Saro A.29 Cloud Amphibian Flying Boat
In 1930 the British Company of Saunders-Roe built the amphibian flying boat, Saro A.29 Cloud. It was a passenger aircraft designed for the Royal Air Force used for pilot and navigation training.
Following on from the success of the A.17 Cutty Sark the company designed an enlarged version designated the A.19 Cloud. It had room for a crew of two and eight passengers and like the Cutty Sark was a twin-engined monoplane flying boat with two engines strut-mounted above the wing. The design allowed for flexibility in engine fits and four aircraft were sold to private operators with different engines fitted.
First flown in 1930 the prototype was fitted with two 300 hp (224 kW) Wright J-6 radial engines.
The Air Ministry ordered one aircraft for evaluation as a trainer and was first flown in June 1930. After evaluation the Air Ministry ordered a total of sixteen aircraft for pilot and navigator training, in three batches, to Air Ministry Specification 15/32. Designated the A.29 the Serval-powered aircraft had room for six students, it had provision to fit gun mountings in the bow and aft compartments, it could also carry four 50 lb practice bombs.
The first production A.29 Cloud was delivered to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment for test and evaluation. Following modifications to the hull and steps, the aircraft was delivered to the Seaplane Training Squadron at RAF Calshot in August 1933. During its career, the Cloud served as training aircraft for both pilots, destined to train on larger flying boats after graduating from the Cloud before being assigned to frontline RAF flying boat units, and navigators, as the cabin was large enough to house several map tables. The final Cloud was delivered to the RAF in 1935 and after only a few years’ service as trainers the last operational aircraft were withdrawn from service in July 1939.
A.19/1 Prototype registered G-ABCJ with 300 hp (224 kW) Wright J-6 radial engines, sold in Canada as CF-ARB, but returned to Saro in 1934 for use as an engine test bed. It was fitted with 340 hp Napier Rapier IV engines and an auxiliary aerofoil behind and below the engine nacelles. It was loaned to Jersey Airways in 1935 before being withdrawn from use in 1936. A.19/2 Special variant powered by three 215 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC engines and registered G-ABHG.
Due to problems with the engine installation it was re-engined with two 425 hp (317 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp C radials before delivery. It was also fitted with an auxiliary aerofoil above the engines and twin fins and rudders to improve directional control. Sold to Imperial Airways in 1940 as a crew trainer but damaged beyond repair in 1941 and scrapped.
A.19/3 Prototype for the Air Ministry with serial K2681 and powered by two 340 hp (254 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Serval III radials. Following evaluation sixteen production aircraft, designated A.29 were ordered. A.19/4 Registered G-ABXW with 300 hp (224 kW) Wright J-6 radial engines. Named ‘Cloud of Iona’. It was operated by British Flying Boats Ltd for joy-riding and charter flights, and a brief trial service between Glasgow and Belfast. In 1935 it was operated by Spartan Air Lines, and later used by Guernsey Airways until lost off Jersey on 31 July 1936. A.19/5 Powered by two Armstrong Siddeley Serval III and registered G-ACGO. First flown in 1933 it went on a sales tour of Europe and was sold to the Czechoslovak State Airline as OK-BAK and re-engined with Walter Pollux radials. The fuselage is preserved at the Kbely Aircraft Museum, Prague A.29 Armstrong Siddeley Serval III powered navigation trainers for the Royal Air Force, 16-built. Monospar ST-8
The Air Ministry’s evaluation A.19 K2681 was fitted with an experimental Monospar Mainplane under specification 18/32, to evaluate the use of the wing on future Saro designs. The modified aircraft flew in 1934 and was used to help in the development of the Saro A.33.
Saro A.29 Compared to the Sikorsky