Paradoxically these were the very features distrusted by the British authorities. Fortunately the British Air Ministry was already in possession of a Netherlands-built F.VIIa-3m, serialed J7986, delivered in May 1926 by Fokker's chief test pilot Ir. J. 'Bertus' C.G. Grasé, who had astonished spectators by looping it on arrival over RAF Martlesham, Suffolk, UK. A series of tests during which it defeated all attempts to break it eventually cleared the way for the certification of the Avro-built version. Although generally similar to the Dutch original, it differed slightly in detail to meet British airworthiness requirements, notably in the downward tilt to the thrust line of the nose engine. Powered by three 240 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IVB radials, it was known as the Avro 618 Ten, so called because it carried eight passengers and two crew.
Total production amounted to fourteen aircraft, including five for Australian National Airways (ANA) founded in 1929 by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm. The first of these was exhibited at the 7th International Aero Exhibition at Olympia, London (July 16-27, 1929) and later received British marks G-AADM (c/n 241) for test flying at Avro's works at Woodford near Manchester. The new machines were used on the daily, six hour, 500 mls (805 km) Brisbane-Sydney service opened on January 1, 1930, and the daily 480 mls (772 km) Sydney-Melbourne route inaugurated on June 1. By way of compliment to 'Smithy's veteran Fokker flagship Southern Cross, the five aircraft were named:
Southern Cloud (c/n 241 VH-UMF)
Southern Moon (c/n 231 VH-UMI)
Southern Sky (c/n 229 VH-UMH)
Southern Star (c/n 230 VH-UMG)
Southern Sun (c/n 388 VH-UNA)
On April 29, 1931, Southern Sun (flown by Capt. P. Lynch Blosse) and Southern Star (Capt. J.A. Mollison) helped distribute the first experimental England-Australia air mail by collecting the bags from Kingsford Smith and the Southern Cross at Brisbane and flying them to Sydney and Melbourne respectively. The same Avro Tens returned to Brisbane with the first northbound mail on April 23-24 and two others performed a similar function for the second service when Southern Moon (Capt. P.G. Taylor) left Darwin on May 14 for Sydney where Southern Sky (Capt. E. Chaseling) picked up the mail for Melbourne.
The cost of the search for Southern Cloud (Capt. W.T. Shortridge), which disappeared over the Strathbozie Mountains between Sydney and Melbourne on March 21, 1931, and a falling-off in traffic, forced ANA to close down, the last major operation being the special 1931 Christmas mail flight which carried 52,780 items weighing 1,340 lb (608 kg) to England. Southern Sun (Capt. G.U. Allan) left Hobart, Tasmania, on November 15, picked up the Australian mail and left Darwin northbound on the 23rd, but the machine was severely damaged in a takeoff accident at Alor Star, Malaya on the 26th. By flying long forced stages in Southern Star, Kingsford Smith saved the situation and landed the mail at Croydon near London on December 16. After an extremely rapid top overhaul by Avros at Hamble, the Avro Ten left again on January 1, 1932, and arrived at Darwin on the 19th.
On its return from Croydon, Southern Star was sold to the Hart Aircraft Company which opened a twice weekly Melbourne-Flinders Island-Launceston service with it on April 4, 1933. But the mystery of the disappearance of Southern Cloud remained unsolved. It was not until 27 years later on October 26, 1958, that the wreck was located near the top of a 5,000 ft (1,524 m) mountain in the Toolong Range. A maker's plate inscribed 'Avro 10 No. l' (confirming it as VH-UMF ex G-AADM) was still readable.
Avro Tens VH-UNJ (c/n 371) and VH-UPI (c/n 468), built for the Queensland Air Navigation Company of Brisbane, inaugurated a thrice weekly Townsville service on April 1, 1930, and the Lismore and Grafton routes on August 12. When the company closed down in January 1931, these and the former ANA Southern Sky were taken over by New England Airways, the firm responsible for the Brisbane-Narromine sector of the first regular England-Australia air mail service. The Southern Sky was renamed City of Grafton and flown by Capt. K. Virtue the first service was flown on December 21,1934.
The slump which closed ANA also brought the Hart Tasmania service to an end in February 1934, its single Avro Ten VH-UMG being transferred to Australian Transcontinental Airways. for a new Adelaide-Darwin service opened by Capt. J. Chapman on August 19, 1935. This venture was equally short-lived and ceased on October 11 the same year. When New England Airways also closed down, its small fleet of Avro Tens was acquired by Airlines of Australia, Sydney.
