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Airspeed AS5 Courier

The Courier was the first British private aircraft to be fitted with flaps and to have an undercarriage that retracted into the wings.
Airspeed AS5 Courier G-ADAY G-ACLR A view of two AS5 Couriers G-ACLR and G-ADAY on the ground

 

Airspeed Ltd moved to Portsmouth from York during 1933, during which period the first Airspeed Courier was under construction.
 
Designed by A. Hessell Tiltman (co-founder of Airspeed), the six seat Courier was a low wing monoplane, which was the first British design to be fitted with flaps and an undercarriage that retracted into the wings.
 
The Courier prototype (G-ABXN), which flew for the first time on 10th April 1933, was built for Sir Alan Cobham with a view to his demonstrating a non-stop flight to India with the assistance of air-to-air refuelling.  In the event this attempt, which began on 22nd September 1934, was aborted after a mechanical failure of the throttle, forcing an emergency landing at RAF Hal Far on Malta. 
 
Airspeed AS5A Courier G-ACLT A ground view of Airspeed AS5A Courier G-ACLT
 
The first production aircraft G-ACJL was entered in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia, finishing fourth on handicap in the race.
 
Although intended for private use, small fleets were operated commercially by Portsmouth Southsea and Isle of Wight Aviation Ltd, North Eastern Airways Ltd and by London Scottish and Provincial Airways Ltd.

 

Airspeed AS5B Courier G-ACLF An air-to-air photograph of Airspeed AS5B Courier G-ACLF

 

Due to the aircrafts advanced aerodynamics, 2 airframes were used in research, one by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and one as a development aircraft for the Napier Rapier engine.

 

During World War II, surviving Airspeed Couriers were seconded into the RAF as communications platforms whilst at the end of hostilities those that were left we used for joy-riding from Southend Airport.  The final Courier was scapped in December 1947.

 

Specification

Powerplant          One 240 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC 
Span 47 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight 3,900 lb
Capacity  Pilot and five passengers
Maximum Speed 153 mph 
Cruising Speed 132 mph
Range 635 miles

Variants & Numbers built

AS.5 & AS.5A Courier 13 built - 240 hp (179 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC
AS.5B 2 built - 277 hp Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah V
AS.5C One only - 325 hp (242 kW) Napier Rapier IV engine testbed

Survivors

Nil