The Airspeed AS.6 Envoy was a light, twin engine transport aircraft designed up to 6 passenger for the commercial, civil and military market.
The first AS.5 Envoy (G-ACMT) flew for the first time at Portsmouth on 26th June 1934 and it appeared a at the S.B.A.C Show at Farnborough just a month later. The AS.6 Envoy was a reasonably successful aircraft with 61 examples being built.
Designed by A. Hessell Tiltman, Airspeeds Chief Designer during the 1930s, it was of all-wood construction apart from the fabric covered control surfaces. It featured a reward-retracting undercarriage along with a fixed tailwheel. The first production aircraft (G-ACVH) flew in October 1934, and went on to become the company's main demonstrator.
In September 1936, the success of the type was becoming apparent and it was advertised as follows:
‘Airspeed Envoy - Amongst the countries to which exports have been made recently are: South Africa, India, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Japan'.
AS.6 Envoy aircraft were manufactured at the Airspeed factory in Portsmouth with just 7 to 8 weeks from the receipt of the order to the delivery of the first aircraft and then one every week thereafter. Airspeed found themselves very busy and in order to keep abreast of the increasing demand for the Airspeed AS.6 Envoy they soon found it was necessary to expand the factory.
The AS.6 Envoy was built in three Series with the Series I being the initial production model and easily identifiable as it did not have any trailing-edge flaps.
Some Thirteen AS.6 Envoy Series II variants were built, this time with split flaps. The AS.6 Envoy Series III outwardly looked very similar but had some subtle detailed improvements, the most significant being plywood covered wing surfaces.
The Airspeed AS.6 Envoy was offered with a number of different engine types, the most popular being the Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah or Lynx. The variants and the numbers of each built are shown in the table below.
The sole AS.8 Viceroy (a special long-range version without cabin windows) was built for Captain T Neville Stack, the famous test pilot, air racer and aviation pioneer. The AS.8 Viceroy (G-ACMU) was entered for the 1934 MacRobertson Race from Mildenhall to Melbourne, against the winning DH88 Comet Racer.
Controversially, the aircraft got no further than Athens and it became the subject of an acrimonious legal battle between Captain Stack and the Airspeed Company, from which the latter of which emerged as the winner. Some say that this backfired on Airspeed, and its eventual owners De Havilland Aircraft Company as the son of the complainant (Sir Thomas Neville Stack) went on to become a Senior Royal Air Force Commander.
A number of other aircraft were also equipped with long range tanks although these retained the AS.6 Envoy designation.
Two As.6 Envoy I's were delivered to Japan in 1935, one for evaluation by the Japan Air Transport Co. and the other for the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service as the Airspeed LXM. With the acquisition of a licence, production started at the Nagoya Mitsubishi factory of the Mitsubishi Hinazuru-type Passenger Transport Company. Initially powered by Gasuden Jimpu engines, this was later changed to licence-built Armstrong Siddeley Lynx, or Wolseley Aries Mk.III engines. A total of ten such aircraft were built in Japan.
The clean and fast AS.6 Envoy was truly a commercial success which was reflected in the numbers built and its success in the export market. Seven machines were ordered for joint use by the South African Air Force and South African Airways, with three of these being delivered in military form and four delivered in civil form to South African Airways.
Most significantly, the AS.6 Envoy formed the basis for the Airspeed AS.10 Oxford military trainer, Airspeed’s most successful powered aircraft. In October 1936, the Air Ministry had initially ordered 136 AS.6 Envoys for crew training.
However, following the introduction of the developed and improvement AS.10 Oxford, the order was subsequently changed accordingly.
During 1937, The Kings Flight took delivery of an Airspeed AS.6 Envoy III (G-AEXX) to replace its aging De Havilland DH89 Dragon Rapide and it was painted in a rather attractive red and blue livery.
|AS6A Envoy I||AS6J Envoy III||AS8 Viceroy|
|Powerplant||Two 215 hp AS Lynx IVC||Two 310 hp AS Cheetah IX||Two 290 hp AS Cheetah VI|
|Span||34 ft 6 in|
|Maximum Weight||5,300 lb||6,600 lb||6,300 lb|
|Capacity||Typically 2 crew and 6 passengers|
|Maximum Speed||170 mph||203 mph||210 mph|
|Cruising Speed||150 mph||170 mph||190 mph|
|Range||400 miles||620 miles||1,400 miles|
|AS.6 Envoy I||200-hp Wolseley A.R.9 Mk.II engines. 4 built|
|AS.6A Envoy I||215-hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC engines. 7 built plus 11 under licence|
|AS.6D Envoy II||350-hp Wright R-760-E2 Whirlwind 7 engines, one conversion.|
|AS.6E Envoy III||340-hp Walter Castor engines. 5 built|
|AS.6G||230-hp Wolseley Scorpio I engines, one conversion.|
|AS.6H Envoy||225-hp Wolseley Aries III engines. 1 built|
|AS.6J Envoy III||310-hp Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial piston engines. 20 civilian aircraft built, plus 5 delivered for military use.|
|AS.6JC Envoy||AS.6J Civil – military convertible – Civil version. 4 built|
|AS.6JM Envoy||AS.6J Civil – military convertible – Military version 3 built|
|AS.6K Envoy III||230-hp Wolseley Scorpio II One aircraft only.|
|AS.8 Viceroy||A special, one-off racing aircraft was developed from the Envoy|
|Airspeed LXM||One imported Airspeed Envoy evaluated by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service|
|Mitsubishi Hinazuru||Licence production of AS.6A by Mitsubishi, fitted with flaps and powered by Gasuden Jimpu, or licence-built Armstrong Siddeley Lynx or Wolseley Aries Mk.III engines. 11 built from 1936 to 1938|
|All Series||42 civil, 8 military and 11 licence-built in Japan.|