Last updated 17.10.16


              MILES MERCURY AND MESSENGER IN AUSTRALIA


                A listing compiled by Geoff Goodall

   

      Miles Messenger VH-BJH (c/n 6372) at Murwillumbah NSW, August 1993.                                                                                            Photo by David C. Eyre



                 The Miles Mercury and Messenger line of 4-seater touring aeroplanes began in the wartime days of 1941 when George Miles resurrected a shelved prewar civil design to meet an Air Ministry military specification. Designated the M.28 Mark 1, the prototype was designed and built at the Miles Experimental Department in a small sub-factory at Liverpool Road, Reading and first flown at nearby Woodley Aerodrome, Reading on 11 July 1941 by George Miles.

                 The second aircraft, designated M.28 Mark II, was delivered to RAF as HB583 for evaluation fitted with a variety of DH Gipsy Major engines then a 140hp Blackburn Cirrus Major II. Sold by military disposals postwar, it became a civil M.28 Mercury and was later exported to Australia as VH-BBK. Advertising using the name "Mercury" was dropped after a complaint from Bristol Aeroplane Co because of its Mercury radial engine, however the Miles company records continued to refer to the M.28 as Mercury, and the name was used by DCA in Australia.

                 Four more M.28s were built, initially planned for use by the Air Transport Auxilliary, but not delivered and marketed as Miles' first postwar civil design. They were designated Mercury 2, 3, 4 & 5 with different models of Gipsy Major and Blackburn Cirrus Major engines.

                 The Air Ministry showed no enthusiasm for the M.28 during its trials, however the evolution of its successor, the M.38 Messenger is described from an insider's point of view by Don L. Brown in his book Miles Aircraft since 1925. Brown had worked for the Miles companies from the early days and became personal assistant to George Miles and company pilot.
"In June 1942 certain Army officers who had seen the performance of the M.28 approached George Miles and asked if he could design and build for them at short notice a specialised aeroplane which was urgently needed for Air Observation post duties. as their existing aircraft did not meet the exacting requirements of the job. This direct approach to a manufacturer was, of course, highly irregular: the approved procedure would have been to make their requirements known to the War Office, who, if they thought fit, would pass them on to the Ministry of Aircraft Production, who, again if they thought fit, would approach one or more manufacturers. All this would have taken months, if not years, and these Army officers were more concerned with winning the war than with the observance of protocol. George Miles shared this view and agreed, unofficially, to produce a prototype, although he pointed out that production, if required, would have to to be organized through official channels.
Three months after the initial visit the prototype M.38 was flown by George Miles on 12 September 1942 and then handed over to an AOP Squadron for test. Everyone flew it and their verdict was unanimous "How soon can you let us have a hundred of these?"
Then started an inter-Ministerial war between the War Office and the Ministry of Aircraft Production, a war of such bitterness that the real war paled to insignificance. The Ministry were outraged that, once again, Miles had built and flown an aeroplane without their knowledge and authority. The final outcome of this private war was that the Army instigator was posted to North Africa, the AOP units were told firmly that they would not receive the aeroplane that so perfectly fulfilled their specification and the Messenger finally went into limited production as a VIP communications aircraft, one being allotted to Field Marshal Montgomery and another to Marshal of the RAF Lord Tedder."

               The prototype Messenger was built at the same small sub-factory at Liverpool Road, Reading by the same design team under George Miles. The Ministry order for RAF, when finally received, was for 250 aircraft, but with V-E Day, the order was cancelled after only 21 Messengers were delivered to the military.

               Because of workload of other military aircraft production at Woodley, the Messenger production was transferred to an associate company Miles Aircraft (NI) Ltd at Newtownards, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Here the production changed to Messengers to civil standards for the postwar civil market, using the Blackburn Cirrus Major engine and a coarser-pitch propeller giving a higher cruising speed, and the large square rear windows replaced by more stylish oval rear windows. As production rate increased in Northern Ireland, the bare aircraft were flown unpainted to Woodley for final painting, upholstering and sale.

             A total of 81 Miles Messengers had been built when production ceased in January 1948. By then Miles Aircraft Ltd had run into a serious financial crisis at the Woodley factory, and despite orders for Geminis, Aerovans and the new 4 engined Marathon, and 6,000 employees, the company was forced to cease production and its assets were taken over by Handley Page.

              F. G. Miles set up a new maintenance company F. G. Miles Ltd at Redhill Aerodrome near London, and his brother George Miles joined Airspeed as a designer. In 1951 F. G. Miles Ltd moved to Shoreham to produce new designs such as the Sparrowjet, Student and others, before the business was taken over by the newly formed Beagle Aircraft Ltd in 1961 and one of the Miles designs was developed into the Beagle 206.

             Messengers were of wooden construction. The fuselage was built up from longerons, stringers and U frames, covered with a plastic -bonded plywood skin, through which passed the twin-box spares pf the one-piece plywood covered mainplane. The single strut undercarriage legs were designed to withstand rough landing fields and retracted with the wheels protruding through the lower wing surface to assist in gear-up forced landings.


