The not so Masterly Provost
Without wishing to be the Devil’s advocate, nor a spokesman for the nostril ascendum club (again), may I offer the following observations?
At the end of WWII the Americans decided the T6 Texan/harvard needed replacing. They came up with the T28 Trojan – more powerful, better performance, nosewheel and correct military trainer seating. As they say, what’s not to like? And like it people did, as they built thousands, with thirtyodd countries joining the buyers’ queue.
We likewise decided our own ‘Harvard’, the Miles Master (incidentally in many ways superior to the T6) needed to be put out to grass, and so we came up with the Provost – for the ‘fast jet era’? One would be forgiven for thinking it was not the Master’s successor, but predecessor. Less powerful, less performance, tailwheel, Blackburn Bluebird seating and – barely believable – fixed undercarriage, complete with dodgy engine. Yet another case of forward to the past. As someone unkindly opined, I fail to see why it was not fitted with a fixed-pitch wooden propeller, to complete the 1930s spec.
Needless to say we made few – or, to more than a few, that few was too many. Even less were sold, with potential customers preferring to stick with wartime trainers which were plentiful, cheap and in many ways superior and more advanced. This of course continued in many cases right up until the 1980s.
Oil consumption aside, noteworthy – but not praiseworthy – is that the Alvis engine would tend not to start at all if things were ‘high and hot’. The adopted method was to tie a rope, old lawnmower fashion, around the propeller hub and attach the other end to any handy ‘MT’ that could be driven off! Oh how our rivals laughed. One would think that a simple piston engine, which came out in the 1930s would be sorted by then – but no. Of course Alvis was not known as an aero engine builder, the Leonides being their only offering. They were no Bristol or Armstrong Siddeley ('strongarm Sid').
Today, compared with the Harvard, despite being a decade or two newer, their survival rate is about half and reflected similarly in the price tag. (Incidentally, the fact that today we do not have a single example of a Miles Master is little more than a national disgrace!)
Righto, rant over... but on the day of reckoning, those ‘air heads’ from the Air Ministry have a lot to account for. John Trist, Clapham