Aircraft Type Index

Military Aircraft Index



Avro Shackleton Military Aircraft

The Avro Shackleton was named in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton the famous polar explorer, it was designed by Avro's chief designer Roy Chadwick for the RAF (Royal Air Force) as a maritime patrol aircraft and was based on Avro's Lincoln heavy bomber which was it's self based on the WW2 1944 WW2 Lancaster heavy bomber. Shackletons remained operational until 1991 in the AEW role although many other versions were replaced by the Nimrod in the early to mid 1970's.

Avro Shackleton Military Aircraft


The Avro Shackleton replaced the Short Sunderland flying boat and was primarily used by the RAF in ASW (anti-submarine warfare), AEW (airborne early warning) and SAR (search and rescue) roles from 1951 to 1990 although it's ASW and SAR roles were taken over from 1969 by the Hawker-Siddeley Nimrod with the Shackleton eventually only being used in the AEW role and would have been retired from even this role if the Fairey Gannet had not been itself retired. A total of 185 Avro Shackletons were produced and had the reputation of being a real "bone shaker" a result of it's four Rolls-Royce Griffon engines.

The Rolls-Royce Griffon engines used it the Avro Shackleton utilised water methanol injection to boost power on takeoff and this adversely affected the engines reliability. In 1965, in an attempt to resolve this issue, the Avro Shackleton MR Mk.3 Phase 3 maritime patrol aircraft had their water methanol injection system replaced with two Viper Mark 203 turbojets in the outer engine nacelles, they were modified to run on high octane petrol (AVGAS) and were only needed for two minutes during takeoff. It is rumoured that a Shackleton flew on only these engines in 1995, although this is unsubstantiated, as each of the vipers produced similar thrust as a Rolls-Royce Griffon, and the Shackleton could fly with only two engines, it would seem to have been possible.


Avro Shackleton Specifications:

  • Crew: 10
  • Length: 87 ft 4 in (26.61 m)         Wingspan: 120 ft (36.58 m)          Height: 17 ft 6 in (5.33 m)
  • Empty weight: 51,400 lb (23,300 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 86,000 lb (39,000 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 4,258 imperial gallons (19,360 L)
  • Engines: Four 1,960 hp (1,460 kW) Rolls-Royce Griffon 57 liquid-cooled V12 engines
  • Maximum speed: 260 knots (300 mph, 480 km/h)
  • Range: 1,950 nm (2,250 mi, 3,620 km)
  • Endurance: 14.6 hr
  • Service ceiling 20,200 ft (6,200 m)
RAF Shackleton

Avro Shackleton Armament:

  • Twin nose mounted 20 mm Hispano cannon
  • Nine bombs
  • Three torpedoes
  • Depth charges

It is of note although the RAF was the primary user of the Avro Shackleton, eight MR3s were also supplied to the South African Air Force who operated them from 1957 until 1984, note the Shackleton crashed and abandoned in the Sahara Desert at the bottom of this page.

Aircraft History

The Avro Shackleton Mk3 pictured on this page became operational with RAF Coastal Command 201 Squadron at St Mawgan in 1959 where it remained until 1964 when it it was then transferred to 120 Squadron at Kinloss. In 1968 XF708 was transferred to 203 Squadron based in Ballykelly Northern Ireland until 1969 when she went with the Squadron to RAF Luqa in Malta. In mid 1972 the aircraft was retired as the Squadron received Nimrods.

Avro Shackleton


It had been hoped to keep XF708 airworthy but the 2,500 takeoffs and landings over a thirteen year period had taken their toll, not to mention 6,500 hours flying in a salt laden atmosphere, on inspection the aircraft was declared unsafe, primarily due to severe corrosion throughout the airframe which would be impractical to rectify within the available budget.

Avro Shackleton with Viper turbojets

Avro Shackleton MR3 in the
Sahara Desert

This ex SAAF Avro Shackleton MR3 was restored to flight in 1994 but crashed shortly afterwards in the Sahara Desert, a result of both right wing engines failing whilst flying to the UK for an air-show tour. This picture was kindly placed in the public domain by it's author, Mr. Alexei Shevelev.

SAAF Avro Shackleton MR3

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