Short Rangoon

The Short Rangoon was a military version of the same company’s Calcutta flying boat. Five Rangoons were built for the RAF, and served with No.203 Squadron in Iraq. Shorts began work on the Rangoon in response to Air Ministry specification R.5/27, but the Air Ministry was not interested at that time. Shorts continued to work on the design, offering it to the French and Japanese navies, and this work put them in a very good position when the Air Ministry issued specification R.18/29, for a large metal flying boat for use in Iraq. No.203 Squadron had been using Fairey IIID floatplanes, but these had not coped well with the heat and humidity in Iraq, while the interior of the Supermarine Southampton became uncomfortably hot in the tropics.

The Calcutta had been ordered by Imperial Airways, making its maiden flight on 14 February 1928. It was the first flying boat with a metal-skinned hull to enter commercial service, and had been ordered for military use by the French navy.

The Air Ministry ordered three Rangoons in 1929. These aircraft were three-engined biplane flying boats, with the engines carried between the wings. Tropical equipment included sun blinds, an ice box and fresh water storage. The Rangoon had aa enclosed cockpit, was armed with three Lewis guns (one in the nose and two amidships) and could carry 1,000lb of bombs.

The first Rangoon made its maiden flight on 24 September 1930. All three of the first aircraft reached Basra in February 1931 to enter service with No.203 Squadron. They coped well with the difficult climate, and two more were ordered in 1931. The Rangoon remained in use with No.203 Squadron from February 1931 to November 1935, when it was replaced by the Short Singapore III. The aircraft then passed on to No.210 Squadron. This squadron was normally based at Pembroke Dock, but from September 1935 to August 1936, the same period that it used the Rangoons, it was based at Gibraltar, as part of the British response to the Ethiopian crisis.

A sixth Rangoon was built for France, reaching Le Havre on 30 August. Four more Rangoons were built under licence by Breguet, while the Breguet BR 521-10 Bizerte was partly based on the Rangoon.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 October 2008), Short Rangoon ,

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