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Wings on Windermere

The history of the Lake District’s forgotten flying boat factory

White • 2009
AuthorsAllan King
IllustratorTeodor Liviu Morosanu
ISBN978-8389450821
Release date2009-02-01
SeriesWhite
Cat. No.9105
CategoryAvailable CategoryDostępne
FormatA4, 160 pages (12 in colour)
Price99.00 PLN Price24.99 GBP

Visitors to the Lake District today, seeing the quiet and peaceful Lake Windermere, never guess that this was once the site of a factory building military flying boats. But in the early ‘40s a factory was built from scratch to produce Short Sunderlands, along with a complete village to house the workers. The fascinating story of this forgotten factory is told in this book, alongside the history of the big ‘planes built there, which served with the RAF and other air arms until the 1950s.

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  • Cybermodeler.com • 2013-02-24

    By Ray Mehlberger

    Date of Review June 2011

    Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) is based in the UK. All their books are published in Sandomierz Poland by their associate Stratus, in the English language. Stratus also does their own line of books in Polish and English. MMP’s North American distributor Casemate sent me this new book.

    The book is soft-cover and 160 pages in length in 8 ¼” x 11 5/8” page format.

    Visitors to the Lake District today, seeing the quiet and peaceful Windemere, never guess that this was once the site of a large factory building flying boats. But in the early 40’s a factory was built from scratch to produce Short Sunderlands, along with a complete village to house the workers This fascinating story of this forgotten factory is told in this book, alongside the history of the big planes built there, which served with the RAF and other air armies until the 1950’s. W

    indemere was one of four sites to build the Sunderland under expansion plans that also sought to spread production around the country and minimize the risk of damage from German bombing during WWII. She was also built in Belfast, at the Short and Harland factory where Shorts still have their works. But the true home of the Sunderland was in Kent, at Rochester on the banks of the Medway where Short Brothers established their Seaplane Works during WWI. The monoplane design and sheer size was radical in 1933, when the first Sunderland first flew. Windermere holds the distinction of being the place where the first takeoff from water by and aircraft was done in 1909.

    Who in their right mind would put an aircraft factory in the Lake District? And who would decide it should build the most advanced aircraft of it’s time? Yet that is exactly what did happen. The country watched mainland Europe fall before the might of a Nazi military machine and, with the nation’s back to the wall, a far sighted strategy of expansion of aircraft production led to some creative solutions – but possibly none some more so than the plan to move two massive buildings to Windemere for a new factory.

    The two buildings were huge! The Detail Shop was 87,500 square feet in a conventionally designed building while the new Hangar was 75,000 feet in a radical cantilever design to give a single uninterrupted span. Adding in storage, the offices and canteen brought the total area up to 233,000 square feet. This compared to Short Brothers Seaplane Works in Rochester which had 550,000 square feet of floor space in 1943.

    The Windemere works would be capable of employing 1,500 workers making major impact on the Lake District’s work force – as would the need to find accommodation for these workers. The product was the four engined Short Sunderland flying boat – itself massive, with a double-decker layout internally, measuring over 85 feet in length and with 112 foot wingspan.

    With so much inevitable criticism of the ability to build such a complex aircraft in the Lake District, why was Windemere chosen in the first place? The official answer was simply that it was a site with access to deep water.

    The book contains 126 black and white photos. 18 of these are of people envolved with the site. 46 are of the buildings that were there, showing interiors and exteriors. Included also are photos of 15 documents concerning the factory and 1 of a propaganda poster. There are 3 color photos. One photo shows the Waterbird, which first took to the air off Windermere in 1909. It looks like the Wright Bros. aircraft on floats. The employees at this factory did some other items in their spare time from scrap materials. A photo of a metal aircraft desk display, cigarette lighters, book ends and a knife are shown. There is one small cut-away drawing of the Sunderland and 5 maps of the factory and living quarters buildings. A couple photos show a small amphibious glider that was tested at Windermere as well as the single prototype of the Short Shetland flying boat.