DCA Grounding Orders for Messengers

On 21 September 1962 the Minister for Civil Aviation announced restrictions on certain wooden construction aircraft types because of deterioration of the glued joints which used synthetic resin glues. Effective immediately, these aircraft types were restricted to Private Category operations only, pilot must be the owner and no passengers carried. Their Certificates of Airworthiness would be permanently withdrawn on 31 December 1963. The decision had been taken following the investigation into the structural failure in flight of Proctor 5 VH-AIE and the evidence that this aircraft had been well-maintained and hangared most of its life. A total of 28 aircraft on the current Australian Civil Register were affected:
- DH.94 and DHA Moth Minor
- Miles Messenger, Mercury, Gemini, Aries,
- Mraz Sokol M1C
- Percival Proctor V

The 1963 DCA Annual Report refers to the airworthiness investigation of stressed ply shell wooden aeropanes of late wartime and early postwar manufacture. One of several incidents which confirmed the desirability of restrictions occurred on 14 November 1962: Miles Messenger VH-AVD was being flown on a routine flight on a sheep station near Cunnamulla Queensland when the aileron controls jammed in a left hand medium turn. The pilot tried thumping the control stick with his hand and finally moved it far enough to straighten the aircraft and permit it to be flown back to a safe landing at the owner's airstrip, except that the Messenger veered sharply to the left off the strip. On opening an inspection hole, the pilot saw that a timber block carrying the aileron control arm had broken from its normal position, apparently due glue failure. In the owner's words "I decided that the best thing to do with my aircraft was to make it so unserviceable that I would not be tempted to fly it again".

The owner invited the DCA aircraft surveyor to cut the wings open to the point of destruction to allow unhindered inspection. The initial diagnosis was confirmed and there was alarming evidence of adhesion breakdown in the spars and skin-to-rib bonding. This aircraft had been hangared and maintained throughout its life and all recommended inspections to detect deterioration had been performed.


   

The following listing is presented in order of apperance on the Australian Register:




               c/n untraced    Miles M.28 Mercury 2                   Wing Wom II                                                                                              VH-BBK, VH-PMG, VH-KCH

.42 Designed and built by Miles Experimental Department sub-factory at Liverpool Road, Reading.

Second prototype M.28 Mercury and the only Mercury Series 2: side by side dual control trainer with a third seat behind with a curved rear cabin window on each side.
Fitted with 130hp DH Gipsy Major I, then 140hp Gipsy Major Mk.II, and 145hp Gipsy Major Mk IIA, all with fixed propeller

Class B registration U-0237 for flight tests. Type recorded as M.28B
13.9.42 First flown at Woodley by Flt Lt Hugh V. Kennedy as U-0237

allotted Air Ministry serial HM583
15.1.43 HM583 tested by Aircraft Experimental Establishment, AAEE, Boscombe Down as HM583 painted in camouflage with "P" prototype symbol
17.3.43 HM583 flown by Flt Lt Hugh Kennedy
1.9.43 last recorded test flight by AAEE with Gipsy Major
25.4.44 flown by AAEE fitted with 140hp Blackburn Cirrus Major II
26.7.44 ferried to Heston by Miles pilot Don Brown. Then based at Heston
13.5.45 service test flight at Woodley by Flt Lt Hugh Kennedy
26.9.46 HM583 test flight at Woody by Don Brown, now fitted 150hp Blackburn Cirrus Major III
.46 ferried to No.5 Maintenance Unit, Kemble for storage
.47 Listed for military disposal in the 6th Sale of Light Aircraft
5.6.47 Registered G-AJVX Hulland Gravel Co Ltd, Derby.  Based at Burneston
47 converted for civil use, engine 150hp Blackburn Cirrus Major III
11.12.47 CofA issued
10.8.48 Change of ownership: John E. Nicholson, Houghton le Spring, County Durham, later Bedale, Yorks. Based at Croft.
2.2.50 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia

Sold to F.S.Burt, Australia through agents W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
23.2.50 Australian Registration application:  Francis S. Burt, "Yinnietharra" Station, via Carnarvon, Western Australia.  
Requested registration VH-YIN be allotted
27.2.50 DCA refuse VH-YIN due being too far ahead of the current registration allocation sequence and instead allocate VH-BBK
2.6.50 Registered VH-BBK

Australian registration painted on aircraft during overhaul by F.G.Miles Ltd at Redhill.
7.50 Frank Burt has sold his Tiger Moth VH-BBA and sailed from Fremantle for England on
MV Orion to collect his Miles Mercury. He was accompanied by his wife and neighbour,
ex RAAF wartime bomber pilot Lachlan McTaggert from "Bidgemia" Station, Gascoyne
Junction WA (owner of Auster VH-KSN) to share the flying on the delivery flight to
Australia.

