Profile Publications No. 142 The Short Stirling

Tail assembly and turret o f fourth production Mk. 1 aircraft from Rochester. row radial air-coolcd engine which developed 1,590 b.h.p. at 2,900 r.p.m. for take-off and 1,020 b.h.p. at 2,500 r.p.m. for maximum economical cruise. Hydrau­lic throttle controls were used and these' were a cause of constant irritation. Inherent lag in the unpressurised liquid column through which throttle lever movement was transmitted to the engine could often cause a significant time lag and it was sometimes possible to move the lever fully forward without any change in the engine note. Cavitation in the Exactor control could also cause an engine to cut at embarras­sing moments such as take-off. The Stirling fuselage was a complete break from the ship-building methods which were still applicable to flying boats at that time. It was inbuilt four separate sections and frames within each section were joined by continuous stringers instead of stringers interrupted at every frame which had for a longtime been normal practice at Shorts. The four sections were finally joined together by tension bolts through the webs of the end frames. The lower sides of the centre-section spar booms coincided with the aircraft’s main deck, which was carried on three large longitudinal girders which formed the three parallel bomb cells, each 42 feet long. The bomb cells were further divided into compartments only 19 in. wide, which was sufficient to accommodate normal 500 lb. bombs or 2,000 lb. armour-piercing bombs but nothing larger. C R E WAC COM MOD A T ION The Flight Engineer and Wireless Operator were housed in a cabin just forward of the wing leading edge and forward of them was the Navigator’s station. The two pilots had a full-glazed flight deck just level with the forward end of the bomb cells. The provision of a separate Flight Engineer’s station meant that the cockpit was fairly simple in appearance when compared with other R.A.F. bombers in service at the beginning of the war. The auto-pilot panel and a P.4 compass were to the left of the First Pilot who had the standard flying instruments plus a standard beam approach indicator and a DF visual loop indicator. A slim panel running up the centre of the windscreen between the pilots contained flap switches and position indicators and the master fuel cocks were in the roof above this. Throttle and mixture controls were normally placed between the two pilots and the only engine instruments on the flight deck were boost gauges and engine speed indicators. The bomb-aimer occupied a prone position in the nose below the flight deck and was provided with camera and drift sight and an autopilot steering control. Just above him was the twin- Browning F.N.5 front turret. The wing centre-section cut across the fuselage just aft of the Wireless Operator’s position and the space above this was used for the storage of oxygen bottles while below it was a rest bunk. thereFrom the deck floor ran aft more lessor uninterrupted for the full length of the bomb cells to a point where the first few Stirlings off the Rochester line carried the ventral turret demanded by the Specification. The realisation that the ventral turret would be lowered whenever the Stirling was under attack and would therefore decrease airspeed at the very time maximum speed was needed, coincided with the discovery that non­ Three Mk. I's information over the English countryside. Towards the end o f 1941, Stirlings were frequently used on daylight “Circuses”— combined fighter!bomber sweeps over occupied Europe. (Photo: Heinz J. Nowarra)
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