Designed by Mr. W. A. Gouge, designer of the Sunderland Flying Boat, and made by the famous firm of Short Bros., the Stirling was the first four-engined heavy bomber of the war to be produced in great numbers. It is a giant machine weighing slightly more than thirty tons, and each machine entails the making of over sixty thousand parts. It is now being produced on the line assembly principle at tremendous speed. Testing is carried out continuously during production, thus enabling the finished machine to be fuelled and taken into the air by the test pilot “almost before the paint has dried."
Stirlings have been known to be in operation over enemy territory forty-eight hours after leaving the factory, which speaks very highly of the skill put into the machine construction.
It is powered by four 1,375-h.p. air-cooled radial Bristol Hercules engine, and has a wing span of ninety-nine feet. It is considered the greatest weight-carrier in the world and, to give some idea of its immense size, the cockpit is twenty-two feet from the ground and the bomb traps forty-four feet long. It can carry six tons of bombs over a long distance (its full range has not been released), has a speed of about three hundred miles an hour, is highly manoeuvrable and can take endless punishment. It has been nicknamed by the R.A.F. the 'Turin Tourer' on account of one of its earliest flights being to Turin and back non-stop.
It is armed with ten .303 machine-guns, four in the nose, four in the tail and two amidships, and carries a crew of eight, who enjoy ample room and are all fitted with armour-plated chairs. It is most graceful in flight and has taken part in almost every big raid since its inception.
Manufacturers: Short Bros, Ltd
Type: British multi-engined long-range heavy bomber.
Engine: Stirling I - 4 Bristol Hercules of 1,375hp. (radials). Stirling II - 4 Wright double-row Cyclones of 1,350hp. (radials).
Speed: Mk.I - Maximum, 280mph.; cruising 200mph.
Range: 3,700 miles.
Armament: (Standard) 4 machine-guns in nose. 4 machine-guns in tail. 2 midships (now fitted with dorsal and ventral gun turrets, armament not released). Maximum bomb load, 8 tons.
Dimensions: 99ft. span; 87ft. 3in. length; 22ft. 11in. high.
Construction: Wings metal structure with stressed skin covering. Gouge flaps. Tail unit same, except control surfaces. Fuselage all-metal monocoque.
Distinguishing features: Low-wing multi-engined monoplane with simple tail unit and retractable undercarriage. Four radial engines. Shovel-shaped fuselage. Tall fin and rudder. Plan: Long nose; perfectly equal tapered wings with rounded tips; box-like fuselage to very high conical fin and rudder.
Summary of recognition features: Slab-sided and very high conical fin and rudder.
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