The Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Company AW154 Argosy biplane was designed to meet the requirements of Imperial Airways who sought a 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 Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar engines, with the prototype (G-EBLF) making its first flight on 16th March 1926. Thereafter, 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 AW154 Argosy II with more powerful geared Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVA engines, automatic slots and increased fuel capacity. The original three AW154 Argosy aircraft were later re-engined with the Jaguar IVA.
The flight crew were seated side-by-side in an open cockpit in the nose whilst passengers travelled in a fully enclosed cabin within the main fuselage. The AW154 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 notable flight for a AW154 Argosy was to transport Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother Prince George from Le Bourget, Paris directly to their home in Windsor, landing on the lawns of the Great Park.
The type remained in service with Imperial Airways until 1935 and the very last flying example (G-AACJ) was used for joy-riding by United Airways Ltd of Stanley Park Aerodrome (Blackpool), which was later merged into British Airways Ltd.
It continued in use with British Airways until December 1936.
Despite its moderate success as an airliner, it only ever operated in the hands of UK-based operators with each aircraft being named after a principal British city.
|Argosy Mark I||Argosy Mark II|
|Powerplant||Three 385 hp AS Jaguar III||Three 420 hp AS Jaguar IVA|
|Span||90 ft 8 in||90 ft 4 in|
|All up weight||18,000 lb||19,200 lb|
|Capacity||Two crew and 20 passengers|
|Maximum Speed||110 mph|
|Cruising speed||90-95 mph|
|Endurance / Range||330 miles||520 miles|
Variants and Number built
|Argosy I||Three 385 hp AS Jaguar III (3 built: G-EBLF. G-EBLO, G-EBOZ)|
|Argosy II||Three 420 hp AS Jaguar IVA (4 built: G-AACH, G-AACI, G-AACJ, G-AAEJ)|
No Armstrong Whitworth Argosy aircraft survive