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Beagle

British Executive and General Aviation Ltd
Beagle Aircraft Ltd


History

The British Executive & General Aviation Limited (trading as BEAGLE) was the brainchild of Peter G. Masefield, then managing director of Bristol Aircraft. The deputy chairman of Pressed Steel at that time, A.H. Bellhouse, had a substantial interest in aviation, so the outcome of talks between the two was the foundation of what was virtually an aviation division of that company.

The original BEAGLE ideals were based on the principle, proven by the American industry, of providing a full range of light aircraft. From the start this was the policy BEAGLE tried to follow. However, at the time of BEAGLE’s inception, the Air Ministry's had issued GOR. 220 for an Anson replacement and it is probably without this GOR there would never have been a BEAGLE. While a full range of light aircraft was envisaged, it was the Anson replacement which gave life and possibility of financial stability to the whole idea.

BEAGLE was formed in 7 October 1960, with Pressed Steel acquiring the whole share capital of Auster Aircraft Ltd, and arranging a technical and manufacturing liaison with F.G. Miles Ltd., Shoreham Airport, Sussex. Chairman of BEAGLE was A. H. Bellhouse with Masefield managing director and also chairman of Auster Aircraft. Frank Bates became deputy chairman of Auster while retaining his position as its managing director. George H. Miles became technical director of a coordinating board formed under the chairmanship of Masefield. In November the BEAGLE Group formally acquired F. G. Miles Ltd, and in the same month appointed R.J.B. Woodhams as BEAGLE’s chief designer. George Miles was appointed chief engineer of the BEAGLE Group. By spring of 1961 the two BEAGLE subsidiaries had been rebranded BEAGLE-Auster Aircraft Ltd, under newly appointed Marcus Langley as Chief Engineer, and BEAGLE-Miles Aircraft Ltd. Initially the three parts of the company operated independently but his did not last long and the three parts of the company were merged at Shoreham as Beagle Aircraft Limited on 10 May 1962.

Masefield brought to the new company Bristol light-aircraft designs discarded with the formation of BAC. One of these, the Type 220, was bought from Bristol and grew into the B.206. The incorporation of Auster and Miles led to an eight-strong range of aircraft. Of these, four were the interim Auster derivatives—Airedale, AOP.11, Terrier and Husky—and two were Miles projects, the M.117 single and the M.218 twin, plus the Wallis autogyro.

Misfortune hit the 206 project when the Anson replacement programme was shelved in 1961 and 1962, ostensibly as an economy measure, even though the prototype 206 had flown successfully in August 1961. When the RAF bought only 22 B.206 Bassets instead of the expected 120 there was no longer any chance of R&D costs being recovered on that contract alone. The aircraft was heavily criticized as not being able to do the job required of it, particularly in hot and high conditions. A supercharged-engine version was developed for the civil market.

The M.117 and M.218 were to be founders of a new range, but both designs involved extensive use of plastics which, with the state of the art insufficiently advanced, proved expensive, heavy and unreliable. Strangely the decision was made to build the M.218 twin before the M.117. The difficulties with plastics led to work being abandoned on the types in 1964 but the decision was then taken to re-tool the M.218 for conventional all-metal construction, when it became the M.242, which flew in 1964. It was found that it is not a simple matter simply to substitute alloy for plastic and, with extensive re-design becoming necessary, the project was abandoned.

The initial development of the large number of aircraft types involved required a great deal of capital outlay by Pressed Steel, i.e. £2.4M, whereas only £1/4M was recouped from sales during the first 2 1/2 years. Putting the B.206 into production proved the most expensive and by the end of 1964 costs had reached £3M with further expenditure inevitable. The directors of Pressed Steel Fisher (as it had since become) were then being faced with a situation way beyond their original expectations, despite the fact that in 1965 a small portion of the B.206s costs were being underwritten by the Government. Pressed Steel Fisher were eventually absorbed into the British Motor Corporation who, having reviewed the aviation side, realised that its full potential could not be exploited without a substantial investment of funds and they were not willing to do this. Discussions with the Government for additional financial support proved fruitless and eventually escalated to the point where, on the 12 December 1966, assets of Beagle Aircraft were handed over by Pressed Steel Fisher to the Ministry of Technology for £1 million and it became private company with shareholding wholly owned by the Ministry of Technology though with the board having responsibility for running it. On 16 November 1967, the Ministry of Technology appointed K.M. Myer as the new managing director.

