Short Stirling Development and Prototype

Short Stirling Development and Prototype

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Short Stirling Development and Prototype

The Short Stirling was the first of the famous trio of four engined heavy bombers to enter RAF service. Its performance suffered as a result of restrictions imposed on its design by unrealistic pre-war requirements, and it was never as successful as a heavy bomber as the later Handley Page Halifax or Avro Lancaster.

The Stirling was developed in response to Air Ministry Specification B.12/36 (as was the Boulton Paul P.90, which never reached the prototype stage). This called for a four engined bomber capable of carrying 2,000 lbs of bombs over a range of 1,500 miles with a normal takeoff or 14,000 lbs of bombs for 2,000 miles with a catapult assisted takeoff. The specification also limited the wingspan of the Stirling to 100 feet, later blamed for much of its poor performance (in fact the Stirling’s span of 99 feet 1 in was only three feet smaller than the 102 feet of the Lancaster). Short wanted to use a much wider wing, with a span of 112 feet but permission was refused. The Stirling was designed with small pre-war RAF airfields in mind, and a bomber with a wingspan of 112 feet would have been too large to fit in the hangers and cumbersome around the field. Pre-war conditions also made it desirable that the new heavy bomber would have a short takeoff run.

The basic fuselage design was complete in 1937. It was eight-seven feet long, and made in four segments. One more limit on the future usefulness of the Stirling appeared at this stage. The bomb bay was divided into three parallel sections, each capable of carrying bombs with a diameter of two feet or less. In 1937 this was not seen as a problem – the largest bomb expected to be used was a 2,000 pounder, and most bombs were much smaller. As the war progressed, the size of bombs in use constantly increased, with the standard bomb for most of the war being the 4,000lb “blockbuster”. The Stirling would prove to unable to cope with these larger bombs.

The first prototype for the Stirling was a half scale flying prototype, constructed of plywood and powered by four 90hp engines. The aim was to reveal any problems with the basic design. The half size prototype first flew on 19 September 1938. The only major problem that was detected at this stage was that the takeoff and landing runs threatened to be too long. In order to reduce the takeoff length it was decided to increase the angle between the wing and the ground when landed from 3.5 degrees to 6.5 degrees. This would increase the amount of lift generated early in the take off. This was achieved by increasing the length of the landing gear, giving the Stirling its characteristic high cockpit position – the front of the aircraft was over twenty feet above the ground. This also made it somewhat more difficult to reach the engines, which were located high on the wings.

As work on the Stirling continued, its expected weight kept rising and its performance kept falling. In 1937 it was expected that the Stirling would cruise at 282 mph while carrying 8,000lb of bombs. Tests on the Stirling Mk I later revealed a cruising speed of 165 mph at 10,000 feet, and a maximum speed of only 218 mph, over 100 mph lower than predicted. As well as suffering from its relatively narrow wingspan the Stirling was the heaviest of the three four engined bombers, and at first suffered from its under-powered Hercules II engines.

As a result of tests on the half scale prototype, the Air Ministry decided to place an order for 100 Stirling Mk Is. The first full scale prototype was flow on 14 May 1939, but was destroyed on landing when the light alloy undercarriage gave way. Tests on the early production Stirlings were disappointing, and the early Mk I was relegated to a training role. The Stirling would not fly its first combat mission until February 1941.

Supermarine B.12/36 (Type 316)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/05/2019 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Specification B.12/36 was issued by the British Air Ministry in 1936 to cover a new, all-modern, four-engined heavy bomber for use by the Royal Air Force (RAF). Three designs came from this initiative which was eventually fulfilled by the Short "Stirling" (detailed elsewhere on this site). The other two submissions were the ultimately-abandoned Armstrong Whitworth B.12/36 and the Supermarine B.12/36, the latter which produced the related Type 316, Type 317, and Type 318 forms.

Supermarine went down in World War 2 history as the makers of the classic "Spitfire" fighter series and added a navalized form through its "Seafire" development. However, large aircraft types were not out of its design, development and construction scope and proven by the many flying boats the company put out prior to the conflict. Against the details of their proposed "Type 316" to fulfill Specification B.12/36, Supermarine was contracted for two prototypes in 1937.

The Air Ministry sought a four-engined type with a maximum bomb load of 14,000lb and a range out to 2,000 miles. Conversely, engineers could opt for a longer-endurance design of 3,000 mile range with a reduced internal bomb load of 8,000lb. Cruising speeds would reach at least 230 miles per hour when flying at about 15,000 feet and turrets would be featured for local defense against enemy fighters. Beyond its service as a heavy bomber, the airframe should also prove suitable for service in the transport role. Drive power was also given some leeway for either Bristol (Hercules) or Rolls-Royce (Merlins) were under consideration for finalized bomber production forms. This produced the "Type 317" (Hercules-powered) and the "Type 318" (Merlin-powered) variants. In the end, the Merlin-powered variant was given up for good - no doubt those engines badly needed in other more important types like Spitfire fighters.

