Short S25 Sunderland V

One of the 'big three' aircraft in the MOTAT collection, the Sunderland is a huge white flying boat once operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Operated like a home away from home, the aircraft is complete with crew bunks, a galley and the ability to service many parts of the engines and airframe while at anchor.

One famous New Zealand incident occured at a public flying display when an aircraft misjudged its height and scrapped the runway.

Donated to the museum when retired in the 1960's the aircraft was towed from its old home base at Hobsonville to the Keith Park Memorial Airfield site via the Waitamata Harbour. It was then dragged up onto hard ground on its beaching gear, and onto its new home. The aircraft was displaying outside along with the Solent and Lancaster and came under increasing critisium in the 1980's for its condition and lack of care. After the current main hanger was completed for the other two large exhibits the Sunderland was towed by tractor around to its current display and restoration location.

This great video was put together and shared by Dave Homeward who runs the Wings Over New Zealand forum.

Sitting outside on display in the humid marine environment has been hard on the airframe, but being a complete aircraft to start with certainly makes restoration a lot easier than for some other examples such as the Avenger or Mosquito. It is understood that the aircraft will be moved onto the out hard stand surface of the Belfast Hanger so that further restoration work can take place. The current medium term plan is to have the aircraft displayed undercover as part of the new aviation hanger development.

Photo Gallery
Included here are some of my early photos of the Sunderland from when I first got to know her in 1988 as a fourteen year old helping out with the Aviation Section.

General view of the Sunderland in the location it occupied for certainly all of the 1980's. The wooden stair case were allowed permanent access to the front port door and the rear starboard door. There were concrete pads under the main wheel and the rear beaching gear cradle.

Another general view of the Sunderland in the late evening. I used to spend a lot of time on general maintenance items during my early years at Motat as a young teenager, doing the lawns, cleaning the moss and mound off the Lancaster and Sunderland. I don't really remember doing much on the Solent but can't remember why, I think it was more difficult to access.
The view out the cockpit window. It really must have been an amazing to be flying the Sunderland with four huge radial engines just out the windows. I used to use the crank handles to turn the engines out outside on the wing. I knew nothing back then of how engines should be inhibited (and then not moved) but also assume that no such work was ever undertaken on these engines.

The cockpit of the Sunderland in 1988 can best be described as "cooked". The window glazing was like a glasshouse and the heat in the cockpit would always grow during the day. I actually remember the cockpit as complete, but the control column and pedals had no movement as all control surfaces has been riveted in place.

Directly behind the cockpit seat were two positions for the radio operator and the navigator. The radio operator seat was missing but there did seem to be a significant amount of electrical equipment still sitting there from the day it was taken out of service. The door in the center leads to a mezzanine floor in the rear fuselage area.

A close up shot of the electrical equipment of the radio operators position. I always dreamed of getting the Sunderland's APU going (it is tucked into the wings leading edge) and getting the power livened up with the idea of light and radios coming to life.

This is the mezzanine floor behind the cockpit area and above the gallery and sleeping quarters on the first deck. Running through this area is the flap actuating gear located underneath the curved corrugated cover on the lower left of this photo.

Close up of the bomb racks.


View of the bomb racks in the lower deck cabin.

General view of the central corridor looking forward from the rear compartment. The whole of the rear fuselage was painted in military dark green was I assume was put their by some well meaning volunteers.

Rear fuselage compartment looking all the way back to the rear gunners turret.

For more pictures of both exterior and interior see Kiwi Aircraft Images:

There are only five complete examples of the Short Sunderland (and civil version Sandringham) flying boats left in the world.


Mk V - RAF Museum, Hendon, UK

Mk V - Imperial War Museum, Cosford, UK

Mk V / Sandringham - Airworthy with Kermit Week's Fantasy of Flight Museum

Sandringham - Southampton Hall of Aviation in the UK

- Sunderland moved inside the main Aviation Display Hanger (Michael Frawley on Twitter)
- Wing bomb rack covers under restoration in the Belfast Hanger 2009 (Richard Wesley)

- All photo gallery shots (Richard Wesley)


Anonymous said...

There is another Sandringham, F-OBIP, at the Musee de l'Air, Paris.

Richard Wesley said...

Thanks, will have to check that one out when I am in Paris this April.