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Photos Gallery Short 'C' class Empire flying boats ,
Britain 1930s Aircraft pictures, videos

Empire flying boat aircraft photograph
A photograph of the first Empire flying boat off the line at Rochester 'HL CANOPUS gathering speed on the River Medway for take off on the first official flight 4 July 1936.

Construction in No.3 Shop at Rochester

Flying boat Aviation gallery
First frames in the gantries. Maia on the left. CALEDONIA in the middle. CANOPUS on the right. Photographed in No. 3 Shop at Rochester.. p

Flying boats  aircraft
The aft spar frame, Frame 20/21 on its jig. Tail structure aft of Frame 42 in background.
flying boat hull interior photo
Interior of CANOPUS. Looking forward.
Short flying boats gallery
Starboard long-range wing.

Empire flying boat aviation
First Bristol Pegasus engine installed on starboard wing of CANOPUS.

flying boat aircraft aviation gallery
"Westminster Bridge" with medium range mainplanes attached either side

.In October 1917, excavations in the chalk of the riverbank were started for a new building that was to become No. 3 Erecting Shop. Some 37 700 cubic yards (29 600 cubic metres) of chalk had been excavated by steam shovel and dumped to the south of the new building, the site of the building cleared and the erection of the steel framework under way. The new Erecting Shop was a nine bay structure, three bays wide by three deep. The frontage to Tower Reach measured 320 feet (97.5 m.). There were two bays of 100 feet (30.0 m.) flanking a centre bay of 120 feet (36.5 m.). The choice of the dimension for the centre bay was no doubt influenced by the span of the F boats – 103 ft. 8 ins. (31.6 m.) in the case of the F.5.'boat. The main door fronting on to Tower Reach was just under 120 feet (36.5 m.) wide. The six-part sliding door was boldly painted on the outside with SHORT BROS. AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERS.



On the slipway at Rochester

slipway flying boat photo gallery
G-ADHL CANOPUS on the ramp outside No.3 Shop at Rochester ready for engine tests.
slipway flying boats aircraft
CANOPUS the completed aircraft with the interior trimmed ready to be delivered to Imperial Airways Limited.
slipway Empire Canopus flying boat

View of CANOPUS from the top of No. 3 Shop

slipway aviation history flying boats

Port side beaching chassis

  slipway Short flying boats photo

Freight hatch in starboard side.

Slipway aviation flying boats

A problem with the cowling of the starboard outer ?
CANOPUS at Rochester

The horizontal distance between the high and low water marks of the River Medway alongside No. 3 Shop, was about 165 ft. (50 m.).
A reinforced concrete slipway was built on the ccntrelinc of the main door of No. 3 Shop, to launch flying boats and other craft into the river.
This slipway, some 27 ft.9ins. (8.5m )wide by 192 ft. (58.5 m.) long, spanned the Medway mud to a point below the low water mark so that aircraft could be launched at any state of the tide. It was designed, with considerable foresight, to carry loads of up to 20 tons, though when it was built,
a fully laden F.5 weighed less than 6 tons.
The slipway is still in existence (2009).




Control Deck, Radio station & interior of Cabins

interiorr Flying boats photo gallery

The Control Deck of an Empire 'boat. Throttles in the centre with the Mixture Controls. The Sperry Autopilot in the centre of the Dashboard.

cabin Flying boats aviation

The Radio Officer's domain, immediately behind the Captain's position

Flying boats cabin photo

An interior view of the Smoking Cabin before it was converted to the Flight Clerk's office & forward mail hold.

Flying boats gallery aviation cabin

A view from the Promenade Cabin looking forward to the Smoking Cabin.

Short Flying boats cabin interior

The Promenade Cabin looking aft from the Centre Cabin. 

cabin flying boats aircraft gallery

Promenade space

flying boats cabin Short Empire aircraft

Passemger entry hatch at rear of Promenade Cabin. This shows the mock up at the Seaplane Works at Rochester

