Newark Air Museum Auster Restoration Update

Major milestone of observation aircraft's long-term restoration reached as engine is fitted

The Newark Air Museum's Auster AOP.9 project now has its Blackburn Cirrus engine in place. [Photo by Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]
The Newark Air Museum's Auster AOP.9 project now has its Blackburn Cirrus engine in place. [Photo by Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


By Zac Yates

On July 10th, 1999 an anonymous Auster AOP.9 arrived at the Newark Air Museum (NAM) in Nottinghamshire, UK. Nearly 25 years later, on January 25th, 2024, a major milestone was passed in its long-term restoration when an engine was refitted to the airframe for the first time. The last of a line of successful military and civilian light aircraft with their genesis in the original Taylor Cub of the 1930s, the Auster AOP.9 saw active service with the Royal Air Force and later the Army Air Corps as an air observation post (AOP) in Aden and Malaya. The armed forces of India and South Africa also operated the AOP.9, as did the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force. The NAM’s example was placed into deep storage on arrival and brought out for restoration in 2012, however initial efforts were cut short as key members of the team were required to assist on other projects.
In 2012 the fuselage of the Auster was brought out of storage and the volunteer team began restoration work. [Photo by Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]
In 2012 the fuselage of the Auster was brought out of storage and the volunteer team began restoration work. [Photo by Howard Heeley – Down To Earth Promotions]
Restoration work on the Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine was carried out by working museum members, who have now successfully completed the installation. The NAM’s Auster AOP.9 has been subject to a long-term identity debate with many different possibilities explored, museum trustee and secretary Howard Heeley told Vintage Aviation News.
“Examination of the manufacturer’s plate on the aircraft gives a slightly confused picture about the military serials that it may have worn. With that in mind the museum sought assistance to clarify the airframe’s identity. XK381 or XS238 are believed to be the most likely; while TA200 and XR238 have also been in the frame. Subsequent dialogue via Wrecks & Relics editor Ken Ellis confirmed the XS238 identity by the release of edition 26 in 2018. For the purpose of this restoration project it will wear the XS238 markings, which is believed to be the most likely identity of the fuselage structure,” Heeley said.
By March 2013 the fuselage frame was on its landing gear and the engine cowlings were test-fitted. [Photo by Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]
By March 2013 the fuselage frame was on its landing gear and the engine cowlings were test-fitted, however shifting priorities meant the project had to be put on hold. [Photo by Howard Heeley – Down To Earth Promotions]
Work is also being undertaken on covering the fuselage and refitting the cockpit area, after which the team’s focus will shift to re-covering the aircraft’s wings with new fabric.

The restoration team is seeking photographs of XS238 in service. If you can assist please contact the museum via their website at http://www.newarkairmuseum.org/

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