This is one of 790 aircraft of this variant built by the British Taylorcraft company of Rearsby near Leicester, England. Designed primarily as an “Aerial Observation Post” or AOP aircraft for use in conjunction with artillery, this example was completed for the Royal Air Force in December 1944 with construction no. 1431 and was delivered in January 1945 with the RAF serial no. TJ 364. It was shipped to Italy and after service with the RAF it was taken on strength by the newly-formed SAAF unit “42 AOP Flight” and saw service in the remainder of the Italian Campaign as an artillery spotter (for the SA 6th Division) and a communications aircraft. It formed part of the victory flypast at the Monza racetrack at the end of the war.
After the end of the war this aircraft and 5 others of the same type were sent to South Africa and continued to serve with 42 AOP Flight (later 42 Squadron) at Dunnottar (pilot training of AOP pilots) and at Potchefstroom (training in conjunction with artillery). These pilots became known as “tekkie pilots”, because of the footwear they were forced to adopt, army boots not coping well with the tiny heelbrakes fitted on these planes! These SAAF Mk V’s probably set a record for the longest serving military Austers in the world as they were only withdrawn in 1962.(The Royal Australian AF is a close second)
This aircraft was sold for civilian use in April 1964 and fetched the sum of R825- on tender! It was registered as ZSDWP in 1965 and was operated by the De Muynk family at Parys and Brakpan, often as a glider-tug.(but was even used to drop parachutists)
In 1986 it was purchased by the present owner John Illsley and was entirely rebuilt by the owner, Gareth Fisher and Harry Illsley ,with technical advice from the SAAF Museum at Lanseria.
It has been restored to its original wartime colourscheme with SAAF markings and the original serial TJ364. SADLY, THIS AIRCRAFT IS TODAY THE ONLY SAAF FRONTLINE AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR TWO STILL FLYING IN THIS COUNTRY IN IT’S ORIGINAL MARKINGS.
Span:36 ft Length:24ft Cruise:75 knots Max:110 knots Range: 170NM Stalling Speed: 28 knots (full flap) STOL landing: 60 metres Engine: Lycoming 0-290-3 130HP Construction: Wings:- Wooden spars, aluminium ribs, fabric covered. Fuselage:- tubular steel, fabric covered.