Avro Tudors

BSAA Avro Tudor Aircraft

It was in an Avro Tudor V that the Designer of the Lancaster and Lincoln and in fact the Tudor itself, Roy Chadwick, lost his life. He went up in a test flight where control wires had been crossed over and the Pilot failed to notice in his pre-flight checks. The plane took off and promptly nose dived killing both Chadwick and the Pilot.

Avro 688 Tudor 1 G-AGRG ‘Star Cressida’ C/N 1255 Allocated serial TS870 but not taken up.  Registered on 05/09/45
C of A number 8483 issued on 10/01/47 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Transferred on 16/06/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Converted by Avro in March 1948 to Tudor Freighter 1 (Tudor 1F)
Leased on 14/07/48 to BOAC at Hurn.  Loaned in 1949 to BSAA as ‘Star Cressida’
Bought by Aviation Traders Ltd. on 02/09/53 and delivered to them in October 1953
C of A renewed on 2/2/54 by Air Charter as ‘El Alamein
Proving flight to Hamburg 14/2/54, 24/1/56
Converted by Aviation Traders Ltd. in July 1956 to Tudor 4 for Air Charter
Converted by Aviation Traders Ltd in July 1958 to Super Trader 4B for Air Charter
Written off when attempting a crosswind takeoff from Brindisi on 27/1/59
Tudor II, G-AGRH of British South American Airways at Blackbushe on crew training detail with AVM Bennett in 1947.  Also seen at Blackbushe in 1958 in the hands of Air Charter
G-AGRH 
C/N 1256 Allocated serial TS871 but not taken up.  Registered on 05/09/45
C of A number 8484 issued on 10/12/46 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Transferred on 16/06/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Converted to Tudor Freighter 1 in June 1948 and leased to BOAC
Loaned to BSAA in 1949 and used as Tudor Freighter 1 on Berlin Airlift
Was to have been ‘Star Ceres’
Withdrawn from use and stored 10/8/49 at Woodford, Tarrant Rushton, then Ringway
Sold 2/9/53 to Aviation Traders Ltd
Converted to Tudor 4 and date delivered 20/8/54
C of A renewed 25/10/55 for Air Charter
Converted by Aviation Traders Ltd in March 1958 to Super Trader 4B
Returned to service in 1958 to Air Charter as ‘Zephyr’
Written off en-route from Ankara to Bahrain. Crashed on Mount Suphan Dag, Turkey on 23/4/59 after deviating from the track.

G-AGRJ C/N 1258 Allocated serial TS873 but not taken up. Registered on 05/09/45
C of A number 8486 issued on 24/2/47 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP) Was to have been ‘Star Celia
Transferred on 16/05/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) Leased in 5/48 to BOAC
Loaned in 1949 to BSAA and converted to Tudor Freighter 1 and used on Berlin airlift.
Withdrawn from use and stored 10/8/49 at Woodford, Tarrant Rushton, and Ringway
Sold 2/9/53 to Aviation Traders Ltd
Date delivered 20/8/54 to Air Charter
Withdrawn from use 8/56 and broken up at Southend

28 May 1947 BSAA  trials non-stop flights from London to Bermuda using Aerial refuelling over the Azores

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Tudor IV Loading Chart

Avro 688 Tudor IV and IVB G-AGRE ‘Star Ariel’ C/N 1253
Allocated serial TS868 but not taken up. Registered on 05/09/45
C of A number 8475/A460 issued on 25/9/46 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Date delivered 26/9/46 to BOAC for familiarization trials
Transferred in November 1946 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Converted by Avro in March 1948 to Tudor 4B
Date delivered 14/11/48 BSAA ‘Star Ariel’
Written off 17/1/49 lost over the Western Atlantic en-route from Bermuda to Jamaica
BermudStarArielMapStar Ariel G-AGRE left Bermuda for Kingston, Jamaica on 17 January 1949. Soon after take-off, Captain John McPhee radioed a standard departure message including an estimate at Kingston of 14:10. This was followed by a position report “I was over 30° N at 9:37 I am changing frequency to MRX.” Star Ariel, it was never heard from again. Over 70 aircraft and many ships searched between up to 500 miles south of Bermuda, including the aircraft carriers USS Kearsage and USS Leyte, and the battleship USS Missouri, involving more than 13,000 men. No debris, oil slicks, or wreckage were found. The Tudor IV was later discontinued.