    Accounts of Sundland’s actions against the German U-boats U-107, U-387 & U-995 are told. The last flyable Sunderland came back and landed at Windermere in 1990. It was viewed by a large crowd on enthusiasts. There are 8 survivors of the Sunderland in various museums around the world.

    The book has a large appendices and bibliography. This is followed by 13 color profiles of the Sunderland and one of the Shetland. 11 are in RAF markings and 1 is in Civil marks. One is shown in Uruguayan Airlines markings.

    Airfix did a Sunderland kit about 30 years ago. I built this kit as one of the first ones I ever did by Airfix. My kids destroyed it for me…sigh. It is still generally available today and is in 1/72nd scale. There are several aftermarket detail sets around for it too. Mention is made of an unknown brand of a resin Sunderland that HobbyLink Japan lists in 1/48th scale and another 1/48th scale one in vacuform by Combat Models in Pennsylvania.

    This book will prove to be of much interest to enthusiasts and modelers. Highly recommended.

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  • Cumberland and Westmorland Herald 28-3-2009 • 2013-02-24
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  • Amazon.co.uk customer review (8) • 2013-02-24

    Fascinating 8 Dec 2012

    By Mr T. Vollans

    Purchased to support a specialist project but also a very interestIng general read as we had visited the site previously

  • Amazon.co.uk customer review (6) • 2013-02-24

    "Wings" Reviewed., 5 Dec 2011

    By roy_overforkover

    This book is clearly the result of a labour of love by author Allan King. His researches have revealed so much detail of the now almost forgotten flying boat factory at White Cross Bay on the shores of Windermere. Built from scratch in the middle of World War II, it produced 35 Short Sunderland flying boats between 1942 and 1944 for the RAF.

    The book deals with the human side of the enterprise as well as recording the aircraft, together with a summary of each craft's service record. Allan King has unearthed a surprising number of photographs, all well reproduced, to illustrate the story. The book concludes with some typical colour profiles of the Windermere Sunderlands.

    Excellent book. Good Value for money.

  • Amazon.co.uk customer review • 2013-02-24

    By R. Duesbury (UK)

    What a great book!

    I have wanted this book since it was first published. Living in the area I was, at first, surprised that there was an aircraft factory in this beautiful part of the world. The thing I like most about it is that it isn't just a history of the aircraft itself, but it deals with the workers stories. With some lovely anecdotes and wonderful pictures.

    It is a great potted history of the aircraft built in Windermere, with great photo's and line drawings.

    Highly recommended!

  • Amazon.co.uk customer review (9th) • 2013-02-24

    This will be a great present, 12 Dec 2012

    By R. Higgins "Electronically challenged" (Shropshire,

    This review is from: Wings on Windermere: The History of the Lake District's Forgotten Flying Boat Factory (White)

    As my Dad is well into planes from the second world war innit! His interest is actually in the fact that this Flying Boat was so big, and in service for quite a long time too. Shame the Government never kept any for museums and a flying example, as it saved their lilly livered assess as much as anyone elses. A present for christmas, so can't comment on the content.

  • www.geoffcoughlin.com • 2013-02-24

    by Geoff Coughlin

    I have to say that I for one hadn't realised the fact that there was once a huge flying boat factory on the shores of Lake Windermere - how extraordinary! Short Sunderland aircraft were produced there in quantity during WWII, needing to be beyond the range of most intruders. This book is absolutely absorbing and an excellent read. I was a little sceptical when I first saw this new text, but I can promise the reader a fascinating insight into the logistical problems that faced everyone concerned before, during and after WWII.

    Perhaps what is also so interesting is that lake Windermere was the birthplace of British maritime aviation. When few had even seen an aeroplane and every flight was newsworthy enough to be reported in the journals of the day, a small group of pioneers turned to Windermere as a testing ground for the first flight from water in Britain.

