Salute to the Auster

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Re­port: Peter R March

The of­fi­cial Auster 80th An­niver­sary Fly-in took place at Mid­dle Wal­lop on 7-8 April, mark­ing eighty years since Auster man­u­fac­turer Tay­lor­craft Aero­planes (Eng­land) was formed to build the US Tay­lor­craft two-seat, high-wing mono­plane un­der li­cence. With a Tay­lor­craft Model A (G-AFDN) im­ported as a demon­stra­tor, the first air­craft built at the fac­tory at Thur­mas­ton, Le­ices­ter­shire was an im­proved Tay­lor­craft Plus C G-AFNW. Fol­low­ing Air Min­istry tri­als, Tay­lor­craft re­ceived an or­der for 100 air­craft in 1941. Named Auster I in RAF ser­vice they were first de­liv­ered to Nos 651 and 654 Squadrons the fol­low­ing year for Air Ob­ser­va­tion Post (AOP) du­ties. Over 1,600 Austers (Mks 1-5) were built dur­ing WWII. The com­pany changed its name to Auster Air­craft Ltd in March 1946 and went on to pro­duce more AOP air­craft (Mks 6, 7 and 9) and nu­mer­ous civil air­craft in­clud­ing the Auster 5 and J/1 Au­to­crat to a to­tal of 3,868 by 1961.

The event, or­gan­ised by Thresh­ in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the In­ter­na­tional Auster Club, the Mu­seum of Army Fly­ing and the Army Air Corps (AAC), also cel­e­brated the six­ti­eth an­niver­sary of Mid­dle

Wal­lop be­com­ing the home of Army Avi­a­tion. While Army Air Ob­ser­va­tion Post train­ing com­menced at the RAF air­field in June 1948, it was ten years later that Mid­dle Wal­lop be­came the Army Air Corps Cen­tre.

Un­for­tu­nately, poor weather over much of the West of Eng­land meant that only half the an­tic­i­pated 35+ Austers man­aged to fly in. They were, how­ever, well rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Auster fam­ily with three Army vari­ants (AOP6 TW536, T7 WE569 and AOP9 XR244) mak­ing a for­ma­tion fly-over in salute to the an­niver­saries. The old­est civil­ian Auster present was 1946-built J/1 Au­to­crat G-AHAO.

The His­toric Air­craft Flight Trust pre­sented a line-up of its air­craft: Skeeter, Sioux, Auster AOP9 and Beaver to­gether with the sur­prise ad­di­tion of its for­mer Alou­ette AH2 XR379, now ap­pro­pri­ately reg­is­tered in Guernsey as 2-ALOU, to mark the AAC an­niver­sary. There was also the wel­come ad­di­tion of spe­cially-painted Lynx AH9A ZG917, com­mem­o­rat­ing the 75th an­niver­sary of the for­ma­tion of No 657 Squadron with Auster Is and IIIS at Ous­ton in Jan­uary 1943.

A neat trio of for­mer AAC Austers (AOP9 XR244, AOP6 TW536 and T7 WE569) over­head Mid­dle Wal­lop on 7 April

1946 J/1 Au­to­crat G-AHAO was the old­est civil­ian Auster at the fly-in

For­mer AAC His­toric Flight Alou­ette XR379 now flies as 2-ALOU

Spe­cially painted Lynx AH9A ZG917 com­mem­o­rated the for­ma­tion of No 657 Squadron 75 years ago

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