Stirling in Flight
The Short Stirling was the first 4 engine heavy bomber of the RAF, entering service in early 1941. The Stirling had good speed and manoeuvrability but its low operational ceiling meant that it was soon overshadowed by the better performance of the Halifax and Lancaster bombers. Stirlings were removed from the roll of strategic bombing and took on a transport roll. Later in World War 2 Stirlings were also used for mine laying, para dropping and as glider tugs.
158 Squadron flew its last combat mission of World War II on 25 April 1945. Shortly after this on 07 May the war in Europe ended. The RAF wasted little time in scrapping the Halifax bombers that had carried such a heavy work load during the darkest days of the war. The Halifaxes of 158 were not exempt from this purge. In May 158 squadron was removed from bomber command and its home at RAF Lissett Yorkshire and assigned to transport command and stationed at RAF Stradishall in Suffolk.Here the squadron was re-equipped with Stirling MK V aircraft. In November of 1945 two MK IV Stirlings were brought on to the squadron. The squadron was disbanded in December of 1945. The only noteworthy event of 158 squadrons time in transport command was a tragic accident that occurred when a 158 squadron Stirling C5 crashed on takeoff out of RAF Castel Benito in Libya. The crash claimed the lives of 5 crew and 21 soldiers who were returning home to England. There was one survivor.
Shorts Stirling Bomber ready for action
Roll: Heavy bomber, transport, para drops, glider tug
Manufacturer: Short Brothers
Crew: 7 - first and second pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, front gunner/WT op, 2 air gunners, FE.
Power Plant: 4 x Bristol Hercules XVI engines
Wing Span: 99ft 1in
Length: 87ft 3in
Height: 22ft 9in
Max Weight Fully Loaded: 70,000lbs
Service Ceiling at max weight: 16,500ft
Maximum Speed: 282 mph at 12,500ft
Range with full bomb load: 2,330 miles
Rate Of Climb: 800 ft/per min
Guns: 8 x .303 Browning machine guns, 2 in powered nose turret, 4 in tail turret, 2 in dorsal turret
Max Bomb Load: 14,000lbs
For More information about the Short Stirling see: Wikipedia - Short Stirling