Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Short and Harland

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of Queens Island, Belfast, Northern Ireland (1937)

1936 Short Brothers (Rochester and Bedford) and Harland and Wolff agreed to form a new company to build aircraft in Belfast; Shorts would own 60 percent of the company; the shares would be distributed to existing shareholders[1]. It was called Short and Harland. The first products of the new factory were 50 Bristol Bombays followed by 150 Handley Page Hereford bombers.

1937 Aircraft constructors. "Scion" Aircraft. [2]. 1200 staff were engaged there[3]

Shorts' work on seaplanes eventually culminated in the Short Sandringham and Short Seaford types, both based on the Empire/Sunderland boats. These flying boats had enough range to operate as a transatlantic airliner but largely served the post-war empire (Commonwealth of Nations) market in competition with 4-engined land planes such as modified Avro Lancasters.

Short's work on the Sunderland won them the contract for the Short Stirling, the RAF's first four-engined bomber. If based on their original submission, essentially a land-based Sunderland with various cleanups, there seems to be no reason to suspect that the Stirling would not have been an excellent heavy bomber. Instead the Air Ministry stipulated a number of bizarre requirements for the plane, allowing it to double as a troop transport for instance, that eventually doomed it as newer designs outperformed it. A high-speed, long-range, four-engined flying-boat, the Short Shetland was built (with Saunders-Roe providing the wings) in 1944, but the war ended before the second prototype was completed. The project continued postwar but was eventually abandoned.

WWII During the Battle of Britain, the Rochester factory was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe and several of the early-run Stirlings and other aircraft were destroyed. From this point on, the Belfast factory became increasingly important as it was thought to be well beyond the range of German bombers. However, Belfast and the aircraft factory were subjected to German aircraft bombing during Easter week 1942. To meet the increased requirement for its aircraft during the war, satellite factories near Belfast were operated at Aldergrove and Maghaberry, producing 232 Stirlings between them. A temporary Shorts factory was established at White Cross Bay, Lake Windermere, which produced 35 Mark III Sunderlands. Also during the war Austin Motors at Longbridge, Birmingham, produced over 600 Stirlings and Blackburn Aircraft, of Dumbarton, Scotland, produced 240 Sunderlands. Also produced Handley Page Herefords.

1943 the Government took over the ownership and management of Shorts under Defence Regulation 78: for the second time (after the nationalisation of the Airship Works in Cardington in 1919) Short Brothers was affected by nationalisation. Oswald Short, who had resigned as Chairman in January of that year, remained as Honorary Life President.

1947 Short and Harland Ltd changed their name to Short Brothers and Harland and decide to acquire parts of Short Brothers (Rochester and Bedford) which had decided to concentrate its activities at Belfast. It was then liquidated[4]. Oswald Short became Life President of the new company.

In 1948 Sealand twin-engined amphibian flying-boat were produced in small numbers.

The Sandringham and Solent flying-boats used by BOAC stemmed from the Sunderland.

They took part in the SC.1 VTOL (jet-lift) research programme, which followed exploratory research by Rolls-Royce. The first free vertical take-off was made October 25, 1958.

The company became heavily involved in production of English Electric Canberra and Bristol Britannia.

From 1963 they built Belfast heavy transports (four turboprops) and Skyvan light piston-engined transports (first flown January 1963).

Twin-turboprop Shorts 330 30-passenger regional airliner flown August 1974, with Sherpa offered as freighter derivative.

1977 The name Short Brothers was readopted in June.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, May 20, 1936
  2. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  3. The Times, Dec 09, 1937
  4. The Times, Nov 06, 1947