Short Sturgeon S.Mk.1: The Royal Navy's First Twin

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Introduction: The Short Sturgeon is an aircraft which is often forgotten about when discussing British aviation history. This is despite being the first purpose-designed twin-engined aircraft for the Royal Navy, with the intention to use it off of its carriers in the Pacific against Japan.


Background: In 1943, the requirement S.6/43 was released, calling for a naval torpedo bomber and recce aircraft with an all-up-weight of 24,000lb (10,886kg) and a length of 46ft (14.02m). Various companies were requested to take part in proposing designs to the requirement. However, it soon became apparent the combination of roles did not suite the roles intended for this type, so it was decided to split the requirement into the torpedo bomber and recce-bomber roles, with the former eventually becoming the Fairey Spearfish. The new requirement was designated S.11/43, with designs put forward by Armstrong Whitworth, Cunliffe-Owen, Fairey, Shorts and Westland, with the S.38 from Shorts being the winner.


Description: The S.38 was eventually redesignated the S.A.1 and given the name Sturgeon. S.11/43 was rewritten around the Sturgeon once it was chosen, with three S.Mk.1 prototypes being ordered in 1943. The aircraft was unique for being the first twin-engined aircraft to be designed from the ground up for a Fleet Air Arm requirement. By the time the Sturgeon was flying however, the Royal Navy had gained experience with twin-engined aircraft operations from carriers, with the Sea Mosquito and Sea Hornet. The use of two engines proved to be somewhat challenging engine-out performance caused by asymmetric thrust. Additionally, swing on takeoff was experienced by the Mosquito, which was solved by the Hornet using counter-rotating propellers, although asymmetric control was still difficult. It was hoped that the use of contra-rotating propellers and shorter prop blades would make control easier, though it still remained unlikely that a landing could take place on a single-engine. The Sturgeon was designed in anticipation of involvement in the Pacific Campaign against Japan. However, the atomic bombs put an end to the War before the aircraft were ready, with an additional issue being the fact that the construction of the Centaur-class and Audacious-class carriers was put on hold for a number of years. This meant that it would have to serve on the smaller carriers, which would require modifications to the arresting gear, as well as not being able to be stored below deck. Thus, the order was reduced, and instead of strike aircraft, the small run of 24 aircraft served humbly as target tugs.



Span: 59ft 11in (18.26m)
Length: 44ft 0in (13.41m)
Wing Area: 560sq.ft (52.05sq m)
All-up-weight: 21,700lb (9,843kg) normal load
Powerplant: 2x 2,080hp (1,551kW) Merlin 140
Max Speed/Height: 401mph (645km/h) at 18,850ft (5,745m)
Armament: 1x 1000lb (454kg) bomb
2x 500lb (227kg) bombs

4x 250lb (113kg) bombs/depth charges

8x RP

2x 0.50in (12.7mm) machine guns in nose|


Conclusion: I believe the this would make for a great naval strike aircraft in the British tech tree, hopefully in a dedicated line of naval strike aircraft.



“British Secret Projects 4: Bombers 1935 to 1950” by Tony Buttler

Short Sturgeon - torpedo-bomber, naval target tug

“I am not an animal…”; The Short S.B.3 - Forgotten Aircraft - Military Matters

Google Books

Does anybody remember the Short Sturgeon, | Key Aero

SHORT S38 STURGEON - Flight Manuals

Short Sturgeon - Wikipedia


+1 why not

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Seems like a fun Naval Aircraft, would be great to have in the game.


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