Open main menu

The Short S.25 Sandringham was a British civilian flying boat produced during the Second World War by the demilitarized conversions of Short Sunderland military flying boats previously operated by the Royal Air Force.

Short Sandringham
Ansett Short S-25 Sandringham 4 Lord Howe Island Wordsworth.jpg
Ansett Sandringham taking off from Lord Howe Island in the early 1960s
Role Civil flying boat
Manufacturer Short Brothers
First flight 16 October 1937 (RAF) January 1943 (BOAC)
Introduction 1943
Retired 1974 (Ansett Flying Boat Services)
Status Retired
Primary users BOAC
Ansett Flying Boat Services
Developed from Short Sunderland
Short Sandringham 7 VH-APG at Cowes in 1954


Design and developmentEdit

From late 1942, several RAF Sunderlands were stripped of their armament and fitted with bench-type seats. From early 1943, the aircraft gradually acquired civil markings and went into service with BOAC between Poole Harbour, Dorset and West Africa. A BOAC Sunderland made a proving flight to Karachi in the Indian subcontinent in late 1943 to research future civil operations to India. These conversions were designated by Shorts as the Sunderland 3.[1]

All the Sandringhams were civil conversions of former Royal Air Force Coastal Command Short Sunderlands. The Sandringham Mark 1 used Bristol Pegasus engines, while the later marks of Sandringham used Pratt & Whitney "Twin Wasp" engines. The conversions were carried out by Short and Harland Ltd at Belfast Harbour.

In 1963 an additional conversion of a former Royal New Zealand Air Force Sunderland V was carried out by Ansett with a 43-seat interior, although described as a Sandringham the Islander was a unique design.

Civil operational useEdit

Short Sandringham 5 G-AHZE of BOAC at Hamworthy Quay, Poole, Dorset in September 1954
Ansett Sandringham at Rose Bay Sydney in 1970

Following VE-Day, the BOAC Sunderlands were stripped of camouflage, their Pegasus engines upgraded to Mark 38 (later 48) and interiors modified to carry 24 day or 16 night passengers plus 6,500 lb (2,830 kg) of mail. This initial conversion was known by BOAC as their "Hythe" Class.

The Sandringham 5 was operated by BOAC from 1947 as the "Plymouth class" on the Far East routes from Southampton via Alexandria to Hong Kong and Tokyo. These were replaced by Lockheed Constellation land planes during 1949. TEAL used Sandringhams on the Auckland to Sydney route and flights to Pacific Islands. In 1950, Qantas introduced the first of five aircraft which flew from the Rose Bay flying boat base on Sydney Harbour to destinations in New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Fiji, New Guinea and Lord Howe Island. Two of these were purchased from TEAL and the other three were purchased from BOAC. These were in service through to 1955.[2]

The type was used by Ansett Flying Boat Services on the Sydney (Rose Bay) to Lord Howe Island scheduled service until 1974. One of Ansett's Sandringhams was converted from a S-25 Sunderland previously owned by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It was also used in Norway by DNL – Norwegian Airlines 1946–1952 on the domestic service from Oslo to Tromsø, and in Uruguay by Compañía Aeronáutica Uruguaya S.A. (CAUSA) on the passenger services between Montevideo and Buenos Aires (1950–1962).

In October 1954, Captain Sir Gordon Taylor flew his newly acquired Sandringham 7 from the UK to Australia to begin a series of flying boat cruises of the south Pacific. The aircraft later passed to Réseau Aérien Interinsulaire in Tahiti and is now stored at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace at Paris Le Bourget.

One of the last operators of the Sandringham was Antilles Air Boats in the Virgin Islands of the Caribbean which flew the aircraft in scheduled passenger service during the 1970s with flights from the Charlotte Amalie Harbor Seaplane Base on St. Thomas and the Christiansted Harbor Seaplane Base on St. Croix among other destinations.[3]

Preserved SandringhamsEdit

Ex-Ansett Sandringham (RAF Serial ML814 Short Sunderland MR5) c/n SH.974b.) To RNZAF No.5 Squadron 1953 Fiji and became NZ4108. Hobsonville, New Zealand 1956–1963. Sold 1963 to Airlines of New South Wales. Converted to passenger configuration and registered VH-BRF and named Islander. To Antilles Air Boats, Virgin Island as N158J in 1974. To Edward Hulton in the UK in 1979 as G-BJHS. Storm Damaged and repaired. Sold to Kermit Weeks in 1992 and re-registered N158J. On display at the Fantasy of Flight museum in Polk City, Florida, USA with Kermit Weeks and registered as N814ML on 16 September 1993.

