Miles Aircraft

Miles Aircraft
F. G. Miles Limited
Industry Aerospace
Fate Merged with Auster Aircraft and Beagle Aircraft.
Founded 1930s (as Philips and Powis Aircraft)
Defunct 1961
Headquarters Woodley, Berkshire, UK

Miles was the name used to market the aircraft of British engineer Frederick George Miles, who designed numerous light civil and military aircraft and a range of curious prototypes. The name "Miles" is associated with two distinct companies that Miles was involved in and is also attached to several designs produced before there was a company trading under Miles' name.



Miles Aircraft Limited

The M.30 'X Minor' flying aerodynamics testbed

The original company was founded by Charles Powis and Jack Phillips as Philips and Powis Aircraft after meeting Fred Miles. The company was based on Woodley Aerodrome in Woodley, near the town of Reading and in the county of Berkshire.

In 1936 Rolls-Royce bought into the company and although aircraft were produced under the Miles name, it was not until 1943 that the firm became Miles Aircraft Limited when Rolls-Royce's interests were bought out. In 1947 the company entered receivership and the aviation assets were purchased by Handley Page as Handley Page Reading. Handley Page produced the Miles-designed M.60 Marathon as the H.P.R.1 Marathon. The Miles Aeronautical Technical School was taken over by the Reading Technical College. Other products in which Miles had interests, including photocopiers, and bookbinding machinery were taken over by a specifically formed company, the Western Manufacturing Estate Ltd, the name Western referring to its location on the Woodley aerodrome. This company later merged with the Adamant Engineering Company Ltd to form the Adwest Group. Miles also manufactured Biro pens through an associated company, the Miles Martin Pen Co Ltd.

F. G. Miles Limited

In 1948, Frederick Miles founded F. G. Miles Limited who continued to produce aircraft under the Miles name. The company was based on two sites, Redhill aerodrome and Shoreham aerodrome. The aviation interests later merged with Auster Aircraft Limited into British Executive and General Aviation Limited (Beagle Aircraft) in 1961 initially as Beagle-Miles Ltd with George Miles as Chief Designer and Technical Director.[1] The company adopted a group structure as follows: Meridian Airmaps, Ltd., F. G. Miles technical publications department, Miles Development Products, Ltd., Miles Electronics, Ltd., Miles Plastics, Ltd. This company was based initially at Redhill but moved to Shoreham in 1953,[2] and Marketad Ltd[3] Miles Electronics was involved in the manufacture of flight simulators, this division merged with the UK arm of the Link Trainer flight simulator company and was later acquired by the Singer Corporation before being sold to a Florida based company – Biocoastal Corp. in 1988. Other companies in this grouping included FG Miles Engineering Ltd and Miles HiVolt Ltd. and Miles-Dufon Ltd Design work between F. G. Miles, Ltd., and the French company Hurel-Dubois resulted in the HDM.105, basically a standard Miles Aerovan fitted with an Hurel-Dubois high-aspect-ratio wing. This work led to the Hurel-Duois HD.34 and the Short Brothers Skyvan series of aircraft.

Aircraft designs

Miles Master trainer in flight during the Second World War.
M38 Miles Messenger G-AKBN photographed circa 1951

Their aircraft include the Hawk Trainer and its military variant, the Magister, as well as the Messenger and the Gemini. During the Second World War they produced the Master advanced trainer, as well as the Martinet and Monitor target tugs.

The aircraft designed by Miles were often technologically and aerodynamically advanced for their time; the M.20 emergency production fighter prototype outperformed contemporary Hawker Hurricanes and Spitfires, despite having fixed landing gear. The X Minor was a flying testbed for blended wing-fuselage designs, though the large commercial transport intended to be produced from this research never entered production. The gigantic Miles X Airliner was to seat 55 and have eight engines buried in the wing, driving four sets of contra-rotating props and a range of 3,450 miles.[4]

The Miles Libellula were tandem-wing designs for a fighter and a bomber. Having two wings, one each end of the aircraft, movements of the centre of gravity due to fuel or ammunition use were less of a problem.

The world's first supersonic jet aircraft, the Miles M.52, was nearly completed. The Miles M.52 influenced the design of the Bell X-1. A recent BBC documentary on the history of supersonic flight told how the British Air Ministry cancelled the M.52 project and ordered Miles to hand over all data to the Bell Corporation.[5]


The following table lists the company number, name, year of first flight and number produced of all Miles aircraft.

