Armstrong Whitworth AW650 & AW660 Argosy | BAE Systems | International

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Armstrong Whitworth
AW650 & AW660 Argosy

Armstrong Whitworth's last design, which served with the RAF from 1961 to 1978 and as a commercial freighter until around 1991.
Armstrong Whitworth AW650 Argosy G-APRN Armstrong Whitworth AW650 Argosy G-APRN displays at Farnborough in Riddle Airlines colours.
 
Instantly recognisable by its pod fuselage and four engine twin tailboom layout, the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy was designed as a general purpose civil and military transport and was the last aircraft to be built under the Armstrong Whitworth name. 
 
The high wing, four engine general purpose aircraft was built to meet Operational Requirement (OR) 323 issued in 1955 for a medium-range lift aircraft capable of carrying 25,000 lb with a range of 2,000 mies (carrying 10,000 lb).  After various designs led to the AW65 and AW66, both suffered through a lack of funds and were destined for the waste bin.
 
Despite this, Armstrong Whitworth decided to continue with the AW65 Civil aircraft after which a redsign saw the birth of a four engine configuration.  Armstong Whitworth were a division of Hawker Siddeley and so development was conducted on a 'private venture' basis with the prototype AW650 Argosy (G-AOZZ) flying for the first time on 8th January 1959.  With the huge resources of Hawker Siddeley in support, the programme was able to proceed quickly, as seen in the wing design which was derived from that of the Avro Shackleton. Four Rolls-Royce Dart engines were fitted in nacelles similar to those of the Vickers Viscount 800.
 
Initial civil production comprised of just the Argosy Series 100, of which ten were built and commercial sales followed with aircraft for both Riddle Airlines in the USA (Series 101) and UK-based BEA (Series 102).
 
Armstrong Whitworth AW660 Argosy C1 RAF XP445 Armstrong Whitworth AW660 Argosy C1 XP445 in RAF Near East markings.
 
Despite the RAF having lost interest in the AW66 programme, it had a problem with finding a replacement for the obsolete piston engined Vickers Valleta and Handley Page Hastings aircraft and so the Air Ministry drew up a specification for a military version of the AW650, to be designated AW660. 
 
The military development programme proceeded in parallel with the civil production and the AW660 was distinguished by a nose radome and ‘clam-shell’ rear loading doors (civil aircraft had a side-hinged nose cargo loading door), together with increased engine power and increased fuel capacity .  In the event, the AW660 was the more successful with 56 being sold to the RAF as the Argosy C.Mk 1. In total, the Argosy served with six RAF squadrons: three in the UK and one each in Cyprus, Aden and the Far East.
 
In 1963, Hawker Siddeley abandoned the various component company names which made up the group and so the aircraft was rebranded Hawker Siddeley Argosy E Mk 1 and Argosy T Mk 2.  The Series 200 version was introduced in 1964 with a larger freight hold, able to accept standard size cargo pallets, increased engine power using Dart 532/1 turboprops and a revised, lighter wing structure.
 
Two aircraft were fitted with a pressurised passenger capsule for SAFE Air in New Zealand to provide a more comfortable air travel experience and one of these is preserved by volunteers in Blenheim, New Zealand.
 
The Argosy was withdrawn from a military transport role service in 1975, with several aircraft being sold on to civil cargo operators. The Argosy E.1 remained in service until around 1978, with the type continuing in commercial service in America until around 1991.
 
Armstrong Whitworth AW650 Argosy G-BEOZ Elan Armstrong Whitworth AW650 Argosy G-BEOZ at Castle Donington.
 
Eight AW650 Argosy Series 222 were built and final production figures for the Argosy comprised 10 AW 650 Srs 100, 56 AW 660 C.Mk1 and 8 AW 650 Srs 222, giving a grand total of 74 aircraft.
 

Specification

                         AW 650 Srs 222 AW 660 C.Mk 1
Powerplant Four 2,100 shp Rolls-Royce Dart 532/1 Four 2,680 shp Rolls-Royce Dart 101 
Span 115 ft 0 in  115 ft 0 in
All up weight 93,000 lb 97,000 lb (max overload 105,000 lb)
Capacity 83 passengers, or 36 passengers plus cargo. Used mainly for pure cargo operations with 31,000 lb capacity. Up to 69 equipped troops or military equipment up to 29.000 lb.
Cruising Speed 285 mph 269 mph at 20,000 ft
Range (max fuel) 1,850 miles 1,070 miles max fuel, 345 miles max payload, 3,250 miles ferry

Variants and Number built

Armstrong Whitworth AW 650 Argosy  Commercial freight transport variant, 18 built                                                            
Series 100 Ten Series 101 and 102 aircraft were built for Riddle Airlines and BEA, respectively
Series 200 Eight Series 200 aircraft were built with a larger freight hold and enlarged cargo doors to enable it to carry standard size cargo pallets
Armstrong Whitworth AW 660 Argosy Military transport for RAF Air Transport Command, 56 built
Argosy C.1 56 aircraft were produced for the RAF with the designation Argosy C.1
Argosy E.1                        Nine aircraft were modified as flight inspection aircraft and re-designated as Argosy E.1
Argosy T.1 Two aircraft were modified for a planned training role as the Argosy T.1 in advance of the planned Argosy T.2
Argosy T.2 Planned modification of 14 aircraft to replace the Varsity in the training role as the Argosy T.2. This programme was abandoned in 1975.

Survivors

AW650 Argosy 222                
(ZK-SAE)
SAFE Air aircraft, Woodbourne Airport, Blenheim, New Zealand.
www.argosy.org.nz           
AW650 Argosy 101
(G-APRL)
Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England
AW650 Argosy 101
(G-BEOZ)
Aeropark, East Midlands Airport, England
AW660 Argosy C.1
(XP447 / N1430Z)
General William J. Fox Airfield, Lancaster, California, USA
AW660 Argosy T.1
(XP411)
Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, England
AW660 Argosy C.1
(XR413 / G-BFVT)
Mid-America Museum of Aviation and Transport, Sioux City, IA www.midamericaairmuseum.org