WW1 Planes
An encyclopediae of 1914-18 aircraft types


The Floatplane specialist

Like so many aviation businesses, Short started with brotherhood and craftsmanship, often one was more gifted with the engineering and mechanical side while the other complemented the team by bringing marketing and economical or human management skills. In the case of Short, later the large "Irish" aircraft manufacturer of Belfast, Northern Ireland, was originally founded in 1908 in London as the world's first production aircraft company. In 1943, the company, that long had been seen as a specialist for large airplanes and flying ships, was nationalised. The status was reverted after the war and the company moved in 1948 from Rochester, Kent to Belfast and afterwards concentrated in turboprop airliners, aerospace components and missiles until bought by Canadian group Bombardier in 1989, nowadays the largest aircraft in Northern Ireland, producing nowadays engine nacelles and flight control systems for various manufacturers. Probably their most famous model was the massive and useful Short Sunderland of WW2 fame or the Stirling heavy bomber.
Short S.184


Prior to the Great War, the company formed by Eustace and Oswald Short existed since 1902 to produce and sell balloons at Hove, Sussex in the acoustics laboratory of their third brother, Horace; But they had to relocated in railway arches in Battersea, when their brother turned to Turbine manufacturing. Their first great success was an order from Rolls to win the Gordon Bennett balloon race. With fame others followed in 1906-1907 by Aero Club members. But a Wright Bothers show in 1908 at Le Mans reported by some of these aero Club members convinced the brothers that the balloon era was over and they turned their attention to heavier-than-air craftsmanship. But the two needed the backing and experience of their older brother and Oswald succeeded in persuading Horace to leave his job with Parsons and joined them, to form the Short Brothers and just installed their reputation helped them securing an order from Charles Rolls (glider) and another from Francis McClean. The latter would purchased more and eventually acted as unpaid test-pilot for the company. The 1909 Short No.1 biplane was a skid-based, forward tail pusher biplane with some original features, exhibited at the first British Aero Show held at Olympia and soon obtained Wright's licence. They also started construction of a new facility at Leysdown, near Shellbeach on the Isle of Sheppey acquired by the Aero Club while Mussell Manor became their HQ and club house for the Aero Club. They were the first in the world at that stage to have launched the simultaneous construction of six aircrafts. They also built the Dunne D.5, first tailless aircraft. The next year, the Royal Aero Vlub and their facilities moved at Eastchurch, just 2.5 miles (4 km) away. Their network allowed them to act for the Admiralty, using the flying field to train their first pilots with Frank McClean as instructor. This led to the production of the furst RNAS trainer, the Short S.27 pusher.

Short Tandem Twin
Short Tandem Twin

Short S.28 N°38 oboard HMS Hibernia
Short S.28 N°38 tested on a ramp onboard HMS Hibernia

Short S.38
Short S.38 RNAS Coastal patroller and trainer (1912)

Wartime production

The next year in 1911, Short built the first twin-engine aircraft called the Triple Twin. Also in 1913 new tests pilots joined in. Gordon Bell (replaced by Ronald Kemp in 1914) and later John Lankester Parker as secondary test pilot. They built a large number of military floatplanes. The Short Admiralty Type 184 was the first to conduct an aerial torpedo attack, launched from HMS Ben-my-Chree. This succesful model (900 ordered and licenced to other manufacturers) was also declined into a land-based bomber. Short also produced the F.3 and F.5 flying boats designed by John Porte (also known as Felixtowe) in their Rochester facility. Success translated into a mass of seaplanes helped by ready access to the sea. These ealry naval birds were taken by road to Queenborough, loaded onto lighters up to the RNAS station, Isle of Grain for testings. However from 1913 3.4 hectare were purchased near the river Medway and Rochester, Kent to built a facility which opened in early 1915 as the "Seaplane Works" later completed by the Eastchurch factory complex (third one) completed in 1917. It comprised a long concrete slipway to enable 20 tons aircraft to be launched even at any tide and all weather. This was just a fact of Short operations, as in 1916 an order for two large airships was obtained for the RNAS. The contract included the loan of a site near Cardington (Bedfordshire) to built the large facilities required. The nearby housing estate built near Cardington for the personal became "Shortstown".

Short Bomber
Short Bomber (1915) land-based bomber derived from the famous S.827

Civilian/Sport Models & Trainers

  • Short Biplane No. 1 (1909)
  • Short Biplane No. 2 (1909)
  • Short Biplane No. 3 (1909)

Military Models

Large production models are in bold, production figures in brackets.
  • Dunne D.5 (1910)
  • Dunne D.6 (1911)
  • Short S.27/34/Type 3, Tandem-Twin (1910), S.39 Triple-Twin (200?)
  • Short S.36 (1912) prototype
  • Short S.38 (1912) (48)
  • Short S.41/42 (1912) (3+?) folding wings prototypes
  • Short S.42 monoplane prototype
  • Short S.45 (1912) (4)
  • Short S.46 (1912) "Double Dirty" prototype
  • Short S.47 Triple-Tractor (1912) prototype
  • Short Folder (1913)
  • Short Admiralty Type 63 (1912)(4)
  • Short Admiralty Type 74 (1914)(7)
  • Short Admiralty Type 81 (1913)(5)
  • Short S.80 "Nile pusher" 1913 prototype
  • Short Admiralty Type S.81 (1913)(9)
  • Short S.81 (1913) prototype
  • Short Admiralty Type 135 prototype (1914)
  • Short Admiralty Type 136 prototype (1914)
  • Short Admiralty Type 166 (1914)(26)
  • Short Admiralty Type 184 (1915)(936)
  • Short Bomber (1915)(83)
  • Short Type 827 (1914)(108)
  • Short Type 830 (1914)(18)
  • Short 310 (1916)(128)
  • Short Type 320 (1916)(127)
  • Short F.3 Felixstowe (1917)(?)
  • Short N.2A (1917)(2) prototypes
  • Short N.2B (1917)(2) prototypes
  • Short F.5 Felixstowe (1918)(23)
  • Short N.1B Shirl (1918)(4) prototypes
  • R31 (airship)(2) (1918)

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Short Brothers