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Avro Shackleton Mk3 PH3

Manufacturer: A. V. Roe (Avro)
Purpose: Maritime Reconnaissance - Anti Submarine
Crew 10
Span: 119 ft 10 in
Length: 87 ft 3.6 in
Height: 23 ft 4.2 in
Powerplant: Rolls-Royce Griffon 57a/58 Piston Engines 12-cylinder, 60 Vee, pressure liquid-cooled, two-speed, single-stage supercharged engines producing 1960 hp (2435 hp with water methanol) at maximum power.
Plus 2 Rolls Royce Viper 203 turbojets producing 2700lbs thrust ea.
Max Speed (12,000 ft): 297 mph
Service ceiling: 18,600ft
Weights: Empty, 64,300lb. Loaded, 108,000 lb
Weapons: Torpedoes, Depth Charges, Bombs, 2x20mm Cannon, Sonobouys + flares
Range: 1660 nautical miles


The "Shackleton" was a development of the Lincoln and given the Avro design number of 696. Three M.R.1 prototype aircraft were built, the first flight was on the 9th of March 1949 (VW126). The first production aircraft (VP254) flew on the 24th of Oct 1954.

The Shackleton M.R.1 entered service in April 1951 with 120 Squadron at Kinloss. Seventy seven MR1 and MR1A aircraft were built, including the prototypes, with production ending in July 1952. Some MR1 aircraft were later modified for training and designated T.4.

Shackleton M.R.2's introduced a streamlined fuselage, a retractable radome at the rear and a nose turret for two cannons. The prototype M.R.2 first flew on the 17th of June 1952, the type entering service with 42 squadron in Jan 1953 at St. Eval. Seventy M.R. 2's were delivered to the R.A.F.

On the 2nd of September 1955 the Shackleton M.R.3 (WR970), made it's maiden flight. Superficially similar to it's predecessors, the M.R.3 was in fact considerably different, so much so that a new design number was allocated to this mark, the Avro 716.. The tricycle undercarriage design of the M.R.3 was more in line with modern aircraft. It had additional fuel capacity in tip tanks, the cockpit was redesigned as a frameless clear canopy and the aircraft was partially soundproofed. An early Shackleton MK III in its element Thirty four M.R.3.'s were delivered to the R.A.F. A small number were sold to the South African Air Force. A number of improvements were made to both M.R.2 and M.R.3 marks, the final re-fit being to "Phase 3" standard. This refurbished the aircraft interior and added an additional sonics position as well numerous other improvements in equipment and decor.

Soon after the first MK 3 aircraft were returned to the squadrons another major change was made to the M.R.3 with a Bristol Siddeley Viper turbojet being added, one to each outboard nacelle. This change was incorporated in those MR3's undergoing Phase 3 refits. Maritime versions of Shackletons were steadily withdrawn from service during 1970/71.

The M.R.2 was refurbished and refitted in the Airborne Early Warning role with the APS 20F radar from the R.N. Gannet A.E.W.3. Only 8 squadron, formed at Kinloss in Jan 1972 were equipped with this variant and with the A.E.W. Nimrod version cancelled, were destined to carry on flying well into the 1990's.


Wartime experience had shown the need for long range land-based maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the Shackleton fulfilled this role admirably. It's long range, long loiter time, large bomb bay, extensive array of sensors and versatile weapon load made it a formidable opponent for any submarine. These same factors made it ideal as a long reconnaissance aircraft. It's many subsidiary roles included, SAR, bomber, troop carrier, airborne control platform, mail delivery and a host of other minor tasks which were all performed in the same efficient and professional manner.

Aircraft History

Aircraft ready for collection on the 26th of February 1958 and delivered to 23MU on the 4th of March 1958.

WR982 was issued to 206 Squadron in March 1958 and coded B. She was dispatched to Woodford on the 21st of April 1958 for investigation into engine fading incidents on MoA free loan to Avro against Contract KD/L/035/CB6(a).

WR982 returned to St. Mawgan on the 13th of June 1959 and was re-issued to 206 Squadron.

The aircraft was allocated to 49MU during November 1959 for Phase I modification by Avro CWP, this was completed in January 1960. WR982 was then issued to 203 Squadron and coded G. In November 1961 she was sent to Avro at Langar for Phase II update, and was retained for Phase III Trial Installation work from 26th January 1962 and was handed over to the MoA Air Fleet. Following the conversion and contractor's trials, WR982 was delivered to the A&AEE Boscombe Down on the 14th of April 1964 for C(A) Release of Phase III armament, including bomb-bay heating, auxiliary fuel tank jettisoning, special stores drops and an investigation into vibration problems. On completion of these trials on the 20th of May 1965, the aircraft was allocated to HSA for refurbishing prior to RAF service.

She arrived at Langar on the 25th of May 1965 and on completion WR982 was ferried to Kinloss on the 12th of November 1965 and issued to 120 Squadron coded as A. During the period of March 1966 to July 1966 Vipers were installed by HAS. Once this work had been completed, WR982 was transferred to 201 Squadron and coded J. During February 1967 she was moved to Kinloss Wing charge, retaining J code.

From March 1967 to May 1967 WR982 was at 60MU for fitment of STR 70 radar altimeter. On the 4th of August 1967 she was allotted to MinTech on loan for Viper (with water methanol) take-off trials and clearance of the radar altimeter at the A&AEE.

WR982 was ferried to Boscombe Down on the 7th of August 1967. WR982 remained at Boscombe Down until the 28th of November 1967, when the aircraft was returned to Kinloss still as J. She retained this code until withdrawn from service during September 1970 and was flown to Cosford on the 6th of October 1970 for use as an instructional airframe at No. 2 SoTT. At this time she received the maintenance serial 8106M. Offered for sale by the MoD in 1988 in 'fair condition'.

Avro Shackleton "J" WR982 with all four "growling"
WR982 pictured at Gatwick Aviation Museum

Interior views of the Shackleton MR III showing the Radar/Sonics, Navigator(s), Flight Engineers station and the cockpit.
Radar and second Sonics position General view of Navs area
Forward view with Engineers position on the right

How a Shackleton used its Sonar and weapons to kill a sub, see the video!

The story of how all four engines were revived for the aircrafts birthday(PDF)

Requires Adobe Acrobat to read this document.

On the 1st of December 2007 a full four engine run was successfully completed. What is most remarklable about this event was that it was carried out in the dark!. This follows on from our previous engine run on the 25th of August 2007.

See the picture below :-

The collection of pictures below show images from our last four runs. The last of these took place on the 6th of December 2008.

Brochure for this remarkable piece of video (requires Adobe Acrobat!)
The Death of Pelican16 - A must see for all Shackleton fans!

For more information on the Shackleton see this site
Shackleton Association