The requirement post-war for a long-range land-based maritime patrol aircraft was met by developing the Avro Shackleton from the Lincoln bomber. Designed by Roy Chadwick as the Avro Type 696, the Shackleton first took to the air in March 1949 and subsequently entered service with RAF Coastal Command in April 1951. It was used for both the Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) roles between 1951 and 1972 and thereafter, as a stopgap airborne early warning aircraft with the AN/APS-20 radar through to 1990. The original MR1 was soon superseded by the definitive MR 2 version (which outlasted the rather less successful Mk3).
The aircraft was equipped with four Rolls-Royce Griffon 57a/58 engines employing contra-rotating propellers – though due to its increased weight, the MR3 needed the assistance of two Viper Mk 203 turbojets for takeoff. In the ASW role, the ‘Shack’ carried sonobuoys, flares, a diesel fume detection system and either 10,000 lbs of bombs, three torpedoes or depth charges. Armament comprised 2 x 20mm Hispano cannon mounted in the nose. Shackletons experienced their operational debut during the Suez Campaign of 1956 and were later involved operationally in South Arabia during the Aden Emergency of 1963-67.
Shackletons equipped eighteen RAF units at one time or another with eight machines being operated by the South African Air Force between 1953 and 1984. A total of 185 aircraft were built of which a single airworthy example survives in South Africa. Numerous others are on static display worldwide, with some dozen on view at UK locations.
Shackletons frequently operated from RAF Tangmere during the 1950s/1960s.