Beagle Aircraft

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Beagle Aircraft Limited
Industry Aerospace, Engineering
Fate Placed into receivership, assets disposed.
Founded 1960 (as British Executive & General Aviation Limited)
Defunct 1969
Headquarters Shoreham, Sussex, UK
Parent Pressed Steel Company

Beagle Aircraft Limited was a British light aircraft manufacturer of types such as the Airedale, Basset, Husky and Pup. It had factories at Rearsby in Leicestershire and Shoreham in Sussex. The company was dissolved in 1969.

History

The British Executive & General Aviation Limited (trading as BEAGLE) was formed in 1960 when the Pressed Steel Company created an aircraft design office (to design the Beagle B.206) and took over two separate aircraft manufacturers, Auster Aircraft Company of Rearsby, Leicestershire and F.G Miles Limited of Shoreham, Sussex.[1]

Initially the three parts of the company operated independently, the Rearsby factory as Beagle-Auster Limited[2] and the Shoreham factory as Beagle-Miles Limited. This did not last long and the three parts of the company were merged as Beagle Aircraft Limited in 1962.[3]

In 1965 the parent company Pressed Steel was acquired by the British Motor Corporation,[4] who reviewed the involvement in light aircraft manufacturing and requested financial help from the British Government. The British government bought Beagle in 1966[5] and provided the help needed. When the company needed more financial help in 1969, the Government put the company into receivership.[6] The Receiver tried to revive and sell the company (now renamed Beagle Aircraft (1969) Limited), but failed and the company assets were disposed of.

Aircraft

The Beagle B.206 was a twin piston-engined design evolved from the Bristol 220 project which was expected to be ordered in great quantity by the RAF,[7] but was only made in small numbers from 1961 to 1969; this was to have been the company's flagship aircraft[8] but the RAF only bought 20 and sales were always difficult.

The first aircraft made by Beagle were developed from Auster designs: the Airedale, Terrier and D5/180 Husky. The Airedale and Terrier were intended as stop-gap designs to keep production shops busy and to be sold whilst more modern designs were developed[9] However, Beagle lost almost £500,000 on the Airedale, due to its old design, poor performance and high cost;[9] the Terrier was also not profitable, due to the extensive number of manhours in conversion[10] and, again, the age of the design. The Beagle Husky was made in very small numbers and each was sold at a significant loss[10], while the Beagle Mark Eleven project was another expensive sideline.[11] In 1968, the Auster assets (including all spares, jigs and partly completed airframes) were sold to Hants and Sussex Avation[10] in order to make room for the production of the Pup.

In 1967 the single-engined Beagle Pup made its first flight and was made and sold in greater numbers until the company's bankruptcy. The receiver sold a number of incomplete Pup aircraft which were then completed by other companies. At the time of the company's bankruptcy in 1969, the military Bulldog was being developed from the Pup by Beagle; Bulldog production was then completed by Scottish Aviation at their Prestwick factory following the demise of the Beagle Aircraft company. At the turn of the 21st Century, many Bulldogs were being sold by air forces to civilian operators, in much the same way that Austers were transferred from Army or RAF squadrons during the 1940s and 1950s.

Beagle also collaborated with Ken Wallis in building five Wallis WA-116 autogyros at Shoreham in 1962 for evaluation by the British Army. This collaboration ended when the British Army chose the Westland Sioux for this role.

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Wenham 2015, pp11-21
  2. ^ Jackson 1974, p. 187.
  3. ^ Wenham 2015, p28
  4. ^ Wenham 2015, p108
  5. ^ Wenham 2015, p295
  6. ^ Wenham 2015, p350
  7. ^ Wenham 2015, p.6.
  8. ^ Hitchman 2006 p. 44.
  9. ^ a b Wenham 2015, p. 66.
  10. ^ a b c Hitchman 2006, p. 64.
  11. ^ Wenham 2015, pp. 32–34.

Bibliography

  • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft since 1919 (Volume 1). London, Putnam, 1974. ISBN 0-370-10006-9
  • Wenham, Tom. False Dawn - The Beagle Aircraft Story. Air-Britain Publishing, 2015.
  • Hitchman, Ambrose & Preston, Mike. The History of the Auster Aeroplane (Revised 3rd Ed.). International Auster Club Heritage Group, 2006.

External links

  • Beagle – British Aircraft Directory
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