Short Brothers Aviation Pioneers

1917 – 1947

Rochester: 1917 - 1947

Rochester 1930 - 1935

Although flying boats had proved to be a huge success it was still felt that seaplanes were superior for certain duties and so in 1930 Shorts developed a large three-engined seaplane and called it the Valetta.

This aircraft was fitted with huge Shorts floats that were interchangeable with an orthodox landing undercarriage.

Sir Alan Cobham chose the Valetta for one of his successful survey flights around Africa.

Oswald decided that the ever-growing enthusiasm for flying and transport by air warranted an investment into the design of a small twin-engined, low cost and easily maintained plane. The Short S16 Scion was the result.

This dual landing gear aircraft (was built with the interchangeable floats and wheeled undercarriage) was a small multi-engined commercial machine and was popularly known as the Knuckleduster. It had a wide field of application.

John Lankester Parker Shorts Chief Test Pilot
John Lankester Parker Shorts Chief Test Pilot on the float of a Scion

This development in design and the research involved contributed substantially to the later Empire and Sunderland flying boats.

The Empire series was without doubt the most famous line of commercial aircraft ever produced by Shorts.

In 1935 Imperial Airways placed a ‘drawing board’ order for 28 of these four-engined flying boats. That same year a half-scale model of the projected aircraft was built and this gave much valuable data.

In 1936 when the first Empire flying boat was completed virtually no modifications were needed.