By mid-August of 1937, Supermarine had delivered a mockup model for official review and the design was becoming promising enough to continue pursuit - particularly in light of foreign air powers finding considerable successes with their own four-engined heavy bomber types - up to this point the Royal Air Force held an affinity for less-complex bomber workhorses usually driven by a pair of engines. The death of lead engineer R.J. Mitchell (1895-1937) from cancer in June of 1937 proved a devastating setback for the program which still hoped to garner complete support from the Air Ministry going forward and Supermarine's preoccupation with Spitfire production only served to push the Type 317 program back even further.

Nevertheless, work on the prototypes continued but it was in a September 1940 Luftwaffe air raid that the future of the Type 317 was settled - German bombs landed squarely on the production facility which rendered the still-incomplete bomber prototypes a total loss. After a quick status review, the program was cancelled in full during November of 1940, bringing about an end to the promising venture and heavier reliance on the Short Stirling and other heavy bomber types that would soon join the RAF inventory.

As finalized, the Type 317 carried a large-area monoplane wing with rounded, tapered tips. The mainplanes were seated ahead of midships. The cockpit was added in stepped fashion, overlooking the nose, with excellent views of each engine pair found along the wing leading edges. The engines were housed in streamlined nacelles for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The nose was slightly glazed to provide vision for the bombardier and a nose-mounted gun position. The fuselage then tapered rearwards and another gun position was located at the extreme end of the tail. The tail unit itself comprised a horizontal plane unit with rudders affixed at the edges, completing a "twin rudder" appearance common to many aircraft of the period. The undercarriage was of a conventional "tail dragger" arrangement with the main legs double-tired.

The Type 317 was designed to support a crew of six. Power was to be served from 4 x Bristol Hercules HE 1.5M series air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,330 horsepower each. Dimensionally, the aircraft carried a wingspan of 97 feet and a length of 73.5 feet. Its service ceiling was estimated at 32,000 feet. Defensive armament amounted to 8 x 0.303in (7.7mm) machine guns located along various danger zones about the aircraft - at least two would be showcased at the nose and the tail. Internally, the bomb bay was cleared for carrying up to 7 x 2,000lb bombs or similar loads.

American Stirling Company

A Combined Heat and Power Stirling Engine Generator made by Combined Energy Technology.

Stirling engine generators have not yet become a commodity item. So getting one that would be right for you is often difficult.

Are Companies Selling Stirling Generators?

There are some engines that are available as complete, ready-to-use products today. Most of these are set up to produce both heat and electricity at a high combined efficiency level.

Summary of This Article

This article will tell you what you need to know about buying a Stirling engine generator, from the cost to the different types available.

Click on any of these links to jump to a section:

What You Should Know

A combined Heat and Power engine in the home, manufactured by Ökofen¹.

The first thing you should know is that you shouldn’t waste your time trying to buy one at your local construction supply store because they won’t have one.

A quick search for Stirling engine generators on Google turns up some steam engines and some engines with the “Sterling” brand that are not “Stirling” cycle engines.

High Costs of Stirling Engine Generators

Low Volume = High Per Unit Cost

Any time you’re looking for a product that’s not been manufactured by the millions, you should expect to pay more than you would for products that have been manufactured by the millions.

You are paying for more of the engineering time with a design that has never been built in high volume.

This is true for gasoline engines as well as Stirling engines.

Gasoline and Diesel Generators are High Volume Products

Gasoline and diesel generators have been manufactured by the millions and had generations of engineers figure out how to reduce the costs.

So, when you do find a Stirling engine generator, you shouldn’t expect it to be as cheap as a comparable gasoline or diesel generator.

Can I Save Money by Making One?

“Making Stirling Engines” by Andy Ross.

The short answer is: yes, in theory, you could.

There are a lot of home machine shops and small machine shops with enough capability to make a small Stirling engine that produces some power.

Designing Stirling Engines is Difficult

The big difficulty in building a good do-it-yourself Stirling engine is finding a suitable design that is likely to work well on the first try.

I highly suggest that you do not consider building a Stirling engine as a totally new design on your first attempt.

Keep your first do-it-yourself project very close to a well-proven design with good performance.

Unexpected Design Rules

The design rules for making a good Stirling engine are never obvious to people trying to build their first one, but later in this article, I’ll give you some suggestions for building a Stirling engine that’s likely to work the very first time.

If you follow the design rules that work well for internal combustion engines, your engine will run poorly or not at all.

The Problem of Efficiency

Solar-powered Stirling System

People who have studied Stirling engines know they can be some of the most efficient engines in the world. Indeed that is true.

Well, nothing is wrong with it except anytime that one design constraint like thermodynamic efficiency, becomes the main design goal of an engineering program, other important things – like the final price and ease of manufacturing – will suffer.