On arrival in London they immediately took delivery of the Miles Mercury from Shackletons and commenced flight testing. On a flight from Redhill, Surrey to Ireland, taking Winsome Burt and Janet Williams (later to be Lachlan’s wife), the engine failed and a forced landing was made in a field near Cambridge, with no airframe damage.
21.8.50 DCA approve first Australian landing at Wyndham WA rather than the usual Darwin NT to give a shorter crossing distance of the Timor Sea.
10.50 Redhill report: Mercury VH-BBK ex G-AJVK among recent visitors, owned by F. S. Burt, Carnarvon WA. Aircraft is named Wing Wom II
30.11.50 VH-BBK departed Lympne, England on delivery flight to Australia, flown by Frank Burt. First landing was at Le Tourquet, France where the tailwheel was fractured. It was repaired by Ian Forbes from Miles Aircraft at Redhill.

Flew Le Tourquet-Dijon-Marseilles-Cannes, where they stayed for 3 weeks

Leisurely delivery flight continued with stopovers at Rome and Avazos in Greece. Delayed at Beirut a week waiting for engine parts from England, which Frank installed. A dust storm over Iran forced them to land at Jaska, where they were interned by the Iranian Army and held in the Army barracks for a week. Further stopovers at Lahore and Pashawar, Pakistan. Then Akyab, Rangoon, Penang, Singapore where extra fuel tanks were installed for the Timor Sea crossing. Then refuelled at Djakarta, Bali.
13.1.51 VH-BBK arrived Darwin from Dili, Portuguese Timor
17.1.51 VH-BBK arrived Perth, WA at end of the 64 day delivery flight
30.1.51 Australian CofA issued after inspection at Maylands Aerodrome, Perth WA
Blackburn Cirrus Major III engine
20.7.51 Change of address: Francis S. Burt, "Glengarry" Station via Geraldton WA

Frank Burt was from a pioneer pastoralist family in the WA Gascoyne district, which owned a number of station properties. He was killed 2.12.71 in crash of a Cessna 172 on a stock mustering flight on "Brickhouse" Station near Carnarvon WA.    
31.1.52 Frank Burt flew BBK for two days with 7 other aircraft in a search for missing Auster VH-ASP, which was found crashed on "Cardabia" Station near Carnarvon WA.
22.2.52 port undercarriage leg collapsed during landing at Lancelin WA
24.9.52 CofA renewed after repair at Maylands Aerodrome, Perth
17.12.53 CofA lapsed. Burt advises DCA that the aircraft is dismantled and he will have the CofA renewed next year
18.2.54 ferried to Perth for CofA renewal at Maylands Aerodrome
24.5.54 CofA renewed at Maylands
10.6.55 Change of ownership: Gordon Greig, 218G Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW
28.6.55 Change of registration to VH-PMG
Greig used this registration (his wife's initials) on four different aircraft he owned
21.5.56 Change of ownership: Kingsford Smith Aviation Service Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport,
Sydney NSW

Greig traded the Mercury to KSAS on the D.H.87 Hornet Moth VH-UUD. DCA approved transfer of Greig's preferred registration VH-PMG to the Hornet Moth and for KSAS to use one of their VH-K.. reserved registrations blocks on the Mercury.
7.8.56 Change of registration to VH-KCH
30.10.56 Change of ownership: W. Gall, "Langawirra" Station, via Broken Hill NSW

This change of ownership was not recorded in DCA Register Ledger: DCA was not notified of the change of this ownership change until 24.5.58 in a letter from KSAS: presumably it was a
hire purchase arrangement.
20.11.58 Struck-off Register as "reduced to spares"

                

  HM583 in camouflage and Prototype markings.                                                                                                             Miles photograph


Mercury 2 G-AJVX during 1947.                                                                                                                                      Air Britain Archive


            

                 VH-BBK at Redhill, Surrey 1950.                                                                                                                                     Ed Coates Collection


            

Re-registered VH-PMG, at Bankstown 1956.                                                                                                                          Ed Coates Collection






             c/n 6372                   Miles M.38 Messenger 2A                                                                                                           VH-BJM, VH-BJH, VH-ZMM, ZK-CMM

.47 Built by Miles Aircraft (Northern Ireland) Ltd at Newtownards, Belfast, Northern Ireland as a production Messenger 2A, c/n 6372. 155hp Blackburn Cirrus Major III.
Oval rear cabin windows each side of cabin
30.5.47 Registered G-AJVL Geoffrey O. Lawton, Manor House, Overseal, Burton-on-Trent, Staffs
2.7.47 CofA issued
10.7.47 Change of ownership: Tyne Taxis Ltd, Woolsington, Newcastle-on-Tyne
1.12.49 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia
28.12.50 Registered VH-BJM Hecker & Co Pty Ltd, Maryborough Qld
20.10.63 Struck-off Register due DCA Policy
63-75 stored complete in small hangar, Maryborough Aerodrome Qld
6.1.72 VH-BJM noted Maryborough, stored in its small hangar
11.5.73 VH-BJM noted Maryborough in its hangar:  good condition apart from minor damage to central rudder. Main undercarriage is jacked off ground and tail tied to rafters of hangar. Aircraft painted brown & red with blue registration markings. Cockpit interior complete.
Owner S. W. "Jack" Hecker, Manager of Hecker Motors, Marybough advises that the engine has been turned over regularly and that the aircraft is available for sale at $A3000. 
6.8.74 VH-BJM noted Maryborough, stored in its small hangar
by 78 Purchased by Ken E. Orrman, Shepparton Vic.
Orrman also purchased Jack Hecker's airworthy PA-22 Tripacer 150 VH-SDJ

