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Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk 24



The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most famous and iconic aircraft of all time.  The prototype first flew on the 5th March 1936 and the aircraft subsequently went through many design changes culminating in the Mk 24. The Spitfire was powered initially by the Rolls-Royce Merlin but many of the later versions had the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine with a total of 22,000 plus of all marks of the aircraft having been built.

The Spitfire Mk 24 was based on the Mk 22 but had two fuel tanks added in the rear fuselage and rocket mountings fitted under the wings.  A total of eighty-one Mk 24 Spitfires were built in 1946 with twenty seven of these being converted from Mk 22’s on the production line. The obvious differences from the early marks are the change in wing shape, the larger fin, ‘bubble’ canopy and five-bladed propeller. The Rolls – Royce Griffon engine is a 37 litre 12 cylinder liquid cooled in-line engine and the version installed in the Spitfire Mk 24 developed 2,350hp (1762.5Kw), it is fitted with a five bladed propeller in order to absorb the power output of the engine.  The aircraft was armed with four long-barrelled 20mm Hispano cannon.

Aircraft statistics – Wing span 36ft 11ins (11.25m) Length 32ft 11ins (10m)


History of Supermarine Spitfire Mk 24 PK683 


The aircraft on display was built as a Mk 22, but before completion was converted to Mk 24 standard at South Marston (Wiltshire) in 1946. In 1950 the aircraft was stored with 33 Maintenance Unit (MU) until mid – 1951 when it was shipped to the Far East and transferred to the Singapore Auxiliary Air Force who then operated the aircraft. In 1952 it suffered a heavy landing and was not considered worth repairing into flying condition and was eventually struck off-charge in1954 as instructional airframe 7150m.  However it was cosmetically restored as QV-A and allocated to the Singapore Air Training Corps before being retained as a gate guardian at Changi airfield.  In 1970 the aircraft returned to the UK and was stored by the RAF at various locations until being released for display at the R.J.Mitchell memorial museum in 1976.  When the Southampton Hall of Aviation (subsequently Solent Sky) museum was established in 1984 the aircraft was moved to be part of the display.      


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Supermarine S6A

The Schneider Trophy contest was instigated by Jacques Schneider in 1913 in order to promote the use of water-borne aircraft.  The Trophy was contested again after the 1914 – 1918 war every two years until being retained by Great Britain in 1931 when in compliance with the rules it was won on three consecutive occasions by the same country.  Supermarine aviation had built aircraft to be entered by the Royal Air force High Speed Flight since 1919  starting with the Sea Lion followed by the S4, S5, S6, S6a and finally the S6b. The Sea Lion was constructed using a wooden airframe covered with fabric, the S4 and S5 were of mixed wood and metal construction but the S6, S6a and S6b were built entirely of metal.  The Sea Lion, S4 and S5 were powered by a Napier Lion engine whereas the S6, S6a and S6b all had the Rolls-Royce R unit fitted.  The Supermarine Sea Lion II won the 1922 contest, the S5 won in 1927 whilst the S6 won in 1929 and the S6b in 1931.  Both Supermarine S6’s were modified and brought up to S6b standard as stand-by aircraft for the 1931 competition, being designated S6a. 

imgvs01 supermarine s6 03



History of Supermarine S6a N248

This aircraft was built in 1929 for the Schneider Trophy contest to be flown in September of that year at Calshot.  It was flown in the race by Flying Officer R.L.R.Atcherley but was disqualified for missing a pylon on the course.  The pilot’s goggles came off during the flight and as a consequence he failed to see the pylon, however he set up a new world speed record of 332mph.  During a practice flight in 1931 a section of the engine cowling came off resulting in an emergency landing which was unfortunately performed in the wake of an Ocean Liner resulting in the aircraft overturning. However N248 was salvaged and repaired in time to become a reserve aircraft for the 1931 competition. Having been presented to Southampton Corporation by Vickers Supermarine, the aircraft was displayed for many years on the Royal Pier. The aircraft was then refurbished by The British Hovercraft Corporation before being put on display in the R.J.Mitchell memorial museum.  When new premises were built in 1984 the museum became the Southampton Hall of Aviation before later being renamed the Solent Sky Aviation Museum.   