Ex-Ansett Sandringham (RAF Serial JM715 Short Sunderland Mk III) flew for Tasman Empire Airways Ltd. (TEAL) of New Zealand purchased JM715 from the Air Ministry for conversion. After conversion at Short's Belfast factory, the aircraft was allocated the conversion number SH.55C and registered to TEAL, delivered from Southampton to Waitemata Harbour, Auckland on 29 October 1947 and was soon in service on the 1,300-mile Sydney–Auckland route. In May 1950, ZK-AMH, was sold to Barrier Reef Airlines of Australia where it was renamed Beachcomber and registered VH-BRC. Barrier Reef Airlines were subsequently taken over by the major Australian airline Ansett and became Ansett Flying Boat Services and operated out of Rose Bay, Sydney, Australia until 1974. The vast amounts of money required to keep the aircraft in flying condition were not available and in 1981, the aircraft was purchased for the National Aeronautical Collection by the Science Museum and is now on display at Solent Sky museum in Southampton, Hampshire, UK.

Short S-25 Sandringham 7 Bermuda Class. c/n SH-57C. Built as a (RAF Serial JM719 Short Sunderland Mk III). Converted to Short S-25 Sandringham 7 Bermuda Class 1947 for BOAC British Register as G-AKCO "ST. George". Sold to Sir Patrick Gordon Taylor 1954. Registered VH-APG "Frigate Bird III". Sold to Reseau Aerian Interinsulaire 1958. Registered F-OBIP. Final Flight 1970 Papeete, Tahiti. Initially donated to Queensland Air Museum 1975. Relocation proved cost prohibitive. Acquired by Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace at Le Bourget Airport, 1977. Transported by French military to Paris in 1979 and placed on display, but was severely damaged during a storm on 8 February 1984.[4] Under restoration since 2008, and as of January 2018 not currently viewable by the public.


Sandringham 1
Full civil conversion of Sunderland 3 for BOAC, accommodating 24 day or 16 sleeper passengers, and powered by four 1,030 hp (768 kW) Bristol Pegasus 38 engines. One built.[5]
Sandringham 2
Civil conversion of Sunderland 5 for Argentine airline Dodero, accommodating 45 day passengers. Powered by four R-1830-92 engines, three conversions.[6]
Sandringham 3
Conversion of Sunderland 5 with dining room and galley on upper deck and seats for 21 on lower deck. Two converted.[6]
Sandringham 4
Four converted for TEAL of New Zealand (Tasman class). Seating for 30 passengers.[6] Two were sold to Qantas and operated by them between 1950 and 1955.[7]
Sandringham 5
Nine converted for BOAC (Plymouth class), accommodating 22 day or 16 sleeper passengers.[8] Three of these were sold to Qantas which operated them between 1951 and 1955.[7]
Sandringham 6
Radar equipped aircraft for Norwegian airline DNL. 37 passengers. Five converted.[6]
Sandringham 7
Thirty seat aircraft for BOAC (Bermuda class). Three converted.[9]
An additional civil conversion by Ansett officially described as a Sunderland Mark V (Modified).


Specifications (Sandringham 5)Edit

Short Sandringham 3-view drawing from Les Ailes March 29, 1947

Data from British Civil Aircraft 1919–1972 [10]

General characteristics


See alsoEdit

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Jackson 1974, p. 152
  2. ^ "Australian Short Flying Boat Register". Aussie Airliners. Retrieved 2013-04-20.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^, photos of Antilles Air Boats Short Sandringham in the U.S. Virgin Islands
  4. ^ "Short S.25 Sandringham Mk7 Bermuda F-OBIP". Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (in French). Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  5. ^ Jackson 1988, pp.152—153.
  6. ^ a b c d Jackson 1988, p. 153.
  7. ^ a b "Australian Short Flying Boat Register". Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  8. ^ Jackson 1988, p.154.
  9. ^ Jackson 1988, p.155.
  10. ^ Jackson 1988, p. 156.

External linksEdit