One of the most unique and largest aircraft that I have ever had the pleasure of photographing so for is the Shorts Sunderland. The original design started in the early 1930’s when the need rose for flying boats as transports in the Atlantic. The United States already had the the Sikorsky S-42 Flying Boats for use in commercial and military purposes, Britain was in the need for a their own flying boat. In 1934 the British Postmaster General declared all first class Royal mail to travel by air thus creating the need for an aircraft capable of carrying 18tons. The contract went out and almost immediately the Shorts Brothers came up with the S.23 Empire. It would later be improved with the S.25.
The S.25 was used by the RAF during WWII through the Korean War. Against the German Uboats it was an essential tool for getting troops into battle, supplies and was even used as a bomber. Variants of the Shorts included machine gun armaments on the sides behind the wings, tail and nose. Inside the plane was rigged to hold depth charges and bombs. It had a short life after the war as the need for the large transport disappeared as well as new more efficient aircraft took its place. It was still used by the RAF in eastern provinces as in large maritime land bases where runways were not yet established. After the Korean War the remaining Shorts went on for civilian use but few remain today. Many were flown out to sea and scrapped. One example of this magnificent flying boat still remains down at Fantasy of Flight, Fl.