Star Ariel’ was known to be flying at 18,000ft when the last radio message was received, and not close enough to its destination for the approach to commence. However, the same scenario could easily fit this circumstance too. If a member of the crew noticed a reduction in airspeed (because the aircraft was yawing severely) they may have suspected a problem with the autopilot and disengaged it temporarily to troubleshoot. Again, the aircraft could have turned so violently that it entered a spin which was either difficult to recover or resulted in a structural failure of the tail. Either way, it wouldn’t take long before the Tudor hit the water, even from 18,000ft.  Of course, all of the above is pure conjecture. But it is surely not beyond the realms of possibility.
“The Janitrol Cabin Heater bled aviation fuel on to a hot tube – and was also fairly close to the hydraulic pipes,”.  A pressure switch should have allowed the heater to operate when it was in the air but it was unreliable and was often deliberately short-circuited by staff, allowing the pilot manual control.  The switch prevented inflammable fuel from flowing, but if the heater was switched on manually, gas that may have collected could have ignited.

Elizabeth of England in BOAC Livery

G-AGRF
C/N 1254 Allocated serial TS869 but not taken up.
Registered on 05/09/45
C of A number 8482 issued on 6/12/46 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Date delivered 21/1/47 to BOAC and named ‘Elizabeth of England‘ Type rejected 11/4/47 by BOAC
Converted by Avro in March 1948 to Tudor 4B
Bought 12/12/48 by BSAA.  Transferred 3/9/49 to BOAC
Cancelled 12/10/51 as transferred to MCA
Date delivered 2/9/53 by road to Southend for Aviation Traders Ltd
Broken up February 1954 at Southend for spares

Avro Tudor Freighter 1 –
G-AGRH
(C/N 1256) with its original short nose, as used by BSAA before being converted by Aviation Traders Ltd into a long-nose Super Trader for Air Charter service in 1956. Despite its good range, the taildragger Tudor was vastly outclassed by more modern American airliners like the Douglas DC-6.

G-AHNI C/N 1342 Registered on 20/5/46 For BSAA ‘Star Olivia‘ but not taken up
Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP) for BOAC but not taken up
Transferred 21/10/49 and C of A No.8492 issued 24/2/50 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).  Withdrawn from use/stored in March 1950 at Ringway
Bought on 18/11/53 and converted April 1954 by Aviation Traders Ltd to Super Trader 4B.  Date delivered 28/8/54 to Air Charter as ‘Tradewind’, Withdrawn from use August 1960 and scrapped at Stansted

The 1st Tudor 4 to be completed was G-AHNJ, which first flew at Woodford on April 9, 1947. After brief service on BSAA’s London-Bermuda routes, in company with other Tudor 4s, was relegated to freighting duties and finally reduced to spares at Ringway in 1953.
G-AHNJ ‘Star Panther’
C/N 1343 Registered on 20/5/46
First flight 9/4/47 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C of A No.8493 issued on 18/7/47 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)

 

 


Date delivered 18/7/47 to BSAA initially as ‘Star Lion’ then named ‘Star Panther‘ shortly after.
Converted 1949 by BSAA to Super Freighter 4
Transferred 30/9/49 to BOAC.
Withdrawn from use/stored at Ringway
Cancelled 12/10/51 as transferred to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Bought 2/9/53 by Aviation Traders Ltd
Broken up January 1953 at Ringway for spares

To meet a BSAA requirement, some Tudor I’s were lengthened by 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m), powered by 1,770 hp (1,320 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 621s and 1,760 hp (1,310 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 623s. With 32 seats and no Flight Engineer position, these were known as Tudor IVs, and when fitted with a Flight Engineer’s position and 28 seats, as Tudor IVBs.  BSAA’s new flagships received mixed reviews from Pilots. Some greeted it with enthusiasm, such as Captain Geoffrey Womersley, who described it as “the best Civil Airliner flying.” Others rejected it as an unsound design.

