In 1942 the Messenger was born from an unofficial (and unauthorized) request to Miles Aircraft Limited by some British Army officers for a unique Air Observation Post and liaison aircraft. Developed in only 3 months from the (similar) Miles M28 Mercury, the aircraft first flew on the September 12th 1942. It quickly became a technical success, but senior Army officials reacted indignantly by posting the upstart officer, who had instigated the initial request, to the far reaches of the North African Desert Campaign!
Eventually a small number of the aircraft were taken on by the Army and, at the end of the Second World War, limited production of several variants continued for the civilian market. Of an initial order for 250, only 81 Messengers had been built when production ceased in early 1948.
A number of Miles Messengers were imported into Australia, including the Museum’s example, VH-AVQ, which arrived in December 1953. The Museum’s example was built as a civilian machine in Newtownards, Northern Ireland and registered in the United Kingdom as G-AJKG.
For some years it was the property of Lord Casey of Berwick, a former Governor-General of Australia. The Museum also owns Lord Casey’s hangar, which was originally sited at Casey Field, Berwick, and Lord Casey’s aircraft is displayed in the hangar which housed it during it’s flying life.
Along with other surviving Messengers, the Museum’s aircraft was grounded in 1962 due to doubts regarding the integrity of the glue bonding of its wooden structure.
The aircraft was stored for many years in private hands before it was donated to the Museum by Mr Gil Johnson in 1982.
The Miles Messenger is a single-engined, 4-seat low wing monoplane of wooden construction. It has a fixed undercarriage and large external flaps.
Designed to operate from unprepared airstrips in forward battle zones, the aircraft has several noteworthy features including a large wing area to ensure very low take-off and landing speeds; large flaps to permit steep descent angles; triple fins to ensure good directional control at low airspeeds; rugged trailing link main undercarriage to absorb bumps from rough surfaces; large windows to provide a good view; large doors to permit easy access by occupants wearing parachutes and predictable flying characteristics for pilots of limited experience.
The aircraft is currently stored in a dismantled condition pending available space for its return to public display.