Supermarine Stranraer

The Supermarine Stranraer was a 1930s flying boat designed and built by the British Supermarine Aviation Works company principally for the Royal Air Force. It entered operations in 1937 and many were in service at the outbreak of the Second World War undertaking anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols. It was withdrawn from operational service in March 1941 but continued to serve in a training capacity until October 1942. In addition to the British-built aeroplanes, the Canadian Vickers company in Montreal, Quebec, built 40 Stranraers under licence for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The RCAF Stranraers served in anti-submarine and coastal defence capacities on both Canada's Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and remained in service until 1946. Following their withdrawal from military service, many Canadian Stranraers were sold off to fledgeling regional airlines and they served in commercial passenger and freighter operation well into the 1950s.

Supermarine Stranraer 3 ExCC.jpg
Role Flying boat
Manufacturer Supermarine
Designer R. J. Mitchell
First flight 24 July 1934
Introduction 1937
Retired 1957 (civilian use)
Primary users RAF
Number built 57
Unit cost
$23,567 (At the time of the war)
Developed from Supermarine Scapa

Design and developmentEdit

Designed by R. J. Mitchell as a tender to Air Ministry R.24/31 Specification for a coastal reconnaissance flying boat for the RAF, it was initially turned down but Supermarine proceeded with the type as a private venture first known as the Southampton V. A contract was placed in 1933 for a prototype powered by two 820 horsepower (610 kW) Bristol Pegasus IIIM engines and the type became known as the Stranraer.

The structure was mainly duralumin, with the hull covered with sheet metal and the wings with fabric.

Following the initial flight-test programme, the Stranraer prototype (K3973) on 24 October 1934 was delivered to the RAF. On 29 August 1935, an initial order was placed for 17 aircraft (serial numbers K7287 to K7303) to the Air Ministry Specification 17/35. The production version was fitted with the 920 horsepower (690 kW) Pegasus X and first flew in December 1936, entering service operations on 16 April 1937; the last Stranraer was delivered 3 April 1939. An additional order for six aircraft (K9676 to K9681) was placed in May 1936, but subsequently cancelled. A total of 40 Stranraers were built in Canada by Canadian Vickers Limited; Supermarine and Canadian Vickers being subsidiaries of Vickers-Armstrongs.

Operational historyEdit

RCAF Stranraer in wartime camouflage

In service, only 17 Stranraers were operated by the RAF 1937–1941 primarily by No. 228, No, 209 and No. 240 Squadrons along with limited numbers at the No. 4 OTU. Generally, the aircraft was not well-received as its performance was considered marginal.[1]

Due to its less than favourable reception by flight and ground crews, the Stranraer gained a large number of derisive nicknames. It was sometimes referred to as a "whistling shithouse" because the toilet opened out directly to the air and when the seat was lifted, the airflow caused the toilet to whistle. The Stranraer also acquired "Flying Meccano Set", "The Marpole Bridge", "Seymour Seine Net", "Strainer", "Flying Centre Section of the Lion's Gate Bridge", as well as a more genteel variant of its usual nickname, "Whistling Birdcage".[2]

Royal Canadian Air Force Stranraers were exact equivalents of their RAF counterparts and they were employed in coastal patrol against submarine threats in a similar role to the British Stranraers. One source states no enemy action was recorded.[3] However, the crew of a 5 Squadron Stranraer, flown by Flight Lieutenant Leonard Birchall, were responsible for the capture of an Italian merchant ship, the Capo Nola, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, hours after Canada declared war on Italy on 10 June 1940.[4][Note 1]

The Canadian Vickers-built Stranraers served with the RCAF until 1946.

Civilian useEdit

Thirteen examples were sold through Crown Assets (Canadian government) and passed into civilian use after the war; several served with Queen Charlotte Airlines (QCA) in British Columbia and operated until 1957. A re-engine project by the airline substituted 1,200 horsepower (890 kW) Wright GR-1820-G202GA engines in place of the original Pegasus units.

Queen Charlotte Airlines became at one point the third largest airline in Canada; however, it was popularly known as the Queer Collection of Aircraft. With limited money, it flew an eclectic mixture of types that were often the cast-offs of other operators. However, in QCA use, the Stranraer gained a more suitable reputation and was "well liked" by its crews.[5] A total of eight surplus Stranraers were also sold to Aero Transport Ltd. of Tampa, Florida.[6]



Supermarine Stranraer 912 of the RCAF at RCAF Station Jericho Beach
  United Kingdom


  United States
  • Aero Transport Ltd. (United States)

Specifications (Stranraer)Edit

Data from Supermarine aircraft since 1914,[16] "Database: Supermarine Stranraer." [17]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6-7
  • Length: 54 ft 9 in (16.69 m)
  • Wingspan: 85 ft 0 in (25.91 m)
  • Height: 21 ft 9 in (6.63 m)
  • Wing area: 1,457 sq ft (135.4 m2)
  • Empty weight: 11,250 lb (5,103 kg)
  • Gross weight: 19,000 lb (8,618 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Pegasus X 9-cylinder air-cooled radial pistone engines, 920 hp (690 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed variable-pitch metal propellers