BSAA’s Chief Pilot and Manager of Operations, Gordon Store, was unimpressed:  “The Tudor was built like a battleship. It was noisy, I had no confidence in its engines and its systems were hopeless. The Americans were 50 years ahead of us in Systems Engineering. All the hydraulics, the air conditioning equipment and the recirculation  fans were crammed together underneath the floor without any thought. There were fuel-burning heaters that would never work; we had the floorboards up in-flight again and again.

The Tudor IV‘s fuel-burning heaters were made by Janitrol and were also used on the US-built passenger aircraft – such as the Lockheed Constellation – as well as later on US-ordered variants of the Vickers Viscount.  The first example, G-AHNJStar Panther“, 1st flew on 9 April 1947.  The Tudor IV received its Certificate of Airworthiness on 18 July 1947, and on 29 September, BSAA took delivery of G-AHNK “Star Lion”, the 1st of its 6 Tudor 4s to be delivered.  It departed the next day from Heathrow on a flight to South America, and on 31 October began flights from London to Havana, Cuba via Lisbon, the Azores, Bermuda and Nassau.

G-AHNN ‘Star Leopard
C/N 1347 Registered 20/5/46
C of A number 8497 issued on 23/3/48 (as Tudor IV) to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Date delivered 23/3/48 to BSAA ‘Star Leopard
Converted 1949 by BSAA to Freighter 4B
Transferred 30/9/49 to BOAC.
Cancelled 12/10/51 as transferred to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Shot of Avro Tudor IV G-AHNN Star Leopard above the clouds.
Withdrawn from use October 1951 and stored at Ringway
Broken up in 1953 at Ringway and then spares to Southend in February 1954
(BSAA’s Tudor 4 G-AHNN, ‘Star Leopard’, was later flown by the Ministry of Civil Aviation until reduced to spares at Southend in 1953.)

G-AHNN

G-AHNN Star Leopard and G-AHNK Star Lion

BSAA-TudorG-AHNK Star Lion BSAA’s Tudor 4, the Airline’s Flagship, seen during its 1st test flight on 29th September 1947
C/N 1344 Registered on 20/5/46. 
C of A number 8494 issued on 30/9/47 to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Date delivered 29/9/47 to BSAA ‘Star Lion‘ Converted 1949 by BSAA to Freighter 4
Transferred 30/9/49 to BOAC.  Withdrawn from use March 1950 and stored at Hurn
Cancelled 12/10/51 as transferred to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Withdrawn from use in January 1953.  Bought 2/9/53 by by Aviation Traders Ltd
Date delivered February 1954 dismantled and taken by road to Southend
Fuselage used for cargo door mock-up for the Super Trader 4B
Scrapped in 1954 at Southend
BSAA-TudorAHNK.


StarTiger
G-AHNP ‘Star Tiger’ C/N 1349 Registered 20/5/46
C of A number 8497 issued on 5/11/47 (as Tudor IV) to Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
Date delivered 5/11/47 to BSAA ‘Star Tiger
Written off 30/1/48 lost over the Western Atlantic en-route from Azores to Bermuda
Cancelled 26/5/48

