Auster AOP.9 XP286
(Photo source unknown.)
History: In the USA in the late 1930s, the Taylorcraft
company enjoyed considerable success with its Models B, C, and D light planes, which were
built for private use. They were so successful that the designs were licensed for
construction in England by the British Taylorcraft Company.
When WWII broke out, the RAF put at least 100 of
these aircraft into service as liaison and observation aircraft, under the designation Auster
I, powered by a Blackburn Cirrus Minor I engine. As the war progressed,
other variants appeared, mostly due to engine differences. The Auster II,
Auster IV and Auster V featured an
American 135-hp Lycoming O-290 engine; and the Auster III looked
significantly different with its 130-hp inline deHavilland Gypsy Major I engine. The
Auster V proved to be the most popular, representing over half of the 1600 wartime Auster
orders. Austers equipped 19 RAF squadrons in several combat theaters, providing frontline
units with valuable and varied services.
The postwar Auster AOP (Air Observation Post)
series was derived from the early British Taylorcraft models. They were improved variants,
featuring several design changes which optimized their military roles. The 145-hp Gypsy
Major VII-powered AOP Mk 6 appeared in 1946, with larger fuel
tanks, longer landing gear legs, and large trailing-edge flaps. From 1946 to 1953, the RAF
took delivery of 312 AOP 6s and used them primarily for target spotting. Their short field
take-off and landing capabilities gave them great versatility in this role. The AOP 6 saw
combat in Korea and Malaya during the 1950s, conflicts which led to the development
of the AOP Mk 9, the only variant built specifically for
military use. The Mk 9, with a 160-hp Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine and a bigger
wing, appeared in 1955 and remained in service into the late 1960s.
Many ex-military Austers are now privately-owned
around the world, and are highly prized for their ruggedness and short-field performance.
[History by Jeff VanDerford]
Nicknames: South Wind (Latin
translation of "Auster.")
Specifications (AOP 9):
Engine: One 180-hp Blackburn Cirrus
Bombardier 203 inline piston engine
Weight: Empty 1,590 lbs., Max Takeoff
Wing Span: 36ft. 5in.
Length: 23ft. 8.5in.
Height: 8ft. 11in.
Maximum Speed: 127 mph
Cruising Speed: 110 mph
Ceiling: 19,500 ft.
Range: 242 miles
Number Built: ~545 (~400 AOP 6s and 145 AOP
Number Still Airworthy: 50+
CNAPG Auster Page
International Auster Club
Taylorcraft Owners' Group
Virginia-Carolinas Taylorcraft Owner's Club
1944 Auster V (G-AMVD), operated in the UK by Maurice
(Photo source unknown. Please contact us if you deserve credit.)
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