Avro was a British aircraft manufacturer, well known for planes such as
the Avro Lancaster which served in World War II.
One of the world's first aircraft builders, A.V.Roe and Company was
established at Brownsfield Mills, Manchester, England by Alliot Verdon Roe
and his brother H.V.Roe on 1st January 1910. Alliot had already made a
name for himself as a pilot at Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey and
Farnborough in Hampshire, England. The company built the world's first
totally enclosed monoplane in 1912 but it was the well-proportioned,
wooden biplane known as the Avro 504 that kept the firm busy throughout
the First World War and beyond. Production totalled 8,304 at several
factories: Hamble, Failsworth, Miles Platting and Newton Heath and
continued for almost twenty years. This was a substantial achievement
considering the novelty of powered aircraft in this period.
In the 1920s the Company left Alexandra Park aerodrome in south Manchester
where test flying had taken place during its early years. A rural site to
the south of the growing city was found at New Hall Farm, Woodford,
Cheshire which continues to serve aviation British Aerospace to this day.
In 1928 A.V.Roe formed the Saunders-Roe company that developed several
radical designs for combat jets and, eventually, a range of powerful
Maintaining their skills in designing trainer aircraft, the company built
a more robust biplane called the Avro Tutor in the 1930s that the RAF also
bought in quantity. A twin piston-engined airliner called the Anson
followed but as tensions rose again in Europe the firm's emphasis returned
to combat aircraft. The Avro Lincoln, Manchester, Lancaster and post war
WWII Vulcan bombers were particularly famous Avro designs. Over 7,000
Lancasters were built and their bombing capabilities led to their use in
the famous Dam Busters raid. The civilian Lancastrian and maritime
reconnaissance Shackleton were derived from the successful Lancaster
design. The Tudor was a pressurised but problematic post-war Avro airliner
that faced strong competition from designs by Bristol, Canadair, Douglas,
Handley Page and Lockheed. With the same wings and engines as the Lincoln,
it achieved only a short (34 completed) production run following a first
flight in June 1945 and the cancellation of an order from BOAC. The older
Avro York was somewhat more successful in both the RAF and in commercial
service, being distinguished by a fuselage square in cross-section. Both
Tudors and Yorks played an important humanitarian part in the Berlin
Airlift. The Vulcan saw service as a conventional bomber and flight-refueller
during the British campaign to recapture the Falkland Islands in 1982.
Although none has flown since 1992, several are prized as museum exhibits.
A twin turboprop airliner, the Avro 748, was developed during the 1950s
and sold widely across the globe, powered by two Rolls Royce Dart engines.
The Royal Flight of the United Kingdom bought a few and a variant with a
rear-loading ramp and a "kneeling" main undercarriage was sold to the RAF
and several members of The Commonwealth as the Andover, named after a town
In the 1950s A.V.Roe's Canadian Division developed the Avro Arrow, the
most advanced fighter ever developed. The Canadian government stopped
production of the Arrow, however, deciding instead to purchase missiles
from the United States.
When the company was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation in July 1963,
the Avro name seemed to have disappeared for ever but the brand had such a
strong heritage appeal that the marketing name "Avroliner" was applied to
a Hawker Siddeley STOL airliner (the 146 Whisperjet) during the latter
years (1994-2001) of its long production run (by BAe at Woodford). The
British Aerospace ATP (Advanced Turbo Prop) design evolved from the Avro
748 and examples continue in use on shorter, mainly domestic, scheduled
air services. A few Avro 504, Tutors, Ansons and Lancasters are lovingly
maintained in flying condition as reminders of the heritage of this
influential English company. The noisy and impressive Shackleton has the
distinction of being the aircraft with the longest period of active
service in the RAF - 41 years. During 2003 that record may be overtaken by
the English Electric Canberra.