Empire Flying Boat, 1936-1947 (Short S.23 ‘C’ class), Owners’ Workshop Manual

B1796

The reader will understand both the reasons for a relatively small production run with relatively short working life and the importance of this little-known aircraft to aviation and airline service, after reading this book. This is one of the least known aircraft in the short and dynamic history of aviation, but one of the most important. Even for many aviation enthusiasts, the Empire flying boat has been known only as “The Sunderland was developed from the Empire flying boat”. This workshop manual should redress the situation by providing such a comprehensive account of the design, operation and maintenance of the Empires.

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NAME: Empire Flying Boat, 1936-1947 (Short S.23 ‘C’ class), Owners’ Workshop Manual
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1796
DATE: 100113
AUTHOR: Brian Cassidy
PUBLISHER: Haynes
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 160
PRICE: £21.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:Shorts, flying boats, Empire, S.23, Imperial Airways, WWII, Second World War, World War Two, civil airways, passenger planes, in-flight refuelling, Empires at war, Pegasus, Perseus, radial engine
ISBN: 978-85733-158-8
IMAGE: B1796.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/aqdny64
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Since the publisher began this series of manuals, a very wide range of aircraft have received the treatment and this important aircraft marks a departure in that it was allowed to become extinct without even a museum static display surviving. It was not only important as an aircraft, but important in what it did beyond its original intended role as a long-range passenger aircraft.

When Shorts developed the Empire flying boat, bi-plane flying boats were still the standard configuration. Some manufacturers had produced monoplanes that were a migration from the biplane configuration. In the Empire, Shorts had produced a machine that was intended to provide Imperial Airways with an advanced design that would be capable of opening up the route to Egypt and then on to South Africa, India and Australia. Four dependable radial engines were mounted in the leading edge of a clean high-mounted wing. Unlike the Boeing 314 that was ordered by Pan American a week before the first Empire flight, Shorts used a large float under each wing rather than using large wing-like sponsons, low on the fuselage, and waterproofing the wing tips. This use of underwing floats provided good protection from digging a wingtip into the water and did not add more drag than the Boeing approach.

The first of the Empires, Canopus, was launched from the Rochester slipway using a removable launching dolly that was bolted to the fuselage sides and under wing surfaces for two main gear legs and a tail wheel fixed to the end of the hydrofoil. This would allow the Empire to be beached for maintenance without the weight of retractable amphibian landing gear. It also allowed maximum usable internal space and introduced a high standard of passenger comfort. Each Imperial Airways Empire was named with the first letter being ‘C’. There were 42 Empire boats completed and, after entering airline service before WWII, were to provide valuable wartime transport capacity but this led to a number being lost to enemy action, or in take-off and landing accidents. By the time that WWII had ended, the development of long range, land-based heavy bombers had created a fatal competitor to the flying boat and the surviving Empire boats were withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1947. As a result, the author has made extensive use of available photographs that are in black and white. In other manuals in the series, surviving examples under restoration and/or maintenance have provided excellent colour images, but the lack of these has not affected the comprehensive visual coverage, allowing the established practice of chapters reviewing the flying and maintenance of the subject from the perspective of pilots, crew and engineers.

Little more than a decade of service, half of which was in war service, the Empires had a short but effective career. Had the large land-based multi-engine aircraft not been developed to provide long range heavy strategic bombers, the Empire might have remained in service much longer and been passed down to smaller airlines in more remote parts of the world. The Sunderland flying boat that was developed from the Empire as a maritime patrol and attack aircraft also had a relatively short career for the same reasons. The flying boat and amphibian has not completely vanished but it rapidly became a specialist aircraft that has been built in small numbers and in smaller single or twin engine designs. The basic challenge is that flying boats present greater drag than land planes and have a narrower window of operating conditions for landing and take-off. As large runways were built ashore in increasing numbers from 1939, the value of being able to operate without this costly construction work rapidly reduced. However, at the time that the Empire boats were conceived, it was easy and low cost to build a jetty on a lake, or near a port, install fuel storage tanks and a small workshop, with motorboats being used to ferry passengers and fuel to and from a flying boat that had just landed on the water. Even the larger flying boat stations had little more than a slipway and a hanger that allowed maintenance work to take place ashore and under cover from the weather.

In leading into the development of the Empire, the Short Mayo composite Mercury-Maia was explored as one method of providing long-range fast airmail services. The mother ship pioneered the lines of the Empires and carried a smaller four engine floatplane on top of the fuselage. The idea was to provide a water-based launching platform that could carry the fast mail plane for part of the way on a long route. This was not considered viable after the initial test program, but the Empires were to take part in an alternative approach, where in-flight refuelling was tried. This was to prove a viable approach to extending the range of aircraft, but became unnecessary for airliners because the development of long range heavy bombers produced the experience to construct large aircraft able to fly across the Atlantic and Pacific without the need to refuel, permitting the development of long-range air routes that did not require the refuelling of aircraft in flight, or for the need to land periodically to refuel. However, military transport and passenger aircraft, together with combat planes have adopted the in-flight refuelling capability as a standard facility.

This excellent Workshop manual provides a first class historical account of both the Empire flying boats, and the Imperial society into which they were introduced, together with all of the technical detail that aircraft enthusiasts have come to expect of books in this series. The aircraft marks a major changing point in aviation development as one of the last flying boats to be built for general airline use, introducing the advantages of metal construction and monoplane configuration. Without this aircraft, the path to developing large land-based bombers and transports might have taken longer and proved more difficult, particularly in building the confidence in size and construction techniques necessary to design large fast aircraft for long range flight. The photographs selected to illustrate the text provide a fascinating insight into many aspects of aviation in the late 1930s and the special considerations required for operating large flying boats, including the maintenance platforms that swung out from the wing leading ledges on the Empires to assist in servicing engines afloat and reducing the need to fit a launching dolly to bring the aircraft shore.

The reader will understand both the reasons for a relatively small production run with relatively short working life and the importance of this little-known aircraft to aviation and airline service, after reading this book. This is one of the least known aircraft in the short and dynamic history of aviation, but one of the most important. Even for many aviation enthusiasts, the Empire flying boat has been known only as “The Sunderland was developed from the Empire flying boat”. This workshop manual should redress the situation by providing such a comprehensive account of the design, operation and maintenance of the Empires.

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