Airspeed Envoy

Airspeed Envoy
AS.6 Envoy
The last surviving Airspeed Envoy, operated by Private Charter Ltd at Manchester (Ringway)Airport in 1948
Role Transport
Manufacturer Airspeed Ltd
Designer N.S. Norway/A. H. Tiltman
First flight 26 June 1934
Retired 1950
Produced 1937-
Number built 60
Variants Airspeed Viceroy
Airspeed Oxford.

The Airspeed AS.6 Envoy was a British light, twin-engined transport aircraft designed and built by Airspeed Ltd. in the 1930s at Portsmouth Aerodrome, Hampshire.


Development and design

The Envoy was designed by N.S. Norway[N 1] and A. H. Tiltman as a twin-engined development of the Courier.[1] It used the same wooden construction, outer wing panels and retracting main undercarriage.[1]

The Envoy was a twin-engined low-wing cabin monoplane of all-wood construction apart from fabric covered control surfaces. It had a rearward retracting main undercarriage with a fixed tailwheel. The aircraft was built in three series, the Series I was the initial production variant which did not have trailing-edge flaps, seventeen built. Thirteen Series II variants were built with split flaps and the Series III (19-built) was similar but had detailed improvements. Each series of the Envoy was sold with a choice of engines including the Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah V or Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC radial engines. These different engines were housed under a variety of cowlings, mostly short chord Townend rings but also wider chord cowlings with and without blisters for cylinder heads.[1][2]

The prototype, G-ACMT, first flew on 26 June 1934 and in July 1934 appeared in public for the first time at an exhibition by the Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) at Hendon.[1] Small scale production then began at the Portsmouth factory.

Operational history

The first production Envoy I, G-ACVH, flew in October 1934 and was used as a company demonstrator. The second, also a Series I but fitted with Wolseley Aries III radial engines,[1] was delivered to Lord Nuffield. This aircraft was due to fly in the MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia in 1934 but the aircraft was damaged and withdrawn from the race. Another aircraft, a specially modified version with long-range tanks (the AS 8 Viceroy) got as far as Athens before leaving the race due to damage.[1] One Envoy took part in the Schlesinger Race to Johannesburg, but crashed, killing two of a crew.[3]

Orders soon came from the whole Commonwealth. Two aircraft went to the Ansett Airlines in Australia. North Eastern Airways and Olley Air Service in the UK also used the AS.6. In Czechoslovakia, the CSA ordered four AS.6 Envoy JC in 1937.

A.S. 10 Oxford, developed from the AS.6 Envoy

In May 1937, the British King George VI traded the de Havilland Dragon Rapide of the King's Flight for an Airspeed AS.6J Envoy III. The AS.6's good stability and flaps, as well as its low landing speed (less than 100 km/h) was decisive. The aircraft received the registration G-AEXX and was painted in distinctive red and blue colours.[4]

The Airspeed AS.6 Envoy also entered the Air Forces of different countries. The British Royal Air Force used a few AS.6 in a military configuration. The aircraft was used in the Air Forces of Spain, Japan, South Africa, Finland and China and some others. Seven machines were ordered for joint use by the South African Air Force and South African Airways, with three being delivered in military form and four delivered to South African Airways, where they were used on the air route between Johannesburg - Bloemfontein - Port Elizabeth on 12 October 1936.[5] Each of these seven aircraft could be transformed by a work crew of four within four hours from the transport version into a light bomber or reconnaissance aircraft. In this configuration the crew consisted of four; pilot, navigator, radio operator and gunner.

In October 1936, the British Air Ministry ordered 136 Envoys for crew training. These further developed aircraft were given a new company designation as the AS.10 and entered RAF service as the Airspeed Oxford.


Six Envoy-Is were delivered to Japan in 1935 for services linking Japan with Manchukuo. These were followed by 10 aircraft license built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya. The aircraft were named Hina-Zura (en: Flying Crane). The aircraft were used by the Japan Air Transport and Manchukuo National Airways; it is believed the rest were operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy under the designation LXM.


During the Spanish Civil War, ten AS.6 Envoys were obtained by the Spanish Republicans, with the Nationalist side using two, including one that defected from the Republicans,[6] as transport, reconnaissance aircraft or light bombers.[7]

During the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe captured some machines and used them as trainer aircraft.[8] The Luftwaffe gave one aircraft to Finland on 22 January 1942, as reparation for the accidental shooting down of a Finnish de Havilland Dragon Rapide. This aircraft was used between 1942 and 1943. Likewise, one aircraft was used between 1941 to 1943 by the Slovaks.[citation needed]


One of the RAF Envoy IIIs survived the war and operated as G-AHAC for civil charter operators until it was scrapped at Tollerton airport, Nottingham in 1950.


