091132 - AUSTER - The Company and the Aircraft
By Tom Wenham, Rod Simpson and Malcolm Fillmore
Auster Aircraft has a long and distinguished history, starting with its formation as British Taylorcraft in 1938 and ending with its absorption into Beagle Aircraft in 1960.The Auster was not, strictly, a new design since it had its origins in the American Taylorcraft two seater. However, World War II gave it a welcome momentum which led to more than 1,600 artillery spotter Austers being built for the British and other air forces. The Rearsby factory was at maximum production during the war - but, as with all other aircraft manufacturing plants, it found a sudden collapse in military orders when peace came. However, there were returning flyers keen to keep their skills alive and the Autocrat and its successors were successful, not only in the UK but also across the world. Using the same basic airframe, the Auster constantly changed its shape and the 180hp Husky of 1960 was a very different animal from the original 55hp Taylorcraft Model C. Austers were sold all over the world and were used for many tasks including crop spraying, aerial advertising and joyriding.
The company also developed new models including the very successful AOP.9, and the less successful Agricola, Atlantic and Avis. This is the story of an iconic aviation company and classic light aircraft which live on in the hands of enthusiastic owners today.
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