Profiles and Logos
The Belfast was developed to meet a Royal Air Force requirement for a long range heavy lift cargo aircraft. The specification was for a 64ft long cargo hold with a diameter of over 18ft. This resulted in a high wing design powered by 4 Rolls-Royce Tyne turboprops with a beaver tail incorporating rear loading doors and integral ramp. The prototype flew for the first time on 5th Jan 1964. The RAF originally ordered 30 aircraft but this was reduced to 10 due to a financial crisis in 1965.
The aircraft entered service with 53 Squadron in January 1966. Initially the aircraft suffered from high drag meaning the aircraft could not meet the specifications. Shorts carried out trials and found that adding fairings around the rear doors increased the airspeed by 40kts. The aircraft was withdrawn from service by the end of 1976. TAC Heavylift bought 5 aircraft, starting to operate them in 1977, one example remained in service until the end of September 2010. XR371 is on display in the RAF Museum Cosford.