediate successors.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It was used by the Pathfinder Force for a while and served with distinction with 100 Group, freeing up Lancasters and Halifaxes to main force and other squadrons. It was also extensively used as a transport and glider tug. The RAF certainly found uses for it, uses that could hardly be fulfilled by a flying boat.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It might also be a cautionary tale for those who advocate the Germans (or substitute other countries) should have built some sort of 4 engine bombers in 1938-39-40 so has to have an airframe in production in several factories when higher powered engines became available. Even switching from 1375hp to 1635hp engines was not enough to save the Stirling.
     
  18. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The Stirling had bigger design issues than just its engines that made it a bit of a dud in the heavy bomber stakes. The length of time it took to get right on the production line, altering the wing's angle of incidence to shorten its take off/landing run thus making it draggier, too short a wing span etc. The value of having a big bomber was great at the time, remember, and although the Stirling wasn't ideal; there wasn't much else in service anywhere else that could carry the loads a Stirling could. It was a step into a larger world for Bomber Command, which was finding its feet and suffering numerous set backs regarding inefficient equipment and inadequate planning/management. Once Harris got his boots under the table, things began to change and BC became a far more efficient fighting force, but the Stirling was a step in the right direction, if not a teetering one.
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I didn't mean to blame the engines alone. Pointing out,like several of the things you mention, that a 1936-38 design often made compromises to suit the available engines (wing incidence, or wing area) and available landing fields (short) that later designs did not have to. That made it difficult (if not impossible) to bring an older airframe design up to newer (even if only 2-4 years newer) standards even if the newer engines were available.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #20 stona, May 1, 2015
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
    The long undercarriage was the result of the effort to shorten the take off run by increasing the wing incidence. It worked well on the half scale prototype, but failed on the first landing of the full scale prototype, writing it off! That was May 1939 and as a result of the required redesign the second prototype didn't fly until December, a seven month delay. The Stirling first flew operationally in February 1941, the same month as the Manchester did the same.
    It also suffered all the other limitations of the Air Ministry specifications, catapult launch, limited wing span, dual bomber/transport capability etc. It was the first true 'heavy' to enter operational service and it suffered from this distinction.
    Eventually 2,437 were built.

    It wasn't until early 1941, about the time that the Stirling became operational, that Churchill issued an instruction that Bomber Command's main operational effort should be against the two main threats to British shipping, the U-Boats and Focke-Wulf who built the 'Kondor'. A remarkable crystal ball would have been needed several years earlier to cancel the Stirling in favour of another type to meet this threat.
    On March 9th 1941 the Air Ministry sent a directive to Bomber Command, repeating Churchill's words:

    "We must take offensive action against the U-Boat and the Focke-Wulf wherever we can and whenever we can. The U-Boat at sea must be hunted, the U-Boat in the building yard or in the dock must be bombed. The Focke-Wulf and other bombers employed against our shipping must be attacked in the air and in their nests."

    It was much easier to bomb a factory or dock yard than to find a U-Boat at sea, never mind bomb it. The list of targets included U-Boat building shipyards at Kiel, Hamburg, Bremen and Vegesack. The marine diesel plants at Augsburg and Mannheim were also on the list as were the U-Boat bases at Lorient, St Nazaire and Bordeaux. Against the aircraft, factories at Dessau and Bremen were on the list along with airfields at Stavanger and Merignac from which the Fw 200s operated.
    Stirlings and the soon to arrive Manchesters and Halifaxes, theoretically at least, could carry out this campaign along with the rest of Bomber Command's inventory of Blenheims, Whitleys, Hampdens and Wellingtons.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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