In 1967 a completely redesigned M.117 finally appeared as the B.121 Pup, which first flew from Shoreham Airport on 8 April, so after six years there was only one of the new light aircraft range which had been the basis of the original aims and theories, and which was essential if Beagle and a British light-aircraft industry were to survive. Unfortunately the Pup was a more complex design to manufacture and was correspondingly more expensive to build, yet was sold at a competitive price. Its maintenance requires more care (i.e. expense) and its early days were troubled by issues with the doors and spares availability. In an effort to reduce costs and to concentrate all efforts on B.206 and Pup production, in November 1968 Beagle sold its interest in Auster aircraft to Hants and Sussex Aviation, Portsmouth. The prototype Bulldog first flew on 19 May 1969 at Shoreham Airport. The first order for the type was for 78 from the Swedish Air Board and significant further orders were anticipated. However, under capitalisation had remained the main problem to the point where the Government refused to grant an additional £6M for further development and the company was placed in the hands of the receiver.

Beagle's earliest chance of survival had been centred on the discussions with Ling-Temco-Vought of Dallas, Texas, which were going on before the Government announced its withdrawal. This company proposed to acquire a substantial share capital in the company provided that the Government maintained background support. As soon as the receiver was appointed to Beagle, the LTV negotiations ended. During 1969 there had been discussions with other overseas companies about possible opportunities for collaboration, especially on distribution and marketing. Apart from LTV, these companies included Grumman in the USA and Sud, Dornier and MBB in Europe.

Although production continued, albeit at a very low rate while the receiver tried to revive and sell the company (now re-named Beagle Aircraft (1969) Limited), it was of no avail and the assets were gradually disposed of. Production rights for the Bulldog, along with the Swedish order, were taken over by Scottish Aviation (Bulldog) Limited in May 1970 (though for completeness its production details are covered here). All subsequent aircraft were built at Prestwick Airport by Scottish Aviation, or in later years, British Aerospace.

Company References
  1. Beagle Aircraft - A Production History, Midland Counties Aircraft Research Group (Midland Counties Publications, 1974)
  2. Flight, 14 October 1960
  3. Flight, 14 October 1960
  4. Flight, 2 December 1960
  5. Flight, 23 March 1961
  6. Flight, 26 September 1968
  7. Flight, 17 October 1968
  8. Flight, 21 November 1968
  9. Flight 8 January 1970
  10. Flight, 30 April 1970
  11. Flight, 4 June 1970
  12. British Private Aircraft, 1946-1970, Volume 1, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (Mushroom Model Publications, 2013)



Beagle Designations

Beagle used an alpha-numeric type designation - a single letter followed by a three digit number.
The letter defined the company from which the design emanated (A: Auster, B: Beagle, M: Miles, WA: Wallis), the first digit defined the number of engines and the second two digits formed a continuous numerical series.
The first Beagle aircraft was the B.206 (Beagle designed, 2 engines) and possibly was designated B.206 as it was originally intended to be a 6 seater. All further projects followed on numercally from 06. The only two anomalies were the B.242, possibly so designated as it was considered a twin engined partner to the B.121 (although the true single engined projected development of the B242 was the B.123), and the A.61 Terrier, said to be so designated as being Austers 61st design, but more possibly that it was a derivative of the Auster 6.



