A singularly angular aircraft!


An angular aircraft!

For many years the Auster (nee British Taylorcraft) concern provided the RAF, and the the Army Air Corps with a splendid series of Air Observation Post aircraft. The science of ‘spotting for guns’ and army liason work is not an easy one, but the Austers (Latin for ‘warm, southerly breeze’) were brillant at their job. All the way through WW2 and Malaya you could find one other of the various marks at work. In the late 1950s, the Army Air Corps took control of their own aircraft, and decided to focus on battlefield helicopters, instead of fixed-wing aircraft. The AOP.9 was powered by a Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier, engine putting out about 180 hp, and capable of running on British Army mogas, if neecessary. AOP.9 aircraft were also exported, and as well as the RAF and Army Air Corps, they were flown by the South African Air Force, the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force. The AOP.9 is singularly angular aircraft – hardly a curve in sight – but a real workhorse. Here we see XN441 (G-BGKT) moving down the flightline at the Great Vintage Flying Weekend, at Abingdon. This aircraft was once owned by no less a personage than Wing Commander Kenneth Horatio Wallis, MBE, CEng, FRAeS, RAF (Ret’d), who designed and flew some of the most amazing autogyros (including ‘Little Nellie’ in the James Bond film, ‘You Only Live Twice’).

Auster built a prototype AOP.11, in an attempt to counter the change to rotary winged Army aircraft, but it came to nothing. The AOP.11, is, I’m glad to say, still with us, although in private hands.dsc002372

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