The Short Belfast was produced by Short Brothers as a heavy airfreighter that can fly up to 4,609 nautical miles with maximum fuel. It is one of the largest turboprop transport ever built and the first aircraft to feature the full “blind landing” automatic landing system.
During the mid 1950s, Short Brothers, a British aerospace company started to develop an aircraft that can be fitted with four Bristol Orion turboprop engines and an airframe that can be equipped with carrying several military stores.
The development studies of the aircraft were continued since part of the management thought that it was very likely that there would be an issued Operational Requirement for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the future.
However, the former managing director and chairman of the company Sir Matthew Slattery expressed his uncertainty on the feasibility of the aircraft since he concluded that development of the aircraft from nothing lacked enough market candidates.
In March 1957, the company presented its initial brochure on their suggested aircraft named as the PD 18 also known as Britannic. On the same year, the Royal Air Force had a requirement for a heavy freighter. As a result, the Operational Requirement ASR 371 was issued that demanded for a procurement freighter with the capability of transporting a vast range of military payloads on long distances.
Short Brothers began to develop their initial proposal in order to meet the demands of the RAF. The first proposed aircraft Britannic was stretched into Britannic IIIA.
In January 1959, the British Air Ministry made an announcement regarding the selection of Short’s design to meet the requirement. After a month, the project was officially started and was designated as SC 5/10.
On December 21 1960, signing of contract for ten Belfast C.1 freighters took place.
On January 5 1964, the Short Belfast took its first flight from Sydenham Airport for fifty-five minutes. It was operated by Dennis Taylor, the chief test pilot together with six other crew members.
On October 5 1964, one of the three Belfasts had flown from Northern Ireland to Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain to join a two week performance trial. This was the first overseas flight achieved by the aircraft.
The Short Belfast was produced from 1964 to 1968.
Short Belfast Design
The strategic aircraft Short Belfast has an external length of 41.58 meters and height of 14.33 meters. The fuselage was a fairly conservatively-stressed cylinder with a diameter of 5.5 meters. It was built with a target safe-line design of 15,000 pressure cycles, that has been fatigued tested by the use of an entire fuselage plunged in a water tank. All of the aircraft doors were designed considering fail-safe principles.
The Short Belfast was equipped with high-mounted wings with a wingspan of 48.42 meters and a wing area of 229 square meters that can carry four heavy turboprop engines. The wing and the tail of the aircraft were actually based from the Bristol Britannia. Canadair made some alterations to the wing as it had been converted into a wet wing, where the wing structure was sealed and used as a fuel tank.
Short Belfast Cockpit and Avionics
The flight control of the aircraft comprised various features as a result of collaboration of three companies; Shorts, Bristol and Canadair. It is equipped with manual servo-tab with some modernization, specifically in lateral control through a straightforward spoiler design. It also has a port aileron connected to the rudder to prevent adverse roll because of rudder deflection. The elevator is connected to the flaps to cancel out changes in the trim tab due to flap operations.
The Short Belfast features a Smiths Aerospace automatic landing system that fully automates the landing of the aircraft and permits to land in dangerous weather conditions or not possible to operate in. The Belfast is the first ever aircraft equipped with this system from the start of development. The Instrument Landing System (ILS) included several functions like a Head-Up Display (HUD), a radio altimeter, and an auto-throttle that enables the pilot to control the power setting of engine automatically.
The aircraft is also equipped with EKCO E190 weather radar.
Short Belfast Performance
The Belfast can fly up to 30,000 feet, has a cruise speed of 292 knots and a range of 4,609 nautical miles.