The Airspeed Oxford normally carried only three people at a given time but notably it had dual flight controls
and additional positions for a bomb-aimer, navigator, camera operator and radio operator, early examples were even fitted with an Armstrong Whitworth dorsal gun turret. The gun turret was removed from all WW2 versions as it became apparent their main use would be for pilot training. The Airspeed Oxford proved to be a versatile and reliable aircraft and in consequence were utilised as air ambulances, communications aircraft and radar calibration targets.
At the outbreak of WW2 nearly 400 were already in service and production was increased by having additional aircraft produced by de Havilland, Percival Aircraft and Standard Motors, to augment Airspeed's production capability, a total of 8,586 aircraft were made, half of which were made by Airspeed themselves, the last example rolling off Airspeed's production line in July 1945, the Airspeed Oxford remained in service with the RAF as an advanced trainer until 1954. One Airspeed Oxford IV AS.10 was used as a Flying test-bed for de Havilland's Gipsy Queen IV engines.
It is of note that Amy Johnson, the English aviatrix who set numerous long-distance records during the 1930's, drowned after bailing out into the Thames Estuary whilst ferrying an RAF Airspeed Oxford from Blackpool to Kidlington for the Air Transport Auxiliary service on the 5 January 1941. It has recently been claimed that she was shot down by RAF fighters after repeatedly failing to give the correct recognition signal (colour of the day) and was assumed to be an enemy aircraft.
Airspeed Oxford MkI Specifications:
- Crew: Normally pilot, trainer and pupil
- Engines: Twin 355 hp Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah IX or X radials
- Wingspan: 16.26 m (53' 4')
- Length: 11.13 m (34' 6'')
- Height: 3.38 m (11' 1'')
- Maximum weight (Loaded): 3447 kg (7600 Lbs)
- Maximum speed: 293 km/hour (182 mph) at 8300 feet
- Range: 885 km (550 miles)
- Service ceiling: 5852 m (19200 feet)
Airspeed Oxford MkI Armament:
- Single 0.303'' (7.7 mm) machine gun mounted in a Armstrong Whitworth dorsal gun turret