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Do I have a Short Brothers seaplane prop?

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  • Do I have a Short Brothers seaplane prop?

    My great uncle lived in Rochester, Kent, England and a very long time ago acquired a wooden propeller, or at least half of it. He told me (when he was still alive) that it was from an early seaplane. However, I am really struggling to identify it, using anything I can glean from the internet.

    I have attached pictures.

    I would appreciate any help or insight that you may have,

    Thank you,
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Not much to go on, and I can't read the manufacturer from the decals and the only numbers I can discern are "4211" and " . . . 20R ".


    • #3
      The decal and the stamping, although partly obscure, both appear to indicate Short Brothers as the origin. Very difficult even to speculate as to the aircraft type, unless there are some more markings on the hub that you haven’t shown us.


      • #4
        Other points of interest that might narrow down the possibilities are the fact that the propeller is Left handed which, although not conclusive, might suggest a pusher configuration.
        Also, the ten bolt holes narrow down the possibilities as to which engine that this was fitted to. It might be possible to narrow this down further if you could provide the following dimensions:
        -Hub thickness
        -Bolt hole size
        -Bolt circle diameter (distance between centres of opposite bolt holes)
        -Centre bore diameter
        -Engine hub diameter (i.e. diameter of the circular witness mark visible on the propeller hub).
        - Length of blade and distance between centre of hub and stub where blade has been cut. This may help to determine the propeller diameter.

        At the moment, my suspicions tend towards one of the Felixstowe series of flying boats, built by Short Brothers. This photo shows an example with left handed propellers with blades of a very similar profile to yours (albeit four bladed):


        Last edited by Mtskull; 12-20-2020, 07:11 AM.


        • #5
          More Details on Short Brothers prop

          Thank you very much for your help so far.

          A few more details:
          - the hub thickness is 164mm
          - bolt holes are 13mm dia
          - distance across (between centres of bolt holes) is 214mm
          - centre bore diameter is 57mm
          - engine hub dia is 237mm
          - length of blade. 1350 visible, 70mm embedded and block width is 430mm. Therefore minimum total prop diameter length is 2840 (1420 * 2) + 430 = 3170mm

          Thank you again for all your help so far. I hope these details help.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            OK, none of this is definitive but the Short type 320 appears to fit the bill: left hand propeller, Sunbeam Mohawk engine with 10-bolt hub.
            Another possibility is the Short N.2B with Sunbeam Maori engine:
            Last edited by Mtskull; 12-22-2020, 04:02 AM.


            • #7
              Those left hand tractors seem to be mostly a British thing, even around WW1.

              Most of the modern aircraft using wooden props were also left hand tractors.

              How about this beauty?

              Attached Files


              • #8
                Another possibility is the Shorts type 184:


                • #9
                  Thank you very much for all this help.

                  Looking at the propeller, the Shorts 184 looks like the best match - although the N28 also looks very similar.

                  Any advice on how rare this propeller is? Are there likely to be many surviving examples? Bearing in mind it has been cut in half and mounted (as an umbrella stand!), is it still valuable?

                  Thanks again,


                  • #10
                    Unfortunately, there isn't much of a market for propeller pieces, and there are quite a few of them around.


                    • #11
                      Thanks again for your help - and Merry Christmas!

                      In case it was valuable, I was also looking for a museum that might be interested. However, your advice sounds like my half propeller is not rare so probably not a museum piece!

                      We cannot continue to keep it at home (lack of space) so unless you have any other advice, I’ll probably post on eBay and see what happens.

                      Thanks again - you have been invaluable.


                      • #12
                        To recap, what we know about your propeller (Some of this is my opinion and I stand open to correction).
                        -It is left handed
                        -It was originally about 10’6” in diameter
                        -It was made by Short Bros.
                        -It is very likely that it was made for a Short Bros. aircraft (although it is not impossible that it was made for another aircraft manufacturer)
                        -The size of propeller and number of bolt holes are consistent with a Sunbeam engine, or just possibly a left handed version to the Rolls-Royce Eagle
                        -It most likely dates from the era 1915-1920 (Earlier Shorts aircraft used smaller engines such as Gnome etc. which the dimensions of this propeller are not consistent with and, in general, this assymetric blade design did not last long into the 1920’s)
                        It is visually consistent with the propellers seen in photographs of the Shorts N.2B, S.320 and, most closely, Type 184.

                        Further research into the hub dimensions of likely engines ought to yield more hard evidence.

                        As to rarity, where to begin? True, partial propellers are not rare in themselves but has anybody on this forum ever seen another early Short Bros. propeller?

                        As to value, this is not my area of expertise at all and I wouldn’t presume to advise. That said, I would be interested in this piece, so if you are serious about selling, please PM me and we will see if we are able to come to an agreement.


                        Last edited by Mtskull; 12-30-2020, 12:23 PM.


                        • #13
                          I got your message and replied but the reply hasn’t appeared in my “sent” box.
                          Let me know if you haven’t got it and I will re-send.