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Hawker Siddeley Andover

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AndoverC1.jpg

Andover C1 (PR)


The Hawker Siddeley Andover was a military development of the civilian HS748 airliner introduced in the mid-1960s as a replacement for the obsolete Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer. A short-medium range transport, the C1 was utilised for local operations in-theatre in the Middle and Far East and was capable of working from short unsurfaced airstrips. It was fitted with a rear loading ramp and was used for both cargo and personnel movement.

The Andover was unusual in that the design of the civilian 748 didn't obviously lend itself to militarisation - especially when compared to the US C123 and Canadian DHC-4 Caribou - both very sturdy high-wing designs. The low-winged Andover was not an obvious choice for a tactical transport with a rough field capability.

The provision of a rear loading ramp necessitated a total redesign of the rear fuselage, and with an extended and ungainly-looking undercarriage (to provide prop clearance) and tail-heavy appearance, the Andover looked far from workman-like.

The largely uncomplicated 748-based design was offset by the ridiculous system adopted to facilitate usage of the rear ramp. For the ramp to be used the whole aircraft had to be 'knelt' - the main undercarriage oleos compressing. Fast 'hot' turn arounds were out of the question.

Only the British could have though of this. US designs had proved that the optimum format for a military transporter was a high-winged, low fuselage, ramped design with main undercarriage in fuselage blisters. Avro (the original design & manufacturer before merger) totally ignored the obvious and pressed ahead with the Andover. Unsurprisingly, the type received little interest outside of the RAF.

A fully-militarised Herald with a ramp would have been far more suitable - its low slung fuselage lending itself better for military usage - and could have possibly saved Handley Page from ruin. Quite why the RAF chose Hawker Siddeley's offering is a mystery. That said, as a transporter, it served well and was surprisingly robust.

The RAF also ordered a small number of CC2s. These were basically the same as the civilian 748 airliner and were used for many years in the communications role and as the fixed wing element of the Queen's Flight.

The draw down of RAF Transport Command also saw a reduction of types and it was decided to retire the ageing Argosies that remained in service as airfield checkers and to re-role a few Andovers to this role as E3s. The remaining airframes were either scrapped, sold to the RNZAF or civilian freight operators. Only three remain in military service today: two as test beds and one (illustrated) as a photographic platform for Open Skies.