Short S.A.4 Sperrin


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Short S.A.4 Sperrin

Designed to Specification B.14/46, the Short Sperrin was intended as an insurance against failure of the Vickers Valiant, the first of the RAF's V-bombers. Two prototypes were built, the first flying on 10 August 1951 and used to test new high-altitude radar navigation and bombing equipment that was to be incorporated in the V-bombers. The second aircraft, which flew in August 1952, was used to test aerodynamic bomb shapes in connection with the development of Britain's first atomic bomb, the MC.Mk 1 'Blue Danube'.

Short S.A.4 Sperrin

 ENGINE4 x 2944kg Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3 turbojet engines
  Take-off weight52200 kg115082 lb
  Wingspan33.20 m109 ft 11 in
  Length31.42 m103 ft 1 in
  Height8.69 m29 ft 6 in
  Max. speed913 km/h567 mph
  Ceiling13725 m45050 ft
  Range6050 km3759 miles
 ARMAMENT1 x 4530 MC.Mk 1 'Blue Danube' special store

Short S.A.4 SperrinA three-view drawing (670 x 434)

Anonymous, 29.09.2020 19:37

The British certainly loved interesting and aerodynamically efficient ways to stow their jet engines- to hell with maintenance and access! :P


Brian Goodwin, e-mail, 18.08.2017 16:02

As a teenager growing up in Wigtownshire I watch this aircraft many times departing and returning to R.A.F. West Freugh and the sight of it compared to the usual sight of the lumbering Avro Lincolns was, I am sure instrumental in starting me in a fifty year career in aircraft maintenance, covering two Air Forces , an aircraft manufacturer and an Airline. A fascinating machine.


John, e-mail, 27.02.2017 13:20

I was stationed at Martlesham (in Air Traffic Control) from 1952-54. The appearance didn't impress us; looking at the photo now, 65 years later, I still think it's unattractive.


Barry, 28.10.2016 13:44

There were just two Sperrins built XV158 and XV161, and they were built not as a back up to the Valiant but as a back up to the Vulcan and Victor owing to what was then considered their radical wing designs and should these fail there had to be something to take their place. Oh those were the days!
The first model, XV158, had less powerful Avon RA.2 engines, but would go on later to be used in D.H. Gyron engine tests. The second model, XV161, went to the Armament & Instrument Experimental Unit at Martlesham Heath for bombing trials where it was used to test concrete dummy versions of the Blue Danube and Blue Boar nuclear bombs. This plane eventually returned to Shorts at Sydenham in July 1956 and was broken up for scrap in June 1958. Meanwhile XV158 was successfully testing the Gyron (there's another tail there) and was also used in infra red radiation work for the Firestreak and Red Top programmes before it too was disposed of for scrap in 1959.


Steve, e-mail, 19.10.2020 Barry

That's some useful information there Barry. According to my Father, who was working at Dehavillands, Hatfield, XV158 which as you say was running the DH Gyron and the Red Top missiles, was flown in on its final flight and broken up there at Hatfield. Wondered if you had any further information on this?


Austin Lynas, e-mail, 16.03.2015 05:30

I was an apprentice at Shorts helping outer skin installation and installation of the pilot ejection hatch. Sad that it did not become production bomber. It was built to "production tooling," not prototype throw away tooling.


Ruben de Jong, e-mail, 19.08.2013 18:57

this plane looks like a scaled up Canbera !!!!!


hutton barton, e-mail, 10.12.2010 21:29

It was also used as a test bed for the De Havilland Gyron with first one and then two Gyrons in the lower engine position


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