  • Maximum speed: 165 mph (266 km/h, 143 kn) at 6,000 ft (1,800 m)
  • Alighting speed: 58.5 mph (50.8 kn; 94.1 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 105 mph (169 km/h, 91 kn)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (1,600 km, 870 nmi) at 105 mph (91 kn; 169 km/h) and 5,000 ft (1,500 m)
  • Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,600 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,350 ft/min (6.9 m/s)
  • Time to altitude: 10,000 ft (3,000 m) in 10 minutes
  • Wing loading: 13 lb/sq ft (63 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 0.097 hp/lb (0.159 kW/kg)


Surviving aircraftEdit

The RAF Museum's Stranraer, 2015

A single intact Stranraer, 920/CF-BXO, survives in the collection of the Royal Air Force Museum London.[18] This aircraft was built in 1940, one of 40 built by Canadian Vickers. In service with the Royal Canadian Air Force, it flew with several squadrons, on anti-submarine patrols, as a training aircraft and carrying passengers. In 1944, it was disposed of. In civil service, it was flown by Canadian Pacific Airlines until 1947, then Queen Charlotte Airlines, who replaced its original British engines with American Wright R-1820 engines. Queen Charlotte Airlines flew it on passenger flights until 1952, flying from Vancouver along the Pacific coast of British Columbia. It flew with several other private owners until damaged by a ship in 1966. In 1970, it was bought by the RAF Museum and transported to the UK. [19]

Parts of a second Stranraer, 915/CF-BYJ, are owned by the Shearwater Aviation Museum, Halifax, Canada. This aircraft also operated with Queen Charlotte Airlines until it crashed on Christmas Eve 1949 at Belize Inlet, British Columbia. Most of the aircraft was recovered in the 1980s, with the exception of the forward fuselage and cockpit.[19]

See alsoEdit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Flight Lieutenant Birchall had been tasked with locating any Italian vessels still in Canadian waters as war became imminent. On 10 June, he located the Capo Nola, which had recently departed from Quebec. Birchall had been informed of the declaration of war by radio and so made a low pass over the freighter, as if making an attack. This panicked the captain into running his vessel aground against a sandbank. Birchall then touched down nearby and waited until Royal Canadian Navy vessels reached the scene. The Capo Nola's crew were the first Italian prisoners taken by the Allies during the war.


  1. ^ Morgan 2001, pp. 58–59.
  2. ^ Septer 2001, p. 60.
  3. ^ Septer 2001, pp. 60–61.
  4. ^ Pigott, 2003, p.61
  5. ^ Septer 2001, pp. 62–63.
  6. ^ Septer 2001, p. 62.
  7. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, pp. 25–26
  8. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, p. 50
  9. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, pp. 24–25
  10. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, p. 27
  11. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, p. 28
  12. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, p. 31
  13. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, p. 36
  14. ^ Kostenuk and Griffin, 1977, p. 55
  15. ^ Bowyer 1991, p. 161.
  16. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1981, pp. 128–140.
  17. ^ Morgan 2001, pp. 54, 56.
  18. ^ London 2003, p. 176.
  19. ^ a b Andrew Simpson (2007). "Individual History: Supermarine Stranraer 920/CF-BX)" (PDF). Royal Air Force Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Supermarine Aircraft Since 1914. London: Putnam Books Ltd., 2nd revised edition 2003. ISBN 0-85177-800-3.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. Aircraft for the Few: The RAF's Fighters and Bombers in 1940. Sparkford, Nr. Yeovil, Somerset, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1991. ISBN 1-85260-040-3.
  • Kightly, James and Roger Wallsgrove. Supermarine Walrus & Stranraer. Sandomierz, Poland/Redbourn, UK: Mushroom Model Publications, 2004. ISBN 83-917178-9-5.
  • Kostenuk, S. and J. Griffin. RCAF Squadron Histories and Aircraft: 1924–1968. Toronto: Samuel Stevens, Hakkert & Company, 1977. ISBN 0-88866-577-6.
  • London, Peter. British Flying Boats. Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7509-2695-3.
  • Morgan, Eric. "Database: Supermarine Stranraer." Aeroplane, Volume 29, no. 4, issue 235, April 2001.
  • Pigott, Peter (2003). Taming the Skies: A Celebration of Canadian Flight. Dundurn. ISBN 1550024698.
  • Septer, Dirk. "Canada's Stranraers." Aeroplane, Volume 29, no. 4, issue 235, April 2001.
  • Shelton, John (2008). Schneider Trophy to Spitfire - The Design Career of R.J. Mitchell (Hardback). Sparkford: Hayes Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84425-530-6.
  • Taylor, John W.R. "Supermarine Stranraer." Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • Thetford, Owen. British Naval Aircraft Since 1912, Fourth Edition. London: Putnam, 1978. ISBN 0-370-30021-1.

External linksEdit