Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Misc. Forums > Aviation History and Nostalgia
Reload this Page >

Airspeed/D.H. Ambassador.

Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

Airspeed/D.H. Ambassador.

Old 15th Sep 2009, 17:44
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: NORFOLK UK
Age: 72
Posts: 470
Airspeed/D.H. Ambassador.

Any memories of this elegant yet powerful little airliner?
OUAQUKGF Ops is offline  
Old 15th Sep 2009, 17:50
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: uk
Age: 71
Posts: 585
Yes, tragically, Munich. Powerful maybe, but not powerful enough to snow plough through slush. A lot learned from that accident but a sad way to do it
hawker750 is offline  
Old 15th Sep 2009, 20:54
  #3 (permalink)  

A Runyonesque Character
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: The South of France ... Not
Age: 70
Posts: 1,209
Not DH, just Airspeed.

When I started spotting at Newcastle in the early 1960s, the BKS machines (four of them) were the mainstay of the airport's scheduled operation, with three (?) daily LHR services, plus the odd Belfast, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Rotterdam and Ostend. (Dusseldorf, Rotterdam and Ostend were the continental destinations 'of choice' for quite a few UK independent operators)

They were 55 seaters and didn't have a sparkling take-off/climb out performance from NCL's (then) 5700ft runway.

From time to time Dan-Air would schedule 'Lizzies' on Isle of Man rotations, with or without stop in Carlisle (Newcastle-Carlisle one way 18 shillings - 90p) and there would be a very occasional visit from an Autair example - by far the best looking of the three colour schemes.

Not very evident but had a rear skid with a couple of little wheels, saw one settle (very gently) on its tail while bags were being loaded in the aft hold.

If i remember correctly from a front-end visit on a Dan-Air example at Prestwick, the flight deck was 'downstairs' (by a couple of steps) from the passenger cabin.

Not a particularly lovely or iconic aircraft, I'm afraid, best remembered for two fatal accidents. Neverless I do have a lithograph of one in BEA colours on my wall - just for old times' sake.

Last edited by The SSK; 15th Sep 2009 at 21:06.
The SSK is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 06:15
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Australia
Age: 68
Posts: 372
My father use to fly them in Australia with butler air transport. he always loved them - called them a pilots aircraft. Probably because he then went on to the CV240's which had a single engine climb rate of a snail.

I have in my lounge room a Travel Agents Model of the aircraft in Butler's colours -very large and shold really be in an aviation museum.
dhavillandpilot is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 09:07
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Devon
Age: 64
Posts: 218
Did I read somewhere that Dan Air used to move avons around in one when a comet went U/S?

Im guessing the rear pax door could be opened with a rear baggage door to ge the donk in
Bigt is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 09:23
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 1998
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,918
Well remembered for copious amounts of smoke in the exhaust - all of the time, not just at start up. You could follow the smoke all the way down the taxiway to the runway.

Photos: Airspeed AS-57 Ambassador 2 Aircraft Pictures | Airliners.net

Not a particularly lovely
I would actually disagree with that. Had a charm all of its own.
Groundloop is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 11:21
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Sale, Australia
Age: 76
Posts: 3,829
Have to agree with Groundloop. Always thought the aircraft, along with the Connie, epitomised the greatest of grace and beauty.
Brian Abraham is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 16:36
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Toulouse area, France
Age: 89
Posts: 437
Devil Reported Hatfield comment

I'm another who found the Ambassador/Elizabethan a very elegant aeroplane ... deH was said to have taken over because of either lack of production space at Airspeed's or money to continue the programme - whatever... It was said at the time that people at Hatfield said it was the only metal aircraft designed in wood ...
(but then they would say that ???).
Jig Peter is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 20:14
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: SW England
Age: 73
Posts: 3,782
The well-known novelist Nevil Shute (N.S.Norway) started Airspeed in the 1930's and his autobiography Slide Rule has some great stuff on how aircraft were designed and built in those days. The earliest Airspeed aircraft were frankly ugly, the Ferry looked like a chicken shed with wings, but things quickly improved, and the Ensign and its variant the Envoy, which was used by the Royal Flight, were very pretty little aeroplanes.

I must admt I was under the impression that by the time the Ambassador came out the company had been absorbed by De Havilland, but I may be wrong. Either way I thought it was a handsome aeroplane, a sort of little sister to the glorious Connie. I regret never having seen one, especially in light of The SSK's post, as I was a schoolboy in Carlisle in the early 60s and could easily have cycled out to the airport had I known. 18/- single to Newcastle and hitch-hike back would have been do-able as well - just!
Tankertrashnav is offline  
Old 16th Sep 2009, 22:13
  #10 (permalink)  

A Runyonesque Character
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: The South of France ... Not
Age: 70
Posts: 1,209
Just to set the record straight, I'm the world's biggest fan of the Constellation. In my eyes, just because the Lizzie had a triple tail and curves instead of straight lines didn't make her beautiful.

