Short Stirling

The Short Stirling was the first four-engined British heavy bomber of the Second World War. The Stirling was designed and built by Short Brothers to an Air Ministry specification from 1936, and entered service in 1941. The Stirling had a relatively brief operational career as a bomber, being relegated to second line duties from 1943 onwards when other four-engined RAF bombers, specifically the Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, took over its role.

The first three Stirlings flew a mission on the night of 10/11 February 1941 against fuel storage tanks at Vlaardingen, near Rotterdam, and from spring of 1942 the bomber started to be used in greater numbers. From May 1943, air raids on Germany started with over a hundred Stirlings at once.

Despite the "disappointing performance" at maximum altitude, Stirling pilots were delighted to discover that, due to the thick wing, they could out-turn the Ju 88 and Bf 110 nightfighters they faced. Its handling was much better than that of the Halifax and some preferred it to the Lancaster.

By December 1943 Stirlings were being withdrawn from frontline service as bombers, increasingly being used for deploying mines outside German ports, electronic countermeasures and dropping spies deep behind enemy lines at night. Also at that time, there arose a need for powerful aircraft to tow heavy transport gliders such as the GAL Hamilcar and Airspeed Horsa; the Stirling fitted this role admirably. In late 1943, 143 Mk.III bombers were rebuilt to the new Mk.IV series specification (without nose and dorsal turrets), for towing gliders and dropping paratroops, as well as 461 new Mk.IVs being produced. They were used in the Battle of Normandy and Operation Market Garden.

Stirlings were also used on Operation Glimmer on D-Day June 1944 for the precision-laying of patterns of "window" ("chaff") to produce radar images of a decoy invasion fleet. From late 1944, 160 of the special transport variant Mk V were built, which had the tail turret removed and a new opening nose added, most of these being completed after the war.

In service with Bomber Command Stirlings flew 14,500 operations, dropping 27,000 tons of bombs, losing 582 in action with 119 written off.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 7
  • Length: 87 ft 3 in (26.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 99 ft 1 in (30.2 m)
  • Height: 28 ft 10 in (8.8 m)
  • Wing area: 1,322 ft² (122.8 m²)
  • Empty weight: 44,000 lb (19,950 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 59,400 lb (26,940 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 70,000 lb (31,750 kg)
  • owerplant: 4× Bristol Hercules II radial engine, 1,375 hp (1,030 kW) each
  • Propellers: Three-bladed metal fully feathering 13 ft 6 in diameter propeller

  • Maximum speed: 255 mph (410 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
  • Cruise speed: 200 mph
  • Range: 2,330 mi (3,750 km)
  • Service ceiling: 16,500 ft (5,030 m)
  • Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 44.9 lb/ft² (219.4 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.093 hp/lb (0.153 kW/kg)

  • 8 x 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns
  • 14,000 lb (6,340 kg) of bombs

** Short Stirling - Warbird Fare

Other Warbirds

Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg More Favorites

Back To Top