Short Singapore

The Short Singapore was a British multi-engined biplane flying boat built after the First World War. The design was developed into two four-engined versions: the prototype Singapore II and production Singapore III. The latter became the Royal Air Force's main long-range maritime patrol flying boat of the 1930s and saw service against the Japanese with the Royal New Zealand Air Force during the Second World War.

Short Singapore
Class Aircraft
Type Utility
Manufacturer Short Brothers
Production Period 1934 - 1937
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1934
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1935 1941 View
New Zealand 1935 1942 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Short Brothers 1934 1937 37 View

The first prototype of the Short Singapore, also known as the Short S.5 (military designation Singapore I), was a metal hull version of the wooden-hulled Short Cromarty. The biplane design included a single fin and rudder, and was originally powered by two Rolls-Royce Condor IIIA 650 horsepower (480 kW) engines. Its maiden flight was made from Rochester on 17 August 1926, piloted by Shorts' Chief Test Pilot John Lankester Parker. The type did not enter production, but was used by Sir Alan Cobham for a survey flight around Africa. Registered G-EBUP, it left Rochester on 17 November 1927 and arrived at the Cape on 30 March 1928, returning to Rochester on the 4 June 1928. It was displayed at Olympia in July 1929.

The Singapore II (manufacturer's designation Short S.12) which followed was a development of the Singapore I with 4 engines, mounted in tractor/pusher pairs (better known as the push-pull configuration). The single example of this aircraft to be built was first flown on 27 March 1930, also by John Lankester Parker.

From the Singapore II came a design with four engines and triple fins. In 1933 the British Air Ministry ordered four flying boats based upon the Singapore II for trials with squadrons under specification R.3/33. These would be followed by a further production order to specification R.14/34. These aircraft, the Singapore III (manufacturer's designation Short S.19), had all-metal hulls and fabric-covered metal flying surfaces. They were powered by four 675 hp (503 kW) Rolls-Royce Kestrel IX mounted between the wings in two tandem push-pull pairs, similar to the Singapore IIs. The crew of six was located in a central cabin and fore, aft, and midships open gun positions (Vickers machine gun or Lewis gun). A long-range fuel tank could be carried externally on the dorsal hull. The first Singapore III flew on 15 June 1934. Although obsolescent by the time the first aircraft entered service with 210 Squadron in January 1935, the type arrived just in time to benefit from the arms race of the late 1930s and 37 were built. Production terminated in June 1937.

230 Squadron was the first squadron equipped with Singapore IIIs. It deployed to Alexandria in 1935. During 1937 the Singapores of 209 Squadron and 210 Squadron moved from RAF Kalafrana in Malta to Algeria as part of an international effort to prevent gun running during the Spanish Civil War.

Replacement of the Singapore with the Short Sunderland was well underway by the outbreak of the Second World War. However, 19 survivors saw limited service in secondary theatres, mainly in a training role. The last RAF unit operating the type was No. 205 Squadron RAF in, appropriately enough, Singapore which relinquished its aircraft in October 1941. Four 205 squadron aircraft found their way to No. 5 Squadron RNZAF in Fiji, for use against German raiders. When Japan attacked in December, the New Zealand aircraft found themselves in the front line. They accounted for a Japanese submarine and conducted several air sea rescues before being replaced by the Consolidated Catalinas from No. 6 Squadron RNZAF in April 1943.

Role military flying boat
Manufacturer Short Brothers
First flight 15 June 1934 (III)
Introduction 1935
Retired Retired by RAF in 1941, last flight flown by RNZAF in 1942
Status Phased out of service
Primary users Royal Air Force
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Produced 1934 - 1937
Number built 37

General characteristics

  • Crew: six
  • Length: 64 ft 2 in (19.56 m)
  • Wingspan: 90 ft (27.43 m)
  • Height: 23 ft 7 in (7.19 m)
  • Wing area: 1,465 sq ft (136.1 m²)
  • Empty weight: 20,364 lb (9,237)
  • Loaded weight: 28,160 lb (12,773 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 32,390 lb (14,692 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Rolls-Royce Kestrel VIII/IX piston (pusher/tractor configuration), 675 hp (503 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 136 mph (118 knots, 219 km/h) (at 5,000 ft and normal weight)
  • Cruise speed: 123 mph (107 knots, 198 km/h)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (870 nmi, 1,610 km)
  • Endurance: 6 hours 15 minutes
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,570 m)
  • Rate of climb: 700 ft/min (3.6 m/s)


  • Guns: Up to three 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns
  • Bombs: Up to 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of bombs under wings.

End notes