What Happens When You Demand Efficiency

If you have a well-funded research program and you’ve hired all the top engineering talent needed to design a Stirling engine and you tell those engineers to make the most efficient engine possible, they will indeed make the most efficient that they can make.

But then, that engine will have to compete in the marketplace with gasoline and diesel engines that have been priced reduced over many, many generations.

If you asked the same engines to strive for a balance of efficiency, and ease of manufacture and a price that the profitably built for and competitively sold for, they would also do that.

Thermodynamic efficiency should usually not be the primary design goal of new Stirling engine designs if anyone wants to sell it in a competitive marketplace.

Dollars Per Watt – The Ideal Figure of Merit

People never make decisions about any technology without having other options they can choose from.

When people are considering buying a Stirling engine, they will always compare it to some other power producing option.

People Always Have Technology Options

Maybe they’re comparing Stirling engines to solar cells or maybe they’re comparing them to diesel and gasoline generators.

The point is, there is always a comparison between Stirling engines and something else in the customer’s minds. The initial purchase price of the technology is often the most important consideration in these kind of decisions.

What The Engineering Goals Should Be

The Stirling Engine Design Manual by William Martini

Engineers developing new Stirling engines should pay very close attention to how much the customers they hope to sell to will pay per watt of power.

Things like shipping and installation cost and everything down to the cost of the box all matter and should be considered at the very first stages of a new engine development.

Lack of Product Availability

Research Money Produces Research – Not Products

I started this website,, in 1998 and I had been interested in Stirling engines for a couple of years before that.

From then to now, I’ve seen many government-funded research projects fail to produce products that could be sold at profit to the public. The failure rate is almost 100%.

This has happened so often that I have come to expect it.

Cool research projects make exciting headlines, interesting prototypes and reports, but they don’t produce products that anybody will ever buy.

The Wrong Research

One of the reasons why most Stirling engine research hasn’t resulted in products you can buy is because a lot of research was done to try to match Stirling engines to applications that they weren’t well suited for.

Stirling Engines in Cars – A Bad Idea

NASA funded projects to put Stirling engines in cars, like this Dodge D-150.

There was a big government-funded research project to put Stirling engines in cars.

But, Stirling engines intrinsically accelerate slowly and they’re difficult to regulate efficiently (go from idle to full power quickly).

So, it never was a good match between the technology and the application.

Sales Strategies That Don’t Work

Engineers love to engineer and marketers love to market.

Stirling engines have often been developed by technology enthusiasts who are engineers.

But, in the life cycle of any product, there comes a time when you need to stop engineering and start selling.

Engineers Don’t Like Marketing

A combined heat and power unit, made by Whispergen.

Naturally, the engineers are not usually suited for this so they often look for a way out.

The common mistake in strategy is to turn the marketing over to another company that isn’t passionate about the product.

The Classic Stirling Marketing Mistake

How can I market my Stirling engine in cooperation with a big utility or something like that?

This was the marketing strategy that resulted in the 2012 failure of the New Zealand based company WhisperGen. They turned the marketing to a big company that didn’t care and, not surprisingly, the project failed.

As I write this, Dean Kamen’s Company DEKA research is following the same strategy that is likely to fail with it’s excellent combined heat and power Stirling engine.

Generators You Can Buy

Below is a list of all the power producing engine projects we could find in the market place as at this writing.

I’m not recommending any of these companies. I’m merely saying these are the ones that we could find.

If you do your due diligence, perhaps one of them may have a product that’s right for you.

Combined Heat and Power Stirling Generators

One of the best applications of Stirling engines is to make electricity while also capturing the waste heat and using that to heat water.

This can be done for domestic use or for a commercial application such as a laundromat.

When both the electricity and the hot water has a useful application, these machines can have a very high efficiency overall.

Check out our complete list of Combined Heat and Power Systems that are available for purchase on our recommended page.

Low Temperature Difference Generators

The Sunpulse 500 made by Sun Orbit has 600 W power and is 1300 MM in diameter.

There’s one company that I know of has a low temperature difference Stirling engine for sale.

That is the Sun Orbit Company from Germany and their line of sun poles engines. The website is in German, but Google translate will help you if you don’t read German.

Prototype Availability

Who Might Have Old Prototypes?

It would be rare for Stirling engines that have gone through an expensive development process and then be scrapped when the program is over.

Usually, they get put in storage for a long time until someone gets tired of storing them, and they finally get sold as government surplus.

These Old Prototypes Can be Found

So, starting with the development of the modern Stirling engine era, you should know that Phillips electronics, and many other companies, have developed quite a lot of Stirling engines over the years.

If you want to find one, you could possibly set up a custom search on eBay or a similar site that might eventually find you the Stirling engine generator you’re looking for.

