Tudor

Tudor G-AGRZ

Avro 688/689 Tudor

Many within the aviation world during the late ’40s and early ’50s would frequently lament over the ghastliness of these ungainly, lumbering beasts known as Avro Tudors. Indeed, many wondered how a company that had got it so right with the likes of the Lancaster and the Anson and to a degree the York, could actually develop and produce such a white elephant, something that this aircraft would rapidly become. The Tudor was never going to be a graceful aircraft with its huge circular fuselage that had replaced the sleek lines of its predecessors, in Avro’s quest to provide the airline industry with a pressurised and thus more comfortable passenger cabin that could operate at higher altitudes on the Trans-Atlantic or former Empire routes.

Having been summarily rejected by B.O.A.C after which, several high profile crashes, disappearances and other incidents were to follow, their usefulness became mostly academic as the larger airlines and the authorities relegated them to operating cargo flights only and it was at this time that Laker once again saw opportunity knocking on the hangar doors of Aviation Traders. Looking for a replacement for ACL’s Yorks, these aircraft were seen as being slightly more economical to run and easier to both acquire and operate than many of the other surplus, piston engined types that were coming onto the market at the time. Thus, ten airframes were quickly snapped up with six of them being wheeled into into the engineering workshops during 1954 – two of them later emerging as Tudor 1s while four Tudor 4B aircraft would be overhauled too. Before being handed over to Air Charter in August 1954, all aircraft underwent a series of modifications that would see a total of 18 changes being made, some of which included:

  • A strengthened hydraulic system replacing all aluminium pipes with steel
  • Removal of pressurisation systems (cabin and fuel)
  • Replacement of the internal ventilation system with one fed by external air
  • The removal of underfloor equipment and the tidying or repositioning of wiring
  • Replacement of cabin combustion heater with heat provided from the engines
  • Upgrading of engines and propellers
  • Lightened escape hatches and the addition of one extra emergency exit
  • Upgraded undercarriage parts and wheels
  • Upgraded passenger cabin with seats and rails capable of withstanding 9G
  • Fixed crew oxygen system

A total of 13 complete aircraft were eventually purchased, although a handful were immediately WFU to provide ATEL with a source of spares. A number of non-airworthy Tudors were also bought and then scrapped at other British airfields with the fuselages and other parts usually ending up at Southend where some were used for cargo door and fuselage lengthening trials. During 1954-55, six Tudors underwent further conversion work to Super Trader standard. The two Tudor 1s would be lengthened to Tudor 4B specifications while all six aircraft would be fitted with two, large, cargo doors plus a few other, minor modifications and were then mostly put to work on the UK – Australia missile flights that were operated on behalf of the MoS.

These aircraft were generally operated from Stansted, while most conversion work and some maintenance was carried out at Southend. As the mid-50s came and went, the Tudors would slowly but surely start to be withdrawn and were as such, quietly passed back to ATEL for spares use. Indeed, Southend and Stansted would both become something of a parking lot for the Tudors from 1956-7 onwards as ACL began to remove them from service, although by the following year, most of them had retired to Stansted. With two fatal crashes taking place during 1959, the remaining Tudors were quickly WFU and as such, most of them ended their lives at the Aviation Traders facilities at Southend or Stansted where they were broken up for scrap and any usable parts that could be salvaged were recycled or sold on.

Many thanks to Chris Garton for his valuable contribution in helping to correct some information on this page.

 

The list of ATEL’s Tudors is as follows

Avro 688 Tudor 1

G-AGRF – 9/53

Scrapped at Hurn – Remains to SEN by road

G-AGRG – 9/53 to 8/54

Conv to 4B Supertrader during the latter part of 1955 – Destroyed at Brindisi, Italy 1/59

G-AGRH– 9/53 to 8/54

Conv to 4B Supertrader between Jul & Oct 1955 – Flew into Mount Suphan in Turkey 23/4/59

G-AGRI – 9/53 to 8/54

B/U at Stansted 10/54

G-AGRJ – 9/53 to 8/54

B/U at Stansted 8/56

Avro 689 Tudor 2

G-AGRZ – 3/54 to 7/59

Not converted – Flown to SEN where she was WFU and broken for parts

G-AGSA – 5/53 to 10/53

Bought for spares having been WFU at Farnborough – B/U by 10/53 – Parts to SEN

G-AKCD – 4/54 to ?/56

Bought by Air Charter but NTU – Broken for spares at Stansted and scrapped during 1956

Avro 688 Tudor 3

G-AIYA – 9/53 to 8/54

Conv to Tudor 1 during 5/54 – TFR to Air Charter – WFU at Stansted 5/55 and later scrapped

G-AJKC – 9/53 to 8/54

Conv to Tudor 1 during 6/54 – TFR to Air Charter – WFU at Southend 8/56 – B/U at Stansted 12/58

Avro 688 Tudor 4

G-AHNI – 11/53 to 8/54

Conv to Super Trader between late 1954 and Mar 1955 – WFU and B/U at Stansted during 6/59

G-AHNK– 10/53

B/U at Hurn during 1953 – Fuselage transported to SEN for Tudor 4B cargo door installation and trials

G-AHNL – 11/53 to 8/54

Conv to 4B Supertrader during the winter of 1955 – WFU at SEN 8/58 – Scrapped at STN 2/60

G-AHNM – 11/53 to 8/54

Conv to 4B Supertrader between May & Jun 1955 – WFU at SEN 9/58 – B/U at STN 6/59

G-AHNN– 11/53

B/U at Ringway during the winter of 1953/54 – Parts roaded to SEN

G-AHNO – 11/53 to 8/54

Conv to 4B Supertrader during the first half of 1955 – WFU and later B/U at STN 8/59

Avro 689 Tudor 5

G-AKCA – 3/52 to 7/59

TFR to ACL from Surrey Flying Services – Leased to Lome Airways but NTU – WFU at STN and B/U 7/59

Avro 689 Tudor 7

G-AGRX – 3/54 to 9/59

WFU at STN by mid-54 and wingless by 9/54 – B/U 9/59

 

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about these aircraft or indeed, any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.