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I asked this question on history.se, where it was recommended I repost here.


During World War II Special Operation Executive (SOE) agents were dropped into occupied Europe by No. 161 squadron of the RAF. This squadron used the Short Stirling bomber up until March 1945.

In the Short Stirling, the pilots were separated from the flight engineer and wireless operator. There is also this picture on Wikipedia, which appears to show the interior of a modified Short Stirling that could carry passengers?

My question would be: In a typical 161 squadron mission, where in the Short Stirling would the agent(s) be located?

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IIRC, the agents dropped (with parachute) through a hole in the belly of the aircraft, just aft of the bomb-bays. So they would sit in that general area, so that they wouldn't have to move far with the 'chute attached. The position of the pilots is immaterial to this.

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From the same Wikipedia page that was the source for your photo:

The British Air Ministry published Specification B.12/36, which called for a high-speed, long-range four-engined strategic bomber aircraft, that would be capable of being designed and constructed at speed. Amongst the several requirements specified, the bomb load was to be a maximum of 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) carried to a range of 2,000 miles (3218 km) or a lesser payload of 8,000 lb (3,629 kg) to 3,000 miles (4,800 km) (incredibly demanding for the era). It was to have a crew of six.

Additionally, the prospective aircraft should also be able to be used as a troop transport for 24 soldiers, and be able to use catapult assistance for take off. The concept was that the aircraft would fly troops to far corners of the British Empire and then support them with bombing.

So, a passenger-carrying ability was clearly part of the original specifications.

This side view (from the same Wikipedia page again) clearly shows the windows that apply to your photo behind the wing. enter image description here

The aircraft wasn't modified to do this, it was part of the role. For bombing only missions, I assume that the side portholes were blocked up, which is why you can't really see them in many photos.

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