Taylorcraft Auster Mk1
- Manufacturer: Taylorcraft
- Model: Auster Mk1
- Year built: 1942
- Aircraft Type: High wing, strut-braced monoplane
- Number of Seats: Pilot plus 1
- Number of Engines: 1
- Engine Type: Reciprocating
- Engine Manufacturer and Model: Blackburn Cirrus Minor I
- Civil registration: G-AHXE
- Military registration: LB312
The first Airborne Observation Post Squadron No. 651, was formed at Old Sarum Salisbury on 1st August 1941. It was still part of the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the time but all of the pilots, drivers and signallers came from the Royal Artillery. The RAF supplied the Adjutant, Engineer Officer and technicians. 651 Squadron is therefore the premier Army Air Corps Squadron (Sqn).
The Squadron’s first aircraft were an assortment of Taylorcraft Plus Cs and Ds, three Piper Cubs and a Stinson Voyager. Later that year the Sqn was re-equipped with a version of the Plus D which was manufactured by Taylorcraft in Britain and renamed the Auster 1.
On the 11th of August 1941, twelve months after formation, the Sqn moved to a satellite field at Kidsdale Dumfries. It was to here on 24th September 1942, that the Historic Army Aircraft Flight Auster Mk1, LB312, was delivered. At this remote Scottish airfield, she joined ‘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 on 2nd October 1942 it was damaged during landing. It was later transported 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 Operational Training Unit at Old Sarum where she served as a trainer for AOP courses 5 to 23 until 6th October 1944.
After a period with 3 Tactical Exercise Unit 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 before being restored. LB312 joined the HAAF fleet in 2021.