Saturday, 9 June 2012

Short Seamew

The ungainly Short Seamew was designed for anti-submarine work from escort carriers to specification M.123D in 1951 and first flown in 1953. The requirement was intended to provide the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and the RAF's Coastal Command with a simple, cheap aircraft capable of surge production to counter the rapidly growing Soviet submarine fleet - essentially a Cold War equivalent of the Fairey Swordfish. Following initial trials the Seamew was ordered for both the Royal Navy, as the AS.1 to replace the ASW-modified Avengers used by the RNVR Air Branch, and by Coastal Command, as the MR.2. However Coastal Command lost interest in the small Seamew as it faced cuts to its more capable Neptunes and Shackletons, while the Royal Navy order was cancelled in the 1957 defence cuts, which also eliminated the RNVR Air Branch in its entirety. In spite of its awkward looks, with fixed gear in an era of fast jets, the Seamew was fully capable of aerobatics and Short's chief test pilot claimed the Seamew's handling was 'vice-free', but other sources claim it had some vicious handling tendencies that were never entirely cured.

The Seamew was powered by the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba ASM.6 turboprop, sensors included ASV radar and sonobuoys, while armament comprised 4 275lb depth charges in the internal bomb-bay and 4 underwing rocket projectiles. By removing the radar and radome, the bomb-bay could potentially be extended from 14ft to 17ft, allowing carriage of 6 depth charges, or a torpedo.

A 1956 Flight article on the Seamew by Short's Chief Designer can be read here.

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