The nick name “Spider” must not confused with the Avro Type 531 Spider. The Fokker series of high-wing monoplanes were renowned for their rugged reliability in an era when the biplane dominated. They were used widely to pioneer air transport, often in places where the motor car had not arrived! The F.VII version of 1925 proved the most durable, in both single and three-engine variants.
A.V.Roe & Co. obtained a license to build the F.VII/3m in 1928 with the designation Avro 618 Ten (ten seats) in order to produce the machine for the U.K. and British Empire (less Canada). The aircraft in question, however was a Fokker-built F.VIIA with a single Bristol Jupiter engine that had originally been supplied to K.L.M. on 16th July, 1927 with the Dutch registration H-NADK (c/n 4953). Only two months later it was sold to R. H. McIntosh, a British airline pilot, who had the makers fit long-range fuel tanks in the cabin. Most of the cabin windows were deleted and the aircraft was painted light blue and named “Princess Xenia”. In late August it was flown from Amsterdam to Filton in preparation for an East-West crossing of the Atlantic.
Registered G-EBTS, a Certificate of Validation was issued on 2nd September,1927 and it was promptly flown to Baldonnel, Dublin, the airfield from which the flight was to commence. After a brief test flight on the 11th. McIntosh departed for the Atlantic attempt on the 16th. With co-pilot Commandant J. C. Fitzmaurice of the Irish Air Corps. They encountered a violent storm when only 100 miles off the west coast of Ireland and returned to land at Ballybunnion on the Shannon estuary. Back at Baldonnel two days later the Atlantic flight was abandoned, and McIntosh returned to Filton.
An extra fuel tank was fitted, and on 15th November he departed for India with co-pilot H. J. ’Bert’ Hinkler (Avro’s Test Pilot) in an attempt to break the record. They crash-landed in Poland in bad weather and returned to Croydon after repairs. After sale to Air Communications Ltd. in early 1928, a further attempt on the UK-India record was made by the Duchess of Bedford, using pilots C. D. Barnard and E. H. Alliott. After departure from Lympne on 10th June, Bushire in the Persian Gulf was reached in two days, but engine trouble halted further progress. They finally reached Karachi on 22nd August. They then made the return flight (without the Duchess) in the record time of 4 1/2 days, reaching Croydon on 6th September.