On January 30th, 1948, however, the Tudor IVStar Tiger” was lost without trace on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda, and at the subsequent Public Inquiry, it did not prove possible to account for her disappearance.  Almost exactly a year later another Tudor IV, the “Star Ariel“, disappeared without a trace while on a flight between Bermuda & Jamaica. It again proved impossible at the Inquiry to find any definite cause of the disaster. These two tragic events had far-reaching effects on the position of BSAAC On the first occasion the Tudors were out of service for months, with attendant dislocation of the Corporation’s services, before being brought into operation again. During this period the Corporation had to maintain their services with Yorks and Lancastrians which were no longer competitive.  A further result of the withdrawal of the Tudors was that the Buenos Aires-Santiago sector of the route to Chile had to be abandoned. On the South Atlantic Route at this time there was a twice-weekly service to Buenos Aires; a weekly service, primarily for Chilean traffic, but temporarily terminating at Buenos Aires, and a once-weekly service to Sao Paulo. These frequencies were the same as those provided in the 1st half of 1948 following the loss of the ” Star Tiger “.

Contact with the aircraft was lost while they were in cruising flight at their assigned altitudes, which were 2,000ft. in the case of Star Tiger. It follows therefore that the Sperry A3 autopilot was engaged in both cases. If the autopilot is set to maintain heading and altitude, it will make constant adjustments to the control surfaces in order to do so. Imagine a scenario where one of the outer engines gradually begins to lose power. If the aircraft is being flown manually the Pilot would feel the tendency to yaw and make corrections initially with the rudder pedals and then by adjusting the rudder trim.  Of course, it would be expected that a reduction in engine power would be picked up by fluctuations in the instruments. This cannot be guaranteed, however, and in the case of Star Tiger, crew fatigue could have been a factor, to the extent that in the latter stages of the flight it is possible that only one crew member would have been in a position to monitor the instruments at certain times.  Let us suppose that power in the port outer engine is gradually reducing. The aircraft would try to yaw to the left and the autopilot would, therefore, deflect the rudder gradually to the right to compensate. This situation could exist (and steadily worsen) over some time without the crew being aware of the problem, as the aircraft maintains the selected heading. Star Tiger was close to Bermuda at the time of the last radio contact. It is reasonable to assume that not long after the final radio message was transmitted, the handling Pilot would prepare for the approach to Bermuda by disengaging the autopilot. At that moment the autopilot would cease to control the yaw and because of the asymmetric power situation, the aircraft would suddenly and violently roll to the left. It is very possible that this movement would be so severe (and unexpected) that control would be lost. When one considers the cruising altitude of only 2,000ft. it is unlikely that control could be regained in time to avoid a disaster.

Flying with the Stars

G-AKBY ‘Star Girl’
The Tudor IV aircraft were converted to freight use, but Bennett had 2 restored to passenger use, and one of these, G-AKBY Star Girl, crashed near Cardiff in March 1950 with the loss of 80 lives, at that time the worst air accident in Britain. An enquiry found incorrect loading to be the cause.  A 2009 theory is that a poor design of a cabin heater could have contributed to the plane’s loss
On 12 March 1950, an Avro 689 Tudor V, Star Girl, owned by Airflight Limited and being operated under the “Fairflight” name, took off from Dublin Airport in Ireland, on a private passenger flight to Llandow aerodrome in South Wales. The aircraft had 78 passengers and 5 crew on the manifest. The flight had been chartered privately for a trip to Belfast to watch the Welsh rugby union team compete against the Irish in the Five Nations Championship at the Ravenhill Stadium. The aircraft had been initially booked for 72 passengers, but the plane had been stripped to accommodate another 6.

G-AKBZ ‘Star Falcon’ Avro 689 Tudor 5 was destined for British South American Airways, but was converted into a tanker and, with others, served as fuel freighter on the Berlin Airlift.
C/N 1418, Allocated serial number TS904 but not taken up. Registered 16/8/47
Converted in 1947 by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to Tudor 5
C of A number 10300 issued on 3/11/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Date delivered 4/11/48 to BSAAStar Falcon‘, Transferred 3/9/49 to BOAC
Withdrawn from use 10/8/49 and stored at Woodford, Bought 1/11/51 by Aviation Traders Ltd’ Bought November 1951 by Surrey Flying Services
Withdrawn from use June 1956, Scrapped July 1959 at Stansted by Aviation Traders Ltd

