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Auster / Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England)

In 1936 the Taylorcraft Aviation Company was established in the USA to design and built light planes for civil use. In 1938 the company established its Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Ltd as its British subsidiary. British production was mainly of the Plus C and Plus D models, and in 1939 the Royal Air Force impressed 24 of the 32 aircraft for evaluation as observation and artillery spotter aircraft. The evalu-ation confirmed the soundness of the concept, and a derivative of the Plus D was ordered into production as the Auster Mk 1. This entered service in August 1942.

Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England), in March 1946, was changed to Auster and the factory transferred from Thurmaston, Leicester, to Rearsby, Leicester. Auster name was well established in Second World War by light observation (AOP) monoplanes known as Taylorcraft Austers, and many of these made an important contribution to the development of postwar light aviation.

Became Auster Aircraft Ltd on March 7,1946, by which time it had built more than 1,600 Taylorcraft C, Plus C, Plus D and Auster I, II, III, IV, and V, as well as early Auster J-1 Autocrats and prototype of J-2 Arrow.

The type mainly concerned was the Auster 5, or Model J, three-seater with Lycoming engine. As war neared its end Taylorcraft designers were already looking to the civil market, and the outcome was the Autocrat, often British-powered and widely used not only for ordinary tasks but also, for instance, to test the Rover TP.90 gas turbine. In the 1950s came the Aiglet and the Autocar, one of the latter being used to test the Saunders-Roe hydro-ski landing gear. The Aiglet Trainer differed greatly from the Aiglet, and the Agricola was an entirely new low-wing agricultural aircraft, first flown December 1955. To supersede the AOP6 the entirely new military AOP9 was tested in March 1954, by which time the British Army and RAF had received nearly 2,000 Austers.

After the war, Auster Aircraft Ltd was formed and commenced a series of variations on the basic theme until 1960 when it was absorbed into Beagle Aircraft Ltd. Production of the basic Auster type continued until the low-wing Pup emerged. This evolved into the Bulldog basic military trainer that was taken up by Scottish Aviation Ltd after Beagle went into receivership in 1970 and finally found its last home with BritishAero-space.


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