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Supermarine Southampton: Wikis


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Role Military reconnaissance flying boat
Manufacturer Supermarine
First flight 10 March 1925
Introduced 1925
Primary users Royal Air Force
Produced 1924-1934
Number built 83
Developed from Supermarine Swan
Variants Scapa

The Supermarine Southampton was a 1920s British flying boat, one of the most successful flying boats of the between-war period. It was a development of the Supermarine Swan, which was used for a 10 passenger service between England and France.


Design and dvelopment

The Southampton was designed by the team of R. J. Mitchell, better known as the designer of the later Spitfire. Due to the success of the Swan, the Air Ministry ordered six Southamptons direct from the drawing board, which was very unusual. As the Swan had acted in effect as a prototype, development time was short.

The Southampton was a two-engine biplane flying boat, with the tractor engines mounted between the wings. The Southampton Mk I had both its hull and its wings manufactured from wood. The Southampton Mk II had a hull with a single thickness of metal (duralumin) (the Mk I had a double wooden bottom). This change gave a weight saving of 900 lb (409 kg) allowing for an increase of range of approximately 200 mi (325 km). In 1929, 24 of the Mk I were converted by having newly-built metal hulls replacing the wooden ones. Some of the later aircraft were built with metal wings and were probably designated as Southampton Mk III. There were three positions for machine guns, one in the nose and two staggered in the rear fuselage.

The first flight of a production aircraft was made on 10 March 1925, and delivery to the RAF started in the middle of 1925.

Operational history

Southamptons first entered RAF service in August 1925. In a series of "showing the flag" flights, the type quickly became famous for long-distance formation flights; the most notable was a 43,500km (27,000 mile) expedition in 1927 and 1928. It was carried out by four Southamptons of the Far East Flight, setting out from Felixstowe via the Mediterranean and India to Singapore.

Further Southamptons were sold to a number of other countries. Eight new aircraft were sold to Argentina, with Turkey purchasing six aircraft and Australia buying two ex-RAF Mk 1 aircraft. Japan also purchased a single aircraft which was later converted into an 18 passenger cabin airliner. One RAF aircraft was loaned to Imperial Airways, with British Civil Registration G-AASH, for three-months from December 1929 to replace a crashed Short Calcultta on the airmail run between Genoa and Alexandria.[1] In all, 83 Southamptons were constructed, excluding the three-engined Southampton MK X which was a single prototype.[2]

RAAF Supermarine Southampton


Different powerplants were fitted in variants:

  • Mk I
Napier Lion V engine, wooden hull. 23 built. [3]
  • Mk II
Napier Lion Va, 39 built[4]
  • Argentina
Lorraine-Deitrich 12E. Five wooden hulled + three metal hulled aircraft.[3]
  • Turkey
Hispano-Suiza 12Nbr. Six built.[2].



Military Operators

 Australia -
Naval Ensign of Japan.svg Japan
 United Kingdom

Civil Operators

 United Kingdom

Specifications (Southampton II)

Data from Supermarine Aircraft since 1914[6]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Five (2 pilots and 3 gunners)
  • Length: 49 ft 8½ in (15.15 m)
  • Wingspan: 75 ft (22.86 m)
  • Height: 20 ft 5 in (6.2 m)
  • Wing area: 1,448 ft² (134.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,697 lb (4,398 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 15,200 lb (6,895 kg)
  • Powerplant:Napier Lion VA inline W-block, 500 hp (373 kW) each



  • Guns: 3 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns, one in bows and two amidships.
  • Bombs: 1,100 lb of bombs under the wings.

See also

Related development

Related lists


  1. ^ Jackson 1974, p. 443
  2. ^ a b Andrews and Morgan 1987, p. 358.
  3. ^ a b Andrews and Morgan 1987, p. 357.
  4. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1987, pp. 357–358.
  5. ^ Thetford 1957, p. 385.
  6. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1987, p. 112.
  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Supermarine Aircraft since 1914 (2nd edition ed.). London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-800-3.
  • A.J. Jackson, British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 3, 1974, Putnam, London, ISBN 0 370 10014 X.
  • Thetford, Owen. Aircraft of the Royal Air Force 1918-57 (First Edition ed.). London: Putnam, 1957.

External links


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