Armstrong Whitworth Argosy

The Armstrong Whitworth Argosy was a British three-engine biplane airliner built by Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft, and operated by Imperial Airways from 1926 to 1935.

Armstrong Whitworth Argosy
Class Aircraft
Type Transport
Manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth
Production Period 1959 - 1978
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1959
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Armstrong Whitworth 1959 1978 74 View
The Armstrong Whitworth A.W.154 Argosy stemmed from a declaration by Imperial Airways that all its aircraft would be multi-engine designs, on the grounds of safety. They were intended to replace the older single-engine de Havilland aircraft that Imperial Airways had inherited from its constituent companies, mainly Daimler Airway. The first example (G-EBLF) flew in March 1926, following an initial order for three Argosys from Imperial Airways. An improved Mk. II version was introduced in 1929.


  •     Argosy Mk I :Three-engined airliner. Powered by three 385 hp (287 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IIIA radial piston engines. Later fitted with Jaguar IVA engines. Three constructed.
  •     Argosy Mk II :Three-engined airliner. Powered by three 420 hp (313 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar IVA radial piston engines. Four constructed.

The Argosy was initially used on European routes (later operating on services to South Africa), with the fleet named after cities. The first passenger flight was from London to Paris on 16 July 1926. Argosies implemented the world's first "named" air service, the luxury 'Silver Wing' service from London to Paris, using Argosy City of Birmingham (G-EBLO). Two seats were removed, and replaced with a bar, and a steward was in attendance. In April 1931 Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother Prince George flew home from Paris–Le Bourget Airport in City of Glasgow (G-EBLF), which landed specially in Windsor Great Park.

Three Argosys were lost during service with Imperial Airways, one being written off in a forced landing near Aswan, and one during a training accident, both in 1931, with no injuries in either accident. On 28 March 1933, however, the City of Liverpool caught fire over Belgium, causing a crash in which all three crew and twelve passengers were killed. This aircraft is featured in the Michael Powell film Red Ensign.

Argosys continued in service with Imperial Airways until 1935, with the last example, City of Manchester (G-AACJ), being used for joy-riding by United Airways Ltd of Stanley Park Aerodrome (Blackpool), which later was merged into British Airways Ltd. It continued in use with British Airways until December 1936.

Role Airliner
Manufacturer Armstrong Whitworth
First flight March 1926
Primary user Imperial Airways
Number built 7

General characteristics

  • Crew: Four
  • Capacity: up to 69 troops or 28,930 lb (13,150 kg) of cargo
  • Length: 45 ft 3 in (27.18 m)
  • Wingspan: 115 ft 0 in (35.05 m)
  • Wing area: 1,458 ft (135.5 m)
  • Empty weight: 10,200 lb (4,630 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 103,000 lb (46,700 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 x Rolls-Royce Dart RDa.8 Mk 101 turboprops, 2,440 hp (1,820 kW) each
  • Propellers: 4 blade Rotol propeller, 1 per engine


  • Maximum speed: 234 kn (269 mph, 433 km/h)
  • Range: 2824 nmi (3,250 mi, 5,230 km)
  • Service ceiling 18,000 ft (5,500 m)

End notes