Company number Name Year Produced Type of aircraft
Southern Martlet 1929 6
Metal Martlet 1930 1
M.1 Satyr 1932 1
M.2 Hawk 1933 55 two seat light monoplane
M.2F-T Hawk Major 1934 64 Hawk successor with de Havilland Gipsy Major engine
M.2E,L,U Hawk Speed Six 1934 3 racing version of Hawk Major with de Havilland Gipsy Six engine
M.2W,X,Y Hawk Trainer 25
M.3A Falcon Major 1934 19
M.3B Falcon Six 1935 17
M.3E Gillette Falcon 1944 1 Modified M.3B Supersonic Research for M.52
M.4 Merlin 1935 4
M.5 Sparrowhawk 1935 5
M.6 Hawcon 1935 1
M.7 Nighthawk 1935 6
M.8 Peregrine 1936 2
M.9 Kestrel 1937 1
M.9A Master I 1939 900 advanced trainer
M.11 Whitney Straight 1936 50
M.11C M.11C 1
M.12 Mohawk 1937 1
M.13 Hobby 1937 1
M.14 Magister 1937 1,293 basic military trainer
M.14 Hawk Trainer III 1937 52 Magister for civil and export sales
M.15 M.15 1939 2 Air Ministry Specification T.1/37
M.16 Mentor 1938 45 three-seat training and communications monoplane
M.17 Monarch 1938 11
M.18 M.18 1938 3
M.19 Master II 1939 1,699
M.20 M20/2 1940 2 prototype low-cost fighter
M.24 Master Fighter 1940 26 emergency conversion of trainer design to fighter, retrospectively numbered M.24[6]
M.25 Martinet 1943 1,724 target tug
M.26 "X" 0 planned 55-seat trans-Atlantic airliner
M.27 Master III 1940 602
M.28 Mercury 1941 6 training or communications
M.30 X Minor 1942 1 small scale prototype for Miles X airline design
M.33 Monitor 1944 22 twin-engined target tug
M.35 Libellula 1942 1 tandem-wing design fighter
M.37 Martinet Trainer 1946 2 two seat trainer
M.38 Messenger 1942 80
M.33 Monitor 1944 80
M.39B Libellula 1943 1 scale tandem-wing bomber design
M.42 and M.43 not built designs tendered for an "Army Direct Support Aircraft" (ie a ground attack aircraft). Both tandem wing, one with twin Merlin, other with single Griffon engine.[7]
M.44 not built another design for the ground attack specification, conventional design with twin Merlins[8]
M.48 Messenger Development 1945 1
M.52 M.52 0 supersonic research aircraft design
M.50 Queen Martinet 1944 65 unmanned target drone version of Martinet
M.57 Aerovan 1945 48 STOL transport
M.60 Marathon I 1945 42 civil airliner design – would become Handley Page Marathon
M.63B not built Tandem wing jet mailplane[9]
M.64 L.R.5 1945 1
M.65 Gemini 1945 170 private small aircraft
M.68 Boxcar 1947 1 transport with detachable cargo container
M.69 Marathon II 1949 1 Mamba turboprop powered project
M.71 Merchantman 1947 1 4-engined development of Aerovan layout
M.75 Aries 1951 2 development of Gemini with more powerful engines
M.76 M.76 1953 1 development of 2 seat glider for the British Gliding Association
M.77 Sparrowjet 1953 1
M.100 Student 1957 1
M.105 H.D.M.105 1957 1 aerovan conversion with Hurel Dubois wing


  • Miles Hoop-la – Surface-to-surface missile project, the Miles Hoopla dates from 1941–43. It was a remotely piloted, high wing light aircraft carrying a 1,000 lb bomb. It was powered by a DH Gypsy Queen engine with a wingspan of 14 feet, and an estimated speed of over 300 MPH. It was not a 'flying bomb' like the V-1 but was intended to drop its load and return for re-use. Accuracy was not a major consideration as its intended target was to be German cities. Only a mock-up was constructed before the project was cancelled.
  • R.A.E. – Vickers Transonic Research Rocket The test vehicle was a 3/10-scale model of the Miles E.24/43 design (except for The omission of the distinctive annular air intake of the full-scale aircraft). To maintain the c.g. in the correct relation it was necessary to include a large balance weight (almost 1/10 of total all-up weight) in the foremost section of the ogival nose. On 9 October 1948, model A3 (one of three craft built) was successfully launched.[10]

See also

  • Aerospace industry in the United Kingdom


  1. ^ Masefield, Peter. "The Beagles are Coming.", 23 March 1961. Retrieved: 1 January 2010.
  2. ^ "New Miles Directors .", 8 May 1953. Retrieved: 1 January 2010.
  3. ^ "Royal Visitor to Shoreham.", 30 May 1958. Retrieved: 1 January 2010.
  4. ^ Popular Science, August 1944, page 38
  5. ^ "Britain's First Supersonic Aeroplane." Retrieved: 1 January 2010.
  6. ^ "British Aircraft of World War II – Miles Master." Retrieved: 1 January 2010.
  7. ^ Buttler, British Secret Projects - Fighters and Bombers 1935-1950 p.67,71
  8. ^ Buttler, p71
  9. ^ "Jet Mail Project] Flight 1946
  10. ^ Flight Trials of a Rocket-propelled Transonic Research model: The R.A.E.-Vickers Rocket Model. London: HMSO, 1954.
  • Amos, Peter. Miles Aircraft – The Early Years: The Story of F G Miles and his Aeroplanes, 1925–1939. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 2009. ISBN 978-0-85130-410-6.
  • Brown, Don Lambert. Miles Aircraft Since 1925. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970. ISBN 0-37000-127-3.
  • Temple, Julian C. Wings Over Woodley – The Story of Miles Aircraft and the Adwest Group. Bourne End, Bucks, UK: Aston Publications, 1987. ISBN 0-946627-12-6.

External links

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