Following the purchase by the Leicestershire County Flying
Club, operating from Rearsby Aerodrome, of a Taylorcraft Model A from the USA, club member Alfred Launcelot Wykes (b.
29 April 1899, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, the son of Alfred and Sarah Wykes - d. 14 May 1944, following a crash
demonstrating an Auster IV) decided there was a ready market for it in the UK. Wykes was managing director of textile machinery
company Crowther Ltd, of Thurmaston, Leicester and, following acquisition of licence rights for the newer Model B, Taylorcraft
Aeroplanes (England) Ltd was registered as a private company on the 21 November 1938, with works behind Crowthers
factory at Brittania Works, Thurmaston.
The first aircraft built at the Brittania Works differed from the original
American Model B by using heavier gauge British standard tubing and larger wing spars and was designated the Model Plus C.
The aircraft had to be towed to Ratcliffe aerodrome, owned by Sir Lindsay Everard, for flight test.
interest in the Model Plus C, 1939 saw a change to a more powerful British powerplant producing the Model Plus D which eventually
entered service with the British Army as the Auster I. Taylorcraft were very occupied as a repair organisation throughout
the war and as part of this four new hangers were built at the Rearsby Aerodrome. The Plus D jigs were moved there and all
further Auster aicraft were flown from there, production being centered at a former shoe factory at Syston. Variants of the
Taylorcraft Auster continued throughout the war, culminating in the Model K Auster Mk.6.
The licence agreement
with Taylorcraft of America having ended postwar, the company name was changed to Auster Aircraft Limited
on 8 March 1946. Production continued at Rearsby, where both design and manufacture centered from 1947, of both civil and
military aircraft, almost all developments of the original Taylorcraft design. On 7 October 1960, the company was taken over
by the Pressed Steel Company to form part of Beagle Co. Ltd, the project then going through the design office finally appearing as the Beagle A.109 Airedale.
Auster design and development continued within the new corporate framework, until 1968 when all Auster design
and development ceased, the Auster rights being sold to Hants and Sussex Aviation.
History of the Auster
Aeroplane, The, A.V. Hitchman and Mike Preston (The International Auster Club Heritage Group, 2006)
– Nearly all you wanted to know, Mike Preston and Mick Ames (The International Auster Club Heritage Group, 2002)
Auster - The Company and The Aircraft, Tom Wenham, Rod Simpson and Malcolm Fillmore (Air-Britain Publications,
False Dawn: The Beagle Aircraft Story, Tom Wenham (Air-Britain Publications, 2015)
Air Britain Digest, 1989/2 (Air-Britain Publications)
Aeroplane Monthly, Sep-Oct 1977
British Private Aircraft, 1946-1970, Volume 1, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (Mushroom Model Publications,
The Taylorcraft Story, Chet Peek (Three Peaks Publishing, 1992)
Aviation News Vol 17 No
Following the Taylorcraft Model C, the company used a designation system whereby
each new design was allocated a single letter in alphabetical sequence, while modifications of the basic design were designated
by a slash and numeric sequence (i.e., Model D, Model D/1). During 1945 the company began once again to look towards
civil production and a complete family of designs was developed from the Model J. These were again designated with a slash
and numeric sequence added to the basic Model J designation (i.e., J/1, J/2 etc.). Further, each of the J/1 and J/5 versions
were divided into a further sub-series denoted by a letter suffix (i.e., J/1A, J/1B etc.). Initially, each of the J/1 and
J/5 families had sub series A and B, but beginning with C, all the Model J families followed a single alpabetic sequence. In the late 1940s, Auster adopted the SBAC designation system for all new designs. While developments of the original Taylorcraft
designs continued with the Alpha/Numeric system, with Models M & N of 1948, being original designs not developed from
the original Taylorcraft, moved to the new designation system.
The Model J Family The Model J spawned
a whole family of sub types, each indicated by a numerical suffix. In addition, both the J/1 and J/5 were divided into further
sub series identified by a letter suffix, unified after the letter B. The missing letter suffices, C, D & M, belong to
the 5C, 5D & 5M respectively, all conversions of military Mk.Vs, but integrated into the same alpha series.
J/1S was merely the allocation given to a J/1 Autocrat that had been converted by its Kenyan owner to take a Gipsy Major 10
engine which originally came from a Chipmunk. The Model number was issued by Auster’s to clear the aircraft through
its certification .
This designation was later used for similar non-Auster produced conversions. See
As this was not an Auster produced conversion, the Model number was presumably issued by Auster’s
to clear the aircraft through its certification.
Beagle designation, possibly based on being
derived from the Auster 6.
Designation D5 was reused for the D5 Husky.
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Note: In the Production Summary, conversions are only listed where
they result in a change from one Type to another. Changes to sub-type or Mark Number are not shown in the summary. For details
of these, see the individual listings.