DescriptionThe Armstrong Whitworth Argosy was a three-engine biplane airliner designed and produced by the British aircraft manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft.
It was the company's first airliner.
The Argosy was developed during the early-to-mid 1920s in response to a statement by Imperial Airways that new multi-engined airliners were being sought to replace its single-engined counterparts then in use. Armstrong Whitworth proposed a relatively large biplane airliner, powered by three Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar engines; its construction largely composed of plywood and fabric supported by steel tubing. Imperial Airways opted to initially order a pair of aircraft to serve its European routes, while the Air Ministry ordered a single example as well. On 16 March 1926, the first Argosy, G-EBLF, performed its maiden flight.
Following the delivery of the second aircraft to Imperial Airways, the Argosy performed its first passenger flight on 16 July 1926, flying from London to Paris. Using the type, Imperial Airways inaugurated the world's first named air service, the luxury 'Silver Wing' service, between these two cities. The type would be operated by the airline for nine years, during which time a total of three Argosies would be lost in accidents, although only one of these resulted in fatalities. During 1935, Imperial Airways opted to retire all remaining aircraft in favour of the next generation of airliners, which were larger and equipped with four-engines instead. All operators had withdrawn the type by the end of 1936.
The origins of the A.W.154 Argosy can be heavily attributed to the release of a specification by the British airline Imperial Airways in 1922. This specification sought a new airliner to serve on its Middle East routes, amongst the requirements listed was a range of 500 miles, even when flown into a headwind of 30 mph, as well as stipulating the use of multiple air-cooled engines; the airline would subsequently declare a policy for all its airliners to be multi-engine on the grounds of safety.
Although the company had no prior experience of designing airliners, Armstrong Whitworth decided that it would respond with its own proposal. It was a relatively large biplane, possessing an angular box-shaped fuselage that was paired with a biplane tail featuring three fins and rudders. The aircraft was powered by three Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar engines, each capable of producing up to 385 hp; one engine was sited at the tip of the aircraft's nose while the other two were mounted between the two wings. All fuel was accommodated within two tanks at the center of the upper wing. The structure was composed of steel tubing, with most exterior surfaces being covered by fabric, including the walls and ceiling of the passenger compartment. This cabin featured a wooden floor, which also acted as bracing, and amenities such as openable windows and a toilet. Baggage was housed with a main hold at the rear, a secondary baggage compartment was located in the nose just forward of the cockpit.
Argosy Mk I :Three-engined airliner. Powered by three 385 hp (287 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IIIA radial piston engines. Later fitted with Jaguar IVA engines. Three constructed.
Argosy Mk II :Three-engined airliner. Powered by three 420 hp (313 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVA radial piston engines. Four constructed.
For information on the operational history of the Argosy, click here.
- Crew: 2 Capacity: 20 passengers
- 64 ft 6 in (19.66 m)
- 90 ft 0 in (27.43 m)
- 19 ft 0 in (5.79 m)
- Wing Area:
- 1,890 sq ft (176 sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 12,090 lb (5,484 kg)
- 19,200 lb (8,709 kg)
- 3 × Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVA 14-cylinder radial engines, 420 hp (310 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 110 mph (180 km/h, 96 kn)
- Cruise Speed:
- 90 mph (140 km/h, 78 kn)
- 405 mi (652 km, 352 nmi)
- Rate of Climb:
- Time to altitude: 4.5 min to 3,000 ft (910 m)