We could have a Peugeot 504 today. The 504 was a spendid machine, part successor to yesterday’s 404 and similarly available as saloon, estate, seven seater estate, coupé, convertible and pickup.

But enough of that. Let’s head to the sky with the Avro 504. First flown in 1913, the 504 was soon pressed into military service and has the unfortunate distinction of being the first British plane to be shot down by the Germans. In November 1914 a group of four 504s were tasked with one of the first aerial bombing missions when they flew to the Zeppelin works in Friedrichshafen. One was lost but enough 20 lb (yes, 20 lb) bombs hit their target to cause major damage.

Such was the pace of aircraft development at the time that the 504 was soon obsolete as a front line plane and was instead used in large numbers as a trainer. Some were issued to Home Defence squadrons, for which service they were fitted with a machine gun on top of the upper wing as a simpler alternative to synchronised firing through the prop.

After the war hundreds of surplus ones were sold for civilian use, often involving former military pilots barnstorming their way from airfield to airfield. Production continued until 1932, a long life for what we’d regard now as a primitive canvas and string aircraft and by which time about 9,000 had been made.

The first engine used was a seven cylinder radial Gnome, a thing not often encountered.


Note the skid between the wheels, which gave rise to the nickname of Toothpick.

Avro (AV Roe) went on to make the Vulcan.

By TSRL - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?cu…