moved by road from Maryborough to Shepparton by Orrman, stored for planned restoration

rebuild commenced by H. E. (Bill) Thompson at Frankston, Melbourne, for Orrman
11.79 Advertised for sale by Orrman as a rebuild project, asking $A5000
.80 Purchased by Sid Lemair, Burleigh Heads Qld
4.80 arrived by road at Burleigh Heads from Victoria

restoration to airworthy at Caloundra Qld commenced, reportedly with help from British Miles experts, but discontinued, stored Caloundra
6.87 Advertised for sale: "dismantled, very restorable with many spares".
Also Auster J5G VH-BYV restoration project.

Purchased by H.E. (Bill) Thompson, Brisbane Qld
30.12.88 Thompson commenced the restoration to airworthy when when Departmental authorisation was obtained for the rebuild method he proposed using modern synthetic glues. He was a retired motor mechanic who had previously restored Auster 5 VH-BYM in Melbourne
90 Thompson wrote in 9.90 Rag and Tube magazine of Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia: his rebuild of the Messenger officially commenced on 30.12.88 and since then he has constructed a jig to support the fuselage. His enquiries have revealed that there are no surviving drawings in Britain from Messenger construction.  
"I started the cleaning, repairing and painting of hundreds of metal components in this so-called wooden aircraft. The time came for a start of the woodwork, so with the forward fuselage set up in the jig, I was able to remove each of the six frames and rebuild each one in turn. Now all the frames and floor sections have been rebuilt and are awaiting the scrutiny of the Engineer who is overseeing my work. The forward part of the fuselage (the fore and aft sections bolt together at the rear main spar) will be completed to the final upholstery stage before the aft section is commenced."
6.8.93 Restored to Register VH-BJH: H. E. Thompson, Brisbane Qld
Orginal registration had been reallocated to another aircraft
.93
Final asembly and painting at Archerfield Airport, Brisbane
.93 First test flight at Archerfield
22.8.93 VH-BJH noted at Murwillumbah NSW, flying, dapple camouflage, invasion stripes, no serial
19.9.93 VH-BJH visited Oakey Qld airshow, camouflaged
25.8.96 VH-BJH visited Caboolture Qld airshow
10.10.96 Change of ownership:  G. E. Ireland, Capalaba Qld
10.10.97 Change of ownership:  Michael C. S. Apps,Canberra ACT.  
15.10.97 Re-registered VH-ZMM
.97 Repainted by the new owners in RAF green & brown camouflage, yellow undersides, invasion stripes, serial "RG383". Based Goulburn NSW.
15.1.04 Struck-off Register, sold to NZ
22.1.04 Registered ZK-CMM David J. Cowie, Auckland-Dairy Flat
.04 Participated in NZ Cape to Bluff Air Rally, camouflaged with D Day stripes, owned David Cowie
05 Aircraft repainted aircraft as RAF "RH368" with D Day stripes to represent Monty’s first Messenger and the only one to have D-Day stripes.
24.4.11 flying at airshow Omaka NZ, "RH368" RAF camouflage, D Day stripes
15-16
Operated by NZ Warbirds, Auckland-Ardmore, by agreement with David Cowie’s family

Current

                     
            VH-BJH at Murwillumbah NSW in August 1993, soon after its extensive rebuild.                                                                   Photo by Dave Eyre

            

ZK-CMM "RH368" at Omaka NZ in April 2011.                                                                                                                                  Photo by Dave Eyre





            C/n 6340      Miles M.38 Messenger 2A                                                                                                                                                     VH-ALN

.46 Built by Miles Aircraft (Northern Ireland) Ltd at Newtownards, Belfast, Northern Ireland as a production Messenger 2A, c/n 6340.  Blackburn Cirrus Major III engine.
Oval rear cabin windows
27.8.46 Registered G-AIDH William A. Rollason, Croydon Aerodrome, London
5.9.46 Application for CofA made by Miles Aircraft Ltd
10.1.47 CofA issued W. A. Rollason Ltd, Croydon Aerodrome, London
11.1.47 Miles office records quote delivery date 11.1.47, Messenger No.13, purchase price 2208 pounds, 13 shillings paid on 10.1.47
2.6.47 Change of ownership: David Brown & Sons (Huddersfield) Ltd, Huddlesfield
2.11.48 Change of ownership: Whitehouse Industries Ltd, Yeadon
19.10.49 Change of ownership: Mrs. Lorna Kathleen King, Monk Fryston, Yorkshire
25.9.51 Change of ownership: W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
5.11.51 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia

