I was going to write here a post filled with all the awesomely fantastic facts I learned about Sunderland flying boats during the course of my research, but then I thought: really? I know I’m super-interested in them, but that’s because I’ve been reading & learning about them for over 4 years now… and it did take me a week or so to warm up to them in the first place (I actually started off my research by thinking I’d write about a pilot of a Catalina, after seeing one of them at RAF Museum Cosford).
So instead, here are some of my favourite Sunderland facts, followed by a few pictures:
- Short Sunderland flying boats were the only type of aircraft to be in continuous service with the RAF for the entire duration of WW2
- Sunderland flying boats, and the occupation of Iceland, played a vital role in closing the “mid-Atlantic gap” (the space between the ranges of aircraft flying out from Scotland & those flying out from Canada) and protecting Allied shipping during the Battle of the Atlantic, until the USA joined the war and brought along their Liberators (for their time, these were super-long-range aircraft)
- post-WW2, Sunderlands saw service in Europe during the Berlin Airlift. Unlike most aircraft, they could be used to carry salt without any fears of corrosion (once the Havelsee froze and was no longer able to be used for landing, other aircraft, fitted with panniers under the fuselage, took over this cargo)
- They were dubbed ‘flying porcupines’ by Luftwaffe pilots
- the playwright Sir Terrence Rattigan served in the RAF during WW2, and it was here that he wrote his play Flare Path – more accurately, he wrote it whilst serving as a tail gunner in a Sunderland flying boat, stationed in West Africa
There’s a whole host more pictures & information out there, if I’ve tempted you into being as interested as I am in these aircraft and their crews!