WHEN DUMBARTON-BUILT REALLY MEANT SOMETHING

Donald John Chisholm 

This is what our families built … pure beauty! Made in the Blackburn Aircraft Factory in Dumbarton!

One of the best-known aircraft of the Second World War, the massive Sunderland was knick-named the `Flying Porcupine` by the Germans due to its impressive array of defensive firepower. It served in various theatres of war and proved successful in a variety of roles including that of a submarine-hunter with Coastal Command.

The Dumbarton factory went on to build around 250 of these magnificent machines out of a total of 749. Initially a purpose-built barge transported completed planes out onto the Clyde for launch, however, in 1939, a slipway was constructed which allowed them to taxi into the water under their own power and manoeuvre, ready for take-off.

Only five examples of the Short Sunderland remain, including UK preserved examples at the RAF Museum, Hendon, and the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, seen here. The only airworthy example is Serial Number ML814 which served with Canadian and Norwegian squadrons during the Second World War and is currently an exhibit at the Fantasy of Flight aviation museum in Florida.

Pictured below is the site of the Blackburn factory in Castle Road in Dumbarton, members of the staff and workforce and a plane on trial on the River Clyde.

The Blackburn factory and Denny’s Leven shipyard where boats and plans were built for the UK military.

Pictures by Jim Crosthwaite

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