99 Auster AOP.9

The Auster was developed from the Taylorcraft Model A and first entered operational service in the Air Observation Post (AOP) role when 651 (AOP) Squadron formed up at Old Sarum on 1st August 1941 equipped with Auster Mk1s.

AOP squadrons, operating Auster variants (Mk 3/4/5), saw active service throughout WW2 in North Africa, Europe and the Far East. The aircraft were flown by pilots from the Royal Artillery, supported by engineers and groundcrew from the Army, RAF and RCAF. The Auster Mk6 was introduced in 1949 and was flown by AOP pilots in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.

The Auster AOP Mk9 prototype first flew on 19th March 1954 and entered service in February 1955. A more powerful engine, larger wings, large flaps and a strengthened undercarriage gave the Mk9 better take-off and landing performance than the Mk6. The extended cabin enabled the aircraft to be operated in AOP, Command and Control, light transport and liaison roles, with an aft observer facing either forwards or rearwards. The aircraft was operated by the British Army of the Rhine and also saw active service during the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s and Aden in the early 1960s.

The Auster AOP9 is powered by the Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier 4-cylinder inverted inline piston engine developing 180 bhp at sea level. The maximum speed is 140 knots / 160 mph and the cruise speed is 90 knots. It has a range of 360 nautical miles or an endurance of 4 hours.

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Our Auster XR244

Our Auster AOP.9 aircraft was constructed in 1961 with construction number B5/10/181. It was assigned to the Army Air Corps in February 1962 with serial number XR244. The aircraft arrived at Middle Wallop in 1961 as a training aircraft and has remained ever since.

The aircraft was transferred to the AAC Apprentice Shool at Arborfield.

A new serial number of 7846M was assigned.

The aircraft was transferred to the AAC Historic Flight in September 1981. She was civil registered as G-CICR in November 2013 and the flight was renamed as the Historic Army Aircraft Flight at around the same time.

Technical Information and Development

Wingspan11.10 metres (36 feet 5 inches)
Length7.23 metres (23 feet 8 inches)
Height2.72 metres (8 feet 11 inches)
Weight, Empty662 kg (1,460 lb)
Weight, Max Take Off1,057 kg (2,330 lb)
Cruising Speed180 km/h (110 mph)
Max Speed204 km/h (127 mph)
Rate of Climb4.7 metres/second (920 feet/minute)
Service Ceiling5,600 metres (18,500 feet)
Range389 km (242 miles)
Power PlantBlackburn Cirrus Bombardier 203 4-cylinder 173 hp (129kW)
Tecchnical Information: Auster AOP.9

The Auster AOP.9 was designed as a successor to the Auster AOP.6. Like its predecessor, it was a braced high-wing single engined monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage. Although having the same general appearance the AOP.9 was a new design with larger area wing and a more powerful engine. The wing and tail were metal skinned but the fuselage and ailerons fabric covered. The fin and rudder assembly were more angular in the new aircraft with a noticeable dorsal fillet. A combination of the more powerful 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 tires and strengthened undercarriage.

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. Auster Aircraft allotted their model designation B5 to the AOP.9 design.

Auster Aircraft built 182 Auster AOP.9 aircraft from 1954 with deliveries started to the Royal Air Force in February 1955. The aircraft was used by the Royal Air Force, the Indian Army and Air Force, the South African Air Force and the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force.

The Auster AOP.9 replaced the AOP.6s in the regular AOP squadrons. The auxiliary squadrons disbanded in March 1957 before receiving AOP.9s. Army personnel flew RAF aircraft based in RAF squadrons until the formation of the Army Air Corps (AAC) in September 1957.

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 the Malaya on 31 July 1960, 656 Squadron’s AOP.6 and AOP.9s had carried out 143,000 sorties. The AOP.9s were involved in several of Britain’s other end of Empire conflicts; No. 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.

In the 1970s 19 Auster AOP.9s joined the UK civil register and in 2008 fourteen remained though only about three of these had a current certificate of airworthiness.

Auster AOP.9 Gallery

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