Modelling > 1920s/1930s GB or Between the Wars GB

Short Brothers Go Landplane

(1/2) > >>

Imperial Airways 'M' Class - First of the Second Series

In early 1936, a damaged Short L.17 airframe had its fuselage fitted with a new monoplane wing. [1] This development was at the instigation of Shorts' designer and general manager, Arthur Gouge. Costs would be shared between Imperial Airways and Short Brothers. Imperial received an airliner with relatively modern attributes at a modest price. Shorts gained a full-sized airframe on which to assess the performance of Gouge's new, sharp-nosed flap design.

The wings of the rebuilt L.17/M were essentially those of the as yet unflown S.23 Empire flying boat. However, rather than being attached to the sides, the wing panels were joined along the centre-line and attached to the top of the L.17 fuselage. They were, of course, also fitted with a somewhat gawky landplane undercarriage. Initially, the large main wheels were partially enclosed by half-spats (later removed as they collected airfield debris on take-off).

To Imperial Airways, the L.17/M was an 'M' class landplane and the conversion was accordingly renamed 'Miletus'. ALthough given no fixed route, 'Miletus' was used repeatedly as a route-prover. A new trans-Mediterranean route progressed in Croydon to Marseilles, Marseilles to Tunis, and Tunis to Alexandria stages. On occasions, this run was extended as far as Berbera in British Somaliland. These routes took the L.17/M along the coasts of Sardinia, Libya, and Italian Eritrea. It was not revealed until 1947 that the L.17/M had been equipped with special camera gear with which it was helping to map Italian coastlines for the new Minister for Coordination of Defence. [3]

Bottom The sole L.17/M conversion S.769M as she appeared in late 1937. The half-spats have been removed and a curved fin fillet added. During the rebuild process, L.17 'Scylla' and 'Syrinx' switched registration codes (although the suggestion to also convert the former into a monoplane was never acted upon).

Imperial Airways 'M' Class - L.23 - The Too-Late Landplane

At a glance, the L.23 looked like a hull-less Empire flying boat. In effect, that is what it was. But a considerable amount of redesign was required to produce this new landplane airliner for Imperial Airways. The fuselage was actually entirely new. As a landplane, the L.23 also required the fitting of a very tall and rather complex main undercarriage (akin to that designed for the later S.29 Stirling bomber). Overall, the L.23 was considered a success but the landplane lacked the handling characteristics of its flying boat relative.

The L.23 tailplane suffered some buffeting - especially with its lanky undercarriage extended. To cure this, prototype G-AFNE was fitted first with dihedralled stabilzers, then later with a taller tailfin. With the outbreak of war, Imperial Airways plans to employ the L.23s in concert with Indian Trans-Continental Airways had to be abandoned. In December 1939, Imperial's 'Menoetius' was impressed by the RAF to serve with No.24 Squadron. The RAF had also requisioned the incomplete L.23s 'Marsyas' and 'Meles' but both airframes were destroyed in Luftwaffe raids on Rochester during the Blitz.

Top The L.23 'Menoetius' in its briefly-worn Imperial Airways livery. The aircraft was camouflaged for its role with No.24 Sqn, RAF. On the evening of 19 June 1940, the L.23 was damaged on the ground when the Luftwaffe bombed Bordeaux-Mérignac airfield. Unable to fly the transport out of Bordeaux, the aircraft was sabotaged further to render it unflyable and abandoned. At the time, no RAF serial had yet been applied to the ex-Imperial L.23.


[1] L.17 'Syrinx' (G-ACJK, c/n S.769) had overturned on 10 Oct 1935 while taxiing at Brussels. The relatively undamaged fuselage was returned to Shorts at Rochester along with the twisted wings and tail for rebuilding.

[2] In 1929, Italian seaports (and those of the Impero coloniale italiano) had been closed to Imperial Airways.

[3] Thomas Inskip was a controversial appointee at the time. However, he had served in the Naval Intelligence Division during the Great War (before becoming head of the Naval Law Branch at the Admiralty).


Miletus is very believable, although I'd hate to see the fuselage mods necessary
to carry that new wing.

Cheers Jon  :smiley:

--- Quote from: jcf on June 13, 2021, 01:54:08 AM ---Miletus is very believable, although I'd hate to see the fuselage mods necessary to carry that new wing.

--- End quote ---

No worries! Bung a few crooked lengths of angle iron into the fuselage for reinforcement and Fanny's yer aunt  ;)

 :-[ Forgot to mention: Those new wings (and the L.23) were based on an S.23 profile by Michael D. Fletcher

What ? These are not real ? ;)

"Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary."

Whadda they mean by 'only'   :icon_nif:


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version