On November 24, 1955, Fokker’s F.27 Friendship prototype, PH-NIV, made its first flight - powered, like the Dart Herald and 748, by a pair of Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops. The type would go on to be a major success for the company, some 787 examples being built by the parent company and under licence by Fairchild Hiller in the USA.
In 1963 the 748 was selected for service with the RAF as a VIP transport, six examples being ordered to Specification C.219. The first of the six, XS789, joined the Queen’s Flight at Benson, where it is seen here in October 1964, two months after its delivery to the unit with which it would serve until 1986.
In June 1959 Eric Rylands, Managing Director of British independent airline Skyways Coach-Air, signed a Letter of Intent to purchase a number of 748s, before the first prototype had flown. To repay this act of good faith, Avro demonstrated the first production 748 Series 1, G-ARMV, in Skyways colours at the SBAC Show at Farnborough in 1961. The aircraft was one of nine 748s that served with the airline.
The 748’s extremely neat "petal" cowling arrangement provided excellent access to the type’s two-stage Dart engines.
Also powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops, Avro 748 prototype G-APZV made its first flight on June 24, 1960.
The first two 748 prototypes, G-APZV and, nearest the camera, G-ARAY, which made its first flight on April 10, 1961. The 748 was a state-of-the-art design, conceived along “fail-safe” principles, whereby if a structural failure occurred in flight, other parts of the aircraft’s structure would take the load until a safe landing was made.
The 748 incorporated an unobstructed passenger cabin with 6ft 4in (1-92m) constant headroom and oval windows of 1ft 7in x 1ft 1in (48cm x 33cm), as seen here in G-ARAY’s VIP configuration.
The much-travelled second Dart Herald prototype, G-AODF, was painted in BEA colours for its appearance at the SBAC Show at Farnborough in September 1959. The aircraft had already completed sales tours to India, Iran, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and South America, and the following month departed for yet another tour, this time to New Zealand, Australia and southeast Asia, returning to Woodley in December 1959.
The prototype Handley Page HPR.7 Dart Herald, G-AODE, gives a sprightly display at Woodley in the spring of 1958, shortly after its first flight under turboprop power that March.
The forerunner of the Dart Herald was the H.P.R.3 Herald, the prototype of which, G-AODE, is seen here in Queensland Airlines colours in July 1956. The Australian airline cancelled its order for the H.P.R.3 (powered by four Alvis Leonides piston engines) when it was acquired by Ansett-ANA, which favoured Fokker’s F.27 turboprop.
In 1962 the MoS leased three Heralds - G-APWB, ’WC and ’WD - to BEA for services in Scotland deemed marginal for Viscounts, the main routes being from Renfrew, near Glasgow, to Islay via Campbeltown, and to the Orkneys and Shetland. Here G-APWB is prepared for another flight from Renfrew in April 1962.