Armstrong-Whitworth AW650-222 Argosy
The AW650 was designed by Armstrong-Whitworth to meet a 1955 British
Air Ministry specification for a freight/passenger aircraft suitable
for civil and miltary use. Initially known as the Freightliner, construction
started as a private venture in early 1957. This was the manufacturer's
last project as in 1958 the company was subsumed by the Hawker-Siddeley
group, and the aircraft project was designated the HS.650 Argosy.
The prototype Series 100 freighter (c/n 6651 G-AOZZ) was first flown
on January 8, 1959. Type certification was achieved in December 1959,
by which time six had been completed. The aircraft was displayed in
Paris in July, 1959 and Farnborough in 1960 where it attracted interest
but few orders. The project was not successful in the commercial sector
as only ten were built. Riddle Airlines of Miami, Florida ordered
four aircraft, later increasing that to seven for a contract with
the USAF. The three remaining Series 100 aircraft were sold to BEA.
Apart from G-APRM (c/n 6653) all the series 100 aircraft were at some
point operated in the USA, but many eventually returned to the UK.
One (c/n 6656 VH-IPD) went on to work in Australia. All but two of
the Series 100 Argosies had been scrapped by 1990, with the others
surviving in UK museums.
A military variant of the AW650 was more successful. After evaluating
the AW650 the RAF ordered 20 aircraft, but wanted a number of alterations
to the aircraft. This included a strengthened wing which raised the
MTOW from 39,916kg (88,000lb) to 55,250kg (121,800lb) and a change
from the 1910shp Dart 526 to the 2680shp Dart 101 powerplants. The
aircraft had only a rear cargo door which could be opened in flight
(the civil version could not). The military AW-660 prototype first
flew on March 4th 1961, and the RAF eventually acquired 56 aircraft.
The first of these Argosy C.Mk.1 aircraft entered service in 1962,
and soon became known as the 'whistling wheelbarrow' - a product of
the aircraft shape and the characteristic sound of the dart engine.
The aircraft was used for freight, troop transporting and parachute
work - and later airfield calibration (seven aircraft being modified
to E.1 models). A further aircraft was modified as a T.2. The RAF
retired the last of its Argosies from active duty in 1975. Most were
scrapped after being withdrawn from use, although five went onto civil
use. These were operated in the UK, US, Phillipines and parts of Africa.
Two survive in museums, one in the US and one in the UK, along with
a cockpit section. During their service several Argosy C.Mk.1 aircraft
visited New Zealand. Based with 215 Squadron at Changi in Singapore,
these aircraft include XP446 (c/n 6778) which attended the Air Force
day at Ohakea in February 1964 and returned on several other occaissions,
XR108 (c/n 6786) which was on display at the opening of Auckland International
Airport on January 29, 1966, and XP449 (c/n 6781) which visited Christchurch
in September 1966.