The Armstrong Whitworth AW154 Argosy biplane was designed to meet the requirements of Imperial Airways for multi-engine aircraft for its services to Europe and subsequently on longer range routes to South Africa.
The AW154 Argosy was a three engine biplane with a noticeably 'boxy fuselage' designed to accommodate twenty passengers. Power was provided by three direct drive AS Jaguar engines, with the prototype (G-EBLF) making its first flight on 16th March 1926. The first passenger service to Paris was flown on 16th July 1926, taking just 2.5 hours each way.
Three aircraft were built in an initial batch, followed by a further four Argosy II with more powerful geared Jaguar IVA engines, automatic slots and increased fuel capacity. The original three Argosy were later re-engined with the Jaguar IVA.
The flight crew were seated side-by-side in an open cockpit in the nose. The Argosy was used on routes to Paris, Basle, Brussels and Cologne and gained an enviable reputation for safety and reliability, particularly on the Paris route. It was the first aircraft to receive a 'named service' as 'Silver Wing' operating between London and Paris.
One noteable flight for a AW154 Argosy was to transport Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother Prince George from Le Bourget, Paris dirctly to their home in Windsor, landing on the lawns of the Great Park.
The type remained in service with Imperial Airways until 1935. The very last flying example (G-AACJ) was used for joy-riding by United Airways Ltd of Stanley Park Aerodrome (Blackpool), which later was merged into British Airways Ltd. It continued in use with British Airways until December 1936.
Imperial Airways Armstrong Whitworth Argosy II G-AACJ approaching to land.
Despite its moderate success as an airliner, it only operated in the hands of UK-based operators with each aircraft being named after a princilpal British city.