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Sunderland Flying Boat, 1941
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Sunderland Flying Boat, 1941

Measurements: (24.8cm (9.75in x 38.7cm (15.25in)



Ex: Omell Gallery, Duke Street, London S.W.1., exhibition label verso

Watercolour on paper. A Short Sunderland taking off from Southampton Water with Calshot Castle to the right. Signed lower right. Titled to the lower mount ‘A Sunderland at Calshot 1941. / C.E. Turner’

In 1941 RAF Calshot was primarily responsible for the repair, maintenance and modification of RAF flying boats, concentrating on the maintenance of Short Sunderlands. Despite being unable to bridge the Atlantic gap, due to their limited range, Sunderlands were heavily involved in Allied efforts to counter German U-Boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. Coastal Command Sunderlands accounted for twenty-eight U-boat kills plus seven more shared with surface vessels. Sunderlands also played a major role in the Mediterranean theatre, performing maritime reconnaissance flights and logistical support missions. During the evacuation of Crete, shortly after the German invasion of the island, several aircraft were used as troop carriers.

Calshot began as a testing station for the Royal Flying Corps naval wing in 1913. In the 1920s it was home to the High Speed Flight which won the Schneider Trophy in Venice in 1927. This success gave Calshot the right to host the competitions of 1929 and 1931. R.J. Mitchell’s Supermarine S.5 and SB.6 triumphed and gave Britain the right to retain the Trophy outright.  Aircraftsman Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia) was detached to Calshot to help with the races. During the 1930s Calshot was further developed as a seaplane and flying boat base, with the re-forming of 201 and 240 Squadrons, which were dispersed on the outbreak of war. The operational squadrons returned to Calshot in March 1946, with the arrival of 201 and 230 Squadrons, both equipped with Sunderlands. During the 1948 Cold War crisis of Soviet Union’s blockade of West Berlin over the introduction Deutsche mark, all the Sunderland aircraft from Calshot were called into action. They flew over 1,000 sorties from Hamburg to the Berlin lakes during the Airlift, delivering food into the city and evacuating sick children.

Charles E. Turner (1893-1965) exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and specialised in aviation and marine art. Having served in the Royal Air Force in the First World War, reaching the rank of Captain, Turner worked as a war artist during between 1939 and 1945. He also produced well images of the transatlantic liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth for Cunard, which were made into a series of popular postcards. Alongside paintings demonstrating his first-hand experience of aerial combat, he further produced illustrations for Illustrated London News and Sphere magazines. Many of his oil and watercolour paintings of the two World Wars are preserved in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, London, The R.A.F. Museum, and at the Imperial War Museum, London.