Supermarine Sheldrake

The Supermarine Sheldrake was an amphibian aircraft produced for the British Air Ministry, but only one was ever built.

The Sheldrake was part of a large family of similar Supermarine amphibians, which began with the Commercial Amphibian, and included the Seal/ Seagull/ Walrus family and the Scarab of 1924, produced in response to a Spanish order.

The Sheldrake was built in response to an Air Ministry order of December 1923, placed just before the Scarab order. Like the Scarab the Sheldrake was a twin bay biplane with a wingspan of 46ft, but unusually for Supermarine at this time it was powered by a Napier Lion V tractor engine, rather than their more normal pusher engines. The aircraft was 10mph faster than the Scarab, but 350lb heavier.

The Sheldrake carried a crew of three – pilot, gunner and wireless operator. It could carry a 1,000lb payload, made up of twelve 50lb bombs internally and four 100lb bombs under the wings. The original version, as delivered in January 1925, appears to have had a similar hull to the Supermarine Seagull, but in June 1925 that was replaced with a Scarab type hull. This had two steps, a Vickers gunner behind the wings, and could carry a Lewis gun in the nose.

The sole Sheldrake had a short career. It was recorded at the MAEE Felixstowe in May 1927 and again in January 1928, and made one public appearance, at the Hampshire Air Pageant fly past at Hamble in May 1927. After 1928 it wasn't seen again.

Engine: Napier Lion V
Power: 450hp
Crew: 3
Span: 46ft
Length: 37ft 4.5in
Height: 16ft 2.5in
Empty weight: 4,125lb
All-up weight: 6,100lb
Max speed: 103mph
Range: 250 miles
Armament: One .303in Vickers K gun behind wings, One 0.303 Lewis gun in nose
Bomb load: 1,000lb (four 100lb bombs under the wings, twelve 50lb bombs in the fuselage)

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 March 2017), Supermarine Sheldrake , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_supermarine_sheldrake.html

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