Armstrong Whitworth Argosy (AW.660)

The Armstrong Whitworth Argosy was a British post-war military transport/cargo aircraft and was the last aircraft produced by Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. Although given different type numbers, the AW.650 civil and AW.660 military models were both called "Argosy" and for practical purposes are basically the same design.
The AW.650 was a high-wing four-engined general-purpose transport aircraft, powered by four Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines driving Rotol four-blade propellers. The tailplane was on twin booms from the inner engine nacelles, leaving the cargo doors at the rear of the fuselage clear for straight-in loading, while sideways-opening doors were fitted at both ends of the fuselage, with the flight deck high up in the nose. This gave an unobstructed cargo space measuring 10 by 47 feet (3.0 m × 14.3 m) with a sill height corresponding to that of a normal flatbed truck.
The first Argosy made its maiden flight on 8 January 1959, receiving Federal Aviation Administration type certification on 2 December 1960. 10 of the initial civil version, the Series 100, were built.
While the RAF had lost interest in the original AW.66, it still needed to replace its obsolete piston engined Vickers Valettas and Handley Page Hastings, and in 1959 the British Air Ministry drew up a specification for a military derivative of the AW.650 to serve as a medium-range transport, paratroop and supply aircraft. The resultant design, the AW.660, was significantly different from the AW.650. It had the nose door sealed to take a weather radar radome, the rear doors were changed to 'clam shell' style with an integral loading ramp, a stronger cargo floor was fitted. Two doors were fitted, one each on the starboard and port sides, to enable paratroopers to exit. The military Argosy had four Rolls-Royce Dart 101 turboprops and had twice the range of the civil Series 100. The new clamshell doors were tested on the second Argosy Series 100 from July 1960, while the first of the RAFs 56 Argosies flew on 4 March 1961.
56 aircraft were produced for the RAF with the designation Argosy C Mk 1 (C.1) and served in six squadrons; three in the UK and one each in Aden, Cyprus, and the Far East. The Argosy was withdrawn from service in 1975 as an economic measure. Those aircraft not scrapped or retained were sold to commercial operators.
After the removal of the Argosy C.1 from the cargo/transport role, it was decided to modify several aircraft as Navigation Trainers for RAF Training Command. Two aircraft were modified as the Argosy T.2, but they were not successful and the programme was abandoned due to defence cuts.


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