Short Sandringham

Short Brothers started building flying boats at Rochester on the river Medway in Kent in 1921. The Design of the Sandringham really begins with the C Class (Empire)  flying boat first flown in 1936.  Before this aircraft was designed, all Short Brothers’ flying boats were biplanes and it wasn’t until the Air Ministry issued a specification for an aircraft that could fly long distances to Africa and Australia that the monoplane Empire flying boat emerged.  The Empire or C class flying boat (as it was designated by Imperial Airways) was proposed because of the lack of suitable airfields available en-route.  However when this aircraft was designed and built, Short Brothers were also working on a military flying boat which was to eventually emerge as the Short Sunderland, the prototype of which first flew in 1937.  Both aircraft were extremely successful in their fields but with 42 having been built the C class’ civil career was cut short by World War II and those that were still flying were impressed into military service.  However the Sunderland was built in greater numbers and following the cessation of hostilities several were converted into either Hythe or Sandringham class passenger carrying flying boats for use by civil airlines.  


Short Sandringham VH-BRC 

This aircraft was built in 1943 as a Short Sunderland Mk 1II and delivered to the RAF with serial JM715 on July 8th of that year.  It was held in reserve with four other Sunderlands to be converted to transport Chariot midget submarines and their crews for use against the Tirpitz German pocket battleship, which was operating from a Norwegian fiord.  This mission did not materialize and the aircraft was subsequently converted to Mark 5 specification in April 1945 and again stored.  It was transferred to Short Brothers at Belfast in 1947 and converted into a Sandringham MkIV Tasman class with seating for 30 passengers. It was leased to TEAL  (Tasman Empire Airways Ltd) on October 29th 1947 was registered ZK-AMH and named RMA Auckland. The aircraft was used on the Auckland - Sydney service until December 1948 before being sold to Barrier Reef Airlines in Australia in 1950 and registered VH-BRC.  It flew with this airline on various island services until January 23rd 1951 then being sold to Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty Ltd in 1952.  The Sandringham named ‘Beachcomber’, flew on the Sydney – Lord Howe island service before finally being withdrawn in 1974. On withdrawal it was sold to Captain C. Blair of Antilles Air Boats Inc. (Virgin Islands) becoming N158C.  Renamed ‘Southern Cross’ and re-registered VP-LVE in March 1976 it flew in the Caribbean and at one time flew his wife, the film actress Maureen O’Hara across to Studland Bay (Dorset) and whilst there flew pleasure flights around the area. On Captain Blair’s death in an air crash in 1978 the aircraft was stored until 1980 in Puerto Rico when it was earmarked for purchase by the Science Museum, conditional on it’s delivery to the UK. It was re-registered N158C and flew from Puerto Rico in October 1980 but having been delayed in Ireland it eventually arrived at Calshot on February 2nd 1981, it’s total flying time to this date being 19,500 hours. It was purchased by the Science Museum for £85,000 in 1982 and was re-painted as VH-BRC in Ansett ‘delta’ colours being designated to become the centrepiece for a new Museum to be called the Southampton Hall of Aviation.  This museum opened on May 26 1984 eventually becoming the Solent Sky Aviation Museum.         





Folland Gnat F1

The concept of a small light-weight jet propelled fighter was initiated by W.E.W.Petter in 1951 when he joined Folland Aircraft Ltd at Hamble as Chief Designer.  Petter had previously been Chief Engineer at Westland aircraft where he designed the Lysander and Whirlwind and was later Chief Designer at English Electric where he produced the Canberra and P1 Lightning fighter.  The prototype light jet fighter designed by Petter at Folland was named the ‘Midge’, powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Viper engine it first flew in 1954 and appeared at the Farnborough airshow in that year.  The availability of the Bristol Orpheus engine resulted in the design of a new but similar aircraft called the Gnat which first flew in 1956. The Gnat F1 was armed with two 30mm Aden canon mounted on the outside of the air intakes and was fitted with mounting points on the wings for rockets and/or fuel tanks.  Six Gnat F1’s were ordered by the Ministry of Supply but the aircraft was never adopted by the RAF.  However over 250 Gnats were ordered by the Indian Air Force with many being built by Hindustan Aircraft in India, Folland also delivered twelve to Finland and two to Yugoslavia.  An updated version of the Gnat F1 with fuel tanks in the wings and other modifications was developed in India. This aircraft was called the Ajeet and more than 50 were delivered to the Indian Airforce.   Although many variants of the Gnat were projected at Folland, none was ever built with the exception of the T1 two seat advanced trainer version, 105 of which were delivered to RAF training command. This aircraft was used to form the Yellow Jacks aerobatic team which subsequently became the Red Arrows.