The now-bankrupt WhisperGen of New Zealand made some Stirling engines for combined heating power.

Why Didn’t the Prototypes go to Market?

There have been many prototypes built over the years, most of which worked perfectly but were never brought to the market for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not the technology worked.

Perhaps the style in granting research money changed and they didn’t get the next generation of grants. Or perhaps funding was no longer available.

Either way, this caused the project to shut down.

Usually, the prototypes weren’t thrown away. So, these engines exist and would be a better start for many new projects than a blank sheet of paper.

Boat Hobbyists

One of the wonderful things about the United Kingdom is there’s a great tolerance of eccentricity and enough people have the talent and money to do interesting things like building a Stirling engine to power a boat.

The boats we’re talking about are slow canoes and skiffs that do well in very calm rivers and lakes.

Stirling Power Replaces Human Power

Norris Bomford at the helm of his boat, running on a Stirling engine.

They tend to be the same kinds of boats that can be powered by oars, but there are boat hobbyists in the UK who have built Stirling engines.

And, they are likely to be very generous with assisting a new hobbyist in starting to build a new engine that could work.

New Research Options

If you have enough money and would like to hire a company to research a Stirling engine for you and develop another prototype, you are in luck.

There are companies who have been in the business of doing research and selling prototypes for a very long time.

Most notable is Sun Power of Athens, Ohio.

If you do hire a company to do the work for you, then you’ll need to give them strict instructions about the figures of merit you want to use to evaluate the project.

Remember, it’s important to consider the price manufacturing and the full delivery cost to the customer.

Is it an engine that can be manufactured and sold profitably at a price that people are willing to pay?

Leave Us a Comment

If you have any questions or if you’ve found other sources of Stirling engine generators, please leave them in the comments below.

Comments are all moderated, so we may not get it posted immediately but we will get it posted.

Short Stirling

Original request in the 1930s was for a two engine bomber, but with both the US and USSR investigating four engine forms, the UK followed seeking a long range high speed aircraft. Specifications also sought a capacity as a troop carrier (24). Early design work by Shorts focused on modifications to their Sunderland flying boat. Their first prototype flew on 19 Sep 1938. With the German Luftwaffe increasing in strength rapidly, production was ordered "off the drawing board", and the next prototype 'Stirling' flew on 14 May 1939. Shorts were originally given an order for 200 aircraft, but following the Munich Agreement, the order was increased to 1,500 aircraft.

The first production Stirling made its first flight on 7 May 1940. Production was slow for a time as with heavy aircraft losses during the Battle for Britain, priority was given for the manufacture of fighters. Most production had been moved to Ireland to avoid German bombing, and in 1941 production began in Canada. Shorts also began to produce a civilian version of the Stirling, capable of seating 30 passengers. Like all other bombers that had a tail wheel configuration, the Stirling could be more than a handful on take off or landing, especially when flown by new pilots.

The first production aircraft to reach an operation unit did so in August 1940. After a four month working up period they attained operational status in January 1941. By the end of the year, three squadrons were equipped and flying Stirlings and it was used for both daytime and nighttime bombing missions. From late 1941 the Stirlings played an important role in the development of the Pathfinder Squadrons. By 1943 as many as 100 Stirlings at a time were use don operations. While operating with Bomber Command a total of 582 aircraft were lost due to enemy action, and another 119 were so badly damaged as to be written off. In late 1943 the Stirling was judged to be a suitable tow for the heavy gliders to be used in the invasion of France.

The Gouge flap, invented by Arthur Gouge of Short Brothers in 1936, allowed the pilot to increase both the wing area and the chord of an aircraft's wing, thereby reducing the stalling speed at a given weight.

Hamburg (locally), Hamborg, officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg),Constitution of Hamburg), is the second-largest city of Germany as well as one of the country's 16 constituent states, with a population of roughly 1.8 million people. The city lies at the core of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region which spreads across four German federal states and is home to more than five million people. The official name reflects Hamburg's history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, a city-state and one of the 16 states of Germany. Before the 1871 Unification of Germany, it was a fully sovereign state. Prior to the constitutional changes in 1919 it formed a civic republic headed constitutionally by a class of hereditary grand burghers or Hanseaten. The city has repeatedly been beset by disasters such as the Great Fire of Hamburg, exceptional coastal flooding and military conflicts including World War II bombing raids. Historians remark that the city has managed to recover and emerge wealthier after each catastrophe. Situated on the river Elbe, Hamburg is home to Europe's second-largest port and a broad corporate base. In media, the major regional broadcasting firm NDR, the printing and publishing firm italic and the newspapers italic and italic are based in the city. Hamburg remains an important financial center, the seat of Germany's oldest stock exchange and the world's oldest merchant bank, Berenberg Bank. Media, commercial, logistical, and industrial firms with significant locations in the city include multinationals Airbus, italic, italic, italic, and Unilever. The city is a forum for and has specialists in world economics and international law with such consular and diplomatic missions as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the EU-LAC Foundation, and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. In recent years, the city has played host to multipartite international political conferences and summits such as Europe and China and the G20. Former German Chancellor italic, who governed Germany for eight years, and Angela Merkel, German chancellor since 2005, come from Hamburg. The city is a major international and domestic tourist destination. It ranked 18th in the world for livability in 2016. The Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2015. Hamburg is a major European science, research, and education hub, with several universities and institutions. Among its most notable cultural venues are the italic and italic concert halls. It gave birth to movements like Hamburger Schule and paved the way for bands including The Beatles. Hamburg is also known for several theatres and a variety of musical shows. St. Pauli's italic is among the best-known European entertainment districts.

