Featured image: BAe Systems

7/05/1942: Maiden Flight of the Avro York

DALLAS – Today, in 1942, the prototype Avro York (LV626) made its first flight from Manchester Ringway Airfield.

The British-built airliner was a civilian version of the Avro Lancaster bomber, created by fabled aircraft design engineer Roy Chadwick. He had envisaged the post-war demand for transport aircraft. Despite the deteriorating climate due to World War II, Avro gave the go-ahead for the type in 1941.

The high-wing cantilever monoplane was powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. It had a square-section boxy fuselage, capable of carrying up to 30 passengers.

Despite being designed as a passenger aircraft, the first examples off the production line went to the Air Ministry. The third prototype (LV633) would go on to become Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s personal transport.

The aircraft became a crucial part of the Berlin Airlift. Avro Yorks from seven different RAF squadrons flew over one million tonnes of vital supplies into the city between 1948 and 1949.

Avro 685 York (G-AGJC) ‘Malmesbury’ in BOAC service. Photo: BAe Systems

Avro 685 York (G-AGJC) ‘Malmesbury’ in BOAC service. Photo: BAe Systems

Civilian Operators

British Overseas Aircraft Corporation (BOAC) became the first civilian user of the type, receiving its maiden example (G-AGJA) in 1944. The airline used the type in passenger service until October 1950. It continued in a cargo role until November 1957. According to BAe Systems, “BOAC operated the type for 13 years, carrying some 90,000 passengers and flying some 44 million miles.”

Other operators of the type included British South American Airways (BSAA), South African Airways, Dan-Air London, and Skyways. The latter two became the last airlines to use the Avro York, retiring their final examples in 1964.

The featured image shows the prototype Avro York LV626 in July 1942.

Pre-order the 2025 Airways Calendar