Sunderlands (and derivatives) in Museums

Short Sunderland

The RAF Museum, Hendon
ML824 - Sunderland MKV
After service with the French Navy, the Sunderland made her last flight in 1961 when she was ferried to Pembroke Dock to go on display at the base where so many Sunderlands saw active service. After ten years out in the open, ML814 was dismantled and transported to Hendon for the new RAF Museum. The Sunderland is fully restored inside the museum and a walkway allows visitors inside the aircraft.

Imperial War Museum, Duxford
ML786 - Sunderland MKV
Another of the Sunderlands operated by the French Navy post war, ML786 had a most unusual career. After service in West Africa, she was returned to France and put in store and then in 1965 was used as a nightclub and restaurant in northern France. In 1976 the Imperial War Museum acquired the aircraft and moved her to the Duxford museum for a long term restoration.

Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
SZ584/NZ4115 - Sunderland MkV
The aircraft is a Mark V Sunderland, part of a batch of 16 ordered by the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1952. It served with No. 5 Squadron RNZAF at Lauthala Bay, Fiji. The Sunderlands remained in service until 1967 when they were all sold as scrap except for NZ4108 which had been bought by Ansett (See ML814 below) and NZ4115 "Q" (ex SZ584) which was presented to the Auckland Museum of Transport and Technology where it remains on permanent display.

Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, Florida, USA
ML814/N814ML - Civil Sunderland V
The only remaining potentially airworthy Sunderland flying boat flew out of the UK in 1993 to join Kermitt Weeks' attraction in Florida. This is the aircraft which visited Windermere as part of the festival in 1990. It was part of the batch sold to the RNZAF and then sold to Ansett airlines where it was converted to civil passenger carrying configuration (although not the full Sandringham conversion) and named Islander. After a spell in the Carribean with Antilles air boats it was bought by Edward Hulton who brought her to the UK and carried out extensive work to keep the Sunderland airworthy. She was sold to Fantasy fo Flight and, although not flown recently, is still capable of being returned to flight.

Short Sandringham
The Sandringham was a conversion of the Sunderland to a civil airliner which involved reprofiling the nose, replacing the whole tail section and other extensive rebuilding to remove military equipment and fit out the passenger cabins.

Solent Sky, Southampton (formerly Hall of Aviation)
JM715/Beachcomber - Sandringham IV

Converted to a Sandringham after the war, JM715 spent many years in New Zealand and Australia flying with Ansett as Beachcomber. Ferried back to the UK from the Carribean in 1980, the Atlantic crossing was the last flight for the aircraft which was bought by the Science Museum and made the centre piece of the Southampton Hall of Aviation - now named Solent Sky.

Musee De L'Air et L'Espace, Le Bourget, France
JM719/F-OBIP - Sandringham 7
Converted to a Sandringham from the Mark III Sunderland JM719, she began civil service with BOAC in 1947 with the registration G-AKCO and the name St. George. In 1954 it was taken to Australia and renamed Frigate Bird III. Four years later she was sold to the French Company, Reseau Aerien Interinsulaire (RAI) and registered as F-OBIP. It continued flying until 1970 and then, in 1978 was rescued by the Musee de L'Air Du Bourget. It was dismantled, shipped by the French Navy to the museum and restored.

Short Solent
The planned Sunderland IV was to have a longer fuselage and stronger wings. It went into only limited service under a new name as the Short Seaford with a matching civil version - the Short Solent. Some Solents were converted from ex-military Seafords, some were new build. The Solent shares a clear family resemblance with the Sunderland and the Sandringham.

Western Aerospace Museum, Oakland, USA
N9946F Solent III
This aircraft was originally built as the Seaford Mk.I, NJ203, later converted for civil use as Solent III, registrated as G-AKNP to BOAC.It was owned for a time by Howard Huighes and is now preserved at Oakland, San Francisco.

Museam of Transport and Technology, Aukland, New Zealand.
ZK-AMO 'Aranui' Solent IV
Tasman Empire Airways Ltd operated services linking Australia with New Zealand and, later, to the remote islands of the South Pacific. ZK-AMO was built by Short and Harland in Belfast, became operational in 1949 and was retired in 1960, now preserved at MoTAT in New Zealand.

Wrecks and other remains
There are a number of significant remains of Sunderland-based flying boats around the world. Any additional information or updates would be welcomed.

New Zealand
NZ4112/VB881 Sunderland Mk V

The cockpit from Royal New Zealand Air Force Sunderland NZ4112 was rescued from the scrapman and preserved. The flight deck and nose of NZ4112 is held by the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society

Chatham Islands
NZ4111/VB880 Sunderland Mk V

The aircraft was damaged in an accident in November 1959. Stripped of engines and useful parts, the hull was abandoned on the beach. More recent reports state that the hulk was sunk in the reef just offshore.
Various other parts of NZ4111 recovered from the Chatham Islands are on display at the RNZAF Museum

Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Wales
T9044 Sunderland MkI
A recent discovery in the waters of Milford Haven, this unique early model Sunderland sank at her moorings in a storm and has survived remarkably intact for an aircraft in salt water. So far one engine has been recovered during filming for Channel 4 Wreck Detectives programme. There are hopes that the rest of the remains may be recovered for display at Pembroke Dock, meanwhile, a preservation order prevents diving to ensure the wreck is not damaged.

Norway Coast
?????/ WH-Y Sunderland Mk?

An internet report records the discovery of a Sunderland airframe in a fjord off Trondheim. The aircraft had served with 330 Squadron RNorAF but had apparently suffered both storm damage and a fire. The wreck was towed out and scuttled and is reported to be between 57 and 72 meters down.

Lake Umsingazi, South Africa
RN295/1714 SAAF Sunderland V

In his book The Short Sunderland Chaz Bowyer noted that Sunderland 1714 of the SAAF had crashed in Lake Umsingazi in November 1956 and the airframe had since been found. However, subsequent magazine articles have said that the main part of the aircraft had been salvaged not long after the crash. It is not clear how much, if anything, survives in the lake today.

There are of course, fragmentary remains at crash sites and even rumours that other aircraft may survive substantially intact underwater. Any evidence to prove - or disprove - such rumours would be very welcome.