William Wallace (c. 1270 - 1305)

William Wallace © Wallace led the Scottish rebellion against Edward I and inflicted a famous defeat on the English army at Stirling Bridge. He is remembered as a patriot and national hero.

William Wallace was born in the 1270s in Elderslie in Renfrewshire into a gentry family. Very little is known about his early years and there are significant periods of his life for which there are no reliable sources.

In 1296, Edward I of England had taken advantage of a succession crisis in Scotland and imposed himself as ruler with an English administration. Within months, Scottish unrest was widespread.

In May 1297, Wallace attacked the town of Lanark, killing the English sheriff and unrest quickly became full-blown rebellion. Men flocked to join Wallace and he began to drive the English out of Fife and Perthshire. In September 1297, Wallace defeated a much larger English force at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. This and subsequent military successes severely weakened the English hold on Scotland. Wallace then launched raids into England. In late 1297 or early 1298 he was knighted and appointed 'guardian of the kingdom' in the name of John Balliol, the deposed king of Scotland.

The shock of the defeat at Stirling rallied the English around Edward, who marched north with an army. Wallace's strategy was to avoid confrontation and gradually withdraw. He destroyed the countryside as he went, forcing Edward to march deeper and deeper into Scotland. In July 1298, the Scottish and English armies met near Falkirk, and the Scots were defeated. Wallace escaped and little is known of his movements, but at some stage he resigned the guardianship and was succeeded by Robert Bruce and John Comyn.

Wallace then went abroad, notably to France, to seek support for the Scottish cause. He returned to Scotland in 1303. In his absence Robert Bruce had accepted a truce with Edward I and, in 1304, John Comyn came to terms with the English as well. Wallace was excluded from these terms and the English king offered a large sum of money to anyone who killed or captured him. Wallace was seized in or near Glasgow in August 1305, and transported to London. He was charged and tried with treason, which he denied, saying he had never sworn allegiance to the English king. His execution was held on 23 August, where he was hung, drawn and quartered. His head was placed on London Bridge, and his limbs displayed in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling and Perth.

Development: Meaning and Concept of Development

Development means “improvement in country’s economic and social conditions”. More specially, it refers to improvements in way of managing an area’s natural and human resources. In order to create wealth and improve people’s lives.

Dudley Seers while elaborating on the meaning of development suggests that while there can be value judgements on what is development and what is not, it should be a universally acceptable aim of development to make for conditions that lead to a realisation of the potentials of human personality.

Seers outlined several conditions that can make for achievement of this aim:

i. The capacity to obtain physical necessities, particularly food

ii. A job (not necessarily paid employment) but including studying, working on a family farm or keeping house

iii. Equality, which should be considered an objective in its own right

iv. Participation in government

v. Belonging to a nation that is truly independent, both economically and politically and

vi. Adequate educational levels (especially literacy).

The people are held to be the principal actors in human scale development. Respecting the diversity of the people as well as the autonomy of the spaces in which they must act converts the present day object person to a subject person in the human scale development. Development of the variety that we have experienced has largely been a top-down approach where there is little possibility of popular participation and decision making.

Human scale development calls for a direct and participatory democracy where the state gives up its traditional paternalistic and welfarist role in favour of a facilitator in enacting and consolidating people’s solutions flowing from below. “Empowerment” of people takes development much ahead of simply combating or ameliorating poverty. In this sense development seeks to restore or enhance basic human capabilities and freedoms and enables people to be the agents of their own development.

In the process of capitalistic development and leading national economy towards integration into foreign markets, even politically democratic states are apt to effectively exclude the vast masses from political and economic decision-making. The state itself evolves into a national oligarchy hedged with authoritarian and bureaucratic structures and mechanisms that inhibit social participation and popular action.

The limited access of the majority to social benefits and the limited character of participation of the masses can often not be satisfactorily offset by the unsuccessful and weak redistributive policies of the government. Powerful economic interest groups set the national agenda of development, often unrepresentative of the heterogeneous and diverse nature of our civil society making for a consolidation and concentration of power and resources in the hands of a few.

