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Auster AOP 9
Auster B.5
Auster 9M

 

austeraop9

 

The Auster AOP.9 was designed as a successor to the Auster AOP.6. The AOP.9 was a completely new aircraft and not a development of a civil type. Apart from plastic tips and a fabric covering aft of the main spar, the wings are all-metal and are built round a stiff leading-edge torsion box. The split flaps have a hydraulic assist. Drooping ailerons assist with short landings and take-offs. One of its main features is the Dowty liquid‑spring undercarriage with large‑diameter tyres, capable of withstanding a vertical rate of descent of 9 ft/sec and allowing operation from virtu­ally any type of landing surface.
 
It was a braced high-wing single engined monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage. The AOP.9 was a new design, the wing and tail metal-skinned, but the fuselage and ailerons were fabric-covered. The fin and rudder assembly were more angular in the new aircraft with a noticeable dorsal fillet. A combination of the 180 hp (134 kW) Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine, larger wings and large flaps gave it an improved take-off and landing performance compared with the AOP.6. It could operate from ploughed fields and muddy surfaces using low pressure tyres and strengthened undercarriage.
 
On the insistence of the British Army the fuselage is welded steel and fabric covered. A third seat can be fitted. A unique feature is the rear cockpit floor, designed to allow a complete and rapid change of role. With the removal of six bolts the floor may be lowered out of the aircraft and a new floor, complete with equipment, can be substituted in a few minutes.
 
The cabin held three seats, pilot and passenger side-by-side and the observer behind, facing either forwards or rearwards. The aircraft was also designed to be convertible into a two-seat light transport with an interchangeable rear floor. In this configuration the observer sat alongside the pilot.
 
The prototype WZ662 first flew 19 March 1954 with a 180 hp / 134kW Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier 203 (military version of 702) engine. Auster Aircraft allotted its model designation B5 to the AOP.9 design.
 

Deliveries started to the Royal Air Force in February 1955, replacing AOP.6s in the regular AOP squadrons, the auxiliary squadrons disbanding in March 1957 before receiving AOP.9s. Until the formation of the Army Air Corps (AAC) in September 1957, Army personnel flew RAF aircraft based in RAF squadrons.

 

Aust-AOP9-01
 
The aircraft were in action with No. 656 Squadron from September 1955, flying an average of 1,200 sorties per month. By the end of Operation Firedog in Malaya on 31 July 1960, 656 Squadron's AOP.6 and AOP.9s had carried out 143,000 sorties.
 
Over 6 million leaflets were dropped by Austers of no.656 Sqn RAF dring the Malayan conflict.
 
Auster-9-01

 

The AOP.9s were involved in several of Britain's other end of Empire conflicts; 653 Squadron AAC used them in Aden in the early 1960s, flying from Falaise, Little Aden. They stayed in service until 1966 and were the last fixed wing AOP aircraft used by the AAC, though their light transport role was taken over by Beavers.
 
The South African Air Force operated its AOP.9s from 1957 to 1967.
 
The Army Historic Aircraft Flight maintain an AOP.9 in flying condition at Middle Wallop.
 
A total of 182 were built and in the 1970s, 19 AOP.9s joined the UK civil register, and in 2008 14 remained, though only about three of these had a current certificate of airworthiness.
 
A number of army surplus aircraft were bought by Captain Mike Somerton-Rayner in 1967. One was converted as an Auster 9M with a 180 hp (134 kW) Avco Lycoming O-360-A1D piston engine. The 9M first flew on 4 January 1968, and gained a Certificate of Airworthiness on 30 April 1968. The aircraft was still airworthy in 2009.
 
Operators
Military operators
 
Hong Kong
Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force about 4 ex-British AAC aircraft
various ACC AOP and Independent Flights stationed in Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s
India - About 35 aircraft
Indian Air Force
Indian Army
South African Air Force about 2 aircraft
 
United Kingdom - about 145 aircraft
- Army Air Corps
653 Squadron
656 Squadron
Advanced Fixed Wing Flight
Army Flights: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21.
Various Army Regiments
 
- Royal Air Force
651 Squadron
652 Squadron (1956–1957)
656 Squadron (1955–1957)
657 Squadron
Light Liaison Flight, South Korea
Christmas Island Flight, 160 Wing
1900 Flight (Hong Kong)
38 Group Communications Flight Upavon
Light Aircraft School Middle Wallop

 

Gallery

 

AOP 9
Engine: Blackburn Bombardier 203, 173 hp (129 kw)
Span: 36 ft 5 in / 11.10 m
Wing area: 197.6 ft² / 18.36 m²
Length: 23 ft 8.5 in / 7.24 m
Height: 8 ft 11 in / 2.72 m
Empty weight: 1,460 lb / 663 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 2,330 lb / 1,057 kg
Max speed: 127 mph / 204 km/h
Cruise speed: 110 mph / 178 km/h
Range: 242 miles / 389 km
Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5640 m)
Rate of climb: 920 ft/min / 280 m/min

Crew: 2/3

 

 

 

 


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