The Bristol 170 (Bristol Freighter) was one of the first new commercial aircraft to be flown in Britain after the end of the Second World War and the prototype (G-AGPV) flew for the first time on 2nd December 1945.
Designed originally for military use in the Far East campaign of the Second World War, the end of hostilities saw the type become a rugged and capacious transport for both civil and military use. It is instantly recognisable shape is distinguished by its 'boxy' fuselage and rounded nose doors, providing easy access directly into the cargo bay.
A second prototype (G-AGVB) flew on 30th April 1946 and became know as the Wayfarer, carrying out route proving flights to the Channel Islands and to which at one point it carried over 10,000 passengers in under 6 months.
In civilian use, the type was most familiar for its cross-channel operations with Silver City Airways who recognised the potential to carry both passengers and their cars, creating the term 'Air Ferry'. The first flight with a car took place in July 1948 between Lympne on the Kent coast and Le Touquet, near Calais.
The type had a very hard working life in Silver City operations, especially before the cross-channel ferry industry blossomed. In 1954, the Silver City Freighter Fleet averaged an amazing 2,970 landings and take-offs per aircraft within the fleet - just over eight trips per day on every day of the year.
A total of 214 aircraft were built in a number of variants, the most significant being the Mk I, Mk II, Mk 21, Mk 31 Freighter alongside the Mk 32 Superfreighter or Wayfarer. The Superfreighter was first flown on 16th January 1953 and it was distinguished by a longer nose and increased fin area. The longer cargo bay increased its capacity to three 14 ft cars and 20 passengers.
In the military export market, the type was used by a number of air forces around the world including those of Argentina, Australia, Burma, Canada, New Zealand, and Pakistan.
The last Freighter flight was to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in 2004, bringing to an end an illustrious and multi-use service of nearly 60 years.
|Powerplant||Mk I: Two 1,675 hp Bristol Hercules 632 radial engines|
|Mk 21: Two 1,690 hp Bristol Hercules 672 radial engines|
|Mk 32: Two 1,980 hp Bristol Hercules 734 radial engines|
|Span||Mk I & Mk II : 98 ft|
|Mk 21 – Mk 32: 108 ft|
|Maximum Weight||Mk I: 36,500 lb - Mk 21: 40,000 lb - Mk 31: 42,000 lb - Mk 32: 44,000 lb|
|Payload||Mk 31: Typically 44 seats (passengers only) or 16 passengers and 5,000 lb freight|
|Mk 32: Typically three cars and 20 passengers|
|Maximum Speed||Mk XI – 32: 190 mph; typical cruising speed 165 mph|
|214||All variants of Freighter and Wayfarer|
|Mk I Freighter||Utility transport Series I or Freighter with a strengthened floor and hydraulically operated nose doors.|
|Mk II Wayfarer||Airliner (passenger variant) Series II or Wayfarer. Nose doors were omitted and additional windows were added.|
|Mk XI Freighter||Variant of Mk I with 108 ft (32.92 m) wing and extra tankage|
|Mk 21 Freighter||Increased engine power and all up weight|
|Mk 31 Freighter||Variant of Mk 21 with increased size fin|
|Mk 32 Superfreighter||Higher-capacity version with fuselage lengthened by 5 ft and taller fin. Further increase in power and all up weight|
|Mk 1A TC-330||Museo Nacional de Aeronautica de Argentina, Morón, Buenos Aires www.museonacionaldeaeronauticamoron.blogspot.co.uk|
|A84-1||Royal Australian Air Force at RAAF Museum, Port Cook, Victoria www.airforce.gov.au/raafmuseum|
Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne
|Mk 31M CF-WAE||
Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, Manitoba.
|Mk 31 C-GYQS||
Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin Airport, Alberta, Canada
|Mk 31 CF-TFX||Yellowknife Airport, Yellowknife, Canada|
|Mk 31 Safe Air ZK-CPT||Marlborough Aero Club, Omaka Aerodrome, Blenheim, New Zealand|