Folland Gnat F1 XK740

This aircraft first flew at Chilbolton on 6th March 1957 and was one of the six ordered by the Ministry of supply.  It flew in the Farnborough Airshow of that year and was subsequently used by Bristol Aircraft at Filton for Orpheus engine development, particularly for the Gnat T1. Following withdrawal from use at Filton in 1967, the aircraft was used as ground instructional airframe number 839SM at RAF Church Fenton.  The aircraft was retired from use as an instructional airframe and painted in spurious Red Arrows colours, was used by the RAF recruitment team. It was transferred to RAF Cosford in 1974 where it was stored until 1987 when it was returned to the former Folland Factory in Hamble (which by this time had become Aerostructures Ltd.), to be restored to it’s original 1957 livery which it was in when delivered to the MOS with the registration XK740.  When this cosmetic restoration was complete, the aircraft was put on display in this Museum    

De Havilland D.H.115 Vampire trainer 


The D.H. 100 Vampire was first flown in September 1943 as a single seat jet propelled fighter aircraft using the De Havilland Goblin 1 centrifugal flow jet engine of 2,700 lb thrust. The aircraft was of metal construction apart from the cockpit section which was manufactured from wood similar to the Mosquito. The D.H.115 trainer version was developed from the twin seat D.H. 113 night fighter and fitted with dual controls whilst retaining the side by side seating. The Vampire trainer designed and built as a private venture, was powered by a De Havilland Goblin 35 of 3,500 lb static thrust. The trainer was adopted by the RAF as the Vampire T.Mk11 and also by the Royal Navy as the Sea Vampire T. Mk 22. The aircraft was supplied to many airforces abroad with UK production amounting to 804 aircraft whilst further aircraft were built under licence in India and Australia.  


Vampire Trainer T.Mk 11   XE998


This Vampire was built at Hatfield (Construction No 15678) and delivered to the RAF on 25th July 1955. In the early 1960’s it was in service with No 8 Flying Training School (FTS) at Swinderby in Lincolnshire. Struck off charge and taken out of service it was sold in 1967 to Hawker Siddeley Aviation for use in the apprentice training school at Woodford with the aircraft later being used by 723 Squadron ATC at Wigan. On being restored from a derelict state for the late John Hallett and put into Swiss Air Force colours, the aircraft was stored in the open at Brooklands Aviation Museum.  The aircraft was subsequently loaned for display at Solent Sky Aviation Museum.




This is the first aircraft built by Britten Norman team based at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. The aircraft was built in a disused cinema in Cowes and later flew at Bembridge Airport. Although the aircraft was not a great success, the team at Britten Norman went on to design the very successful Islander and Trislander aircraft.


Wing Span 22’ : Length 12’ : Engine 2 Cylinder JAP : Max Speed 120 MPH


The aircraft is on loan from Mr M. Short.




 De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth


The Tiger Moth was designed by Geoffrey De Havilland to Air Ministry specification 13/31.  The aircraft was based on the DH60 Gypsy Moth but the RAF required improved access to the front cockpit especially when leaving the aircraft in an emergency.  In response to this requirement, the upper wing struts were moved forward and the wings swept in order to maintain the centre of pressure and centre of gravity positions. The prototype first flew on the 26th October 1931 powered by a De Havilland Gipsy III engine of 120 hp.  An initial order was placed by the Air Ministry for 35 aircraft but the eventual total built for the RAF was 4005.  Together with civil aircraft the final total aircraft built in the UK was 7000. A further 1548 were built in Canada with a large number of these having enclosed cockpits to cope with adverse weather conditions,  1090 were built in Australia, 133 in New Zealand, 23 in Sweden 91 in Portugal and 38 in Norway.  Tiger Moths built for the RAF had strakes added to the rear fuselage in order to prevent the aircraft entering a spin when stalled. Some Tiger Moths also had automatic Handley Page Slats fitted to the upper wing in order to lower the stalling speed.


De Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth BB807     


This aircraft is believed to have been constructed from components of at least two Tiger Moths. The aircraft contributing the main components is recorded as being G–ADWO a DH82a that was built in 1936 and registered to Scottish Aviation Ltd. It was impressed into RAF service in October 1940 and given the serial number BB807, however it never again flew in civilian ownership after WWII and the remains were found in a barn near Ringwood in 1979. These components were used in conjunction with parts from similar aircraft G-AOAC in order to construct the aircraft on display in the museum.



Behind the Tiger Moth is the red fuselage of a De Havilland Chipmunk. Designed in Canada in 1946 the Chipmunk took over the role of the Tiger Moth. Chipmonks were extensively used at Hamble by the RAF and by Air Service Training and the College of Air Training to train commercial pilots.





Cierva/Saunders Roe Skeeter helicopter


The Skeeter helicopter design was commenced in 1947 by the Cierva Autogyro Company at Eastleigh airfield in Hampshire.  The aircraft was conceived as a small two seat helicopter suitable for both civil and military use. The Skeeter was originally powered by an experimental 110 hp (82 Kw) Jameson FF-1 air cooled engine with horizontally opposed cylinders.  The prototype registered G-AJCJ first flew in October 1948 but proved to be underpowered with the engine prone to overheating.  A Mk 2 version powered by a 145 hp (108 Kw) de Havilland Gipsy Major 10 engine, made it’s maiden flight in November 1949 but was destroyed by ground resonance problems.  Cierva received an order from the Ministry of Supply for 3 aircraft for evaluation by the Army and Fleet Air Arm powered by either DH Gipsy Major 8 or Blackburn Bombardier 702 engines.  However before these aircraft were completed the Skeeter programme was taken over by Saunders Roe. The ground resonance problem still existed and was not solved until the introduction of the Mk 5 in 1954 with a re-designed undercarriage and main rotor dampers.  Subsequently three Mk 6 (AOP10) variants and one T11 dual control trainer, all powered by 200hp (149 Kw) DH Gipsy Major 130 engines were ordered for evaluation by the British armed forces. This was followed by an order in 1956 for 64 Mk 7’s designated AOP12 and T12, with the final 44 being powered by 215hp (160 Kw) DH Gipsy Major 215 engines, the first Mk 7 being delivered in 1958.  Apart from this order one Mk 8 civil version (similar to the military Mk 7) was built and ten of the Mk 7 variant designated Mks 50 and 51 were exported to Germany.  


Saunders – Roe Skeeter AOP 12  XL770

This helicopter construction number S2/5081 was delivered to the Army Air Corps in 1958.  It was used for Army observation duties until being struck off charge in 1966.  Little is known of it’s history except that it was retained by the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop until it was loaned to the Solent Sky museum.


Saunders – Roe Skeeter  Mk 8 G-APOI

There were only three civil versions of the Skeeter built with G-APOI being the only one to fly.  It first flew in 1958 and was retained by the manufacturer and used for development flying until April 1964.  It brought up to Mk 12 standard and restored to flying condition in 1998 by Mr.F.Chamberlain. It was presented to the Solent Sky museum in 2008 having been grounded due to possible corrosion problems with the main rotor.





Built by J. Samual White& Co. of Cowes in 1916 for the Royal Navy, this aircraft is a full size replica of the first three machines built. The first machine was built in August 1916 and crashed in early September 1916. The next improved machine came to an abrupt end in a cemetery in Cowes. The ultimate machine survived long enough to undergo trials before being written off at Martlesham Heath in February 1918.


This replica was built by the Wessex Aviation Society and completed by museum staff and 424 Squadron ATC.






The glider on display is a derivative of the Magic 3 series manufactured by Airwave Gliders on the Isle of Wight. See the Airwave home page for information about the company.

The structural spars are of Drawn Seamless HT30-TF aluminium alloy tubing connected with AN aircraft quality nuts and bolts. The framework is braced by 2.5 mm stainless steel cables each with a breaking strain in excess of 375 kg. It is covered by 4.2 oz sailcloth.

