York Info & Specs

Operated from Jul 1942 to c.Aug 1963

As was the case with a number of late or post-war types that would then go on to serve within the sphere of civil aviation after the war, the Avro York would end up being comprised of an assortment of parts that had been sourced from a military type. In fact, the York was basically a Lancaster with a new fuselage, both sets of flying surfaces and the Merlin power eggs being derived from this well-known and highly revered WWII bomber. While Britain was desperately in need of a heavy transport aircraft, early production went at a snail’s pace no doubt due to the fact that the strategic bombing of Germany was entering its most intense stage and bombers rather than cargo planes were needed at this time. However, production began to pick up from 1944 onwards and by the time that the war in Europe was over, around 70 examples had been delivered including one for Churchill’s own personal use.

Needless to say, possessing the ability to lift more than 10 tons of freight over short distances, the York quickly found favour with a good number of civilian airlines who snapped up those airframes that were being sold off during the late ’40s and early ’50s as war surplus stock. The likes of B.O.A.C. had already been operating the type carrying civil markings during the war while in 1949, B.S.A.A. would be one of the first post-war airlines to introduce the type, followed in the early ’50s by Air Charter, Lancashire Air Corp, Skyways and Surrey Flying Services (Skyways going on to buy almost 40 examples, although some of these were immediately withdrawn for spares use). Other big names such as Dan-Air and Hunting Clan would also jump onto the bandwagon while several more would be sold abroad to such countries as Argentina, Lebanon and South Africa.

Sufficed to say, it was the acquisition of Surrey Flying Services by Air Charter that finally brought the York to Southend although it is also very possible that one of SEN’s first York arrivals was made by the single example (ZK-DGN) owned by Tropic Airways of South Africa which through its director, had close links to the airport via Meredith Air Transport. This particular aircraft was also known to have frequented the airport several times for engineering services. However, what is known is that Air Charter’s G-AMGL became a regular visitor during the latter part of 1951 and much of 1952, while a couple of visits were also recorded during this period by stablemate G-AMGM. However, operations would usually not figure into the bulk of these visits to SEN and for the most, Surrey’s and Air Charter’s Yorks would primarily venture in for engineering work with ATEL.

As far as the York was concerned, in Air Charter and Surrey service these aircraft would carry out most of the trooping work that had been offered to them by the Ministry of Supply. However, later attempts to replace the Yorks with Tudors were summarily rejected by the government after several high profile crashes involving the latter type and as such, the Yorks soldiered on with ACL in this roll until 1956 when they were eventually replaced with C-54s, which in turn were replaced by Britannias. By the early ’60s, most of Britain’s remaining Yorks had been removed from service although a few continued to operate for a short period in the Eastern Mediterranean region with Middle East Airlines. The very last flight is believed to have taken place sometime around August 1963 after which time, the last York in the MEA fleet had been permanently withdrawn from use.


Avro York Variants

York 685

Prototype models of which four were built

York I

Production model for civilian market – 44 built

York C.1

Main production variant for military use – 208 built

York C.II

A single example that was fitted with Bristol Hercules engines


Avro York Specifications

Number Built



Medium Range Transport Aircraft


78ft 6in (23.90m)


102ft (31.10m)


56 passengers

10,500kg cargo

Cruise Speed

217kt – 250mph (402km/h)




2680nm (4 ton load)

435nm (full load)


4 x 1,280hp Rolls Royce Merlin 24