Tuesday, October 19, 2010

#2 Short Stirling --The Bomber in which Sgt Sidhu flew

Always remembered as the first of the four-engined bombers to join the RAF, the Stirling suffered from several design limitations which severely affected its performance and load-carrying capability. As a consequence, its service with Bomber Command was marred by heavy losses when used on operations alongside the higher-flying Halifaxes and Lancasters.

Air Ministry Specification B12/36, to which the Stirling was one of 11 designs proposed by various companies, called for a four-engined heavy bomber capable of carrying a bombload of 14,000lbs with a range of 3,000 miles a remarkably demanding request for the time). It also specified that the wingspan should not exceed 100 feet to enable the aircraft to fit inside current RAF hangars (although, curiously enough, the most common type of hangar, the C Type, could open to over 125 feet). As a consequence, certain aspects of the Stirling's performance suffered namely that operating altitude of the aircraft with a full load, as the wings could not generate the lift required to operate a higher altitudes.(Note this aspect--it had a major impact on the bombers performance .)

Some way to remedying the poor performance of the basic Stirling design with the introduction of the Mark III from the start of 1943, but still the aircraft suffered much higher losses than the other aircraft of the Main Force. Within five months of being introduced, 67 out of the 84 aircraft delivered had been lost to enemy action or written off after crashes. During the year, the Stirlings were gradually phased out of the Main Force and moved to less dangerous duties such as minelaying. Only one Stirling squadron served with the Pathfinders - No 7 - but the Stirlings had been replaced by Lancasters by mid-1943.

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