The Short Sunderland Mk I entered service in 1938, and was one of the few modern aircraft available to Coastal Command at the start of the Second World War. The Sunderland had been developed alongside the Short C Class Empire Flying Boats, and was a four engined monoplane flying boat. The Mk I was powered by four Bristol Pegasus XXII engines, each giving 1,010hp. It was armed with eight 0.303in machine guns – two in a retractable nose turret, four in the tail turret and one each in two beam positions at the rear of the upper deck.
89 Sunderland Is were completed between 1938 and 1941 – most at Shorts’ factory at Rochester, but fifteen were completed by Blackburn at Dumbarton. The RAF had been expecting to replace the Sunderland with the Saro Lerwick during 1940, with the result that Sunderland production dipped during that year, but the Lerwick failed to live up to expectations, and during 1941 production of the Sunderland II began.
The first squadrons to get the Sunderland I were No.210 at Pembroke Dock and No.230 at Seletar (Singapore), both of which received their first aircraft in the summer of 1938. By the start of the Second World War they had been joined by Nos.204 and 228 Squadrons.
Engine: Four Bristol Pegasus XXII
Span: 112ft 9in
Length: 85ft 7in
Height: 34ft 6in
Max speed: 209mph
Loaded Weight: 56,000lb
Armament: Two 0.303in in nose turret, four in tail turret and two in beam positions
Bomb load: 2,000lb on retractable racks