Supermarine Stranraer

The Supermarine Stranraer was a 1930s flying boat designed and built by the British Supermarine Aviation Works company principally for the Royal Air Force. They entered operations in 1937 and many were in service at the outbreak of the Second World War undertaking anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols. They were withdrawn from operational service in March 1941 but continued to serve in a training capacity until October 1942. In addition to the British-built aeroplanes, the Canadian Vickers company in Montreal, Quebec, built 40 Stranraers under licence for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF Stranraers served in anti-submarine and coastal defense capacities on both Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and remained in service until 1946. Following their withdrawal from military service, many Canadian Stranraers were sold off to fledgeling regional airlines and they served in commercial passenger and freighter operation well into the 1950s.

Supermarine Stranraer
Class Aircraft
Type Utility
Manufacturer Supermarine
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1934
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Canada 1937 1957 View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1937 1957 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Supermarine 57 View

Designed by R. J. Mitchell as a tender to Air Ministry R.24/31 Specification for a coastal reconnaissance flying boat for the RAF, it was initially turned down but Supermarine proceeded with the type as a private venture first known as the Southampton V. A contract was placed in 1933 for a prototype powered by two 820 horsepower (610 kW) Bristol Pegasus IIIM engines and the type became known as the Stranraer.

The structure was mainly duralumin, with the hull covered with sheet metal and the wings with fabric.

Following the initial flight-test programme, the Stranraer prototype (K3973) on 24 October 1934 was delivered to the RAF. On 29 August 1935, an initial order was placed for 17 aircraft (serial numbers K7287 to K7303) to the Air Ministry Specification 17/35. The production version was fitted with the 920 horsepower (690 kW) Pegasus X and first flew in December 1936, entering service operations on 16 April 1937; the last Stranraer was delivered 3 April 1939. An additional order for six aircraft (K9676 to K9681) was placed in May 1936, but subsequently cancelled. A total of 40 Stranraers were built in Canada by Canadian Vickers Limited; Supermarine and Canadian Vickers being subsidiaries of Vickers-Armstrongs.

In service, only 17 Stranraers were operated by the RAF 1937–1941 primarily by No. 228, No, 209 and No. 240 Squadrons along with limited numbers at the No. 4 OTU. Generally, the aircraft was not well-received as its performance was considered marginal.

Due to its less than favourable reception by flight and ground crews, the Stranraer gained a large number of derisive nicknames. It was sometimes referred to as a "whistling shithouse" because the toilet opened out directly to the air and when the seat was lifted, the airflow caused the toilet to whistle. The Stranraer also acquired "Flying Meccano Set," "The Marpole Bridge," "Seymour Seine Net," "Strainer," "Flying Centre Section of the Lion's Gate Bridge" as well as a more genteel variant of its usual nickname, "Whistling Birdcage."

Royal Canadian Air Force Stranraers were exact equivalents of their RAF counterparts and while they were employed in coastal patrol against submarine threats in a similar role to the British Stranraers. One source states no enemy action was recorded. Although the crew of a 5 Squadron Stranraer, flown by Flight Lieutenant Leonard Birchall, were responsible for the capture of an Italian merchant ship, the Capo Nola, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, hours after Canada declared war on Italy on 10 June 1940.

The Canadian Vickers-built Stranraers served with the RCAF until 1946.

Role Flying boat
Manufacturer Supermarine
Designer R. J. Mitchell
First flight 24 July 1934
Introduction 1937
Retired 1957 (civilian use)
Primary users RAF
Number built 57
Developed from Supermarine Scapa

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6-7
  • Length: 54 ft 9 in (16.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 85 ft 0 in (25.9 m)
  • Height: 21 ft 9 in (6.6 m)
  • Wing area: 1,457 ft² (135.4 m²)
  • Empty weight: 11,250 lb (5,100 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 19,000 lb (8,620 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Pegasus X radial engines, 920 hp (685 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 165 mph (265 km/h) at 6,000 ft (1,830 m)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (1,610 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,640 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,350 ft/min (6.8 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 13 lb/ft² (63.7 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.097 hp/lb (159 W/kg)


  • Guns: 3 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns

End notes