Airspeed Ltd, Portsmouth

AS.6 Envoy I
Powered by two 200-hp (149-kW) A.R.9 piston engines. 5 built
AS.6A Envoy I
Powered by two 240-hp (179-kW) Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC radial piston engines. 5 built
AS.6D Envoy II
Powered by two 350-hp (261-kW) Wright R-760-E2 Whirlwind 7 radial piston engines, eight built.
AS.6E Envoy III
Powered by two 340-hp (254-kW) Walter Castor engines. 5 built
Powered by two 250-hp (186-kW) Wolseley Scorpio I engines.
AS.6H Envoy
Powered by two 225-hp (168-kW) Wolseley Aries III engines. 1 built
AS.6J Envoy III
Seven-seat light transport aircraft. Powered by two 350-hp (261-kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial piston engines. 27 built
AS.6JC Envoy
Powered by two 350-hp (261-kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial piston engines. 4 built
AS.6JM Envoy
Powered by two 350-hp (261-kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial piston engines. 3 built
AS.6K Envoy III
AS.8 Viceroy
A special, one-off racing aircraft was developed from the Envoy: the Airspeed AS.8 Viceroy.

Mitsubishi, Japan

(en Young Crane), ten licence-built by Mitsubushi at Nagoya.


The Envoy also saw service in China, the Independent State of Croatia, Finland, Slovakia, and Spain.

  • Ansett Airlines
 South Africa
  • Spanish Republican Air Force
 United Kingdom

Accidents and incidents

Cheetah-powered Envoy, VH-UXY, piloted by Charles Ulm, disappeared in December 1934 during an attempt to fly the Pacific route between Oakland and Honolulu.[1] It had been specially built with long-range fuel tanks in the cabin.[1]

Maxwell Findlay fatally crashed another Envoy, modified with long-range fuel tanks, in northern Rhodesia during the October 1936 Johannesburg Air Race.[9]

Specifications (AS.6J Series III )

Data from Airspeed Aircraft since 1931[10]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: 6 passengers
  • Length: 34 ft 6 in (10.52 m)
  • Wingspan: 52 ft 4 in (15.95 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
  • Wing area: 339 sq ft (31.5 m2)
  • Empty weight: 4,057 lb (1,840 kg)
  • Gross weight: 6,300 lb (2,858 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah IX 7-cylinder radial engine, 345 hp (257 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 210 mph (340 km/h; 180 kn) at 7,300 ft (2,230 m)
  • Cruise speed: 192 mph (167 kn; 309 km/h) at 75% power and 7,300 ft (2,230 m)
  • Range: 650 mi (565 nmi; 1,046 km) at 62.5% power and 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
  • Service ceiling: 22,500 ft (6,858 m) service
  • Time to altitude: to 10,000 ft (3,050 m), 8 min
  • Wing loading: 18.6 lb/sq ft (91 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.11 hp/lb (0.18 kW/kg)

See also

Related lists



  1. ^ Norway is better known as the novelist Nevil Shute


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Jackson 1973, p. 20.
  2. ^ Taylor 1970, pp. 54–70.
  3. ^ "One out of nine." Flight, 8 October 1936, pp. 352–354.
  4. ^ Jackson 1973, p. 23.
  5. ^ Jackson 1973, p. 21.
  6. ^ Jackson 1973, p.392—393.
  7. ^ Howson 1979, pp.68—78.
  8. ^ a b Ketley and Rolfe 1996, p. 11.
  9. ^ Shores et al. 1990, p. 155.
  10. ^ Taylor 1970, pp. 69–70.


  • Howson, Gerald. "Contraband Wings of the Spanish Civil War...Britain's Clandestine Contribution". Air Enthusiast 10, July-September 1979, pp. 68–78.
  • Jackson, A. J. British Civil Aircraft since 1919: Volume 1 (2nd ed.). London: Putnam, 1973. ISBN 0-370-10006-9.
  • Ketley, Barry and Mark Rolfe. Luftwaffe Fledglings 1935-1945: Luftwaffe Training Units and their Aircraft. Aldershot, UK: Hikoki Publications, 1996. ISBN 978-0951989920.
  • Shores, Christopher F. et al. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915-1920. London: Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 978-0948817199.
  • Taylor, H. A. Airspeed Aircraft since 1931. London: Putnam Publishing, 1970, pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-370-00110-9.

External links

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