    This book then traces the whole story and is an impressive text in every sense of the word, for which the author, Allan King can be justly proud.

    For scale modellers?

    Well I think so - absolutely. From the profiles to the unique images it contains this book will be attractive to all those interested in RAF and maritime aviation.

    Verdict: Highly recommended.

  • Amazon.co.uk customer review (7) • 2013-02-24

    By STEPHEN H. RYCROFT "Steve" (England)

    I actually bought this book as a present for a dear friend of mine, who is mentioned in the book acknowledgments. The book contains a wealth of information and some stunning old photographs of the construction of the flying boats on the shores of Windermere. Of the many people who visit the Lake District, in particular Windermere, each year, only a few I guess will know anything of this fascinating history of the area. I was amazed to read about the village of Calgarth constructed to house the many workers and their families. All of this now gone and passed into history, some of the land now part of the Lakes School and other fields used for grazing of Arab Horses. If you are moved by Lake District history and/or the love of old classic aircraft then you will enjoy this book.

  • SAM June 2009 • 2013-02-24
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  • Air Modeller #24 • 2013-02-24
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  • Hyperscale.com • 2013-02-24

    Reviewed by Glen Porter

    F i r s t R e a d

    I am an avid reader. I read women’s magazines in doctors’ waiting-rooms and if there aren't any, notices on the walls. I simply find it an interesting and informative way to pass the time. Naturally, as a modeller, I buy lots of books on aircraft, vehicles, ships and the people who manned them but this is the first time I've come across a book on the factory that built them and I must say I've found it totally fascinating.

    Mushroom Model Magazine’s latest title, “Wings on Windermere” begins with an explanation as to why and where the factory was built. This wasn't the first factory to build Sunderlands, in fact Short Brothers already had two, but such was the demand for them that a third was built on Lake Windermere in the Lakes District. Now, in England during WW II, with everyone supposedly pulling together to defeat the dreaded enemy, there were still many who opposed its construction. But, built it was.

    Production begins. Many of the original workers have been interviewed and their stories told with a good deal of humour, like apprentices being sent for left-handed screwdrivers or a short wait (weight) and the girls in the office eyeing off the young aircrew who had come to pick up their brand new flying boats.

    A factory building such a large aircraft as the Short Sunderland out in the sticks, so to speak, there had to provide somewhere for the workers to live. An entire village, complete with schools, shops, meeting halls, dormitories for the singles and bungalows for the families, was built next to the factory and it too had its opposition.

    Then we come to the product itself - mainly Mk. III Sunderland and later many were modified to Mk. V standard. The problems they had getting the lines started and the many modifications and repairs that are part of the life cycle of any aircraft and all interspersed with numerous period photos.

    Sunderlands at War contains a little bit of history of aircraft built at Windermere from the Battle of the Atlantic and northern climates to the Indian and Pacific Oceans and Australia. All saw the Sunderland operated and some specific actions are detailed.

    With so much opposition to the building of the factory and village, the British Government agreed to remove them at war's end. We are told how this was done and what is there now, again with many photos to illustrate the text.

    Appendices cover such subject as Abbreviations, RAF Aircraft damage categories, Sunderland Specs. (Mk. III), Surviving Sunderland, etc.

    Finally, 14 full colour profiles of Windermere-built Sunderlands, both wartime and civilian, relating to the text.

    C o n c l u s i o n

    So, you think I'm impressed? Yes, very much so.

    I have never seen an aircraft related book written from the point of view of the factory and its workers before, beautifully written and illustrated. Only MMP could come up with something like this.

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  • Amazon.co.uk customer review (10th) • 2013-02-24

    5.0 out of 5 stars nice, 11 Feb 2013

    By M. Cummings (Sunbury on Thames) - See all my reviews

    I enjoyed the book, its almost A4 size and lots of B/W photos, it was a shame that some of these aircraft were scrapped, as everything you only realise/value what you have, when its gone.

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