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Avro 504

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Avro 504
Type Trainer, Fighter, Bomber
Manufacturer Avro
Introduced 1913
Retired 1934
Primary users RFC
Produced 1913 - 1932
Number built ~8500

The Avro 504 was a World War I biplane aircraft made by the Avro aircraft company and under licence by others. Production totalled 8,340 and continued for almost twenty years, making it the most-produced aircraft of any kind that served in World War I, in any military capacity, during that conflict.

Design and development

First flown in July 1913, powered by an 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine, the Avro 504 was a development of the earlier Avro 500, designed for training and private flying.

Operational history

Small numbers of early aircraft were purchased both by the RFC and the RNAS prior to the start of World War I, and were taken to France when the war started. The RNAS used four 504s to form a special flight in order to bomb the Zeppelin works at Friedrichshafen on the shores of Lake Constance. Three set out from Belfort in southern France on 21 November 1914, carrying four 20 lb bombs each. While one aircraft was shot down, the raid was successful, with several direct hits on the airship sheds and destroying the hydrogen plant[1]

Soon obsolete as a front line aircraft, it came into its own as a trainer, with thousands being built in the war, with major production types being the 504J and the mass production 504K, which was designed with modified engine bearers to accommodate a range of engines, in order to cope with engine shortages. More than 8000 504s had been produced by the end of 1918.

In the winter of 1917-18, it was decided to use converted 504Js and 504Ks to equip Home Defence squadrons of the RFC, replacing aging B.E.2cs, which had poor altitude performance. These aircraft were modified as single seaters, armed with a Lewis gun above the wing on a Foster mounting, and powered by 100 hp Gnome or 110 hp Le Rhône engines. 274 converted Avro 504Js and Ks were issued to eight home defence squadrons in 1918, with 226 still being used as fighters at the end of World War 1[2].

Following the end of the war, while the type continued in service as the standard trainer of the RAF, large numbers of surplus aircraft were available for sale, both for civil and military use. More than 300 504Ks were placed on the civil register in Britain. Being used for training, pleasure flying and banner towing, civil 504s continued flying in large numbers until well into the 1930s.

Although Avro 504s sold to China were training versions, they participated in battles among warlords by acting as bombers with pilot dropping hand grenades and modified mortar shells [citation needed].

The improved, redesigned and radial engined 504N was produced by Avro in 1925. After evaluation of two prototypes powered by Bristol Lucifer and Armstrong-Siddeley Lynx engines respectively, the Lynx powered aircraft was selected by the RAF to replace the 504K. 592 were built between 1925 and 1932, equipping the RAFs five flying training schools, while also being used as communication aircraft. The 504N was also exported to the militaries of Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Greece, Thailand and South Africa, with licenced production taking place in Denmark, Belgium, Canada and Japan.

The 504N was finally replaced in 1933 by the Avro Tutor in RAF service, with small numbers continuing in civilian use until 1940, when seven were impressed into RAF service, where they were used for target towing.

The 504 was the first airplane to strafe troops on the ground as well as the first to make a bombing raid over Germany. It was also the first Allied airplane to be downed by enemy anti-aircraft fire and was Billy Bishop's first army aircraft.

The 504 is easily recognisable because of the single skid between the wheels.


