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Avro Shackleton Mk3 PH3

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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 Histories


First flown on the 1st of May 1957 and was ready for collection on the 24th of May 1957. WR974 was released for C(A) development work on a 12 month free loan on the 31st of May 1957. She was prepared by Avro Woodford/Langar for tropical and winter trials. WR974 was delivered to the A&AEE Boscombe Down from Langar on the 5th of July 1957 and then flown out of ldris, Libya, for armament trials in tropical conditions during July/August 1957.

On returning to Boscombe she was transferred to 49MU on the 27th of August 1957 for additional ' winterization' by Avro Contractors Working Party. WR974 returned to Boscombe Down on the 20th of September 1957 and was dispatched to CEPE Canada on the 8th of October 1957. Whilst in Canada she was damaged on the 19th of November 1957 and was repaired locally. The trials completed, WR974 was delivered from Boscombe to 49MU Colerne on the 16th of April 1958 and modified to full Phase I standard by an Avro CWP against Contract6/Acft/15025/CB6(a).

WR974 was allotted to 23MU on the 27th of August 1958 and ferried to Aldergrove on the 25th of September 1958. She was issued to 203 Squadron in December 1958 and coded F.

WR974 was badly damaged landing at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on the 18th of August 1959 and was repaired on site by Fairey Aviation of Canada during the period November 1959 to June 1960. She was briefly returned to 203 Squadron before being delivered to Avro Langar for Phase II updating.

WR974 was retained on completion of Phase II and transferred to the MoA Air Fleet for use as a Phase III Trials Installation aircraft against Contract KD/L/081 and 082/CB6(a).

She suffered damage in hangar accident on the 20th of April 1964. WR974 was allocated to the A&AEE for radio and navigation trials on the 16th of July 1964 and delivered to Boscombe Down on the 7th of September 1964. During this period WR974 carried out winterization tests on equipment after which she returned to H.S.A. Langar for pre-service preparation on the 3rd of March 1965. WR974 was reallocated to the A&AEE on the 17th of May 1965 for further tropical trials of Phase III navigation equipment and flight tests of the Griffon 58 equipped with modified oil coolers. The aircraft arrived at Boscombe on the 21st of June 1965 and returned to Langar on the 10th of September 1965 for more TI work. This included stand-by bomb bay heating, photographic electronic flash unit and Sonobuoy homer tests against Contract KD/L/125/CB6(a). WR974 moved back to Boscombe Down on the 23rd of March 1966 for acceptance trials on the new equipment.

On completion of which, WR974 was dispatched to ASWDU at Ballykelly on the 20th of June 1966. During July 1966 she was transferred to HSA Bitteswel for modification, transferring to Langar until allotted on loan to Min Tech on the 17th of February 1967 for further evaluation of Sonobuoy homer equipment. WR974 was dispatched to the RAE Farnborough on the 12th of May 1967 for tests by the Radio Department. Later she was transferred to the A&AEE Boscombe Down for armament trials to ASR 816 on the 12th of July 1967. WR974 returned to Ballykelly for more ASWDU trials on the 8th of February 1968, and departed to HSA Bitteswell on the 5th of April 1968 for preparation to current service Phase III standard, this was completed on the 27th of August 1968. Allocated to 203 Squadron coded H. WR974 was loaned to 42 Squadron from September 1968 until January 1969, returning to 203 Squadron until January 1970, when she was sent to Bitteswell for mods until March 1970. She was returned to 203 Squadron on the 26th of March 1970, but transferred to the Kinloss Wing on the 6th of April 1970 and coded K.

Transferred to Cosford on the 11th of December 1970 for No. 2 SoTT as an instructional airframe with maintenance serial 8117M. Offered for sale 1988 and purchased by P. Vallance of Charlwood, Surrey.

wr974 mostly re-painted
WR974 at Gatwick Aviation Museum 2003

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 1988 in 'fair condition', the aircraft was purchased by N. Martin of Lutterworth.

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