Airspeed AS.10 Oxford
Airspeed AS.65 Consul
In 1936 Airspeed submited a proposal to meet Air Ministry Specification T.23/36, for a twin-engined trainer. Airspeed’s design for this was based on the AS.6 Envoy, which may have helped the Air Ministry’s decision to order an initial quantity of 136 AS.l0s.
Sharing the AS.6 Envoy wooden construction, tailwheel type retractable landing gear and basic airframe, normal accommodation was for a crew of three at any one time, but in addition to seats for a pilot/pupil and co-pilot/instructor, there were positions for the training of an air-gunner, bomb-aimer, camera operator, navigator, and radio operator. Dual controls were standard, making the Oxford suitable for use as a twin-engined trainer; with the dual-control set removed from the co-pilot’s position, a bomb aimer could take up a prone position and drop practice smoke bombs which were carried in the centre-section well; or the seat could be slid back and a chart table, hinged to the fuselage side, erected for use by a trainee navigator; an aft-facing seat behind the co-pilot position was available for a radio operator; and, in the Oxford 1, an Armstrong Whitworth dorsal gun turret was provided for an air-gunner’s training. The turret was removed from later versions and they were used mainly for pilot training. A hood was also available so that the Oxford could be used for instrument training.
The prototype AS.10 Oxford made its first flight on 19 June 1937, and deliveries began in November of that year, with four of the first six going to the RAFs Central Flying School, the other two to No.11 Flying Training School.
One example of a Mk II aircraft was fitted experimentally with two 186-kW (250-hp) de Havilland Gipsy Oueen inline engines. Odd variants included an early Oxford I equipped with special McLaren landing gear, the main units of which could be offset to cater for a reasonable degree of crosswind at both take-off and landing, and one with a tail unit which included twin endplate fins and rudders, especially installed for a series of spin recovery tests.
The outbreak of World War II created a demand for these trainers, not only for use by the RAF, but also by those nations which were involved in the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme. These included Australia (nearly 400 Oxfords), Canada (200), New Zealand (300), Rhodesia (10), and South Africa (700). Examples went also to the Free French air force and, under reverse Lend-Lease, a number were used by USAAF units in Europe. A number were equipped to serve as air ambulances. The Fleet Air Arm also had one training unit, No. 758 Instrument Flying Squadron, equipped with Oxfords from June 1942.
The demand for Oxfords was beyond Airspeed’s productive capacity, the company building a total of 4,411 at Portsmouth, Hants, and 550 at Christchurch, Hants. Other construction was by de Havilland at Hatfield (1,515), Percival Aircraft at Luton (1,360), and Standard Motors at Coventry (750), to give a total of 8,586. Airspeed built its last example in July 1945, and the Oxford remained in service with the RAF at No. 10 Advanced Flying Training School, Pershore, until 1954. Many were supplied after the war to the Dutch air force.
During 1946-1948 many were converted to Consul civil version status post-war as civilian six passenger aircraft. About 150 were sold worldwide, some conversions and some new builds.
Mk I - Weapons trainer, usually fitted with a Armstrong Whitworth dorsal gun turret
Engines: 2 x Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX (335hp) or Cheetah X, 280-kW (375-hp).
Length: 34.48ft (10.51m)
Wingspan: 53.31ft (16.25m)
Height: 11.09ft (3.38m)
Maximum Speed: 186mph (300kmh; 162kts)
Maximum Range: 932miles (1,500km)
Service Ceiling: 19,199ft (5,852m)
Armament: 1 x 7.7mm (0.303-in) Vickers K machine gun in dorsal turret
Bombload: 250lbs internal
Empty Weight: 5,379lbs (2,440kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 7,599lbs (3,447kg)
Mk II - Pilot, radio-operator and navigator trainer
Engines: 2 x Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX (335hp) or Cheetah X, 280-kW (375-hp)
Mk III - Radio and navigation trainer
Engines: 2 x Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah XV 318-kW (425hp)
Propellers: Rotol constant-speed
Number built: 1
Mk IV - Testbed for the De Havilland Gipsyqueen IV (Gipsy-Six IIIS,
Turbocharged, 6 cylinder inline engine).
Mk V - Radio and navigation trainer
Engines: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R 985-AN6 Wasp Junior, 335kW (450-hp)
Max take-off weight: 3269 kg / 7207 lb
Empty weight: 2572 kg / 5670 lb
Wingspan: 16.26 m / 53 ft 4 in
Length: 10.52 m / 34 ft 6 in
Height: 3.38 m / 11 ft 1 in
Wing area: 32.33 sq.m / 348.00 sq ft
Wing load: 22.96 lb/sq.ft / 112.0 kg/sq.m
Max. speed at 1250m (4,l00ft): 325 km/h / 175 kts / 202 mph
Service ceiling: 6400 m / 21000 ft
Range: 1127 km / 609 nm / 700 miles