The first AOP Squadron 651, formed at Old Sarum on 1st August 1941. It was still part of the RAF but all of the pilots, drivers and signallers were from the Royal Artillery, while the RAF supplied the Adjutant, Engineer Officer and technicians. It is therefore the premier Army Air Corps squadron.
The Squadron’s first aircraft were an assortment of Taylorcraft Plus Cs and Ds, three Piper Cubs and a Stinson Voyager. Then, later that year all of 651’s aircraft were replaced by the version of the Plus D manufactured by Taylorcraft in Britain and renamed the Auster I.
Twelve months after formation, the Squadron moved to Dumfries on 11th August 1942, to a satellite field at Kidsdale. It was to here that LB312 was delivered new on 24th September 1942. At this remote Scottish airfield she went to ‘C’ flight and was flown by Major Warburton Croix-de-Guerre and Major Neathercote, who was to succeed Major Bazeley as CO of the Squadron. Unfortunately, 312’s career with 651 was cut short as it was damaged in landing on 2nd October 1942 and removed to Rearsby for repair.
653 Squadron was the next operator of 312 from 31st December 1942 until 24th April 1943, when she was allotted to 43 OTU at Old Sarum where it served as a training machine for AOP courses 5 to 23 until 6th October, 1944.
After a period with 3 TEU at Aston Down, 312 spent 10 months with 234 Squadron. In 1946 she was “demobbed”, a state that was to exist for over 30 years when she was restored to her former military glory.
Model: Auster Plus D
Year built: 1942
Construction Number (C/N): 171
Aircraft Type: Fixed wing single engine
Number of Seats: 2
Number of Engines: 1
Engine Type: Reciprocating
Engine Manufacturer and Model: Blackburn Cirrus Minor I
Also Registered As: G-AHXE
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