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  • Short Stirling




    The Short Stirling was a British four-engined heavy bomber of the Second World War.

    General Information

    It has the distinction of being the first four-engined bomber to be introduced into service with the Royal Air Force (RAF).


    The Stirling was designed during the late 1930s by Short Brothers to conform with the requirements laid out in Air Ministry Specification B.12/36. Prior to this, the RAF had been primarily interested in developing increasingly capable twin-engined bombers but had been persuaded to investigate a prospective four-engined bomber as a result of promising foreign developments in the field. 


    In early 1941 the Stirling entered squadron service. During its use as a bomber pilots praised the type for its ability to out-turn enemy night fighters and its favourable handling characteristics whereas the altitude ceiling was often a subject of criticism. The Stirling had a relatively brief operational career as a bomber before being relegated to second line duties from late 1943. This was due to the increasing availability of the more capable Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, which took over the strategic bombing of Germany.


    During its later service, the Stirling was used for mining German ports; new and converted aircraft also flew as glider tugs and supply aircraft during the Allied invasion of Europe during 1944–1945. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the type was rapidly withdrawn from RAF service, having been replaced in the transport role by the Avro York, a derivative of the Lancaster that had previously displaced it from the bomber role. A handful of ex-military Stirlings were rebuilt for the civil market.


    The Short Stirling was a four-engined monoplane heavy bomber designed to provide a previously unmatched level of strategic bombing capability to the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was powered by four Bristol Hercules radial engines which were spaced across its mid-mounted wing. The Stirling has the distinction of being the only British bomber of the period to see service that had been designed from the start with four engines - the Avro Lancaster was a re-engined, stretched-wingspan Avro Manchester while the Halifax was planned to be powered by twin Rolls-Royce Vulture engines but was similarly re-designed to use an arrangement of four Merlin engines in 1937.


    For more det ails on the development, design and operational history of the Sterling, click here.

    Short Sterling hard stand.jpg

    Short Sterling left qtr.jpg

    short stirling in flight.jpg

    short stirling with crew.jpg


    Crew: 7 (First and second pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, front gunner/WT operator, two air gunners, and flight engineer)
    87 ft 3 in (26.59 m)
    99 ft 1 in (30.20 m)
    22 ft 9 in (6.93 m)
    Wing Area:
    1,460 sq ft (136 sq m)
    Empty Weight:
    49,600 lb (22,498 kg)
    70,000 lb (31,751 kg), Gross weight: 59,400 lb (26,943 kg)
    Fuel Capacity:
    200 mph (320 km/h, 170 kn)
    4 × Bristol Hercules XI 14-cylinder air-cooled sleeve-valve radial piston engines, 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) each
    Maximum speed: 282 mph (454 km/h, 245 kn) at 12,500 ft (3,800 m)
    2,330 mi (3,750 km, 2,020 nmi)
    Rate of Climb:
    800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)
    Service Ceiling:
    2,330 mi (3,750 km, 2,020 nmi)

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