Shorts Sunderland airplane model. Developed from the pre-war "C-Class" Empire flying boats used commercially by Imperial Airways, the Shorts Sunderland entered service with the Royal Navy in 1938. The robust design was progressively improved and was heavily armed. Readily able to attack and defend itself on long range patrol missions, it earned the nickname the "Flying Porcupine" from its enemies because of these characteristics. Sunderlands in Coastal Command participated in the destruction of 31 U-boats during World War II.