AVRO SHACKELTON 1721-N

The Avro Shackleton was British aircraft manufactured by Avro and based on the Avro Lincoln bomber with a re-designed fuselage and was named after the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.  The Shackelton was developed as a long-range maritime patrol aircraft for use by the Royal Air Force with the primary role being anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). 

The Shackelton was later adapted for airborne early warning (AEW), search and rescue (SAR) and other roles from 1951 until 1990.  Eight aircraft, all with some minor modifications for South African conditions and designated the Mk 3, were exported to South Africa in 1957.  The Mk 3 used a tricycle undercarriage configuration and was fitted with wingtip tanks plus a twin 20mm Hispano cannon in the nose.  The Shackelton aircraft replaced the Short Sunderland in maritime patrol duties and were allocated to 35 Squadron.

Shackelton 1721-N, c/n 531 had her first flight on 12 December 1957 and was officially accepted by 35 Squadron on 30 January 1958.  The aircraft departed for Cape Town on 14 February 1958 and arrived in Cape Town on 26 February 1958.

On 10 September 1962, 1721 had to make a wheels-up landing at AFB Ysterplaat, but the damage sustained was repaired in a comparatively short time.  Progressively modified over the years up to Phase III standard, this aircraft was again utilised for a rescue action during an incident involving eight Buccaneer S.50’s while on their delivery flight to South Africa.  One of the Buccaneer aircraft, No. 419, experienced a flame-out in both engines at high altitude about 500 miles (800km) south of the Canary Islands.  The two crew members, Captains Jooste and de Klerk, ejected while Major A. M. Muller, who was leading the formation, relayed their position.

Shackelton 1722-P and 1721-N were scrambled, and only a couple of hours into the mission picked up the 'blips' from the downed airmen's SARAH beacons.  Coloured flares were fired by both the Shackleton crew and the survivors in the Atlantic, to verify visual contact by all concerned.  Shackelton, 1721-N dropped two sets of Lindholme Gear to the Buccaneer crew.  The Dutch liner Randfontein was in the area and 1722-P guided the ship to the rescue location, where a successful transfer from life raft to ship was carried out.  Shackelton 1722-P, captained by Major Pat Conway, had flown nearly eighteen hours on the AR mission, which had been described as a text-book operation.

The nostalgia of the Shackleton retirement was not lost and on 23 November 1984, the surviving trio of airworthy Shackeltons, 1716-J,1721-N and 1722-P, took part in a ceremonial fly past at D. F. Malan Airport.  Twelve growling Griffons was quite a farewell note.  Two weeks after the ceremony, 1716-J and 1721-N were flown to the SAAF Museum at Zwartkop.  Shackelton 1722-P was retained in ground-running condition by 35 Squadron for the SAAF Museum in Ysterplaat, arriving there during November 1991.  Shackelton 1721-N was used as a parts donor for the restoration of the Shackelton 1716-J that sadly crashed in the Western Sahara Desert (22.38N, 03.14W) on 13 July 1994 while en-route to the United Kingdom.

Specifications

Country of origin : Great Britain
Manufactured as : Avro Shackleton MR Mk 3
Served with: 35 Squadron
Role : Long range maritime patrol and Air Search and Rescue (ASR)
Power Plant :4 Rolls Royce Griffon, 12 cyl engines, delivering 1 840 kW (2 455 hp) each.
Max take-off mass:  45 360 kg
Max speed :  486 km/h
Max range :  6 782 km
Armament :  Two 20 mm Hispano cannons in the nose with 300 rounds per cannon.
                      -Three Mk 30 or Mk 44 Torpedoes, or nine depth charges, and a variety of other stores, including
                       sono-buoys, flame-floats, smoke-floats and marker-marines.
                       - For night reconnaissance and photography, dispensers in the fuselage fired illuminating and photo-flash cartridges.
ASR Equipment :  Lindholme-gear (a set of 3, rope connected, cylindrical containers with supplies, - including a
                        10-man dinghy in the middle container).
                       - SARO Mk 3 airborne lifeboat, fitted on the outside of the closed bomb bay doors, and dropped by parachute.