Shipped to Australia
29.2.52 Registered VH-ALN Kirby Brothers, Brisbane Qld
15.7.55 Change of ownership: Richard F. Condon, Roma Qld
21.5.56 Change of ownership: Airwork Co, Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane Qld
24.5.56 Change of ownership: Fred Purdie, "Rocky Ponds" Station, Wookala Siding,
via Home Hill Qld

Purdie flew VH-ALN regularly. Painted white with navy blue trim.
.59 Blown on to back by tropical cyclone at "Rocky Ponds" Station, wrecked. The aircraft was pulled from its hangar by the winds, burying the port wingtip deep into the ground, snapping it off and smashing the rest of the aircraft on to its back.

After cyclone damage, the Messenger was declared an insurance write-off: inspected by aircraft engineer Ivan Unwin from Mackay QLD.
4.60 Struck-off Register due damaged in 1959

         

VH-ALN wrecked by a cyclone.                                                                                                                                           Photo Chris Emerson





              c/n 6376      Miles M.38 Messenger 2A                                                                                                                                                      VH-AVD

.47 Built by Miles Aircraft (Northern Ireland) Ltd at Newtownards, Northern Ireland as a production Messenger 2A. 155hp Blackburn Cirrus Major III.
Oval rear windows on each side of cabin
24.6.47 Registered G-AKAI Harben Aviation Ltd, Airport, Wolverhampton
16.9.47 British CofA issued
11.8.48 Change of ownership: William G. Pearson, Harvest Hartlepool, County Durham
26.7.51 Change of ownership: W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
19.2.52 Struck-off Register as sold to Australia

Shipped to Australia
24.7.52 Registered VH-AVD Royal Queensland Aero Club, Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane Qld
24.7.52 CofA issued at Archerfield
19.8.55 Change of ownership: Clifton H. Parsons, St George Qld
24.6.60 Change of ownership: R. W. Goss, Cunamulla Qld
29.1.62 Change of ownership: P. J. Clarke, "Camden" Station, via Cunamulla Qld
14.11.62 Last flight on property near Cunamulla QLD: loss of control due woodwork deterioration, but landed safely.
The owner reported to DCA that he was on a routine flight on a sheep station near Cunamulla Queensland when the aileron controls jammed in a left hand medium turn. He tried thumping the control stick with his hand and finally moved it far enough to straighten the aircraft and permit it to be flown back to a safe landing at the owner's airstrip, except that the Messenger veered sharply to the left off the strip. On opening an inspection hole, the pilot saw that a timber block carrying the aileron control arm had broken from its normal position due glue failure. He advised DCA that he had rendered the aircraft unserviceable so he would not be tempted to fly it again.
See introduction above
14.11.62 Struck-off register, owner's request.


 

    Archerfield 1954.                                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Eddie Coates





               c/n 4685                Miles M.28 Mercury 4                                                                                                                                          VH-AKH, VH-AKC

.44 Designed and built by Miles Experimental Department sub-factory, Liverpool Road, Reading. 145hp DH Gipsy Major IIA driving a constant speed propeller.

Prototype and only Mercury Series IV, four seat light transport, oval rear window on each side of cabin. Originally intended for use by RAF Air Transport Auxilliary.
Painted in PR blue with red & blue roundels.

Class B registration U-0243 for flight tests
10.7.44 First flight at Woodley by Flt Lt Hugh V. Kennedy as U-0243
10.11.45 U-0243 testflown by Miles pilot Don Brown, engine now 150hp DH Gipsy Major III
16.11.45 Registered G-AGVX Miles Aircraft Ltd, Reading Aerodrome, Berks
28.11.45 first test flight Woodley as G-AGVX, pilot Don Brown
26.4.46 British CofA issued
16.4.46 G-AGVX testflight at Woodley by Don Brown
17.4.47 Struck-off Register, sold to Switzerland
6.6.47 Swiss CofA issued
1.7.47 Registered HB-EED  Aerotaxi A.G., Zurich
17.2.48 Struck-off Swiss Register, sold to Great Britain
8.3.48 Restored to British Register G-AGVX Harry W. H. Moore, London
14.6.48 British CofA renewed
20.6.49 Change of ownership: William S. Shackleton, The Willows, Bisley, Surrey
31.1.50 Change of ownership: David C. Maxwell, Bosworth Hall, Husbands Bosworth
14.7.50 Change of ownership: Ind Coope & Allsopp Ltd, Burton-upon-Trent
7.51 visited airshow at RAF Hendon
28.4.52 Change of ownership: Iain M. Erskine, Edinburgh, Scotland. Based at White Waltham
23.6.52 Change of ownership: W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
18.10.52 noted at Old Warden in a hangar with G-AGVX painted over
31.12.52 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia

Shipped to Australia, assembled at Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane Qld
12.3.53 DCA Australian Import Permit issued to applicant J. Hewson  
15.5.53 Registered VH-AKH John Hewson, "Laguna" Station, via Charleville Qld
15.5.53 Australian CofA issued at Archerfield
27.12.55 Change of registration VH-AKC, same owner
6.11.56 Change of ownership: Dave P. Griffiths, Toowoomba Qld
25.1.57 Change of ownership: Park Pty Ltd, Toowoomba Qld
10.57 Advertisement in Aircraft magazine: Miles Mercury for sale by Airwork Company Pty Ltd, Archerfield Qld: 4 seat cabin, retractable undercarriage, CS airscrew, TT 700 hrs,
12 month CofA
2.58 Advertisement in Aircraft magazine: Airwork Co Pty Ltd. Archerfield offer for sale:
DH.85, DH.89, Mk.5 Auster, Lockheed and Miles Mercury.
31.12.63 Struck-off Register "due DCA Policy"
10.64 VH-AKC noted Archerfield in hangar, all silver, complete, parked with a grounded Gemini

         

          G-AGVX in November 1945, just after it was civil registered.                                                                                                        Miles photograph


         

HB-EED in 1947 with Aerotaxi.                                                                                                                                     Photo: Air Britain Archive





               c/n 6373                 Miles M.38 Messenger 2A                                                                                                                                 VH-AVQ

.47 Built by Miles Aircraft (Northern Ireland) Ltd at Newtownards, Northern Ireland as a production Messenger 2A, c/n 6373. 155hp Blackburn
Oval rear windows on each side of cabin.  Cirrus Mjor III.
30.4.47 CofA application: Miles Aircraft (Northern Ireland) Ltd
30.5.47 Registered G-AJKG Charles E. Heckman, Ackleton Manor, near Wolverhampton, Staffs
8.7.47 CofA issued
24.9.47 Change of ownership: Ductile Steels Ltd, Willenhall Staffs.
Based Wolverhampton
31.5.48 Change of ownership: Norman B. Williams, Willenhall Staffs
4.3.51 Change of ownership: William F. Stephenson, Longton Farm, Blandford, Dorset
17.5.52 visited Wolverhampton for air show
21.6.52 Change of ownership: Robert C. Cox, Chobham, Surrey.  Based Fairoaks
11.52 noted at Fairoaks
5.5.53 Rt Hon R. G. Casey, Minister for External Affairs, wrote to DCA advising them that he had purchased a Messenger G-AJKG in England through W.S.Shackleton Ltd, London and that he believed that Royal Queensland Aero Club had experience in assembly of Messengers. DCA replied that there were 3 Messengers in Australia and that RQAeC had carried out all airworthy inspections on these aircraft.   
5.53 DCA allocated reg VH-BLC but Casey requested VH-AVQ “Able Victor Queen” to
celebrate the Queen’s coronation year.
3.6.53 British CofA renewed for export: Miles Aircraft (Northern Island)Ltd, Newtownards NI
17.8.53 Struck-off British Register, sold to Australia
24.8.53 Casey wrote to DCA advising that he had arranged with Mr. A. S. Luckman, Manager of RAQAeC to have the aircraft collected from the ship Port Wyndham on its arrival   in Brisbane and have the aircraft assembled at Archerfield aerodrome, Brisbane.
9.53 Shipped from England to Brisbane on the ship Port Wyndham
22.10.53 Port Wyndham docked in Brisbane
23.10.53 DCA Import Permit No.431 issued to applicant Royal Queensland Aero Club on behalf of
Rt Hon R. G. Casey
.53 Assembled at Archerfield by RQAeC
1.12.53 Weighed on DCA scales at Eagle Farm after CofA inspection
2.12.53 Australian CofA issued
2.12.53 Registered VH-AVQ   The Right Honorable Lord Casey of Berwick, Berwick, Vic
Casey was a career politician who later became Governor General of Australia

