The Short Stirling has the distinction of being the first four engine bomber to be introduced into service with the Royal Air Force .
The Stirling was designed during the late 1930s by Short Brothers to conform with the requirements laid out in Air Ministry Specification B.12/36. Prior to this, the RAF had been primarily interested in developing increasingly capable twin engine bombers but had been persuaded to investigate a prospective four engine bomber as a result of promising foreign developments in the field. Out of the submissions made to the specification, Supermarine proposed the Type 317 which was viewed as the favorite, while Short's submission, named the S.29, was selected as an alternative. When the preferred Type 317 had to be abandoned, the S.29, which later received the name Stirling, proceeded to production.
During early 1941, the Stirling entered squadron service. During its use as a bomber, pilots praised the type for its ability to out turn enemy night fighters and its favorable handling characteristics, while the altitude ceiling was often a subject of criticism. The Stirling had a relatively brief operational career as a bomber before being relegated to second line duties from late 1943. This was due to the increasing availability of the more capable Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster, which took over the strategic bombing of Germany. Decisions by the Air Ministry on certain performance requirements, such as to restrict the wingspan of the aircraft to 100 feet, had played a role in limiting the Stirling's performance; these restrictive demands had not been placed upon the Halifax and Lancaster bombers once they were converted from two to four engine bombers.
During its later service, the Stirling was used for mining German ports; new and converted aircraft also flew as glider tugs and supply aircraft during the Allied invasion of Europe during 1944–1945. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the type was rapidly withdrawn from RAF service, having been replaced in the transport role by the Avro York, a derivative of the Lancaster that had previously displaced it from the bomber role. A handful of ex-military Stirlings were rebuilt for the civil market.
The Stirling used the Sunderland's 114 ft wing and it had to be reduced to less than 100 ft, the same limit as that imposed on the P.13/36 designs (Handley Page Halifax and Avro Manchester). In order to get the needed lift from a shorter span and excess weight, the redesigned wing was thickened and reshaped. It is often said that the wingspan was limited to 100 ft so the aircraft would fit into existing hangars but the maximum hangar opening at the time was 112 ft and the specification required outdoor servicing. The wingspan limitation has been alleged to have actually been enforced as a method of restricting the designer into keeping the overall weight down.
parts are thin enough and the frame lines are well defined but
the optical clarity is not all that great and the turrets have a
lot of optical distortion.
decals are thin, glossy and in register. They are printed by
Cartograph so they should behave with no issues. The sheet
provides marking for six aircraft, two from #15 Squadron in
1941, two from #7 Squadron in 1941 and two from #7 squadron
1942, one before being shot down and one after crash landing and
recovered and remarked by the Germans. A fair amount of stencils
are supplied, all of which are readable with magnification and
there are even stencils for the bombs.
instructions are a 20 page booklet, A4 size. The
cover page has a brief history in six languages
and the the usual safety warnings, the next two
pages have a parts map and a paint chart with
generic names, FS numbers and Italeri paint
numbers. The next 14 pages are the assembly steps
with 3D cad type drawings in 30 steps. The last
three pages are the painting and marking diagrams
which are in color.
After Market Goodies
I got the Eduard Zoom set for this kit which
seems to be more extensive than many of their sets. While the kit
supplied fret is handy these don't require tedious painting and
supply a bit more in the way of detail, how handy it all is
remains to be seen.
This is a really nicely detailed kit and certainly way nicer than the aging Airfix kit. I personally don't care for the surface detail, the panel line trenches could be toned down and the rivets eliminated altogether as far as I'm concerned. That said I had similar thoughts about their Sunderland kit but once painted it wasn't all that noticeable. Hopefully a couple coats of primer will tone it down some. If the kit builds up as well as their Sunderland kit it should be a relatively easy build and except for is complexity I would recommend it to those of most skill levels.
Links to kit build or reviews
Famous Bombers of the Second World War by William Green
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