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Encyclopedia - Avro Shackleton

After the Second World War, the Royal Air Force realized that the slot for a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft was empty, and that a replacement had to be found. The first train of thinking was along the lines of a modified Avro Lincoln, but instead A.V. Roe & Co went back to the drawing board to meet the rewritten Specification R.5/46. The fuselage of the Avro Type 696 was almost the same length as that of the Lincoln, but almost double the internal volume. The rest of the airframe was typically that of the Lincoln, with various parts borrowed from the Avro Tudor. To give better all-round performance than the Lincoln, the two-stage Merlin 85 engines were to be replaced by a special variant of the larger Griffon engine. These engines drove DH Hydromatic six-blade contra-rotating propellers, the first time such propellers were used on a production aircraft in the UK.

In March 1946 the Ministry of Supply ordered 29 Avro 696 aircraft, with the name Shackleton GR.Mk.1. On 9 March 1949 J.M 'Jimmy' Orrell, chief test pilot, took the first prototype (VW126) to the skies. Two further prototypes (VW131 and VW135) were built with Griffon 57's instead of Griffon 67's. The first production aircraft (VP254) flew on 28 March 1950, the designation changing from Shackleton GR.Mk.1 to MR.Mk1A because of a switch to the Mk.57A engine as well as a couple of other changes. Altogether, 76 Shackleton MR.Mk.1/1A's were built, equipping seven RAF squadrons based at Kinloss, St. Eval, Ballykelly and Gibraltar.

The first Shackleton MR.Mk.2 was a converted MR.Mk1 (WB833). It made its first flight on 17 June 1952. The last Shackleton MR.Mk1A was delivered on 18 July 1952, and the first Shackleton MR.Mk2 (WG530) was delivered on 25 September 1952.

Further improvements were required to meet Specification R.5/46 issue 3, dated 18 November 1953. Tip-tanks were installed to increase the total fuel load to 19,312 litres (4,248 Imp Gall.). The increase in weight necessitated stronger landing gear. It was at last decided to adopt tricyle undercarriage, with twin-wheels on each unit. The wing was strengthened and the ailerons modified for better lateral control. This resulted in the Shackleton MR.Mk.3 (WR970) which first flew on 2 September 1955. The differences were sufficient for a new Avro type number, 716.

An order for eight Shackleton MR.Mk3's was placed to replace the Lockheed Venturas of 35 squadron based at Ysterplaat, Cape Town. These gave sterling service and most flew about 10,000 hours, except 1718 which flew into mountains in bad weather on 8 August 1963.

Gallery Images

Avro 696 Shackleton MR.Mk.2

General

Crew : Ten
First Flight : 17 June 1952
Operators : Royal Air Force

Powerplant

Number Of Engines : Four
Powerplant type : Rolls Royce Griffon 57a V-12 piston engines, each driving two contra-rotating propellers
Max Power Rating : 1,840kW (2,455hp)

Dimensions

Length : 26.59m (57ft 3in)
Height : 5.10m (16ft 9in)
Wingspan : 36.58m (120ft)
Wing Area : 132.00m2 (1,421sq ft)

Weights

Empty Weight : 25,356kg (55,900lb)
Max Take-off Weight : 39,010kg (86,000lb)

Landing Gear

Type : Retractable tailwheel type with a single wheel on each unit

Performance

Max Speed At Cruising Level : 270kt (500km/h; 311mph)
Maximum Range : 2,937nm (5,440km; 3,380mi)
Endurance : 21 hours
Service Ceiling : 21,000ft (6,400m)

Avro 716 Shackleton MR.Mk.3

General

Crew : 13
First Flight : 2 September 1955
Country of Origin : United Kingdom
Operators : South African Air Force, Royal Air Force

Powerplant

Number Of Engines : Four
Powerplant type : Rolls Royce Griffon 57A piston engines, each engine driving two contra-rotating propellers
Max Power Rating : 1,840kW (2,455hp)

Dimensions

Length : 28.27m (92ft 9in)
Height : 7.11m (23ft 4in)
Wingspan : 36.52m (119ft 10in)

Weights

Empty Weight : 26,218 kg (57,800 lb)
Max Take-off Weight : 45,360kg (100,000lb)

Landing Gear

Type : Retractable tricycle type with twin-wheels on each unit

Performance

Max Speed At Cruising Level : 262kt (486km/h; 302mph)
Maximum Range : 3180nm (5,890km; 3682mi)
Service Ceiling : 19,200ft

Armament

Description : Two 20mm cannon in the nose, plus up to 4,536kg (10,000lb) of weapons in underfuselage bay


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