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 long nose is one of the typical characteristics of the Swearingen/Fairchild Merlin III. The cockpit and cabin windows are a leftover of the Swearingen Merlin II.

The cruciform tail has the horizontal stabilisers attached to the dorsal fin, rather than the vertical stabiliser itself, also a key feature of the Merlin III.

Different versions

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.

From this angle you can clearly see that the Merlin III has only big cabin windows and no small cabin window right of the entrance door. (photo: WikiMedia/Robert Frola)

The nacelle of the SA226T models, including the Merlin III, has the main air intake on top, directly behind the prop, and a smaller one at the bottom.

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.

Note the extra cabin window right of the main cabin door, with the same shape as the other windows but smaller.

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.

Here is a full view of a Merlin IIIB, which is similar to the Merlin IIIA but has four blade props.

This detail photo better shows the four blade prop of the Merlin IIIB, in the SA226T(B) nacelle.

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. 

An SA227TT Merlin IIIC with more streamlined engine nacelles. The lack of winglets distinguish it from the Merlin 300 below.

On this photo the more streamlined nacelle of the SA227TT is better visible. Note the absence of an air 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.

The winglets of the Merlin 300 are quite big, so they are an easy recognition point of this version. (photo: WikiMedia/Pedro Aragão)

Confusion possible with

Swearingen/Fairchild Metroliner


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 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

jetstream 32

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.

Rockwell Commander 700

cessna 441

They look a lot like each other, but still the differences are big when you know them. The most obvious differences are the single wheels on all gears and nearly square cabin windows with a slightly trapezium shape.

Ted Smith/Piper Aerostar

pa 46 500tp

The SA226T Merlin III has rectangular cabin windows and a more or less curved vertical stabiliser like the Aerostar. On the other hand it has low wings, two wheel gears, turboprop engines and a cruciform tail, apart from other differences.

Embraer EMB110 Bandeirante


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.

Beech 99

beech 99a

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.