On 9th April 1947, the prototype Avro 688 Tudor 4 G-AHNJ made its first flight from Woodford in the hands of Chief Test Pilot Bill Thorn.
The Avro Tudor commercial airliner was conceived towards the end of the Second World War in anticipation of the rebirth of civil aviation. There were high hopes for what would become Britain’s first pressurised airliner but the aircraft never fulfilled its potential. Development was hampered by the requirement of having to use as many components as possible from the Avro Lincoln in order to keep costs down. Furthermore, the production line was severely disrupted by approximately 350 changes requested by BOAC.
An initial order of fourteen Tudor Is was placed by BOAC, which was increased to twenty when British South American Airways ordered six aircraft. Four of these airframes were converted to Mk 4s by lengthening the front fuselage and thereby increasing seating from 28 to 32. The first Tudor 4 (G-AHNJ Star Panther) made its first flight on 9th April 1947 and the fleet went into service on the South Atlantic routes in October, together with two 28-seater Mk 4Bs.
On 30th January 1948, the aeroplane’s reputation suffered when G-AHNP Star Tiger disappeared over the Atlantic in mysterious circumstances. A second Tudor 4 was lost almost a year later on 17th January 1949 when G-AGRE Star Ariel disappeared in the same area of the Bermuda Triangle. Following this second incident, the rest of the fleet was relegated to freight duties and G-AHNJ Star Panther was scrapped at Ringway in 1953.