Formed 1935 to develop Major R. H. Mayo's concept of composite aircraft. A heavily laden long-range upper component, too heavy to become airborne under its own power, was carried aloft on the back of a short-range aircraft whose function was simply to effect take-off. Ordered by Air Ministry for experimental operation by Imperial Airways, the two components of the Short-Mayo Composite were built by Short Bros at Rochester, and comprised S.20 Mercury floatplane as upper component and S.21 Maia as the lower. Components completed 1937, first separation in flight February 6,1938. On July 21,1938 Mercury carried a 454kg payload non-stop 4,667km from Foynes, Eire, to Montreal and on to New York, a total distance of 5,214km in 22 hr 31 min flying time.

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