Project Data top

Legacy Aircraft

Project No

Type No

Name

Alternative Name(s)

Year

Spec

Status

Qty

Description

References

  A.61 Terrier       See Auster 6B
  D4        See Auster D4
  D5 D5/160, D5/180       See Auster D5
  D6 D6/160, D6/180       See Auster D6

Beagle Aircraft

Project No

Type No

Name

Alternative Name(s)

Year

Spec

Status

Qty

Description

References

  B.206 Basset  1961 C.238 (ASR.379) Prdn 79 (19) 5/8S, 2E light aircraft 1,4,6,11,12,18,23,26,27,29,37,58
  ?.?07 Unknown       
  B.208     Proj 0 A development of the B.206 (2)
  A.109 Airedale  1961  Prdn 43 4S, 1E high wing light aircraft 1,4,5,13,58
  B.210     Proj 0 8/10 seat stretched development of the B.206 (38)
  A.111 Airedale  1961  Proto  (1) 4S, 1E high wing light aircraft 1,4,58
  B.212     Proj 0 Turboprop COIN and ground support development of
 the B.206
 (38)
  A.113 Husky  1960  n/a n/a 4S, 1E high wing monoplane light a/c Beagle designation for Auster D5 Husky
  ?.?14 Unknown       
  A.115  Model E.3 1961  Proto 1 4S, 1E AOP aircraft 1,4
  WA.116   1961  Proto  1S, 1E autogyro See Wallis
  M.117  Originally Miles M.114 1961  Proj 0 2/4S, 1E low wing light tourer / trainer 6,17,32
  M.218 Martlet Originally Miles M.115 1962  Proto 1 4S, 2E low wing light tourer 1,4,7,32,58
  ?.?19 Unknown       
  B.220   1964  Proj 0 8S, 2E stretched development of B.206 (2)
  B.121 Pup  1967  Prdn 175 2/4S, 1E low wing light tourer / trainer 1,4,8,9,22,31
  B.222     Proj 0 8S, 2E stretched development of B.206 2,38
  B.123     Proj 0 1E, 4S development of B.242 35
  B.224     Proj 0 4/6S 2E light aircraft using B.125 components  (2)
  B.125 Bulldog  1969 T.282 (ASR.401) Prdn 322 (1) 2/3S, 1E low wing trainer 10,14,15,16,21,25,28,33,36,58
  B.125 Bulldog Srs 200 Bullfinch 1976  Proto 1 4S, 1E low wing light tourer / trainer 16,33,34
  B.226   1966  Proj 0 8S, 2E executive jet 2
  ?.?27 Unknown       
  B.228   1968  Proj 0 6S high wing executive aircraft (2)
  B.242   1964  Proto 1 4S, 2E light tourer development of B.218 1,4,58
  B.143     Proj 0 Higher powered development of the B.123 38

Project References                    To show project references in a floating window




Project References

1        Beagle Aircraft - A Production History, Compiled by the Midland Counties Research Group (Midland Counties Publishing, 1974)

