In 1953, the Ministry of Supply issued Specification ER.143 for a research aircraft which could take off vertically by jet lift, then accelerate forward into normal cruising flight.
The SC. 1 was designed to study hover, transition and low-speed flight, and had a fixed landing gear. The Short SC. 1 was powered by four RB.108 lift engines vertically mounted on gimbals in the centre fuselage and one RB.108 cruise engine in the rear for forward flight. Bleeds from the four lift engines powered nose, tail and wing-tip reaction jets for control at low speeds.
The first conventional flight was made on 2 April 1957, first tethered vertical flight was on 26 May 1958, and first free vertical flight was on 25 October 1958. The first transition was on 6 April 1960.
The SC.1 appeared at the Farnborough air show in 1960 and Paris air show in 1961 (for the latter it flew the English Channel both ways).
The second Short SC.1 VTOL research aircraft (XG905) crashed at Sydenham airfield, Belfast, on October 2nd, 1960, the pilot, John R. Green, being killed. Equipped with a new auto stabiliser system with which it had begun tests on August 2nd, the SC.1 was hovering at an altitude of 50 ft (15.2 m) when con-trol was lost, the aircraft turning over on hitting the ground. It was rebuilt and the two aircraft continued to fly.
James M. Patton, Jr was a research pilot at NASA Langley, and a guest of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford in August & September, 1971. He conducted 10 flights in SC-1 XG905 to obtain data pertinent to NASA VTOL research.
One was on display at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
Engines: 4 x 965kg Rolls-Royce RB.108 lift engines and 1 x RB.108 cruise engine
Max take-off weight: 3650 kg / 8047 lb
Wingspan: 7.16 m / 24 ft 6 in
Length: 9.10 m / 30 ft 10 in
Max. speed: 396 km/h / 246 mph
Range: 240 km / 149 miles