Or it might have been a case of familiarity and contempt. When you sit around an airfield for hours waiting for something to happen, and the runway lights go on, and a dot appears in the distance, and it turns out to be just another BKS Lizzie, you go off the darn things.

Tankertrashnav: The NCL-CAX service I'm thinking of was Summer 69. Having left home, my employer posted me back to NCL for ten weeks. Every weekend (it was a Saturday service) I promised myself I would make the trip to Carl!isle and every time I put it off for another week. Until I ran out of weeks ... One of my lasting regrets.
The SSK is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2009, 01:59
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Luton
Posts: 399
My Father worked for Autair when they had 3 and I managed to get a couple of flights. I remember it seemed very smooth although flew nose high.

My first trip was from Luton to Copenhagen and back in 1968. We came back empty and I spent most of the return flight sitting in the Captains seat being shown how to fly it by the F/O. My first flight deck experience at the age of 11! Doesn't happen now unfortunately.

My other trip was returning from Luxembourg the following year after a family arranged wine tasting trip to Germany. The Chief Pilot (Capt Dibley) was flying. After we landed it was taken into the hangar where they found cracks in the main u/c legs and the engineers were surprised it didn't collapse. Unfortunately GALZZ never flew again.
Level bust is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2009, 11:17
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Age: 70
Posts: 29

There is an Ambassador, probably the last surviving example, being restored at Duxford. I believe she is ex Dan Air.
tilleydog1 is offline  
Old 17th Sep 2009, 12:21
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: london
Posts: 380
JP/TTN: elegant, handsome: it's all in the pedigree.
DH's Chief Designer A.E.Hagg (lovely, though wooden, D.H.91 Albatross) fell out with Geo.DH and left in March,1937 to do Heston Type 5 Racer. In 1942 he returned to the DH fold: at Portsmouth Airspeed (1934) Ltd had been formed with Swan Hunter equity and a licence for DC-2, later DC-3. DH bought in 27 May,1940 for production capacity at its new MAP Agency Factory at Christchurch - it would deliver 422 Mosquitoes. Sir Geo.DH joined the Second Brabazon Committee, May,1943 and was, ah, helpful in securing in February,1944 design funding for Brabazon Type IV (to be) Comet I, Type VB D.H.104 Dove, and Type II Airspeed AS.57. Hagg, Chief Designer, set to, aiming to leap-frog (to be) Lockheed L-75 Saturn and Convair CV110 with a Mark II, with MetroVick Mamba or DH(Halford) H.3 propellor-turbines. Work was perceived to drift. Vickers-Armstrongs pitched VC2/Centaurus, Hawker Siddeley bid A.W.55 Apollo/ASM Mamba, receiving design ITPs in April/May,1945 as Types IIB/C. In 1948 DH took effective charge; in 1949 Hagg was replaced by George Miles, having launched M.60 (to be HP Marathon). BEAC ordered 20 AS.57 23/9/48, because VC2 (changed 27/8/47 by Geo.Edwards to Darts) was: “too risky (AS.57 was) best suited (to) its requirements”, Centaurus sooner/more reliable than turbines. C.F Andrews/ E.B Morgan, Vickers A/c, Putnam,1988,P.424. V-A chose not to take no for an answer, pestered, added a Co-funded 3rd. to 2 MoS-funded prototypes... and on 2/8/50 won a BEAC order for 20. Elizabethan (Ambassador) entered BEAC service 13/3/52, Discovery (Viscount), 17/4/53.

DH under-resourced AS.57, using its Airspeed Division (so named, 6/51) as offload site for Vampire/Venom, and declining the obvious step of funding a turboprop Mark 2 (such things flew only as MoS Flying Test Beds). Lockheed abandoned the sector; Convair surmounted CV110 failure and captured the piston market with CV240/340/440. Hatfield's mind was on Comets.
tornadoken is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2009, 15:27
  #14 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: NORFOLK UK
Age: 72
Posts: 470
As a whippersnapper teaboy cum ops asst in Autair I was lucky and had many SNY trips in Ambassadors. The Saturday night newspaper run LTN-DUB was a favourite, the Aer Lingus canteen being one of the attractions. This run was often used for Base Checks and it was not unusual for the crew to perform a single-engined ILS and overshoot (usually in 'orrible wx) before landing on two and offloading.
In those distant summers of the mid-sixties two delightful Aussie characters, Warren Wilson and Pete Elliott, would freelance as skippers on the AMB. First Officers new to type loved to fly with these seasoned campaigners who were only too happy to give them no end of P1 "What he let you fly it all the way to Athens and back!?"
Yes the Ambassador belched smoke and chugged along taxiways but once airborne and cleaned up she was as sweet as a nut, whistling not roaring overhead.
OUAQUKGF Ops is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2009, 23:59
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: In "BIG SKY".
Age: 80
Posts: 418
I flew for Dan Air in the 1960's on the Ambassador, and many others, and found it to be as delightful an airplane as it looked.

