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History Aircraft Aerospace & Airfields

SARO SR.A1 Jet Flying Boat

REF NR: 535

Three Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 prototypes (nick named The Squirt) were ordered for the RAF towards the end of 1944. Built at Cowes, they were primarily developed for the southern reaches of the then British Empire in line with the continuing war with the Japanese within the arena of the South Pacific and Orient. 


All that was needed to operate was calm coastal waters, thus doing away with the need for land airbases. Hence a fighter flying boat would prove a very powerful weapon, never having to worry too much about its watery strip.


The first prototype flew on July 16th 1947 and was piloted by Geoffrey Tyson. Although having good performance and handling characteristics, they suffered from poor visibility and the original engine manufacturers (Metropolitan-Vickers) were no longer producing the Beryl engine that it used. Because of these teething problems and the limited number of people available to correct them, issues proved to be practically unresolvable.  


The last flight of TG 263 was in June 1951. Two of the prototypes were fitted with the first two production Martin-Baker ejection seats ever built.


The Prototypes

  • TG263 –  Now on display at Solent Sky Aviation Museum in Southampton.
  • TG267 –  Plane and pilot lost in an accident at Felixstowe, 17th September 1949. Crashed on impact after flight manoeuvres went wrong.
  • TG271 –  Lost in an accident on landing after hitting submerged log. Pilot Lt. Cmdr. Eric "Winkle" Brown was flying and was assisted from the stricken sinking aircraft in the nick of time by Geoffrey Tyson, SARO's test pilot.  The prototype sank in the Medina / Solent estuary and has never been located.


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