2        Stuck On The Drawing Board, Richard Payne (Tempus Publishing Ltd., 2004)

3        Auster Quarterley Vol 1, No 2, (available online at http://austerhg.org/auster_mags/)

4        British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, Vol 1, A.J. Jackson (Putnam, 1973)

5        Flight 4 May 1961

6        Flight 24 Aug 1961

7        Flight 23 Aug 1962

8        Flight 15 Jun 1967

9        Flight 25 Apr 1968

10      Flight 16 Apr 1970

11      Aeromilitaria 1976/3, (Air Britain Publications)

12      Aviation World 2005/2, (Air Britain Publications)

13      Aeroplane Monthly May 1988

14      Air International Aug 1973

15      Air International Nov 1974

16      Air International Nov 1976

17      Air Pictorial Sep 1961

18      Air Pictorial May 1963

19      Air Pictorial Jan 1964

20      Air Pictorial Mar 1965

21      Air Pictorial May 1973

22      Aircraft Illustrated Feb 1971

23      Aircraft Illustrated Mar 1972

24      Aircraft Illustrated Jun 1983

25      Aviation News 1/3

26      Aviation News 6/19

27      Aviation News 9/3

28      Aviation News 10/5

29      Flying Review 20/2

30      Flying Review 20/3

31      Flying Review 22/11

32      Miles Aircraft Since 1925, Don L. Brown (Putnam 1970)

33      Lion Rampant and Winged, Alan Robertson (Alan Robertson, 1986)

34      Flight 11 Sep 1976

35      Beagle News No 4, (available online at http://austerhg.org/auster_mags/)

36      Air Pictorial, December 1987

37      Aviation World 2003/3, (Air Britain Publications)

38      The History of the Auster Aeroplane, A.V. Hitchman and Mike Preston

39      British Private Aircraft, 1946-1970, Volume 2, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (Mushroom Model Publications, 2013)



1.    Beagle Aircraft - A Production History, Compiled by the Midland Counties Research Group (Midland Counties Publishing, 1974)
2.    Stuck On The Drawing Board, Richard Payne (Tempus Publishing Ltd., 2004)
3.    Auster Quarterley Vol 1, No 2 (available online at http://austerhg.org/auster_mags/)
4.    British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, Vol 1, A.J. Jackson (Putnam, 1973)
5.    Flight 4 May 1961
6.    Flight 24 Aug 1961
7.    Flight 23 Aug 1962
8.    Flight 15 Jun 1967
9.    Flight 25 Apr 1968
10.    Flight 16 Apr 1970
11.    Aeromilitaria 1976/3 (Air Britain Publications)
12.    Aviation World 2005/2 (Air Britain Publications)
13.    Aeroplane Monthly May 1988
14.    Air International Aug 1973
15.    Air International Nov 1974
16.    Air International Nov 1976
17.    Air Pictorial Sep 1961
18.    Air Pictorial May 1963
19.    Air Pictorial Jan 1964
20.    Air Pictorial Mar 1965
21.    Air Pictorial May 1973
22.    Aircraft Illustrated Feb 1971
23.    Aircraft Illustrated Mar 1972
24.    Aircraft Illustrated Jun 1983
25.    Aviation News 1/3
26.    Aviation News 6/19
27.    Aviation News 9/3
28.    Aviation News 10/5
29.    Flying Review 20/2
30.    Flying Review 20/3
31.    Flying Review 22/11
32.    Miles Aircraft Since 1925, Don L. Brown (Putnam 1970)
33.    Lion Rampant and Winged, Alan Robertson (Alan Robertson, 1986)
34.    Flight 11 Sep 1976
35.    Beagle News No 4 (available online at http://austerhg.org/auster_mags/)
36.    Air Pictorial, December 1987
37.    Aviation World 2003/3 (Air Britain Publications)
38.    The History of the Auster Aeroplane, A.V. Hitchman and Mike Preston 
39.    British Private Aircraft, 1946-1970, Volume 2Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (Mushroom Model Publications, 2013)



Production Data top

Name

Qty (New)

Qty (Conv.)

Canc'd

 B.206 Basset

79

(19)

6

Prdn_List.jpg

 A.109 Airedale

43

Prdn_List.jpg

 A.111 Airedale

(1)

Prdn_List.jpg

 A.115 

1

Prdn_List.jpg

 M.218 

1

Prdn_List.jpg

 B.121 Pup

175

2

Prdn_List.jpg

 B.125 Bulldog

322

(1)

15

Prdn_List.jpg

 B.125 Bullfinch

1

Prdn_List.jpg

 B.242 

1

Prdn_List.jpg

Total Production (Beagle, SAL & BAe)

623

Total Production (Beagle Only)

301

Total Cancelled Orders (Beagle, SAL & BAe)

23

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Page Revision History Page Top

Revised at Version 1.3.0
  • Added Specification numbers to B.206 and B.125

V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017