AvroTudorBerlin_AirliftStarFalcon

Avro689Tudor5.G-AKBZ_Stansted53

G-AKBZ-plate.jpg
G-AKCA ‘Star Hawk’ C/N 1419
Allocated serial number TS905 but not taken up. Registered 16/8/47
Converted in 1947 by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to Tudor 5
C of A number 10301 issued on 7/12/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Date delivered 7/12/48 to BSAAStar Hawk
Used as a fuel freighter on the Berlin Airlift
Transferred 3/9/49 to BOAC
Withdrawn from use and stored 10/8/49 at Woodford
Bought 21/9/51 by Aviation Traders Ltd (ATL)
Registered 5/10/51 to Surrey Flying Services (subsidiary of ATL)
Loaned 23/5/52 to Lome Airways (Canada) as CF-FCY
Returned in 1952 to Stansted and stored
Withdrawn from use June 1956
G-AKCB ‘Star Kestrel’ C/N 1420 Allocated serial number TS906 but not taken up.
Registered 16/8/47  Converted by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to Tudor 5
C of A number 10302 issued on 31/12/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Date delivered 31/12/48 to BSAA ‘Star Kestrel‘  Used as a fuel freighter on the Berlin Airlift
Transferred 3/9/49 to BOACWithdrawn from use 10/8/49 and stored at Woodford
Sold 5/4/50 to William Dempster Ltd. Withdrawn from use June 1956
Scrapped at Stansted in July 1959 by ATL
G-AKCC ‘Star Swift’ C/N 1421 Allocated serial number TS907 but not taken up
Registered 16/8/47. Converted by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to Tudor 5
C of A number 10303 issued on 26/1/49 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Date delivered 26/1/49 to BSAA ‘Star Swift
Used as a fuel freighter on the Berlin Airlift
Transferred 3/9/49 to BOAC
Withdrawn from use 10/8/49 and stored at Woodford
Bought 5/4/50 by William Dempster Ltd in association with Pan African Air Charter and Mercury Airways of South Africa
Damaged 17/4/51 in heavy landing at Livingstone, repaired in three months
Damaged beyond repair at Bovingdon 26/10/51 when it overshot the runway on a flight from Castel Benito.
Bought November 1951 by Surrey Flying Services

G-AKCD ‘Star Eagle’ C/N1422 Allocated serial number TS908 but not taken up
Registered 16/8/47. Converted by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to Tudor 5
C of A number 10304 issued on 11/2/49 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Date delivered 11/2/49 to BSAA ‘Star Eagle
Used as a fuel freighter on the Berlin AirliftTransferred 3/9/49 to BOAC
Bought 5/4/50 by William Dempster Ltd in association with Pan African Air Charter and Mercury Airways of South Africa
Withdrawn from use by end of 1953 at Southend.  Bought 5/4/54 by Air Charter
Scrapped at Stansted in June 1958 by ATL

G-AKTB ‘Star Glory’ VM738 Date delivered March 1946 to RAF 231 Sqn.
Registered 17/2/48.  Bought 18/2/48 by BSAA
C of A number 10058 issued on 28/4/48
Date delivered 28/4/48 BSAA ‘Star Glory
Bought 14/1/49 and date delivered April 1949 to Flight Refuelling Ltd.
Used on the Berlin Airlift.  Withdrawn from use April 1951
Scrapped 26/9/51 at Tarrant Rushton

G-AKTC VL978 Date delivered 1946 to RAF 231 Sqn. Full Sutton.  Registered 17/2/48
No C of A issued.  Date delivered June 1948 to BSAAStar Fortune‘ but not taken up
Broken up June 1948 for spares at Langley

