|Airspeed Courier A5.5 G-ACJL, pictured on 1934 MacRobertson England - Australia Air Race|
|Role||5/6-seat light transport|
|Designer||A. H. Tiltman|
|First flight||10 April 1933|
|Primary user||London, Scottish & Provincial Airways Ltd|
The Airspeed AS.5 Courier was a British six-seat single-engined light aircraft that saw some use as an airliner. Production aircraft were built by Airspeed (1934) Limited at Portsmouth. It first flew on 10 April 1933 and was the first British type with a retractable undercarriage to go into production, with a total of 16 built.
The prototype Courier was designed by Hessell Tiltman (co-founder of Airspeed Limited) and was built in 1932 by Airspeed at York for an attempt by Sir Alan Cobham to carry out a non-stop flight to India, using airborne refuelling. Airspeed moved from York to Portsmouth before the Courier G-ABXN first flew on 10 April 1933. The Courier was a wooden low-winged cabin monoplane; it had a novel feature for the day of a retractable undercarriage. The prototype was powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx engine. The prototype had two minor accidents, in April 1933 at Portsmouth and in June 1933 at RAF Martlesham Heath. The aircraft was repaired on both occasions.
After a year spent perfecting airborne refuelling, Alan Cobham took off from Portsmouth in the prototype Courier on an attempted flight to India on 24 September 1934, being refuelled from a Handley Page W.10 before making a forced landing at Malta due to a broken throttle.
Production and operations
A production run of 15 Couriers followed during 1933/34, being used for air-racing (one finished sixth in the MacRobertson Air Race to Australia in 1934), and as a light airliner and for air taxi work.
In 1936 a gun-running organization, Union Founders' Trust, bought five Couriers with the intention of selling them for use by the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. However, protests from the non-interference lobby in England stopped delivery. Two Republican sympathisers on the Airspeed staff made an abortive attempt to steal G-ACVE. One of them, Arthur Gargett, died when it crashed after taking off at Portsmouth on 20 August 1936; the other, Joseph Smith, was sentenced to four months in prison.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the majority of the surviving Couriers were impressed into the RAF, who used them for communications purposes. Only one Courier survived the War, being used for joyriding at Southend-on-Sea before being scrapped in December 1947.
- AS.5 Courier
- Prototype - 240 hp (179 kW) 240 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC
- AS.5A Courier
- Main production type - 240 hp (179 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC
- AS.5B Courier
- Fitted with more powerful 277 hp (207 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah V engine. Two built.
- AS.5C Courier
- One aircraft, registered G-ACNZ was bought as an engine testbed by Napier - Powered by 325 hp (242 kW) Napier Rapier IV engine.
Accidents and incidents
- On 29 September 1934, G-ACSY of London, Scottish & Provincial Airways Ltd crashed at Shoreham, Kent, United Kingdom, killing all four people on board and injuring two on the ground.
- Air Taxis Ltd
- Channel Airways
- Cobham Air Routes
- London, Scottish & Provincial Airways
- North Eastern Airways
- Air Transport Auxiliary
- No. 3 Ferry Pilots Pool
- Royal Air Force
Data from British Civil Aircraft since 1919
- Crew: 1
- Capacity: 5
- Length: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
- Wingspan: 47 ft 0 in (14.33 m)
- Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m)
- Wing area: 250 ft² (23.23 m²)
- Empty weight: 2,344 lb (1,063 kg)
- Loaded weight: 3,900 lb (1,769 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC radial piston engine, 240 hp (179 kW)
- Maximum speed: 133 knots (153 mph, 246 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 115 knots (132 mph, 212 km/h)
- Range: 552 nm (635 mi, 1,022 km)
- Service ceiling: 13,500 ft (4,115 m)
- Rate of climb: 730 ft/min (3.7 m/s)
- Wing loading: 15.6 lb/ft² (77.0 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.061 hp/lb (0.10 kW/kg)
- Related lists
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