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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Airspeed AS.10 Oxford

Displayed in Singapore in 1980s and 1990s in the markings of Malayan Airways' first aircraft, Consul G-AJLR was sent to New Zealand for further work at the Croydon Aircraft Heritage Trust. However, funding was removed by the owner and very little work was undertaken. Sadly, there are signs of considerable damage on what now remains the last surviving Consul (Mandeville, 10Apr22).

Airspeed was founded 1931 by Nevil Shute Norway and Hessell Tiltman and was initially based in York before settling in Portsmouth. The company concentrated on low-wing commercial monoplanes and pioneered the use of retractable undercarriage in the United Kingdom. The Oxford was developed in response to Air Ministry Specification 23/36, which called for a general purpose twin-engine aircraft to satisfy the crew training needs of Bomber Command. Airspeed used the 8-seater AS.6 Envoy as the basis for the new type, drawing on work done to modify it for military tasks in South Africa. An initial order for 136 was placed in 1936. Seven follow-on contracts were placed in 1937 and 1938 and by the time World War II broke out, some 400 Oxfords had been delivered and a second-source production line established at Hatfield. The Oxford formed a key element of both the Empire Air Training Scheme and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, with large numbers going to Canada, Rhodesia, Australia and New Zealand, where the type was used to train navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators, air gunners and camera operators. In post war years, the Oxford served as a communications aircraft with small numbers attached to front-line squadrons to provide continuation training for otherwise desk-bound officers. It enjoyed a brief resurgence as a crew trainer at the time of the Korean War, but was retired from RAF service in 1956. Few of the 8,500 Oxfords built survive.

First flight: 19 Jun 37 (c/n 1, L4534)

Production: 8,581 in the UK, comprising 4,411 by Airspeed at Portsmouth, 550 by Airspeed at Christchurch, 1,515 by De Havilland at Hatfield, 1,355 by Percival at Luton and 750 by Standard Motors at Coventry.

First delivery: Nov 37, to the Royal Air Force

Last delivery: Apr 45, to the Royal Air Force

Variants: AS.10 Oxford I: initial production version, powered by Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah IX radials (6,143 built: 3,480 at Portsmouth, 300 at Christchurch, 839 at Hatfield, 774 at Luton and 750 at Coventry);

Oxford II: Oxford I with dual control for pilot training and gunnery turret removed, optimised for radio and navigation training (2,163 built: 739 at Portsmouth, 250 at Christchurch, 599 at Hatfield and 575 at Luton);

Oxford I/II inter: designation applied to 75 aircraft built at Hatfield;

Oxford III: Oxford II powered by Cheetah XV (1 built at Portsmouth);

AS.40: civil equivalent of Oxford II (1 built at Portsmouth);

AS.46 Oxford V: Oxford II powered by Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior radials (199 built: 191 at Portsmouth, 2 at Hatfield and 6 at Luton).

Conversions: AS.65 Consul: 152 Oxford I/II converted as 6-seat commercial aircraft 1946-48.

Airspeed Oxford survivors
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