G-AKTG VL967 Date delivered January 1946 to RAF 231 Sqn. Full Sutton
Registered 24/1/48 to BSAA ‘Star Crest‘ but not taken up
C of A number 10216 prepared but not issued
Bought 24/2/48 by BSAA for spares

G-AGWH ‘Star Dust’ C/N 1280 Registered 28/11/45
First flight 27/11/45 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C. of A. number 7282 issued 9/1/46
Date delivered 12/1/46 and registered 16/1/46 to BSAA ‘Star Dust
Written off 2/8/47 en route from Buenos Aires to Santiago when it crashed into Mt. Tupungato
G-AGWI ‘Star Land’ C/N 1281 Registered 28/11/45
First flight December 1945 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C of A number 7283 issued 24/1/46
Date delivered 27/1/46 and registered 25/1/46 to BSAAStar Land
Registered 16/8/48 to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Bought 16/1/49 and registered 18/1/49 by Flight Refuelling Ltd.
Used on the Berlin Airlift
Scrapped 26/9/51 at Tarrant Rushton

G-AGWJ ‘Star Glow’ C/N 1282 Registered 28/11/45
First flight January 1946 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C of A number 7284 issued 28/1/46
Date delivered 21/2/46 and registered 28/1/46 to BSAA ‘Star Glow
First service 11/3/46 Heathrow to Buenos Aires
Written off Friday 30th August 1946 when it crashed at Bathurst, Jeswang Airport, Gambia.  The Lancastrian swung off the runway on landing and was damaged beyond repair.

G-AGWK ‘Star Trail’ C/N 1283 Registered 28/11/45
First flight January 1946 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C of A number 7285 issued 15/2/46
Date delivered 21/2/46 and registered 28/1/46 to BSAAStar Trail
Written off 5/9/47 when it crashed on approach at Bermuda

G-AGWL ‘Star Guide’ C/N 1284 Registered 28/11/45
First flight 1/2/46 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C of A number 7286 issued 13/2/46
Registered 28/1/46 and date delivered 15/2/46 to BSAA ‘Star Guide
Registered 14/1/49 and bought 16/1/49 and delivered 18/1/49 by Flight Refuelling Ltd.
Used on the Berlin Airlift. Scrapped 26/9/51 at Tarrant Rushton

G-AHCD ‘Star Valley’ C/N 1298 Registered 20/2/46
First flight 7/12/46 Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production (MoSAP)
C. of A. number 7497 issued 10/1/47
Date delivered 15/1/47 to BSAA ‘Star Valley
Bought 15/4/47 by British European Airways Corporation (BEA)
Leased 16/4/47 to 6/6/47 to BOAC Leased 16/7/47 to 24/7/47 to BOAC
Cancelled 17/12/47 as sold abroad  Bought 17/12/47 by Alitalia ‘Sirocco’

G-AKFF ‘Star Flight’ Avro 691 Lancastrian 4  TX284 Registered 29/8/47
C. of A. number 9681 issued 10/9/47 Skyways Ltd. as ‘Sky Ruler
Bought 24/2/48 by BSAA ‘Star Flight‘.  Bought 28/12/48 by Flight Refuelling Ltd.
Used in the Berlin Airlift.  Withdrawn from use April 1951
Scrapped September 1951 at Tarrant Rushton

G-AKFG ‘Star Traveller’ TX286 Registered 29/8/47
C. of A. number 9721 issued 29/9/47 Skyways Ltd. as ‘Sky Minister
Bought 24/2/48 by BSAA ‘Star Traveller’
Bought 28/12/48 by Flight Refuelling LtdUsed in the Berlin Airlift
Withdrawn from use April 1951.  Scrapped September 1951 at Tarrant Rushton

G-AGRJ Avro Tudor, still in British South American Airways Livery, in use as a Tanker. This Aircraft never flew with BSAA, and was scrapped at Stansted in August 1956

G-AGRY joins AVM Bennett’s Airline at Blackbushe. 1948.

G-AGRX Avro 689 Tudor Vll

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