'The first manufacturers of aircraft in the world', brothers Eustace, Oswald and (later) Horace Short flew gas balloon 1897 and started making balloons for sale 1902, in 1903 setting up factory under railway arches at Battersea where customers could receive balloon already gas-filled. November 1908 formed Short Brothers Ltd, building Wright Flyers under licence (only source of such aircraft at that time, Wrights having no production facilities). Major contribution (gasbags, control surfaces) to Admiralty airship No. 1 1911, during war handled design/construction of several large rigid airships. From January 1909 built aeroplanes to design of others, starting with 6 Wright Model A, but soon concentrated on own designs, over 80 by 1914, at Shellbeach and Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey, with new factory at Rochester added late 1914. Short Bomber (82) and Type 184 (over 900 by Short and 9 other companies) laid foundation for large company, adding Type 310 (124) and 827 (108), all long-span biplane bomber and torpedo carriers, 184, 310 and 827 being seaplanes. Large contracts for F.3 and F.5 pushed firm into flying-boats, but significant (small) design was Silver Streak 2-seat biplane (July 1920) made of aluminium alloy, which enabled majority of later products to be all-metal. Major flying-boats included S.8 Calcutta and military Rangoon (3 x Jupiter) used by Imperial Airways and RAF and produced under licence by Breguet; S.19 Singapore III of 1934 (4 x Kestrel), 33 for RAF; and above all S.23 Empire boat, used by Imperial as C-class, 4 x Pegasus or Perseus (July 1936), 42 of several versions. Superficially similar S.25 Sunderland, 4 x Pegasus or Twin Wasp (16 October 1937), was standard RAF patrol boat of Second World War, 739 built by 1945. Many were converted for civil use, and airline derivatives were Hythe and Sandringham, Solent being larger (4 x 1,690-hp Hercules). S.29 Stirling heavy bomber, 4 x 1,650-hp Hercules, proved disappointment (14 May 1939) but 1,759 Mk I and III bombers were built, plus 450 Mk IV glider tug transports and 150 Mk V transports, production being shared by Rochester, Belfast, Austin Motor Co. at Longbridge and Rootes Securities shadow factory at Stoke. In 1934 took majority holding in Pobjoy, forming - Pobjoy Aircraft and Airmotors with licence to produce Scion light transport (see Pobjoy). This helped clear Rochester for Sunderland and Stirling. In 1936 new airfield made at Sydenham (today Belfast Harbour airport), and Air Ministry built giant factory on airfield, adjacent Harland & Wolff shipyard, becoming Short & Harland Ltd, owned 50/50 by 2 companies. Began 1938 with 50 Bombay, then 150 Hereford, switching to Stirling production supplemented by Hucclecote, Gloucester, South Marston and Kidderminster. Government took over management March 1943, merging Short Bros. (Rochester & Bedford) with Short & Harland to form Short Bros. & Harland Ltd November 1947, all wartime factories being closed and operations concentrated at Queen's Island, Belfast, Rochester closing July 1948. Belfast built numerous prototypes (e.g., Sperrin, Sherpa, Sturgeon/SB.3, SB.4, SC.1, Seamews) and production Sealand, Canberra, Comet, Swift (soon cancelled), Britannia and 10 Belfasts, followed by Skyvan, 330/Sherpa and 360 and S.312 Tucano, with important missile and UAV/RPV and other divisions. Renamed Short Brothers Ltd 1977, becoming Short Bros. plc 1984, adopting shortened form Shorts (not a plural). Apart from large business in close air defence systems and other defence products, income almost wholly from subcontract: major parts for 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777, wing of Fokker 100, and complete nacelles and nose cowls for many turbofans. Company purchased by Bombardier of Canada June 1989, resulting in planned Shorts FJX being replaced by contribution to rival Canadair RJ.

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