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Armstrong Whitworth Ensign

The Armstrong Whitworth Ensign was a four engine airliner.

It was the largest airliner to have been built in Britain during the Interwar period.

Development of the Ensign was started at the behest of the British airline Imperial Airways, who released a specification calling for a large monoplane airliner with four Armstrong Siddeley Tiger engines in 1934.

Armstrong Whitworth designed it could to seat up to 40 passengers in relatively luxurious conditions for the era.

While early operations were hindered by mechanical problems, modifications led to improved performance later on.

During the Second World War, the Ensign fleet was operated as transports with the newly-formed British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

The type would frequently be flown between Britain and various locations within the Middle East, usually in support of military operations.

The BOAC flew Ensigns on routes between Africa and India during the war.

During 1940 alone, three aircraft were destroyed by enemy action, with rumours that one was captured and subsequently operated by Nazi Germany.

Shortly after the end of the conflict, the decision was taken to withdraw all Ensigns from service, following the final passenger flight of the type in June 1946, with no buyers forthcoming, the remaining aircraft were scrapped during the following year.

The RAF & Armée de l’Air de Vichy used the aircraft as a transport during World War II.





European routes

40 passengers in 4 cabins

Asian routes

27 passengers in 3 cabins


114 ft 0 in (34.75 m)


123 ft 0 in (37.49 m)


23 ft 0 in (7.01 m)

Empty weight

35,075 lb (15,910 kg)

Gross weight

55,500 lb (25,174 kg)

Max take-off weight

66,000 lb (29,937 kg)


4 × Wright GR-1820-G102A geared radial engines,

1,100 hp (820 kW) each


Maximum speed

210 mph (340 km/h, 180 kn) at 6,700 ft (2,000 m)

Cruise speed

180 mph (290 km/h, 160 kn) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m)


1,370 mi (2,200 km, 1,190 nmi) at 173 mph (150 kn; 278 km/h) and 5,000 ft (1,500 m)

Service ceiling

24,000 ft (7,300 m) when fully loaded

Rate of climb

900 ft/min (4.6 m/s) at sea level.


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