The old theory regarding "if it looks right, it flies right" fitted the machine well.

I also flew with Pete Elliott many times in the Ambassador and the DC4. A good pilot and a great gentleman.

Speedbird 48.
Speedbird48 is offline  
Old 21st Sep 2009, 11:45
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: South of the M4
Posts: 1,531
Those really were the days:

B.E.A. Silver Wing Service — 1952

Every day, at lunch-time, 40-seat “Silver Wing” Elizabethans fly between London and Le Bourget. This service is claimed by B.E.A. to be the finest means of inter-city travel anywhere in Europe (a claim, incidentally, which has gained much support from passengers since the inaugural flight on June 9th), and increased bookings are expected to compensate for the loss of seating. The fare is the standard one of £8 17s, and passengers are provided with a four-course lunch, champagne and cigarettes.

The Silver Wing lunches are cooked just before take-off by B.E.A. chefs in the catering section at London Airport. Meals are then placed in specially designed G.E.C. electrically-heated containers, each capable of holding 12 plates or one and a half gallons of liquid. Shortly before take-off the two stewards arrive to check the contents of the containers, which are then taken out to the aircraft and plugged into suitable power points in the galley. The containers have glass-wool insulation to ensure that no heat is lost in transit to the aircraft. At the same time the stewardess takes charge of blankets, newspapers, magazines and “flight companions” (small personal folders for each passenger containing airmail paper, a post card, route map, and a printed brochure describing the aircraft).
Flight companions, incidentally, are expensively produced and form a fairly weighty item in the airline budget so with their contents often scattered around the aircraft at the end of the flight, economy-minded B.E.A. salvages and repacks them for further use!

Below is a typical B.E.A. Silver Wing menu:

• Potted Morecambe shrimps, brown bread and butter
• Roast Norfolk turkey with braised York ham,
• Kentish scarlet runner beans
• New Jersey potatoes
• Cape pears preserved in port
• Cheddar cheese
• Water biscuits
• Rolls and butter
• Coffee

The Silver Wing service takes ten minutes longer than the normal London-Paris run by Elizabethans, which normally cover the 216-mile route in 1 hr 20 min. Even so, stewards and stewardess are kept constantly on their feet serving the meals and drinks which, as the menu indicates, more than compensate the passengers for the slight delay in their journey.

Last edited by Warmtoast; 21st Sep 2009 at 17:34. Reason: To ad BEA ads
Warmtoast is offline  
Old 21st Sep 2009, 16:20
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Toulouse area, France
Age: 89
Posts: 437
Ensign - 2 or 4 engines?

@ Tankertrashnav above ...
From memory comes the thought-picture of the Ensign being a 4-engined machine from Armstrong Siddeley.
The twin-engined Airspeed Envoy (very fetching in its Royal livery !) became the Oxford in RAF service (all this of course IIRC)...

Last edited by Jig Peter; 21st Sep 2009 at 16:26. Reason: Didn't say who I was replying to ...
Jig Peter is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2009, 00:12
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New South Wales
Posts: 8,750
My father use to fly them in Australia with butler air transport.
I've read where Mr Butler and at one point in time Airspeed, entertained the idea of a 4-engine Ambassador.

Would have been a good idea?

How to spot the Ambassador from "The Boys Book of Aircraft" of 1953.

Noyade is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2009, 00:57
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Luton
Posts: 399
There is an autobiography by an ex BKS pilot, Arthur Whitlock, called 'Behind the Cockpit Door' with some wonderful stories of flying the Ambassador.
Level bust is offline  
Old 22nd Sep 2009, 17:01
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: SW England
Age: 73
Posts: 3,782
Jig Peter - Yes, you are quite right, the basic aircraft was the Envoy, and the "posh" version was the Viceroy. Dont know where I got Ensign from! As you say the RAF development of the type was the Oxford, which must have been far and away the most numerous of Airspeed's types.

Warmtoast - after posting some beautiful pics of the Victor protype on another thread you've come up with these lovely mementoes from the days when flying was still a treat. A few years ago Mrs TTN and I got upgraded to business class (or club, or whatever they called it) on an Amsterdam - Heathrow flight. Even so, there was a distinct lack of potted shrimps, free fags and champagne!
Tankertrashnav is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.