Supermarine's superior Southampton flying boat

DEVELOPMENT: An era-defining flying boat that changed Supermarine's fortunes

Metal-hulled Southampton II S1149 airborne from Mount Batten, the RAF flying boat base on Plymouth Sound, in August 1935.

The Supermarine Southampton established the British Empire’s expectation of a long-range, independent flying boat capability. It was the first major success in what became a series of large, multi-engine flying boat designs from Supermarine, all designed by Reginald J. Mitchell and each an iterative development, building on the success of the previous example.

The family started with the Supermarine Swan, a 1924 one off built to specification 21/22 for a “twin-engined amphibian flying boat for civil operations”. The Swan had unusual forward-folding wings, and a ‘landing carriage’ that could be brought up below the wings. Its retraction was powered by a small, horizontally rotatable propeller and gear system, but the equipment was later removed, making it a pure flying boat, along with the wing folding.

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