The pilot's harness is an Airtime Podlite fully enclosed type which provides the pilot with comfort and warmth on long flights reduces profile drag and provides stowage containers for parachute, ballast, camera and other items. It is attached to the glider by a standard karabiner.

Two variometers (sensitive vertical speed indicators) are fitted, a Falco and a Lindsay Ruddock LR2, also fitted to the frame is a map holder.

This exhibit was donated by Airwave Gliders Ltd



This was the University of Southampton’s attempt at man powered flight. With a wingspan of about 30m, it achieved a world record by being the first aircraft propelled by manpower alone to make a flight of some 60m. The aircraft was powered by an extremely fit gentleman pedalling the cycle pedals mounted in front of the aircraft which gave it forward momentum on the ground and gave power to the propellers mounted on the pylon. The problem with this type of manpower was that it was extremely difficult to turn, and therefore it did not achieve its goal of winning the converted Daily Mail Award. The American Gossamer Albatross eventually achieved the goal of a man powered control figure of eight and won the prize.






This massive aeroplane is a twin jet engine flyingboat fighter. During the Pacific war when the Allies were island hopping against the Japanese forces, the Allies contemplated using seaplanes to operate out of lagoons etc. Three such machines were built by Saunders Roe at Cowes, but the war was over before they could be properly developed and interest waned. Capable of speeds in excess of 500 mph, they were the first aircraft to be fitted with Martin Baker ejector seats. Sadly two of the three machines crashed and this is the sole survivor.


 AVRO 504J


This is an excellent replica of the aircraft in which King George VI (as the Duke of York) learnt to fly. Designed in 1913 and built at Manchester and Hamble, the Avro 504 was used at the beginning of the First World War as a bomber, with 20lb hand held bombs being dropped over the side. Using these fearsome weapons, in November 1914 three Avro 504s attacked the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance. One Zeppelin sustained serious damage and the local gas works was blown up. It was soon relegated to the role of trainer, for which it was best known. Over 8,000 were produced during the war. Following the conflict, many 504s were snapped up by civilian pilots for joyriding, although they still remained the main RAF trainer until the mid-thirties.




The Grasshopper was used by the Combined Cadet Force and the early days of the Air Training Corps. It was catapulted off the ground by a very log elastic bungee, which was manually pulled by a group of about 15 to 20 cadets. The glider would normally hop only 50 or so yards and gain a height of only a few feet, but this was sufficient to give the effects of the controls.






This is the basic training glider, which served with the ATC gliding schools from the early 1950s until 1986, when they were replaced with modern glass fibre aircraft. XN246 served with 87 gliding school at Christchurch (renumbered 622 in 1955) until 1960, then went to the gliding schools at Hendon, Bovington and Manston. In 1986 it was purchased by Mr Terry McRae who restored it to its original condition and loaned it to the Museum.






The Sea Vixen FAW2 is a two seater all weather carrier-borne attack fighter. The first FAW1s entered service trials with “Y” flight, 700 squadron, in late 1958 on board HMS Victorious and Centaur. No.892 Squadron became operational at RNAS Yeovilton on the 2nd July 1959, with the first carrier deployment on board HMS Ark Royal in March 1960. In mid-1962 two aircraft came off the production line at Christchurch and were converted into FAW2; first flying on the 1st June that year. The new Sea Vixen FAW2 entered service in December 1963 with 766 / 892 /893 and 899 squadron. 899 Squadron became the first and last unit to operate the Sea Vixen going to sea in 1964 on HMS Eagle and disbanded on HMS Eagle in January 1972. A few Sea Vixens remained on test duties for many yearsuntil retiring from target drone duties by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Llanbedr in 1991. As the Sea Vixen retired it brought to close the era of De Havilland jet fighters. Although it failed to achieve an RAF order, in favour of the Gloster Javelin, the small number built remained in service longer. The Sea Vixen was an effective ground attack aircraft, while also being capable of a rapid climb to 40,000ft where it could outturn many interceptors.



The Battle of Britain lace panel held at the Solent Sky Museum was manufactured (between 1942 and 1946) by the lace curtain firm of Dobsons& M. Browne & Co. Ltd. and presented to Southampton to commemorate the Battle of Britainand acknowledge the hardships that the residents had endured; also as a tribute to those who fought to save Britain.

