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S.23 Empire

Transport Flying Boat


S.23 Empire in flight

Transport flying boat S.23, created in 1936, was equipped with four Bristol Pegasus XC engines with a capacity of 920 hp, structurally it was a cantilever high-wing aircraft with a streamlined all-metal hull. Imperial Airways has ordered 28 of these flying boats, dubbed the Empire or "C" class.

The first S.23 Canopus took off from Rochester in July 1936 and entered service in early September. The aircraft produced later were used on airlines for flights to Australia, Bermuda, Durban, Egypt, the Malay Archipelago, New York, as well as to East and South Africa. The capacity was designed for 1360 kg of mail and 24 passengers during the day or 16 at night, but the increase in mail weight by 454 kg reduced the number of passengers to 17 people.

S.23 Empire
Crew 5-7
Length, m 26.82
Height, m 9.70
Wing span, m 34.75
Wing area, m² 139.35
Weight, kg
Empty 10,659
Gross weight 18,370
4×PE Bristol Pegasus ХС, power, h.p. 4×920
Maximum speed, km/h 322
Cruising speed, km/h 276
Service ceilling, m 6,095
Service range, km 1,223
Payload, passengers/cargo, kg 17/1814

The Short S.30 aircraft, powered by the more economical Bristol Perseus XIIC engines, with a lower output of 890 hp, had twice the range of the S.23 aircraft and were used for transatlantic trials. The last variant was the S.33 with 920 hp Bristol Pegasus XC engines. The total production of Empire flying boats was 42 aircraft. Several S.23 vehicles were requisitioned during WWII for service with the British Air Force, two of them were modified to the S.23M variant with an onboard surface targeting radar (ASV) and armament consisting of two four-gun turrets and six depth charges.

Three Short S.26 class "G" flying boats, powered by Bristol Hercules, 1380 hp, were built for Imperial Airways for non-stop transatlantic flights for mail delivery, were large compared to class "C" dimensions, first flew in June 1939. During the war, they all served as intelligence officers.

Photo Description
Drawing S.23 Empire

Drawing S.23 Empire




  • "Flying Boats of the World. Saro Empire"
  • "The Short S.23 Empire" /Flight/