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Taylorcraft Auster Series

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Originally designed pre-war in the USA as lightplanes for the growing civilian private pilot market, the Auster series provided some of Britain's most important light observation aircraft of World War II. Although the Auster was slow and appeared old fasioned, it was an ideal mount for artillery spotting and provided the pilots with an excellent field of view. It was also agile enough to dodge enemy fighters and operate from tiny grass airstrips.

Following on from the success of the Taylorcraft series of lightplanes in the USA, licence production was established at Thurmaston in Leicestershire, under the name of Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Ltd.

Several civilian variants were produced and with the outbreak of World War II these were evaluated for the airborne observation role. The Taylorcraft Plus C was selected for production under the military designation Auster Mk I.

The suitability of the aircraft was quickly appreciated and the design was developed into the Mk III. Powered by a 97-kW Gipsy Major I engine, 470 of this version were produced.

Next major production variant was the Mk IV which was fitted with an American Lycoming O-290 engine and had a larger cabin to accommodate a third seat. The most common wartime Auster was the Mk V, which introduced blind-flying instrumentation and other improvements. About 800 of this variant were built.

Auster series aircraft gave invaluable service in North Afrika and later in the war in southern and northern Europe. At their peak, Austers equipped 19 squadrons, often using their remarkable short-field performance to operate very close to the front line.


Taylorcraft Auster Series

Enter the Taylorcraft Auster Mk III Series Taylorcraft Auster Series basic interior
Looking externally very similar to the Cirrus Minor-powered Auster Mk I, the Mark III variant differed in being fitted with a 97-kW (130 hp) Gipsy Major. This was one of the most widely produced of the early Auster variants with 470 examples built. Inside, the Auster Mk IV variant was spartan to say the least. The flying controls were mounted on the left side. This example carries a wireless system in place of the right-hand seat.

Taylorcraft Auster Series (Technical Specification)
Role Light liaison and observation/reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer Taylorcraft
Maximum Speed 209 kmh (130 mph)
Maximum Range 402 km (250 miles)
Ceiling 5,639 meters (18,500 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

499 kg (1,098 lbs)
839 kg (1,846 lbs)
Wing Area

10.97 meters (36 ft)
6.83 meters (22 ft 5 in)
2.44 meters (8 ft)
15.51 square meters (167 sq ft)
Engines One Lycoming O-290-3 horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine which provides 97-kW (130 hp)
Accommodation One pilot and observer sitting side by side

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