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Airspeed Courier

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The Airspeed AS.5 Courier was a British six seat single engined light aircraft, production aircraft were built by Airspeed (1934) Limited at Portsmouth. It first flew on the 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 being 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 perfecting airborne refuelling, Alan Cobham took off from Portsmouth on the attempted flight to India on 24 September 1934, being refuelled from a Handley Page W.10 before force landing at Malta due to a broken throttle.

A production run of 15 Couriers followed, being used for air-racing (one finished sixth in the MacRobertson Air Race to Australia in 1934), and as a light airliner and air taxi.

In 1936 financial interests bought two Couriers with the intent to selling them for use 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-ACVA. One of them, Arthur Gargett, died in the attempt; the other, Joseph Smith, was sentenced to four months in prison.

Owing to its advanced aerodynamics, two were used as research aircraft, one by the Royal Aircraft Establishment and one by Napier's, who used it for development of the Napier Rapier engine.

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 scapped in December 1947.


AS.5 Envoy
Prototype - 240 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC
AS.5A Envoy
Main production type - 240 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC
AS.5B Envoy
Fitted with more powerful (277 hp) Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah V engine. Two built.
AS.5C Envoy
Testbed for Napier - Powered by 325 hp Napier Rapier IV engine.



Specification ( )

Data from British Civil Aircraft since 1919[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 5
  • Length: 28 ft 6 in (8.70 m)
  • Wingspan: 47 ft 0 in (17.33 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.68 m)
  • Wing area: 250 ft² (23 m²)
  • Empty weight: 2,344 lb (1,065 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 3,900 lb (1,770 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVC radial piston engine, 240 hp (179 kW)


See also

Related lists


  1. Jackson, A.J (1973). British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 1., 2nd Edition, Putnam & Co. ISBN 0-370-10006-9. 

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Airspeed Courier".