Fairchild Argus II - G-AIZE
This aircraft was manufactured at its Hagerstown factory by Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation as a UC-61A Forwarder. Delivered to the USAAF as 43-14601 on June 22 1943, seven days later saw it shipped to the UK to be used as a 'hack' aircraft to the US 8th Air Force. At the end of the war, it was rendered 'surplus to requirements' and was civilianised by London Aero and Motor Services at Elstree Aerodrome. Placed on the civil register as G-AIZE, it was one of 54 surplus Argus aircraft flown post war as British registered civil aeroplanes. It made its first civilian flight from Lympne to Le Touquet on June 17 1947 and, after a period of work in that country, was flown on to Italy. On September 5 1948, the Argus force-landed in a field 'owing to darkness and lack of fuel' damaging the undercarriage and propeller. The pilot and navigator were unhurt and the aircraft was taken to Venice for repair.
March 24 1949 saw the first test flight with the aircraft being returned to the UK in 1951. It was transferred to the American civil register as N9996F and purchased by a captain of Pan American Airways. In 1955 it made a brief appearance in the film 'The Glenn Miller Story', when it was used to substitute the Norseman that actually flew Glenn from Twinwood Farm and into a mystery that has never been solved. After passing through a number of owners, it suffered another accident in 1964 when it landed heavily at Elstree, ripping off the undercarriage and damaging the propeller again. After repair, the Argus flew its last flight on May 1 1966, when the certificate of airworthiness expired. It was purchased by the RAF Museum in February 1973 and was taken into store at RAF Henlow. Moving to Cosford for storage, October 21 1997 saw the aircraft arrive at MAPSL for restoration to be conducted over a two year period.
MAPSL finished the aircraft in SEAC colours before it was returned to Cosford to be placed on display. It was the first radial engine aircraft to be restored by MAPSL.