A change of name also occurred when Charles Ulm bought the old Southern Moon from the liquidators of ANA in 1932 and called in Wing Cdr. L J. (later Sir Laurence) Wackett who rebuilt it at Cockatoo Island Dockyard as a long-range machine similar to Southern Cross. The mainplane was lengthened and the airframe strengthened to take a series of 260 gal (1,182 l) fuel tanks, and the Lynx engines gave way to three 330 hp Wright Whirlwind J6-7 radials.
Reregistered VH-UXX and named Faith in Australia, the machine was wheeled out on June 1, 1933, first flown on June 14 and left Sydney for a projected world flight on June 24 with Ulm, P.G. Taylor and G.D. Allan as crew. Engine trouble prevented them reaching England in record time and the aircraft did not land at Heston until seventeen days later on July 10. Further bad luck at Portmarnock Strand, Dublin, Ireland, where the undercarriage collapsed under the weight of fuel and the tide engulfed the machine on the eve of takeoff for the Atlantic crossing, necessitated reconstruction by Avros at Woodford using an entirely new fuselage having standard passenger windows. The Faith in Australia was then flown to Brooklands where Ulm decided to abandon the world flight. Instead he left the Fairey aerodrome at Heathrow on October 12 and successfully reduced the England-Australia record time to 6 days 17 hr 45 min by arriving at Derby, Western Australia, at midnight on the 19th.
During the night of December 3-4 VH-UXX made her first passage of the Tasman Sea in the course of which two lady passengers were carried to New Plymouth. After a barnstorming tour of New Zealand, Ulm made the returning crossing with mail on February 2, 1934, after which the aircraft made two more special return mail crossings (April 11-14, May 11-July 12) and later flew the first experimental air mail to New Guinea. After the loss of Ulm in the Pacific in an Airspeed Envoy on December 3, 1934, VH-UXX languished in its old hangar at Mascot until equipped with neon signs in 1935 for night advertising over Sydney. In 1941 Stephens Aviation took it to Wau for goldfields work and in the early days of the Japanese invasion it made many evacuation flights between New Guinea and Australia. Although it escaped the Japanese this historic aeroplane was left to rot away behind a hangar at Townsville, Queensland.
In April 1931 the sixth Avro Ten, G-AASP c/n 384, was delivered to Imperial Airways, named Achilles and dispatched to Cairo, Egypt on long-term charter to the Iraq Petroleum Transport Company for the desert pipeline patrol. A second machine, G-ABLU c/n 528, delivered in June 1931 and named Apollo, also went to the Near East in October 1932. Both Avro Tens returned to European charter work in June 1933, but were based occasionally at Le Bourget, Paris, France to operate the Zürich, Switzerland service. On December 30, 1933, while flying the Brussels-Croydon service, Apollo hit in thick fog a radio mast between Ghent and Bruges in Belgium. It crashed at Ruysselede, the two crew and eight passengers were killed on impact, the aircraft burned out in the ensuing fire. The Achilles survived until the early part of WW II.
In an attempt to establish air routes in India, four Avro Tens were built in 1931 for Indian State Airways, but financial stringency led to the abandonment of the scheme and the order was cut back to a single aircraft, VT-ACT (c/n 524), for the use of the Viceroy. In 1937 it was used to fly British Air Ministry officials over the Southern Shan States to survey a proposed air route to China. Two of the frustrated Indian order machines (c/n 525, 526) were sold to the Egyptian Army Air Force (serials F200, F201) on December 29, 1931. They left Heston in British marks (G-ABSP, G-ABSR) at dawn on January 11, 1932, piloted by Messrs Clarkson and Cameron, but one at last found its way to the Karachi-Lahore service of Indian National Airways and was registered as VT-AFX on October 12, 1934. The fourth machine of the original Indian order (c/n 527) remained in the Avro works until completed as G-ACGF in April 1933 to the order of John Sword to supplement Airspeed Ferries on the Renfrew (Scotland)-Belfast (Northern Ireland) and Renfrew-Speke (England) scheduled services of Midland and Scottish Air Ferries.
Serialed K2682, the last of the fourteen Avro Tens was delivered to the Wireless and Equipment Flight at the RAE, Farnborough, on July 27,1936, themonth later, October 28, it was withdrawn from service.