Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Canadian Warplanes 1: Maurice Farman S.11 Shorthorn

Maurice Farman S.11 Shorthorn

Data current to 14 April 2021.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390702)

Henry Farman biplane, ca 1919. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5065736)

Maurice Farman, France, ca 1916. 

 (Author Photo)

Maurice Farman S.11 Shorthorn, CA&SM.  The Shorthorn is a two-seat biplane bomber developed in 1913 by Farman Frères, a French aircraft company founded in 1908 by pioneering aviators Maurice and Henri Farman.  The aircraft is a "pusher" with the engine in the rear of the nacelle.  Designed and first flown in France, the Shorthorn was adopted by the air forces of Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, and Russia.  It was manufactured under licence in Britain and Italy.  During its early war service in reconnaissance and light bombing, the Shorthorn carried no defensive armament.  It was later relegated to training duties.  The Shorthorn retired from RAF service in 1918.

This Shorthorn was acquired by the CA&SM at auction in 1981.  It was built by the Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) for the Royal Flying Corps in 1915–1916, and was one of four that were sent to Australia in 1917 for flight training.  It was used for this purpose at Point Cook until 1919, when it was sold as surplus.  It remained in storage throughout the 1930s, but was rescued, restored and made airworthy in the 1950s.  In 1956, American stunt pilot Frank Tallman purchased it and flew it in California.  The aircraft was owned by two aviation museums in later years, before the CA&SM bought it.

The CA&SM's aircraft was called a "Shorthorn" because it lacked the distinctive forward elevator of its predecessor, the Farman S.7 Longhorn.  The pusher configuration, with the pilot well forward of the wings, was ideal for observation and bombing.  The crew had to be careful not to allow loose objects to fly from the cockpit into the propeller.  The Shorthorn configuration could be dangerous in an accident because the engine was liable to hurtle forward and injure the crew.