Also, a focus on people and the masses implies that there could be many different roads to development and self-reliance. The slogans “human centred development”, “the development of people”, “integrated development”, all call for a more inclusive and sensitive approach to fundamental social, economic and political changes involved in development such that all aspects of life of a people, their collectivity, their own history and consciousness, and their relations with others make for a balanced advancement.

The adoption of a basic needs approach with the concept of endogenous development make for a development agenda that is universally applicable while at the same time allowing for country specific particularities to be given due account.

The challenge of human scale development is to nurture diversity instead of being threatened by it, to develop processes of political and economic decentralisation, to strengthen democratic, indigenous traditions and institutions and to encourage rather than repress emerging social movements which reflect the people’s need for autonomy and space.

The fruits of economic development may be distributed more equitably if local spaces are protected, micro- organisations are facilitated and the diverse collective identities that make up the social body are recognised and represented. Greater control of popular masses over environment is a must. In fact this concept of development seeks for the civil society rather than the state to own up and nurture development, so that the role of social actors is enhanced.

Social and Human Development, therefore necessarily requires a unified approach, integrating the economic and social components in plans, policies and programmes for people’s betterment. The challenge is to simultaneously integrate cross sectoral and regional developmental needs as well as to make for a participative development. The issues of environment, pollution, women, habitat, hunger and employment have come to the fore one by one and continue to require public and institutional attention along with resource allocations. Two major contemporary concerns that require focus in any development initiative are that of human security and sustainability.

We need to ensure that development does not mean social dislocation, violence and war and that we meet “the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Each of these problems is interrelated in complex ways and requires a unified approach. The purpose of development should be to develop man and not to end with developing things. Fulfillment of basic needs of mankind should be the true objective of development and achievements that either do not contribute to this goal or even disrupt this basic requirement must not be pursued as a development goal.


In the 1930s, the Royal Air Force was interested primarily in twin-engine bombers. These designs put limited demands on engine production and maintenance, both of which were already stretched with the introduction of so many new types into service. Power limitations were so serious that the British invested heavily in the development of huge engines in the 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW) class in order to improve performance. In the late 1930s, none were ready for production. The U.S. and USSR were developing bombers with four smaller engines, which proved to have excellent range and fair lifting capacity, so in 1936 the RAF also decided to investigate the feasibility of the four-engined bomber.

The Air Ministry Specification B.12/36 had several requirements. The bomb load was to be a maximum of 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) carried to a range of 2,000 miles (3218 km) or a lesser payload of 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) to 3,000 miles (4,800 km) (incredibly demanding for the era). It had to cruise at 230 or more mph at 15,000 ft (4,600 m) and have three gun turrets (in nose, amidships and rear) for defence. [ 1 ] The aircraft should also be able to be used as a troop transport for 24 soldiers [ 2 ] , and be able to use catapult assistance for takeoff. [ 1 ] The idea was that it would fly troops to far corners of the British Empire and then support them with bombing. To help with this task as well as ease production, it needed to be able to be broken down into parts, [ 3 ] for transport by train. Since it could be operating from limited "back country" airfields, it needed to lift off from a 500 ft (150 m) runway and able to clear 50 ft (15 m) trees at the end, a specification most small aircraft would have a problem with today.

Initially left out of those asked to tender designs, Shorts were included because they already had similar designs in hand and they had ample design staff and production facilities. Shorts were producing several four-engined flying boat designs of the required size and created their S.29 by removing the lower deck and boat hull of the S.25 Sunderland. The new S.29 design was largely identical otherwise: the wings and controls were the same, construction was identical and it even retained the slight upward bend at the rear of the fuselage, originally intended to keep the Sunderland's tail clear of sea spray.

In October 1936, the S.29 was low down on the shortlist of designs considered and the Supermarine Type 317 was ordered in prototype form in January 1937. However it was decided that an alternative design to Supermarine was needed for insurance and that Shorts should build it. In February 1937 the Air Ministry suggested modifications to the original Short design, including considering the use of the Bristol Hercules engine as an alternative to the Napier Dagger, increasing service ceiling (28,000 ft) and reducing the wingspan. Shorts accepted this large amount of redesign. The S.29 used the Sunderland's 114 ft (35 m) wing and it had to be reduced to less than 100 ft (30 m), the same limit as that imposed on the P.13/36 designs (Handley Page Halifax and Avro Manchester). In order to get the needed lift from a shorter span and excess weight, the redesigned wing was thickened and reshaped. It is often said that the wingspan was limited to 100 ft so the aircraft would fit into existing hangars [ 3 ] "The wing span was limited by the Air Ministry to 100 ft" [ 4 ] [ 5 ] but the maximum hangar opening was 112 ft (34 m) and the specification required outdoor servicing.

In June the S.29 was accepted as the second string for the Supermarine 316 and formally ordered in October.

