The Miles M.14 Magister is a two-seat monoplane basic trainer aircraft designed and built by the British aircraft manufacturer Miles Aircraft. It was affectionately known as the Maggie. It was authorised to perform aerobatics.
|First flight||20 March 1937|
|Primary users||Royal Air Force|
Fleet Air Arm
|Developed from||Miles Hawk Trainer|
The Magister was developed during the 1930s to Specification T.40/36, itself derived from the existing Miles Hawk Trainer which had been ordered in small numbers. The first prototype's maiden flight was on 20 March 1937. It quickly became praised for its handling qualities, increasing the safety and ease of pilot training, while also delivering comparable performance to contemporary monoplane frontline fighters of the era. The Magister was ordered into quantity production.
Entering service barely a year prior to the start of the Second World War, the Magister became a key training aircraft. It was the first monoplane designed as a trainer to be inducted by the Royal Air Force (RAF). During the war it was purchased in large numbers for the RAF, Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and various overseas military operators. It proved an ideal introduction to the Spitfire and Hurricane for new pilots.
During the postwar years, surplus Magisters were exported in large numbers, with many converted for civilian use.
The origins of the Miles Magister can be traced back to a decision made by the company's management in 1936 to further develop its military trainer range; this decision had been influenced by the firm's recent success with the Miles M.2 Hawk Trainer as an elementary trainer, the first low-wing monoplane to be adopted as a trainer by the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was decided to produce a derivative of the Hawk Trainer to satisfy the Air Ministry's Specification T.40/36. The submission ignored an established policy of only procuring metal aircraft which the RAF had instituted at that time.
The new type was broadly similar to the Hawk Trainer: the majority of the differences between the two types pertained to the cockpit, which was enlarged and had numerous new features to better meet military training requirements. On 20 March 1937, the first prototype made its maiden flight, flown by F.G. Miles. During the following month, the aircraft was named Magister. During early flights, the aircraft exhibited an adverse tendency to spin. The problem was solved by several modifications, including elevating the tailplane by 6 in (15 cm), the fitting of anti-spin strakes to the rear fuselage and the adoption of a taller rudder. The alterations worked so well that the Magister became the first low-wing cantilever monoplane to ever be authorised by the Air Ministry to perform aerobatics.
The Magister is an low wing cantilever monoplane designed for military training. Its design is largely derived from Miles' Hawk Trainer, although there are some noticeable differences, such as the significant enlargement of the cockpit. A more spacious cockpit was required to reasonably accommodate the presence of parachutes and various training aids, which included the provision of blind-flying apparatus. For convenience, the open cockpits are furnished with forward windscreens made of Perspex, while baggage and unused equipment may be stored in a sizable bay aft of the rear cockpit via an exterior door. Pilots are required to enter and exit the aircraft via a wingroot walkway on the starboard side.
The Magister is largely built of wood, the fuselage consisting of a spruce structure with a plywood covering; similar materials were used for the three-piece wing and the tail unit. The wing centre section has no dihedral and is of constant section with outer sections having dihedral and tapering towards the tip. It has split flaps as standard; it was the first RAF trainer to have flaps. It has a fixed tailwheel undercarriage with drag-reducing spats on the main wheels; to reduce the landing distance, the undercarriage was fitted with Bendix drum brakes. Power is provided by the 130 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major engine and the fuel is contained in a pair of tanks in the centre section.
The flying characteristics and performance of the Magister lent themselves well to the trainer role; according to Brown, the Magister possessed superior performance to any contemporary elementary trainer. It readily enabled trainee pilots to safely learn the handling techniques of modern frontline fighter aircraft. Its ease of handling and safety were attributes that were vigorously demonstrated by Frederick Miles by performing stunts such as hands-free landings and formation flight with other aircraft while inverted. The flight controls are cable-actuated; some of the controls, such as the rudder pedals, can be adjusted to suit the individual pilot.
Having been impressed by the prototype's performance during trials, the Air Ministry selected the Magister to fulfil the specification. Production began in October 1937. Recognising the importance and value represented by the order, the company committed a significant portion of its manufacturing capacity to producing the type, abandoning its plans to produce other aircraft, such as the Miles Peregrine, to concentrate resources on the mass production effort.
Production of the Magister continued until 1941, by which time 1,203 aircraft had been built by Miles. More than a hundred Magisters were licence built in Turkey. Contemporary glues used to assemble the wooden aircraft have not stood the test of time and few Magisters have survived.
Initially, production Magisters were supplied to flying clubs operated by the Straight Corporation, as well as to several overseas government customers. By the Second World War, in excess of 700 Magisters had entered service with RAF Elementary Flying Training Schools; the type would eventually equip 16 such schools as well as the Central Flying School. The bulk of civilian-owned Hawk Majors were also pressed into military service as trainers alongside the type.
During June 1940, as part of British anti-invasion preparations, roughly 15 Magisters were fitted with bomb racks for the carriage of up to eight 25 lb (11.5 kg) bombs, to fly as a light bombers under a scheme called Operation Banquet. The preparations were was never put into effect and the type never saw active combat use in this capacity.
The Magister also participated in experimental wartime research, such as to evaluate a long range ground attack platform during 1941. Seeking to increase the payloads of conventional medium bombers, British military planners suggested the use of a so-called 'auxiliary wing' that could be towed like a glider behind a bomber; this wing would be loaded with either additional fuel or munitions. To test this concept, a modified Magister was produced; by the time testing had reached an advanced stage, the RAF had significantly bolstered its offensive forces with heavy bombers, removing the need to deploy the auxiliary wing concept. Other aircraft received experimental modifications to evaluate new equipment or aerodynamic features.
Following the end of the conflict, large numbers of Magisters were disposed of, leading to many being converted for civilian use. Such aircraft were renamed the Hawk Trainer III. Amongst its civil uses was air racing; during the 1950 Kings Cup Air Race alone, eight Hawk Trainer IIIs were entered, one of which (a modified cabin version G-AKRV), piloted by E. Day, was awarded first place, having achieved a recorded speed of 138.5 mph while doing so. At least two other aircraft were thus modified.
During the postwar years, many Magisters were exported to overseas customers, including private pilot owners and flying clubs. Countries that purchased the type included Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Thailand and Tunisia.
By 2009, ten Hawk Trainer IIIs were registered in the United Kingdom, of which several were airworthy. Furthermore, several ex-service Magisters have been preserved and on display – including an ex-RAF example at the Imperial War Museum in the UK, and an ex-Irish Air Corps example at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
Data from Miles Aircraft since 1925,
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
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