Portsmouth-built plane gets a new lease of life in New Zealand

Airspeed is a name synonymous with Portsmouth's aviation history.

Tuesday, 12th April 2016, 6:00 am
PAINSTAKING The restored 1945 Airspeed Oxford PK296 on display in Christchurch, New Zealand

Many of you will have had connections with the company which had a factory adjacent to the old city airport.

One of the most famous names to emerge from the site off Eastern Road was the Airspeed Oxford and one has been completely rebuilt and gone on display at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum in Christchurch, pictured right.

It took 14 years and more than 33,000 hours of restoration work to get the 1945 Airspeed Oxford PK296 ready for public viewing.

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TRUSTY A Prototype of an Airspeed Oxford on its maiden flight from Portsmouth on June 19, 1937. Nearly all Second World War Bomber Command crews trained in this type of plane, of which 9,000 were built.

The Oxford was widely used for aircrew training, reconnaissance, and aerial survey work by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) between 1938 and 1954.

Museum collections manager David Watmuff said the RNZAF operated 299 Oxfords, more than any other aircraft type.

He says: ‘This is a fantastic representative of that fleet. A lot of the pilots in the Second World War, who went on to fly in coastal command and bomber command, probably would have flown Oxfords. So they’ll have a strong identification with it. It’s a very significant aircraft.’

The aircraft was built in Portsmouth in 1945, and was constructed too late to see operational service during the Second World War.

CONSTRUCTION The old Airspeed factory on what is now the Airport Industrial Estate off Eastern Road, Portsmouth
TRUSTY A Prototype of an Airspeed Oxford on its maiden flight from Portsmouth on June 19, 1937. Nearly all Second World War Bomber Command crews trained in this type of plane, of which 9,000 were built.
CONSTRUCTION The old Airspeed factory on what is now the Airport Industrial Estate off Eastern Road, Portsmouth