Battle of Britain training plane to go on auction

The low-wing monoplane trained some of The Few prior to the Battle of Britain. Picture: Reuters
The low-wing monoplane trained some of The Few prior to the Battle of Britain. Picture: Reuters
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ONE of the last surviving monoplane trainers built to coach new Spitfire and Hurricane pilots in the run-up to the Battle of Britain will be ­auctioned later this month.

The 1939 Miles Magister M14A Hawk Trainer III, expected to fetch up to £90,000 when it goes under the hammer, is ­currently mothballed, but auctioneers Bonhams said a new owner could re-commission it to take it back into the skies.

Regularly shown and flown at one of Britain’s first privately owned museums of flight – the Strathallan Aero Park in Perthshire – the plane, registered mark G-AHUJ, was one of the aircraft that trained “The Few”.

It was the only aeroplane retained by the founder of the Strathallan aircraft collection, Sir William Roberts, after the rest was sold off in the 1980s.

Sir William, who formerly lived in Strathallan Castle, Auchterarder, founded the Strathallan collection in the 1970s, as one of the first working and flying collections of aircraft in the UK.

Restoration work was done on site, at the collection’s base at the wartime Strathallan Aerodrome.

The museum, also known as the Strathallan Aero Park, was open to the public most weekends, offering visitors the opportunity to inspect the aircraft at close quarters and talk to the pilots and engineers.

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In 1980, the museum closed and the collection was sold off at auction in July 1981.

Most of the light aircraft went to the Museum of Flight at East Fortune, in East Lothian, while others found homes abroad.

But Sir William retained the Miles M14A, of which he was said to be particularly fond. The aircraft’s records begin in June 1946 when it was owned by Weston Aero Club of Weston-Super-Mare, with four other owners having the plane over the next 30 years, before it was acquired by Sir William in 1976.

Fully restored, including a rebuilt engine, the plane was a regular flyer and was used for many of the Strathallan collection’s airshows.

Auctioneers Bonhams say its permit to fly expired in 1999 and it has been hangar-stored ever since. Sir William died aged 76 in 2012.

A spokesman for Bonhams said: “The aircraft will require re-commissioning before further use, or would make an excellent static museum piece.”

The Miles Magister M14A was a two-seater basic trainer built of plywood and spruce by Berkshire-based Miles Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm.

Affectionately known as the Maggie, the Magister was based on Miles’ civilian Hawk Major and Hawk Trainer, and was the first monoplane designed specifically as a trainer for the RAF. As a low-wing monoplane, it was an ideal introduction to the Spitfire and Hurricane for rookie pilots and trained members of “The Few” prior to the Battle of Britain.

Production began in October 1937 and, by the start of the Second World War, more than 700 Magisters had entered service with RAF Elementary Flying Training Schools, eventually equipping 16 such schools as well as the Central Flying School.

Production of the Magister continued until 1941 by which time 1,203 had been built by Miles and an additional 100 were built under licence in Turkey.

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