  • 504: 80 hp Gnome engine.
Original model
  • 504A:
Modified with smaller ailerons and broader struts. 80 hp Gnome engine.
  • 504B
Version for RNAS with larger fin. 80 hp Gnome or Le Rhône engine.
  • 504C
Single-seat anti-zeppelin aircraft for the RNAS. The 504C was fitted with an extra fuel tank, in place of the observer.
  • 504D
Single-seat anti-zeppelin aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps. Six built.
  • 504E: 100 hp Gnome engine. Ten built.
  • 504F: 75 hp Rolls Royce Hawk engine. One built.
  • 504G: 80 hp Gnome engine.
  • 504H
Used for catapult trials. 80 hp Gnome engine.
  • 504J
Used as a trainer. 100 hp Gnome or 80 hp Le Rhône engine.
File:First aeroplane in Iceland.jpg
This Avro 504K was the first airplane in Iceland, brought there in 1919.
  • 504K
Two-seat training aircraft. The 504K had a universal mount to take different engines. Single seat fighter conversion used for anti-zeppelin work, . Several were assembled in Australia by Australian Aircraft & Engineering. 130 hp Clerget, 100 hp Gnome or 110 hp Le Rhône engines.
  • 504L
Floatplane version. 150 hp Bentley BR1, 130 hp Clerget or 110 hp Le Rhône engines.
  • 504M
Three-seat cabin biplane. Only one was ever built. 100 hp Gnome engine.
  • 504N
Two-seat training aircraft.: Redesigned postwar trainer for RAF with 160 hp Armstrong Siddely Lynx engine. 598 built.
  • 504P
Unbuilt version of the 504N.
  • 504Q
Three-seat cabin biplane. The 504Q was built for the Oxford University Arctic Expedition. Only one was ever built. Armstrong Siddely Lynx engine.
  • 504R Gosport
Reworked trainer. Ten were sold to Argentina, and 100 more were built by FMA under licence in Argentina. Three were exported to Estonia, and an unknown number to Peru.
  • 504S
Two-seat training aircraft. Built under licence in Japan by Nakajima.
  • Yokosuka K1Y
Two-seat training aircraft for the Japanese Navy. Japanese version of the 504K. 104 were built in Japan.
  • Yokosuka K2Y1
Japanese version of the Avro 504N, powered by a 130-hp (97-kW) Mitsubishi-built Armstrong-Siddeley Mongoose radial piston engine.
  • Yokosuka K2Y2
Improved version of the K2Y1, powered by a 160-hp (119-kW) Gasuden Jimpu 2 radial piston engine.
  • U-1 Avrushka
Russian copy of the 504K.
  • NU-1
Russian seaplane version.

Survivors and Flyable Reproductions

A small number of static display, and airworthy examples of the Avro 504 exist, almost a century after the first one flew, one of the airworthy examples being the Shuttleworth Collection's example[3] -another flyable example exists in a Canadian aviation museum. An Avro 504k can Also be found on Static display in the Making of the Modern World Gallery at teh London Science Museum.

The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome has had a flyable Avro 504 reproduction aircraft, powered by an original 110 hp Le Rhône rotary engine, flying since 1971, and a newly founded company (Blue Swallow Aircraft) in Virginia is starting to produce reproduction Avro 504 examples.


Specifications (Avro 504K)

Data from The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft[4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 29 ft 5 in (8.97 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft (10.97 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 5 in (3.17 m)
  • Wing area: 330 ft² (30.7 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,231 lb (558 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,829 lb (830 kg)
  • Powerplant:Le Rhône Rotary, 110 hp (82 kW)



The following companies are recorded as manufacturing the Avro 504 under licence.[5]


  1. Mason, Francis K (1994). The British Bomber since 1914. Putnam Aeronautical Books. ISBN 0 85177 861 5. 
  2. Mason, Francis K (1992). The British Fighter since 1912. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-082-7. 
  3. Shuttleworth Collection - Aircraft
  4. Donald, David (Editor) (1997). The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Aerospace Publishing. ISBN 1-85605-375-X. 
  5. Manufactureres of the 504
  • Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation, M J H Taylor (Editor), 1980, Jane's Publishing Company
  • Bruce, J. M., Warplanes of the First World War - Fighter, Volume One, Great Britain, 1965 MacDonalds and Co.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

See also

Related development
La Cierva C-6

cs:Avro 504 de:Avro 504 el:Avro 504 es:Avro 504 fr:Avro 504 ms:Avro 504 pl:Avro 504

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Avro 504".