Short S23 C Class Empire Flying Boats


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The Short Empire Flying boat was a classic aircraft in many ways, which had its' career cut short and was overshadowed to some extent by the second world war. I am one of a number of Empire Boat enthusiasts trying to glean any information we can about this aircraft from any source we can find. When Shorts commenced work on the Belfast Heavy Lifter, all of the plans for the Empire Boat project were apparently taken to a vacant lot and burned to make way for the new project. As far as we know, no drawings survive to this day, apart from a few tantalizing snippets. If anyone out there can help us to find any drawings, it would be a huge boost to our efforts to preserve the memories of this aircraft, and would be greatly appreciated.

For much more information on Empire Boats go to Brian Cassidy's website. 

The current project underway is a 1:10 scale flying fibreglass model of the C Class Empire. Here are pictures of every C Class Empire Boat, in order of delivery:


Origin of name: a city 22 miles from Alexandria. It has its' name from Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus, king of Sparta, who died there. Canopus is also a star in Carinae. Aircraft was delivered in October 1936, broken up in Hythe, October 1946.
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Origin of name: Allusion to Scotland Aircraft was delivered 4th December 1936, broken up at Hythe, 23rd March 1947.


Origin of name: some say the son of Apollo and father of the centaurs by the mares of Thessaly. Others say he was a hero with a serpent's tail. Aircraft was delivered December 1936, destroyed at its' moorings Broome, Western Australia, March 1942.
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Origin of name: A quotation from a poem by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) headed the notepaper 'The cavalier was eager to depart.'. Aircraft was delivered 10th December 1936, crashed North Atlantic, 21st January 1939.
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Origin of name: the allusion is to Wales from a poem by William Wordsworth. Aircraft was delivered January 1937, broken up at Hythe, January 1947.
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Origin of name: one of the twin sons of Zeus and Leda. Also a star in Geminorum. Aircraft was delivered January 1937, broken up at Hythe, February 1947.
image from John Thompson Collection.  Our thanks to John.
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Origin of name: mother of Andromeda and subsequently transformed into a star by Poseidon. Also a conspicuous constellation in the Northern sky. Aircraft was delivered February 1937, crashed Sabang, December 1941.

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Origin of name: A she-goat transormed into a star as a reward for supplying milk to the infant Jupiter. Also a star (0.2 Magnitude) in Auriga. Aircraft was delivered 16th February 1937, holed in Batavia Harbour, 12th March 1939.
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Origin of name:One of the many defenders of Troy killed by Achilles Aircraft was delivered 3rd March 1937, crashed Brindisi, 5th December 1937.
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Origin of name: A sign of the Zodiac. Also a constellation in the southern Sky Aircraft was delivered 16th March 1937, crashed Ouroux  France 24th March 1937.
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Origin of name: A privateer of the Barbary coast. The quotation is from a poem by Lord Byron. Aircraft was delivered 8th April 1937, broken up Hythe 20th January 1947
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Origin of name:Not known Aircraft was delivered 24thApril 1937, crashed Athens 1stOctober 1937.
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Origin of name:The Qoutation is from a poem by William Wordsworth. Aircraft was delivered 6thMay 1937, crashed Mosambique 1st May 1939.
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Origin of name:The quotation was from Julius Caesar(100-44BC) Aircraft was delivered 29th May 1937, crashed 12th June 1939.
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CORIOLANUS (S.838 VH-ABG)(previously G-AETV)

Origin of name:The hero of the play by William Shakespeare Aircraft was delivered 17th June 1937, broken up Sydney end of 1947.
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Origin of name:The daughter of Piso and wife of Julius Caesar.The quotation was from Plutach (c.46 - c. 120 AD). Aircraft was delivered 17th June 1937, broken up Sydney end of 1947.
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Origin of name: From Ovid, Ceres was the giver of wheat to the world and the first law maker. Aircraft was delivered 17thJuly 1937,destroyed 
by fire at Durban, 1st Dec 1942
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Origin of name: One of the nine Muses, the proclaimer.The quotation was from Decius Magnus Ausonius. Aircraft was delivered 30th July 1937, crashed Loch Indal 27th August 1941.
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Origin of name: The sorceress in the Iliad who turned Odysseus' crew into swine during their return journey from the Trojan War. Aircraft was delivered 16th August 1937, lost without trace Broome-Tijlatjup, 28th Feb 1942.
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CALYPSO (S.843 A-18-11)

