The Short Sterling, a four-engine heavy bomber designed and manufactured by Short Brothers, was one of several heavy bombers commissioned by the Air Ministry at the beginning of the Second World War.
It proved to be not up to the job, and was replaced by the Avro Lancaster.
The Short Sterling was a modification of an existing Short Brothers flying boat. Unlike the other 4-engine heavy bombers, which were modifications of twin-engine bombers (four smaller engines were found to be more reliable than two large engines), the Short Sterling was originally designed as a four-engine bomber.
The Short Sterling was the first heavy bomber to enter service with the RAF. It had serious design flaws, lacked altitude and load carrying capacity and suffered heavy losses. In its first five months of service, 67 out of the 84 aircraft delivered had been lost to enemy action or written off after crashes. It was withdrawn from service as a heavy bomber and replaced by the Avro Lancaster.
The Short Sterling remained in use with the RAF during WWII as a transport aircraft, for towing gliders and as a training aircraft for crews for four-engine bombers, prior to their transfer to the Avro Lancaster.