Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Short Brothers: Sunderland

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Sept 1940.
1941. Short Brothers: Sunderland.
May 1943
June 1944
November 1944.
Jan 1945. Built by Blackburn Aircraft.

Note: This is a sub-section of Short Brothers

WWII The Sunderland became famous as an anti-submarine patrol bomber during the Second World War when its long range and long flying time allowed it to close the air gap between Iceland and Greenland, helping end the Battle of the Atlantic. It also rescued sea and air crews from the waters surrounding its spheres of operation especially those of Coastal Command. A squadron was ordered by the Australian Air Force but never made it to Australia, instead Australians flew for the UK Coastal Command. Australia impressed Qantas-Imperial Empire boats and used these successfully especially on reconnaissance missions in the Timor sea area.


Sunderland Mark I

  • A total of 75 Sunderland Mark Is were built: 60 at Shorts' factories at Rochester and Belfast, Northern Ireland, and 15 by Blackburn Aircraft at Dumbarton.

Sunderland Mark II

  • Only 43 Mark IIs were built, five of these by Blackburn.

Sunderland Mark III

  • The Mark III turned out to be the definitive Sunderland variant, with 461 built. Most were built by Shorts at Rochester and Belfast, a further 35 at a new (but temporary) Shorts plant at White Cross Bay, Windermere; while 170 were built by Blackburn Aircraft.

Sunderland Mark IIIa

  • The Sunderland Mark IIIa was more of an "evolution" of the Mark III with no documentation to define exactly which features were included.

Sunderland Mark IV

  • The changes were so substantial that the new aircraft was redesignated the Short: Seaford.

Sunderland Mark V

  • A total of 155 Sunderland Mark Vs were built with another 33 Mark IIIs converted to Mark V specification. With the end of the war, large contracts for the Sunderland were cancelled and the last of these flying boats was delivered in June 1946, with a total production of 777 aircraft completed.

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