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World War Two: Miles M.38 Messenger

In June 1942, George Miles began a private project to design and build the prototype of an air observation post (AOP) aircraft. It was suggested to Miles (by some military personnel) that the aircraft should carry a crew of two, a radio, have significant armour protection, and should be able to operate out of small, and rough fields in most weathers.


The resulting aircraft, the M.38 prototype, which was based upon Miles' earlier M.28 design, was a cantilever low-wing monoplane with a fixed tailwheel landing gear. It was powered by a 140hp de Havilland Gipsy Major inline engine, and the wing incorporated fixed aerofoil trailing edge flaps which were found to provide the necessary STOL performance.

MilesFirst flown in September 1942, the aircraft was tested by a number of AOP pilots, who immediately showed great enthusiasm for the aircraft and its design. However, the Ministry of Aircraft Production did not take kindly to the fact that this 'military' aircraft had been designed and tested without its knowledge, and thus refused to order the M.38 in any quantities.

Late in 1943 a small order was placed, and eventually 21 aircraft were built. These were primarily used as VIP transports, with Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, and Air Marshal of the RAF Lord Tedder, being two of the more prominent operators of the type.

After the war, another 71 aircraft were built for the civilian market.

This aircraft, ZK-CMM, was imported into New Zealand from Australia, during 2004.



More footage of the Messenger can be found on our DVD 'Classic Fighters 2007'


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