Shorts built a half scale version as the S.31 (also known internally as the M4 - the title on the tailfin), powered by four Pobjoy Niagara engines, which first flew on 19 September 1938, piloted by Shorts' Chief Test Pilot J. Lankester Parker. Everyone was happy with the design, except that the takeoff run was thought to be too long. Fixing this required the angle of the wing to be increased for takeoff, normally meaning the aircraft would be flying nose down while cruising (as in the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley). Shorts lengthened the undercarriage struts to tilt the nose up on take-off, leading to its spindly gear which in turn contributed to many takeoff and landing accidents. [ 6 ] The Short S.31 was scrapped after a takeoff accident at RAF Stradishall, Suffolk in February 1944.

The first S.29, now given the service name "Stirling" after the Scottish city of the same name, flew on 14 May 1939 with four Bristol Hercules II radial engines. Upon landing one of the brakes locked, causing it to slew off the runway and collapse the landing gear. A redesign added much stronger and heavier struts on the second prototype. On its first sortie two months later, one of the engines failed on takeoff but the aircraft landed easily. From then on, the record improved and service production started in August 1940 at Shorts' Rochester factory. The area, which included a number of major aviation firms, was heavily bombed in the opening days of the Battle of Britain, including one famous low-level raid by a group of Dornier Do 17s. A number of completed Stirlings were destroyed on the ground and the factories were heavily damaged, setting back production by almost a year. Some production was moved to Austin Aero's factory at Cofton Hackett just south of Birmingham and the factory there eventually produced nearly 150 Stirlings. [ 7 ] 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 of 1941. 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. In 1940, bombing damaged Supermarine's factory at Woolston and the incomplete Type 316 prototypes. The 316 was cancelled in November 1940 leaving the Stirling as the only B.12/36 design.

Although smaller than the US and Soviet experimental designs, the Stirling had considerably more power and far better payload/range than anything then flying. The massive 14,000 lb (6.25 long tons, 6,340 kg) bombload put it in a class of its own, double that of any other bomber. It was larger than the Handley Page Halifax and the Avro Lancaster which replaced it but both of these were originally designed to have twin engines. The Stirling was 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 Avro Manchester while the Halifax was planned to be powered by twin Vulture engines but was re-designed to use four Merlins in 1937 as the problems with the Vulture engines became clear. [ 8 ] )

The design had nose and tail turrets (the latter was notable for the wide angles of fire) and included a retractable ventral ("dustbin") turret just behind the bomb-bay. This proved almost useless due to cramped conditions, with the added distraction that the turret tended to drop and hit the ground when taxiing over bumps. It was removed almost from the start and temporarily replaced by beam hatches mounting pairs of machine guns, until a twin-gun dorsal turret could be provided. This turret also had problems it had a metal back fitted with an escape hatch which turned out to be almost impossible to use. The later Stirling Mk.III used a fully glazed turret (the same FN.50 as in Lancaster) that had more room and an improved view. Later Stirlings could also carry an improved, low-drag remotely controlled FN.64 ventral turret. [ 9 ]

Attention was paid to reducing drag - all rivets were flush headed and panels joggled to avoid edges - but camouflage paint probably negated the benefit. The wing was fitted with Gouge flaps similar to those of the flying boats.

The first few Mk.Is had Hercules II engines but the majority had 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) Hercules XIs. The Mk.III, introduced in 1943, was similar with the exception of the new dorsal turret and the improved 1,635 hp (1,200 kW) Hercules VI or XVI engines, which improved maximum speed from 255 to 270 mph (410 to 435 km/h).

Even before the Stirling went into production, Short had improved on the initial design with the S.34 in an effort to meet specification B.1/39. It would have been powered by four Bristol Hercules 17 SM engines, optimised for high-altitude flight. The new design featured longer span wings and a revised fuselage able to carry dorsal and ventral power-operated turrets each fitted with four 20 mm Hispano cannon despite the obvious gains in performance and capability, the Air Ministry was not interested.

In 1941, Short proposed an improved version of the Stirling, optimistically called "The Super Stirling" in the company's annals. This Stirling would feature a wing span of 135 ft 9 in (41.38 m) and four Bristol Centaurus radials and a maximum takeoff weight of 104,000 lb (47,174 kg). The performance estimates included 300 mph (483 km/h) speed and a 4,000 mile (6,437 km) range with a weapons load of 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) over 2,300 miles or 23,500 lb over 1,000 miles. Defensive armament was 10 0.5 inch machine guns in three turrets. It was initially accepted for under Specification B.8/41 (written to cover it) and two prototypes were ordered but the C-in-C of Bomber Command Arthur Harris felt that, while it would be a better aircraft, actual production would be slower and that effort would be better spent on giving the Stirling improved Hercules engines for a higher ceiling. Shorts were told in May 1942 that the Air Ministry would not be continuing the project and in August Shorts decided to terminate work. [ 10 ]


In 1958, Shorts was approached by F.G. Miles Ltd (successor company to Miles Aircraft) which was seeking backing to produce a development of the H.D.M.106 Caravan design with a high aspect ratio wing similar to that of the Hurel-Dubois HD.31. Shorts acquired the design and data gathered from trials of the Miles Aerovan based H.D.M.105 prototype. After evaluating the Miles proposal, Shorts rejected the Caravan. They developed their own design for a utility all-metal aircraft which was called the Short SC.7 Skyvan. It was popular with freight operators compared to other small aircraft because of its large rear door for loading and unloading freight. Its fuselage resembles the shape of a railroad boxcar for simplicity and efficiency.

