The Airspeed AS6 Envoy was a light, twin engine transport aircraft designed for the commercial market. The first Envoy (G-ACMT) flew for the first time at Portsmouth on 26th June 1934 and appeared a month later at the S.B.A.C Show at Farnborough just a month later. The Envoy was a reasonably successful aircraft with 61 being built.
Designed by A.H. (Hessell) Tiltman, Airspeeds Chief Desiger at the time, it was of all-wood construction apart from the fabric covered control surfaces. It featured a reward retracting undercarriage 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'.
Envoy aircraft were being manufactured at the Airspeed factory at Portsmouth for delivery at 7 - 8 weeks from the receipt of order of one aircraft, and then one machine each week until completion of order. In order to keep abreast of the increasing demand for the Airspeed Envoy it has been necessary to greatly enlarge the factory.
The aircraft was built in three series, the Series I being the initial production variant, which did not have trailing-edge flaps.
Thirteen Series II variants were built with split flaps and the Series III, which was similar but had some detailed improvements, the most significant being plywood covered wing surfaces.
The 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 tabulated below.
The sole AS8 Viceroy (a special long-range version without cabin windows) was built for Mr T Neville Stack. It was registered G-ACMU and entered for the 1934 MacRobertson Race from Mildenhall to Melbourne, getting no further than Athens. A number of other Envoy aircraft were also equipped with long range tanks.
Two Envoy I's were delivered to Japan in 1935, one for evaluation by the Japan Air Transport Co. and one 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, initially powered by Gasuden Jimpu engines, but later using licence-built Armstrong Siddeley Lynx or Wolseley Aries Mk.III engines. A total of ten aircraft were built in Japan.
The clean and fast Envoy was a commercial success, as 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 being delivered in military form and four delivered to South African Airways.
Most significantly, it formed the basis for the Airspeed Oxford military trainer, Airspeed’s most successful powered aircraft. The Air Ministry had ordered 136 Envoys for crew training in 1936 although these were redesignated as AS10 Oxford aircraft.
In 1937, The Kings Flight took delivery of an Envoy III (G-AEXX) to replace its aging De Havilland 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|
|Total 61||42 civil, 8 military and 11 licence-built in Japan.|