Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#CollisionWithFave:George Edmund, Duke Of Kent, August 25, 1942

George Edmund, Duke of Kent, died when the Short Sunderland flying boat he was piloting crashed en route to Iceland. The Duke of Kent,  Prince George, was son of one King (George V) and brother to two others (Edward VIII and George VI), and he served as a staff officer of the Royal Air Force and was a former rear admiral of the Royal Navy.  He was engaged on an unknown mission to Iceland, flying through foggy weather, when his craft struck high ground in the Scottish Highlands. Rumors persist that the Duke was on a covert mission related to peace efforts with the Germans, but this story is as yet unsubstantiated.
The Sunderland flying boat was developed by Short Brothers.  “Shorts” was the first aircraft manufacturing firm in the world. In 1908, while housed at their initial location at Battersea, Shorts was licensed by the Wright Brothers to manufacture Wright Flyers in Europe.   The firm developed the first twin-engine aircraft in the world in 1911.  The firm’s manufacture of “flying boats” dates to World War I with their Short types F3 and F5. It was their efforts to capture the civilian transport market in the 1920s that led to their competition forthis market, first with the Short Singapore, then later with the Calcutta, the Short Kent luxury flying boat, and finally the longer-range Short Empire.  It is from the Empire design that Shorts developed the S25 Sunderland flying boat in 1937.  The two craft were in fact designed concurrently – the military specifications and Royal Mail specifications being sufficiently similar (range of 700 miles, able to carry 18 tonnes, four engines) so that Shorts could fulfill both requests using the same airframe.  The Sunderland served extensively as an antisubmarine patrol and attack boat.  The German U-Boat service came to both respect and fear the Sunderland, which was nicknamed the “flying porcupine.”