Construction started at Sydenham Airport in 1960, and the prototype first flew on 17 January 1963, powered by two Continental piston engines. Later in 1963, the prototype was re-engined with the intended Turbomeca Astazou turboprop engines. The Skyvan is an all-metal, high-wing monoplane, with a braced, high aspect ratio wing, and an unpressurised, square-section fuselage. In 1968, production switched to the Skyvan Series 3 aircraft, which replaced the Astazou engines with Garrett AiResearch TPE331 turboprops. A total of 153 Skyvans (plus the prototype) was produced before production ended in 1986.


Rochester City Council purchased the land at Rochester Airfield from a farmer, as the site for a municipal airport. One month later Short brothers, who had started building aircraft in 1909 on the Isle of Sheppey, asked for permission to lease the land for test flying and thus began the relationship between the local authority and the aviation industry.

In 1934-5 Short brothers took over the Rochester Airport site when they moved some of their personnel from the existing seaplane works. The inaugural flight into Rochester was from Gravesend by a John Parker flying a Shorts Scion powered by a Pobjoy engine. Pobjoy Air Motors Ltd moved here at the same time to be closer to Short brothers to whom they were contracted for production of aircraft engines. Financial difficulties led to a capital investment by Shorts in Pobjoy and their eventual assimilation.

The Air Ministry licensed Short Brothers in 1936 to design and build a four-engined high wing monoplane. An initial half scale model S3 flew at Rochester on 19th September 1938 and the first prototype S29 came out of its hanger on May 14th 1939. The flight was perfect except the landing gear collapsed on touch down! Later developments led to the first 4-engined bomber to serve in the RAF, the Shorts S29 Stirling bomber for which Rochester is famous.

In 1938 No 23 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School came here and hangars were built for the RAF and for the Navy to house their Avro tutors. The school was managed by Shorts and you can still see the buildings fronting the Maidstone Road. Civilian services started with flights from Rochester to Southend in June 1934 at a cost of 12 shillings (60p) for the return trip. Short brothers continued to build seaplanes on the Esplanade at Rochester supplying the growing market for flying boats. The name "Empire" and "Sunderland" flying boats will always remain one of the important contributions made by Medway to British Aviation. The airport was bombed heavily during the war by a wing of Dornier 17s on August 15th 1940. Many 100lb bombs scored hits on the factory and the runways.

Spitfires of 54 squadron successfully intercepted some of the marauders but Stirling production was put back by at least a year and in the end was dispersed to other parts of the country. Shorts concentrated their work in Belfast leaving the Medway towns in 1946.

For six years 1947-53 the RAF 24 Elementary Flying School Training School was transferred Rochester and was renamed the "Reserve Flying School". The unit was disbanded in 1953.

Previous employees of Shorts joined the Shorts gliding club at Rochester and developed a prototype aircraft called the "Nimbus", in an attempt to keep aircraft production at Rochester. Services to and from the continent expanded in the 1950''s and 60''s using Dakotas and Doves but with stringent requirement of the CAA, operators had to re-locate from Rochester.

In 1979 the lease reverted to the council and after giving thorough consideration to closing the airport, GEC comprising Marconi and instrument makers Elliot Automation decided to take over management of the airport maintaining 2 runways as grass whilst releasing some land for light industrial expansion. The status quo remained until 1999 when BAe who had now acquired GEC and Marconi decided to give up the airport.

Rochester Airport Ltd who took on the lease from Medway Council have struggled with the slow degradation of pre war infrastructure but remain profitable. Renegotiation of the initial lease was painful and expensive 3300 objections were sent to the council opposing the airports closure, unusually for an airport, many from the loyal local populace.

The airport entered a new phase when tenders were invited for refurbishment and the opportunity for a longer 25 year lease under the terms of the Rochester Airport Masterplan 2013. The current operators were successful in their bid and have planning permission for new hangars. Work refurbishing hangar 3 should start in Spring 2018. Planning permission is still being sought for a paved runway which will be necessary when runway 34/16 is closed. Closure of the runway will enable the construction of a new business park to the North West and other developments to the South East complementing Medway Council's vision for the area.

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Watch the video: Remember the Stirling Part 1