Origin of name:The daughter of Thetis and Oceanus who kept Odysseus captive for seven years on his way back to Ithaca from Trojan War Aircraft was delivered 27th Aug 1937, crashed Daru Papua New Guinea 8th Aug 1942
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Origin of name:A Volscanian heroine who was killed in the 4th century BC. The quotation was from Alexander Pope (1688-1744) Aircraft was delivered13th September1937, Crashed Port Moresby 22nd April 1943.
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Origin of name: a Greek poetess of Tanagra flourishing c. 500BC. Aircraft was delivered September 1937, destroyed at its' moorings at Broome, March 1942.
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CORDELIA (S.846 AX 660)

Origin of name: Cordelia was a Duchess of Burgandy. Aircraft was delivered 9th Oct 1937, broken up Hythe April 1947.
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Origin of name:  possibly a reference to the British Army regiment "Her Majesty's Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) - 26th Regiment of Foot", originally raised in 1688 by petition of Richard Cameron esq, to HM King Charles 2nd. The Cameronians were essentially a Lanarkshire regiment, and were disbanded in 1968.' Aircraft was delivered October 1937, broken up at Hythe, January 1947.
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Origin of name: A passing allusion,perhaps, to the Gulf of Corinth, well known to crews and passengers on the approach to and departure from Athens. Originally named Cotswold. Aircraft was delivered 6th November 1937,crashed Darwin 22nd March 1942.
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Origin of name: a suburb of Sydney, NSW, Australia Aircraft was delivered January 1938, crashed Townsville, March 1942.
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Origin of name: represented the state of Victoria, Australia Aircraft was delivered February 1938, shot down near Koepang, January 1942.
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Origin of name: a lake in South Australia. Aircraft was delivered February 1938, broken up at Hythe, February 1947.
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Origin of name: a gulf in northern Australia. Aircraft was delivered December 1937, broken up at Hythe, January 1947.
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Origin of name: a town in Southern Queensland, Australia. Aircraft was delivered December 1937, crashed Sydney, October 1944.
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Origin of name: long distance call of the Australian Aboriginal in the bush. Aircraft was delivered March 1938, broken up at Hythe, February 1947.

Picture: Aeroplane Monthly Aug 1975 P406

CHAMPION  (S-879 G-AFCT (type S 30))

Origin of name: Just the obvious presumably, in 
this case.
Aircraft was delivered 28th Oct 1938, broken up at Hythe, March 1947.

Picture: Aeroplane Monthly Oct 1981 p566


Origin of name: Sebastian Cabot, explorer associated with Bristol and Voyages across the North Atlantic and the discovery of Newfoundland Aircraft was delivered March 1939, Destroyed near Bodo 5/6 May 1940.


Origin of name: The Canadian name for the wild reindeer. Aircraft was delivered early July (7th or 13th) 1939, Destroyed  Bodo 5th May 1940.

CONNEMARA   (S 882  G-AFCW  ( type S 30))

Origin of name: A part of County Galway in Republic of Ireland Aircraft was delivered 25th March 1937. Destroyed by fire southampton Water, 19thJune 1939


Origin of name: A river in the West of Scotland, flowing through Glasgow, and once famous for its' shipbuilding industry. Aircraft was delivered 30th March 1939, wrecked Lisbon 14th February  1941.
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AOTEAROA   (S884  G-AFCY  , ZK-AMA (prev. ZK-AMC)   ( type S 30))

(originally named  'Captain Cook')
Origin of name: Name means 'Land of the long white cloud' in the Maori language. Aircraft was delivered 21st April 1939. Broken up Auckland after 1953.


Origin of name: Originally named Canterbury and later renamed CLARE Aircraft was delivered 24th April 1939. Destroyed by fire in the air of Bathurst, West Africa 14th September 1942

AWARUA   (S 886  G-AFDA, ZK-AMC  ( type S 30))

Captained here by Oscar Garden, Tasman Empire

Airways Limited's second flying boat  AWARUA, a Short S30 Empire

 ZK-AMC arrives in Auckland in April 1940 after a delivery flight from wartime Britain.

(Originally named 'Cumberland')
Origin of name: The name means 'twin rivers' in the Maori language. Aircraft was delivered 25th May1939. Broken up Auckland after October 1947
CATHAY   (S1003 G-AFKZ )
Origin of name:The medieval European name for China Aircraft was delivered 8th March 1940. Broken up Hythe 19th March 1947.


Origin of name:A suburb in the city of Bristol Aircraft was delivered 17th March 1940, crashed at Rose Bay, Sydney 18th Nov 1944
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Origin of name: Cleopatra VII, (69-30BC), Queen of Egypt. Aircraft was delivered May 1940, broken up at Hythe, November 1946.
Information on C Class Flying boats from Brian Cassidy's book, "Flying Empires".


Coorong, Corio, Castor, Cassiopeia, Corinna, Canopus, Coogee   Short Brothers
Centaurus   Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd
Cameronian, Cleopatra, Cooee   Air Ministry
Coolangatta, Carpentaria, Cambria   QANTAS


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