with some of the trim not completed

The trimming of the passenger cabins was sub-contracted to L.A.Rumbold & Co. Ltd., carried out to the design of Brian O'Rorke ARIBA - architect an innovation for the 1930s. The walls and ceilings of the passenger cabins were finished in Connolly Bros. Vaumol hide. The Science Museum cut-away interior model shows the interior wall colour as grey-green, rather lighter in tone than the traditional bottle, with a dark green finish below the dado line in the Centre Cabin only. The ceilings were described as 'white' for the Forward Cabin, and 'dove grey' or 'very pale lime green' for the other passenger cabins. The corridor between the pantry and the lavatories was finished in white paint for walls and ceiling. The jointing beads of the wall and ceiling finishes in the cabins, the grab rails and the escutcheons for the bunk fixings were in aluminium alloy, finished with a specially developed opalescent anodising by British Anodising Ltd. The trimming of the cabins was completed with the fixing of the 'NO SMOKING' signs over the heads of the appropriate internal cabin doors, the square clock and matching altimeter in the Centre Cabin, the small hold-alls let into the walls, the light luggage racks - light alloy tube frame with netting stretched between and suspended from the ceiling with leather straps - the draw curtains at the windows, the blinds at the ports and the carpets.


on the water & in the air


Empire flying boat in service

CANOPUS on the slipway at Rochester with interior newly trimmed, ready for service.

flying boat aircraft in service

CHALLENGER in the pontoon at Berth 101 at Southampton.

Empire flying boat Crete evacuation

CAMBRIA or COORONG in wartime camouflage on the way to Crete at 100ft. in April 1941. Photos of Empire 'boats flying are hard to find. This shows the characteristic apparent nose-down attitude.

Short Empire flying boat refuelling photo on Nile

Topping up the oil of the starboard outer Bristol Pegasus engine on the the way to Durban. Photographed on the Nile.

  Short Empire flying boat photograph taxiing

CENTURION taxiing in on the Medway after the first flight, May 1937.


Click arrows for 10 minutes of Empire flying boat video on Youtube.

  Starting, taking off and alighting.

  Flight re-fuelling from Flight Refuelling Ltd Handley Page Harrow tanker to G-AFCU CABOT.


Flight refuelling

Harrow refuelling flying boats gallery

The hosereel on the underside of the Harrow Tanker

aviation Empire flying boats refuelling winch

The winch as installed in the Harrow acting as Tanker. The winch in the Empire 'boat was similar

Short Empire flying boat refuelling Harrow

Re-fuelling in full swing over Southampton Water.

refuelling Empire flying boat Harrow tanker

The Handley Page Harrow G-AFRL as Tanker. Fuselage skin replaced with clear panels to allow the winch operator to keep the Empire 'boat in view during the re-fuelling operation.

S 23 refuelling from Harrow tanker Empire flying boat Atlantic

The relative positions of the Tanker, above & to starboard of the Empire, during the transfer of fuel.

aircraft gallery refuelling dumping fuel Empire flying boats

'CU CABOT dumping fuel over Hythe.

The extreme end of the tail cone of an Empire 'boat, aft of Frame 51, was modified to take the refuelling cup (Patent 491 953 10 December 1936) with spring-loaded locking claws around the periphery of the cup. The locking mechanism was hydraulic, operated by a manual pump connected through a pressure release unit. The system was designed to break the locking arrangement if the force on the hose exceeded a pull of 1 000 lbf. (4.4kN). Fuel transfers in bumpy or gusty weather could cause the hose nozzle to momentarily break clear of the receiver cup. Methyl bromide fire extinguishers were provided. Nitrogen gas bottles were included in the equipment to flush the hose through the claw holes in the refuelling cup. The total weight of the refuelling equipment was about 100 lb. (45 kg.).
300 ft. (91 m.) of 10 cwt. (5 kN) steel wire hauling line was wound onto the drum of the receiver's winch. The first 75 ft. (23 metres) of line on the drum was of lighter gauge than the hauling line to act as a weak link. The winch was geared with a ratio of 1:5 for easy operation and fitted with a brake lever. The whole assembly was mounted inside the hull on the refuelling platform, just forward of Frame 41. The lead weight (7.25 kg.) and grapnel attached to the end of the hauling line were housed in the refuelling cup until streamed to make contact with the tanker. As the weight could become jammed in the refuelling cup, the S.30 'boats were fitted with a small hatch cut into the underside of the hull, immediately below the cup, to allow the winch operator - normally the First Officer - to lean out to dislodge it with a special crook. Look-out windows were fitted in place of hull plating in the top of the hull, between Frames 40 and 41 on the starboard side and between Frames 42 and 43 to port. Light signals communicated between the winch operator and the pilot. A switchbox with three switches, numbered '1' WHITE - 'Tanker in sight', '2' GREEN 'Ready to receive' and '3' RED 'Emergency'. The pilot had a similar switchbox on the Control Deck, switching OFF to acknowledge.