During the war Dobsons& Browne had devoted most of its output to the production of mosquito and camouflage netting. As a means of retaining the skills and standards of their highly trained designers and draughting staff that were under-employed by the wartime production requirements, the firm took up the idea of making a large commemorative lace panel.

The design for the panel took two years and the drafting for the jacquard (pattern cards) another 15 months. The pattern required 40,000 cards, weighing a tonne altogether. Each panel took a week to produce and required 4,200 threads and the preparation of 975 bobbins for the loom. A total of 41,830 kilometres of fine Egyptian cotton went into the making of each panel, which measured 4.5 x 1.62 metres when completed.

The panel depicts scenes of the bombing of London, and the types of aircraft used in the battle, as well as the badges of the Allied air forces involved and the floral emblems of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Also included are the names of the firm and the craftsmen from Dobsons& Browne who created the work. At the bottom on a scroll are Sir Winston Churchill's famous words: " Never was so much owed by so many to so few. " A cottage and a castle are also depicted, to indicate that rich and poor suffered alike. The edging of the curtain is composed of ripening ears of corn representing the season during which the Battle of Britain took place. Interwoven with these are Tudor roses, thistles, shamrocks, and oak leaves.

Thirty-eight panels were woven before the jacquards were destroyed. King George VI and Sir Winston Churchill were each presented with one, and others were distributed to various RAF units, and to Westminster Abbey, the City of Nottingham (where the panels were woven), the City of London, and personnel from Dobsons& Browne. As airmen from New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Australia had been attached to various RAF units, these countries also received a panel. For many years the panel was displayed in St Mary’s Church, Southampton, before being moved to Solent Sky Museum ensuring that it is widely accessible to the public.



Built by Short Bros at Rochester, Kent as a Sunderland Mk111 – July 1943

Delivered to R.A.F. as JM715 at Wig Bay, Flying Boat Servicing Unit – July 8, 1943

Received by No. 1 Flying Boat Servicing Unit – July 8, 1943

Receied by No. 57 Maintenance Unit, Wig Bay – Januay 8, 1944

Held in reserve – not used on operations

This aircraft and 5 other Sunderlands, were to be used in the ‘Chariot’ project –not proceeded with

Flown to Flying Boat Modification Unit, Cairds Yard, Greenock for conversion to Mk v – April 1945

Transferred to Short Bros & Harland as surplus to requirements – April 30, 1947

Converted to Sandringham Mk1V Tasman Class by Short Bros & Harland, Belfast

Conversion included seating for 30 passengers

Transferred  to UK Ministry of Transport &  Civil Aviation

Entered into the New Zealand Aircraft Register as ZK-AMH – May 29, 1947

Departed Poole Harbour, Dorset on delivery flight- Capt H. J. Rose – October 15, 1947

Delviery route was – Marseilles-Augusta(Sicily)-Karachi-Calcutta-Rangoon-Bankok-Singapore-Sourabaya-Dariwin-Bowen-Sydney- arriving Auckland- October 29, 1947

Total flying time on delivery – 87 hours

Leased to Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL)- October 29 1947

Aircraft was named ‘RMA Auckland’

Operated its first TEAL service - Auckland-Sydney – November 7, 1947

Withdrawn from use due to engine overloading problems – February 22, 1948

Returned to service following modification of engine problems – June 17, 1948

Operated its final TEAL service – December 1949

Stored  atHobsonville, Auckland.

Ferried Auckland-Brisbane (Capt S Middlemiss) for sale to Barrier Reef Airways  – April 27, 1950

Sold to Barrier Reef Airways Ltd for £5000 – April 28, 1950

Overhauled and converted to seat 41 passengers

Entered onto the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-BRC – May 22, l950

Registered to Barrier Reef Airways Pty Ltd

Aircraft named as ‘Coral Clipper’

Operated its first Barrier Reef service – Brisbane-Lindeman Is-Daydream Island – May 23, 1950

Operated its first service to Hayman Island – July 2, 1950

Operated its final scheduled Barrier Reef Airways service – November 12, 1950

Withdrawn from use – January 23, 1951

Cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register – August 6, 1951

Returned to the Register as VH-BRC – September 14, 1951

Stored at Colmslie until September 1952

Underwent refit, completed in 7 weeks – following sinking of sister aircraft VH-BRD r

