The stubby Sperrin was ordained by the British Air Ministry as an “insurance” against possible retards, or even failure, of the really advanced V-bombers. Of relatively traditional lines and equipped with a straight wing, the Sperrin employed nevertheless a quite unorthodox engine configuration: its four RR Avons were mounted in pairs in two nacelles, but one engine stacked above the other. The first prototype (VX158) made its maiden flight in Aug. 1951, but by then it was obvious the Short design was now no longer needed. The two Sperrins produced were used in a variety of research work mainly related to the V-bombers, but also as engine testbeds (VX158). For the latter role it engine configuration proved quite amenable.
Charmingly relaxed “countryside” photo of the second prototype (VX161) taken at the Farnborough Air Show, 1955. This aircraft had a fully functional weapons bay which came handy to test various bomb shapes and sighting systems.