Flown extensively by Lord Casey and his wife Maie, along with their Cessna 180   
VH-RGC. Both aircraft were regular visitors to Moorabbin to refuel, Messenger usually flown by Casey, and the 180 by his wife.
11.54 Casey writes to DCA requesting CofA be extended due delays with Schutt Aircraft at Moorabbin. The aircraft has only flown 67 hours in Australia and has been continuously hangared. DCA approve extension.
24.2.61 Departed Moorabbin in the 3 day "The Sun" Air Trial around Victoria, flown by Mr & Mrs R. Murphy
25.2.62 arrived Moorabbin from Berwick with Lord & Lady Casey to open an airshow, all silver
31.3.62 Last flight, then retired in hangar at Moorabbin
1.4.62 Struck-off Register
5.62 noted Moorabbin in back of hangar
23.1.64 noted Moorabbin in back of hangar
24.1.64 Removed from hangar at Moorabbin and moved by road to Dobby Brothers Car Wreckers, Ringwood, Melbourne Vic.
28.1.64 Reassembly at car yard began, completed 31.1.64 as a display at front of yard, engine
removed but free spinning propeller.
12.2.64 noted Ringwood at car wreckers yard, allover silver
31.8.65 Purchased for £30 by Gil Johnston, Mount Waverly, Melbourne on behalf of the  
Moorabbin Air Museum. It was all silver and white, registration in blue, aircraft in poor
condition due exposure to weather and some vandalism. Purchased less engine,
propeller and wheels.
25.9.65 Fuselage moved by road to Gil Johnston's home by Moorabbin Air Museum members and
stored pending restoration.
26.9.65 Wings moved to Moorabbin Air Museum compound at Moorabbin Airport, for storage.
66 Restoration work on fuselage ceased due Johnston's family commitments, stored
.82 Donated to Moorabbin Air Museum.  Stored
21.6.87 Removed from storage at Moorabbin Air Museum. Restoration to static display standard
commenced by member Ashley Briggs, an aircraft engineer, inside the museum workshop
at Moorabbin Airport
19.7.87 rolled-out of museum workshop, completed in RAF camouflage with Invasion stripes,
no serial.
.87 loaned to Pipe Works Market, Campbellfield, Melbourne VIC where hung from roof of The
Landing Strip Bar. Loaned while waiting for Moorabbin Air Museum's display hangar
to be completed
9.87 noted inside Pipeworks building suspended from roof: camouflage with yellow underside

Moorabbin Air Museum changed its operating name to The Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport
.00/10 returned to Moorabbin Air Museum, stored off-site pending final restoration.
10/12 The museum also acquired Lord Casey's small hangar from the Berwick airfield where he
kept the Messenger, and VH-AVQ is housed in its original hangar from Berwick, in the
museum compound at Moorabbin.


                      VH-AVQ at Moorabbin c1955.                                                                                                                                 Photo by Eddie Coates


Moorabbin 1957.                                                                                                                                                      Photo by Neil Follett

  

                                                                                     

VH-AVQ at Ringwood, Melbourne, January 1964.                                                                                                   Photo by Peter Limon





  These two pictures of VH-AVQ during its 1980s rebuild in Melbourne show the  magnitude of the task.                            Photos: Bob Livingstone





               

VH-AVQ at Moorabbin July 1987, after restoration.                                                                                                 The Collection p4838-0053b





            c/n 4702                   Miles M.38 Messenger 4A                                                                                                                                       VH-WYN

.45 Built by Miles Aircraft Ltd at Woodley Aerodrome, Reading
Built for as Messenger Mk.1 RH376.   145hp DH Gipsy Major 1D

Eighth production Messenger, to Air Ministry order for 150 M.38 Messengers, of which all but 21 were subsequently cancelled due improving war situation.
26.5.45 First flight at Woodley by Flt Ltd H.V.Kennedy
7.6.45 delivered to RAF at 2nd Tactical Air Force Communications Squadron at airfield B56, near Evere, Belgium
15.7.45 Assigned to Air Chief Marshal Sir W. Sholto-Douglas, AOC-in-C, British Air Forces of Occupation, Germany. Has rank flag symbol was painted on forward fuselage.
2.8.45 BAFO Communications Squadron.
46 BAFO Communications Wing
11.2.48 No. 51 Maintenance Unit, Litchfield for storage
.48 Sold to J. E. Nicholson, Croft
.48 RH376 was one of 18 RAF Messengers offered for disposal
18.6.48 Registered as Messenger 4A G-ALBP John E. Nicholson, Houghton-le-Spring,
County Durham
29.7.48 RH376 struck-off RAF charge
24.10.50 Change of ownership: Cyril G. Wheatley trading as The York Aero Club, York aerodrome
10.12.50 Change of ownership: John P. Gunner, London.  Based Redhill aerodrome
3.51 Redhill Aerodrome report: The F. G. Miles Ltd hangar housed Messengers RH375 dismantled and RH376 which is undergoing overhaul.
13.4.51 CofA issued as a Messenger 4A with 145hp Gipsy Major 1D
22.4.51 G-ALBP noted at Redhill
25.4.52 Change of ownership: Phillip A. H. Wood, London
6.5.52 Change of ownership: Dennis B. Munro, Brighton, Sussex. Based Shoreham
14.3.53 Port undercarriage damaged when aircraft hit the ground heavily during takeoff at Croydon Aerodome, London when the pilot attempted to close the cabin door which had sprung open. Repaired.
25.3.54 Change of ownership: John C. Rice, Cosby, Leicester
23.12.54 British CofA renewed for export
31.12.54 Australian DCA Import Permit No.474 issued to applicant Wynne Bros
3.3.55 Change of ownership: Wynne Bros, Yarram Victoria, Australia
25.4.55 G-ALBP departed Gatwick on delivery flight to Australia, flown by Australians Arthur & Nancy Leebold, reached Australia 5.55
5.55 Australian landfall for the Timor Sea crossing from Koepang, was Drysdale River Mission WA, which they circled then continued to land at Wyndham WA to clear customs.
5.55 Delivery flight continued Wyndham, Darwin, Daly Waters, Tennant Creek, Cloncurry, Longreach, Charleville, Bourke, Dubbo, Bankstown, Moruya, Mallacoota, Yarram where handed over to Cliff Wynne.
7.7.55 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia
7.7.55 Australian Registration application: Clifford J. Wynne, Yarram Vic
22.8.55 Registered VH-WYN
22.8.55 Australian CofA issued
5.5.59 Cliff Wynn killed when CA-6 Wackett Trainer VH-BCP crashed on takeoff from Parkside Aerodrome, Yarram. Also killed was his passenger, Yarram grazair Herb Nicoll, on whose property Parkside aerodrome had been established.
14.10.60 Change of ownership: J. W. Fleming, Melbourne VIC
6.8.61 VH-WYN noted Moorabbin, pale blue and white, silver wings
28.6.62 Change of ownership: L. R. Hodgson & Co, Balranald NSW
30.9.62 VH-WYN visited airshow at Mildura Vic, pale blue and white fuselage, silver wings
6.6.63 Struck-off Register due DCA Policy
63-75 Stored complete in shed on "Galan" Station, 80 miles north east of Balranald NSW
6.66
Inspected in the shed by Dick Hourigan and Neil Follett from the Moorabbin Air Museum. Neil recalls:

"Dick Hourigan and myself chased up the Messenger's owner with the idea of possibly acquiring it for the museum. When we got to the owner's farm near Balranald, he told us it was at his other farm about 30 miles or so away. He offered to fly us over there in his PA-22 Tripacer VH-ELK. He pushed the Tripacer out of the hangar, four of us pile in, and away we went.  On approaching his other property where the Messenger was stored  we mad a long low approach to the the claypan landing strip, the landing roll sending sheep scattering.

It was inside a shed and was  complete except sfor the engine. The owner explained that the tailwheel had broken away from the wooden fuselage so he had reattached it using hoop iron. Then one day when taking off he lost aileron control when one aileron became a little detached from the rear spar due to glue deterioration. After that he said his mates took the engine out to stop him flying it."
12.67 VH-WYN noted in shed at "Galan". Nobody lived at the station at that time
86/04 Loaned to Airworld Museum, Wangaratta VIC: displayed without engine but fitted with cowling and propeller, original blue & white scheme.
17.3.88 noted on display inside at Airworld, Wangaratta, pale blue & white scheme, silver wings. Also 2.89, 4.98,
1.02 Airworld closed in late January due falling visitor numbers and costs
8.2.02 VH-WYN noted at Airworld, complete, awaiting removal, owner Barry Hodgson, Balranald NSW
.12 Acquired by Brett and Len Redway

         

                  Redhill Aerodrome, London 1952.                                                                                                                                      Photo by Dave Freeman


          

VH-WYN visiting Moorabbin, August 1961.                                                                                                                      Photo by Bob Neate


            

                VH-WYN visiting an airshow at Mildura Vic, September 1962.                                                                                         The Collection p4848-0059


         
           VH-WYN stored on "Gallan" Sation, out of Balrandlad NSW in June 1966. The engien has been removed.                                                   Photo by Neil Follett



Footnote:

DCA Import Permits were issued for two other M.38 Messengers, which apparently did not reach Australia:

3.5.54      Permit No.445 issued to applicant D.T.F. Preston, Perth WA

28.7.54    Permit No.454 issued to applicant W. G. Allen, Sydney NSW


Perth aircraft dealer Dudley Preston had imported a Miles Gemini G-AKEN (6486) which arrived Perth on delivery flight from England in January 1954.
It had already by on-sold and was registered VH-BTP 9.2.54 to G. B. Brandon-Brown of Perth.




References:  

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors

- DCA Annual Accident Reports: 1956-1970

- DCA aircraft files, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne

- DCA Import Permit register, extracted by Melvyn Davis

- National Library of Australia - Trove newspaper archive website

- Journal, Aviation Historical Society of Australia, various 1960-1965

- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, Vol 3 second edition, Putnam & Co Ltd, London 1974

- British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979, Bruce Robertson, Patrick Stephens, Cambridge 1979

- Miles Aircraft since 1925,  Don L. Brown, Putnam & Co Ltd, London 1970

- Flypast, Neville Parnell & Trevor Boughton, Civil Aviation Authority, Canberra 1988

- Winged Messenger, G. J. R. Skillen, Air Britain Digest 12.74

- The Whole Truth - Miles Messenger, Air Britain Archive quarterly editions 2000-2003  

- Thirty Years On, Arthur Leebold, Vintage Aircraft magazine No.34 Summer 1985

- London-Yarram Delivery Flight, Nancy Leebold, Aircraft magazine, October 1955

- The McTaggart Story, Ruth Anderson ISBN 0 646 25534 7

- Classic Wings Downunder magazine, renamed Classic Wings: reports on Messengers

- Bill Thompson's Miles Messenger, Graham Orphan, Classic Wings Downunder, April-June 1994  


With thanks to Melvyn Davis, Tony Arbon, David Prossor for information supplied.




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