Registered to Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty Ltd – December 15, 1952

Underwent test flight from Brisbane River – December 17, 1952

Ferried to Rose Bay, Sydney for Dept of Civil Aviation checks – December 18, 1952

Aircraft was renamed ‘Beachcomber’

Entered commercial service with Aircraft Flying Boats - Sydney-Brisbane –

December 21, 1952

Commercial operations to Lord Howe Island – on charter to T.O.A. – January 13, 1953

Operated the final flying boat local service from Hamilton Beach, Brisbane – March 1953

Registered to Ansett Airways – 1954

Repainted into Ansett Flying Boat Services ‘delta’ colours – 1969

Registered to Ansett Transport Industries (Operations) Ltd – March 1, 1970

Operated the final scheduled flying boat service to Lord Howe Island – May 31, 1974

Maintained a ‘token’ service until the Island’s airstrip was completed

Damaged whilst moved overnight at Lord Howe Island – June 9, 1974

Temporary repairs made on site- ferried to Sydney for permanent repairs – July 3, 1974

Test flown at Sydny on completion of repairs – August 29, 1974

Operated the final Short Flying Boat passenger service Sydney– Lord Howe-Sydney –September 10, 1974

Returned to Lord Howe to pick up equipment – its 1360th island flight – September 11, 1974

Sold to Antilles Air Boats Inc, Virgin Islands – becoming N158C – September 10, 1974

Aircraft was named ‘Southern Star’ but this was changed to ‘Southern Cross’ before it left hanger

Cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register – November 28, 1974

Had flown 17820 hours

Departed Sydney on delivery flight – November 18, 1974

Registered VP-LVE – March 1976

Aircraft stored at Grande, Puerto Rico following the death of Captain C Blair – September 2, 1978

A proposed sale to the Science Museum, England was conditional on the aircraft reaching the U.K.

Returned to a serviceable condition & registered N158C – October 1980

Departed San Juan, Puerto Rica ( Capt R Gillies)- routing St Croix-Boston-Port Washington-Oyster Bay-Sydney-(Nova Scotia)-Gander-Killaloe (Eire)- October 1980

Stored at Killaloe for 3 months awaiting approval to enter U.K.

          Arrived Calshot. England for storage – February2, 1981

Total flying time to date – 19500 hours

Transferred to HMS Daedalus, Lee -on –Solent for storage – July 6, 1981

Purchased by the Science Museum, UK for £5000- 1982

Transferred to Southampton Docks for storage – March 1, 1983

A new museum building – ‘R.J. Mitchell Museum’ was constructed to house the aircraft at Southampton

Whilst stored it was prepared for painting in A.F.B.S. ‘delta’ livery with incorrect titles and marked ‘VH-BRC’

Installed in the Hall of Aviation, Southampton – August 27/28, 1983

The Southampton Hall of Aviation opened – May 26, 1984



Technical Data


As a wartime Sunderland it had a crew of 9 – 11 (Piolot, co-pilot, radio operator, navigator, engineer, bomb aimer and 3 – 5 gunners)

As a civilian Sandringham had a crew of 5, plus 44 passengers.



Span          34.4m (112’10”)

Length       26m (85’4”)

Height        10m (32’11”)



Empty        15,663Kg (34,500lb)

Max            29,545Kg (65,000)


Power Plant:

4 x 1,200hp P & W R-1830-90D Twin Wasp, each approx. 30 litres capacity


Fuel Capacity:

10 fuel tanks in wings, total capacity 2,300 gallons (11,602 litres)



Max speed                                      213 mph (341km/h)

Cruise speed                         180mph (288km/h)

Max climb                               720ft / min. (220m / m)

Ceiling                                    16,000Ft (4,880m)

Max range                              3,000 miles (4,848km)

Endurance                                       15 – 20 hours





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RJ Mitchell

The Solent Sky Museum relies on visitor attendance and donations to keep the museum open.
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Albert Road South

SO14 3FR
Tel +44(0)2380 635 830
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Disabled access:
 All areas of the museum are accessible via lift or ramp,
except aircraft flight decks.




Albert Road South
SO14 3FR
Tel +44(0)2380 635 830
Charity Number 262995


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