Fairchild (Swearingen) Merlin III
After having developed the Metroliner Swearingen Aircraft made a smaller version of it, as a replacement for Merlin IIA/B corporate turboprop. Basically, the Merlin III is a short body Metroliner with fewer but larger cabin windows. In the early 1970s the production and further development was taken over by Fairchild.
The Merlin III has a short fuselage with a circular cross section, but with quite a long nose. It has rectangular cabin windows with rounded corners and slightly curved edges, in landscape mode. The tail is very typical with the horizontal stabiliser more attached to the dorsal fin than the vertical stabiliser. It is relatively large compared to other parts. The two wheel main gear retracts forward in the nacelles. The nose gear also has two wheels and retracts forward in the nose.
The different versions of the Merlin III can be identified by looking at:
- the shape of the engine nacelles
- the number of propeller blades
- the turning direction of the props
- the presence of a small cabin window at the back
- the presence of winglets
SA226T Merlin III
This original version of the Merlin III has only large cabin windows, three on the left and four on the right. The nacelles have the main air intake on the top, but also a relatively big one at the bottom, somewhat further aft. The engines powers a three blade propeller.
SA226T Merlin IIIA
Apart from the addition of a small extra cabin window at the rear the Merlin IIIA is externally the same as the Merlin III.
SA226T(B) Merlin IIIB
The Merlin IIIB is based on the Merlin IIIA but has four blade props that turn in the opposite direction. The nacelle shape remains unchanged.
SA227TT Merlin IIIC
When Fairchild introduced enhancements that turned the Metro II into the Metro III, the same changes were applied to the short body Merlin. The resulting SA227TT Merlin IIIC has more streamlined nacelles, without a large intake at the bottom.
SA227TT Merlin 300
The ultimate version of the short body Merlin was the Merlin 300. Compared to the Merlin IIIC it has winglets on the winglets.
Confusion possible with
The Merlin III was a short body development of the Metroliner, for the corporate market. Apart from the length the main characteristics are the same on the short and long body variant, but the Metroliner has more but smaller cabin windows, portrait oriented.
Swearingen/Fairchild Merlin II
The cockpit and cabin windows are clearly a reminder that this is a predecessor of the Merlin III. The rest of the aircraft is quite different: tail, gear and nacelles.
British Aerospace Jetstream
Is bigger than the Merlin III but as similar features, like a cruciform tail (but much smaller dorsal fin) and the engine nacelles. The Jetstream has a wider fuselage though, with smaller, oval cabin windows and more cockpit windows. The main gear has single wheels.
The size is about the same as the Merlin III, as is the general configuration, but the Bandeirante has a regular tail, an all single wheel gear, different nacelles and smaller cabin windows.
The Beech 99 is contemporary to the Merlin III. It has square, non rounded cabin windows, a rearward retracting single wheels nose gear and a regular tail. The nacelles are also different.