These small, light, and manoeuvrable aircraft where flown by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the Second World War and Korea War, for observation and communication. Before the development of helicopters the role of Air Observation Post (AOP) was carried out by single-engine, light aircraft, such as Austers. They were used for aerial reconnaissance, as artillery “spotters”, and to maintain contact with forward units. The official historian for the RAAF during the Second World War, George Odgers, considered the close cooperation between tanks, infantry, and AOP aircraft, developed to such a considerable degree “the Austers became the eyes of the battalion commanders”.
In 1944 the RAAF ordered 56 Auster Mk IIIs for Nos. 16 and 17 AOP Flights. The aircraft were built by British Taylocraft Auster, which later became Auster Aircraft Ltd. The Mk IIIs were delivered in batches between September 1944 and July 1946. They remained in service with the RAAF unit July 1959. Another four Austers were ordered by the RAAF, two of which were used with the Antarctic flight during the 1950s. Between 1953 and 1963 the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) also used Austers, as communication aircraft by No. 723 Squadron based at Nowra, NSW.
Auster Mk III
Type: Two-seater observation and communication aircraft
Entered service: September 1944
Wing span: 10.97 m
Length: 7.14 m
Weight (unladen): 476 kg
Ceiling: 4,572 m
Endurance: Maximum range 402 km
Speed: Maximum speed 209 km/h, cruising 174km/h
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