printer icon


Sir Arthur Gouge Kt. B.Sc., M.I.Meche., F.I.A.S. 1890 - 1962

Picture of Sir Arthur Gouge Kt
Sir Arthur Gouge Kt

Sir Arthur, of Wootton House died in the Royal Isle of Wight County Hospital, Ryde on Sunday 14 October aged 72 years. He was buried in Rochester, where he was a Freeman1 next to his wife.

He was born in Northfleet, Kent. He attended Woolwich Polytechnic obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree before joining Short Bros, as a mechanic in 1915. He spent many years in research and design and in 1926 was appointed chief designer, later advancing to become general manager. He spent a total of 28 years with Shorts during which time he was involved in design and production of the Empress and Sunderland flying boats and the Stirling bomber.

In 1943 he left Shorts to become vice-chairman of Saro and chief executive of Saunders-Roe. During this time the Princess flying boat was built and the company went into the design of helicopters, he retired in 1959.

He was a former president and deputy president of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors, SBAC.

His hobbies were photography and horologist (clock collecting).

Short History

The Short Brothers Empire Flying Boats

The evolution of the flying boat proceeded rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s. Development of the type reached a peak during World War II, when large flying boats were fielded by most of the major combatants in substantial numbers.

One of the most prominent of these aircraft was the British "Short Sunderland”, an excellent design that made a major contribution to Allied victory, particularly in the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines or "U-boats".

In the early 1930s, competition in development of long-range flying boats for intercontinental passenger service was becoming increasingly intense. Great Britain had nothing to match the new American Sikorsky flying boats that were making headlines all over the world, and the powers-that-be in Britain felt something should be done.

In 1934, the British postmaster general declared that all first-class Royal Mail sent overseas was to travel by air, effectively establishing a subsidy for the development of intercontinental air transportation. In response, British Imperial Airways announced a competition for 28 flying boats, each weighing 16.4 tonnes (18 tons) and having a range of 1,130 kilometres (700 miles) with a capacity of 24 passengers.

The contract went almost directly to Short Brothers of Rochester in England. Short had long experience in building flying boats for the military and for Imperial Airways. However, none of these flying boats were in the class of size and sophistication requested by Imperial Airways. The business opportunity was too great to pass up despite the risk, and so Oswald Short, head of the company, began a crash program to come up with a design for a flying boat far beyond anything they had ever built.

The head of the design team was Arthur Gouge, later Sir Arthur Gouge. The design he produced, the Short "S.23", was a clean and elegant aircraft, with a wingspan of 35 meters (114 feet), a length of 27 meters (88 feet), an empty weight of 10.9 tonnes (24,000 pounds), and a loaded weight of 18.4 tonnes (40,500 pounds).

The S.23 was powered by four Bristol Pegasus engines, each providing 686 kW (920 HP). Cruise speed was 265 KPH (165 MPH), and maximum speed was 320 KPH (200 MPH). The S.23 featured a new hull design and a new flap scheme to reduce landing speed and run. The big flying boat had two decks: an upper deck for the flight crew and mail, and a lower deck with luxury passenger accommodations.

The first S.23, named "CANOPUS", flew on 4 July 1936. The S.23s were the first of a series of Shorts flying boats for commercial service, collectively known as the "Empire" boats. A total of 41 S.23s were built, all with names beginning with the letter "C", and so they were referred to as the "C-class" boats.2

Saunders Roe SR A1 Jet Flying Boat Fighter

The Saunders Roe SR A1, the first jet powered flying boat in the World, was conceived towards the end of World War II. At the time, the Allied forces were faced with the task of driving the Japanese from dozens of heavily defended islands in the Pacific and this flying boat fighter armed with guns in the nose, being independent of land bases and aircraft carriers, would have been an ideal attack and support aircraft for covering the sea and land forces charged with dislodging the Japanese.

The idea of the "guerrilla fighter" flying boat was developed by Sir Arthur Gouge (who left Short Bros in 1943 to become vice-chairman of Saro), and designed by Henry Knowler to Air Ministry Specifications E 6/44.3

Isle of Wight County Press.
1 Rochester City Council 1227 1974/RCA Box 070
Deed of gift of Borstal Playing Fields [Oswald Short's Playing Fields, formerly Shorts' Sport Ground] from Mr Hugh Oswald Short Esq., Hon FRAeS [of Trevisquite Manor, St. Mabyn, Bodmin, Cornwall and Gillhams Farm, Gillhams Lane, Lynchmere, Haslemere, Surrey] to the corporation 1948-1961. [Including correspondance with Sir Arthur Gouge.] (322) Admission of Arthur Gouge as freeman. Illuminated with coat of arms of city and display of River Medway and flying boats 1937.

Links: External link image

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:32

This Site is Sponsored by:


Help To Support Us

Wootton Bridge Historical is run as a not for profit organisation, if you have found this site useful please help to keep it running by donating a small amount.

Donate »

Another Way To Support Us

If you are looking for fast reliable web hosting you can do no better than Vidahost. We receive a small commission for each sale which helps us to keep Wootton Bridge Historical running.

Sign up »

Wootton Bridge Walks

Wootton Walk leaflet

If you are visiting the Isle of Wight you may be interested in our Wootton Walks leaflets which include a large scale route map.

These leaflets enable you, in a series of five walks, to explore some of our village’s history and beautiful surroundings. Enjoy your walk.

Continue Reading »