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Aircraft of the RATG

I have tried to ensure that the photographs on these pages where appropriate are specifically those flown in Rhodesia, therefore not just generic photos of the type.  I am grateful to John Shipman, Dave Newnham and Tony Broadhurst for their permission to use data and photos where appropriate.

This page shows the main types used by the RATG with a brief development history for each.

de Havilland 82A Tiger Moth

The de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth is a single-engined biplane. It was developed mainly from earlier Moth models to be used by private customers and for pilot instruction for both military and civilian operators. It is powered by a Gipsy Major engine.


From the outset, the Tiger Moth proved to be an ideal trainer being simple and cheap own and maintain.  From 1937 onwards, the Tiger Moth was made available to general flying clubs, production having been previously occupied by military customers. 


By the start of the Second World War, the RAF had around 500 Tiger Moths in service. In addition, nearly all civilian-operated Tiger Moths throughout the Commonwealth were quickly impressed into their respective air forces to meet the wartime demand for trainer aircraft.

North American Harvard

In 1937, the North American NA-26 prototype won a competition for a basic combat trainer for the USAAC, and, in due course, it went into production as the BC-1. The metal-framed BC-1 had a metal skin on wings and tail unit, fabric-covered control surfaces and mainly fabric-covered fuselage. There was a Pratt and Whitney R-1340 9 cylinder Wasp radial up front, and an inwardly retracting undercarriage.  

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In December 1938, the British Commonwealth started receiving the first of 400 Harvard Mark Is (NA-49), for use in the Central Flying School. They were powered by the 600 hp (450 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S3H1 Wasp. In 1939, a further order was placed for the first of eventually 1275 Harvard Mark IIs for the RAF which were built to the improved AT6 design featuring a steel tube, light alloy covered monocoque rear fuselage instead of the earlier 

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Fairchild Cornell

The PT-19 series was developed from the Fairchild M-62 when the USAAC first ordered the aircraft in 1940. The cantilever low-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear and tailwheel design was based on a two-place, tandem-seat, open cockpit arrangement. The rugged construction included a fabric-covered welded steel tube fuselage. The remainder of the aircraft used plywood construction, with a plywood-sheathed centre section, outer wing panels and tail assembly. The use of an inline engine allowed for a narrow frontal area which was ideal for visibility while the widely set-apart fixed landing gear allowed for solid and stable ground handling.  An enclosed hood was later added, the designation being amended to the PT-26 Cornell.  It was purchased by the Air Ministry as a replacement for the ageing Tiger Moth primary trainer.

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Hawker Hurricane

The Hawker Hurricane needs no introduction, being one of the bastions of the Battle of Britain and perhaps the most famous of the Hawker lineage of fighters.  Clearly not a training aircraft, several were brought to Rhodesia after serving in the Middle East to give RATG instructors some experience in flying fighters, the type that many of their students would have gone on to fly in combat.


Avro Anson

The Avro Anson was a twin-engine, low-wing cantilever monoplane which owed its origin to the Avro 652 six-passenger commercial aircraft ordered in 1934 by Imperial Airways.  The rumblings of a possible war in Europe caused the Air Ministry ask Avro to adapt this aircraft to anti-submarine and general reconnaissance roles, the first orders being placed in 1935 and the first production Anson taking flight on 31 December of that year.  Its potential as a training aircraft was soon recognised and a large order was placed in 1939.

The structure of the Anson was relatively straightforward, relying on proven methods and robust construction to produce an airframe that minimised maintenance requirements.  The Anson had a low-mounted one-piece wooden wing, the fuselage comprised a welded steel tubing framework covered in fabric though the exterior of the nose was clad in magnesium alloy.

The Anson was powered by a pair of Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX seven-cylinder air-cooled radial engines, which were each rated at 350 horsepower (260 kW). be valuable to the type's reconnaissance function.  The engines drove two-bladed Fairey-built metal propellers.


The first production Anson


Airspeed Oxford

The Oxford was developed by Airspeed during the 1930s in response to a requirement for a capable trainer aircraft that conformed with Specification T.23/36, which had been issued by the British Air Ministry. Its basic design is derived from the company's earlier AS.6 Envoy, a commercial passenger aircraft. Performing its maiden flight on 19 June 1937, it was quickly put into production as part of a rapid expansion of the RAF in anticipation of a large-scale conflict.

The Oxford was a low-wing twin-engine cantilever monoplane, featuring a semi-monocoque constructed fuselage, a conventional landing gear configuration and a wooden tail unit. It was capable of reproducing the flight characteristics of many contemporary front-line aircraft then in military service.


An Envoy flies over the Queen Mary


The prototype Oxford

Fairey Battle

The Fairey Battle, a single-engine monoplane light bomber powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine was one of the most promising aircraft chosen for the rapidly expanding RAF in the 1930s. When introduced into service in 1937 it could carry twice as many bombs over twice the distance as the Hawker Hart and Hind bombers it replaced but it proved its lack of speed and defensive armament proved that it was unsuitable to meet the modern fighters of the Luftwaffe flown by experienced pilots.  

By 1939 it was obsolescent but due to the lack of more modern types it remained in front line service until being removed from operations in September 1940.  The Fairey Battle was subsequently used for training in an EATS/BCATP role, often as a target tug.

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