Miles Master

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Miles M.27 Master III (W8667), No.5 SFTS
Role Advanced trainer
Manufacturer Phillips and Powis Aircraft Ltd
Designer F. G. Miles
First flight 31 March 1939
Introduction 1939
Status retired
Primary users Royal Air Force
South African Air Force
Number built 3,250
Variants Miles Martinet

The Miles M.9 Master was a British two-seat monoplane advanced trainer built by Miles Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. It went through a number of variants according to engine availability and was even modified as an emergency fighter during the Battle of Britain. It was a fast, strong and fully aerobatic aircraft which served as an excellent introduction to the high performance British fighter aircraft of the day: the Spitfire and Hurricane.

Design and development[edit]

The M.9A Master I was based on the M.9 Kestrel trainer that was first demonstrated at the Hendon Air show in July 1937, although it never entered production. The M.9 Kestrel, powered by the 745 hp (555 kW) Rolls-Royce Kestrel XVI V-12 engine, could reach 296 mph (477 km/h).[1] The Air Ministry had selected the de Havilland Don as its advanced trainer, but this proved to be a failure, and the RAF placed a £2 million order for 500 examples of a modified version of the Kestrel, the M.9A Master. Miles rebuilt the prototype M.9 to form a prototype for the Master, fitting a lower-powered (715 hp (535 kW)) Rolls-Royce Kestrel XXX engine, of which there were large surplus stocks available, with extensive revisions to the airframe, which included a new cockpit canopy, a modified rear fuselage and tail, also moving the radiator from under the nose to under the centre-section of the wing. These modifications significantly reduced the aircraft's speed, but it remained one of the fastest and most manoeuvrable trainers of its day.

The first true production Master I made its maiden flight on 31 March 1939.[2][3] The Master entered service just before the start of the war, and eventually 900 Mk. I and Mk. IA Masters were built. This total included 26 built as the M.24 Master Fighter which were modified to a single-seat configuration, and armed with six .303 in machine guns for use as an emergency fighter, but did not see combat.

When production of the Kestrel engine ceased, a new variant of the Master was designed to use the 870 hp (650 kW) air-cooled radial Bristol Mercury XX engine. The first M.19 Master II prototype flew on 30 October 1939 and 1,748 were eventually built. When the Lend-Lease programme began to supply engines from the United States, a third variant of the Master, the M.27 Master III was designed, powered by the American 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Junior two-row radial engine. A total of 602 Master IIIs were built.[4]

In trainer form, the Master was equipped to carry eight practice bombs, plus one .303 in Vickers machine gun mounted in the front fuselage. In 1942, all variants had their wings clipped by three feet (c. one metre) to reduce stress on the wings and increase manoeuvrability.


A total of 3,249 Masters were built by Phillips and Powis Aircraft Limited at Woodley, Berkshire; South Marston, Swindon, Wiltshire; and Doncaster, South Yorkshire. This was the largest number produced of any Miles aircraft type, before production of the Miles Martinet took over in 1942.[5]

The mass production of this aeroplane at Woodley required a major expansion of the original Phillips & Powis factory – officially opened on 20 January 1939 by the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood – and featured a pioneering moving track assembly line, believed to be the first such facility in a British aircraft factory. A similar facility was also installed in the company's shadow factory at South Marston by the end of 1940.

Miles M.9A Master I

Operational history[edit]

Service use primarily revolved around (Pilot) Advanced Flying Units, while several hundred Miles Master IIs were converted, or delivered new, for the glider-towing role, with the bottom of the rudder cut away to allow fitting of a towing hook. Miles Masters were extensively used from 1942 as tugs for General Aircraft Hotspur gliders at Glider Training Schools. Examples were also operated by the RAFs Anti-aircraft Co-operation units for liaison with army units.

Mainly initially used for training, few aircraft thus entered squadron service. Known deployments were to No. 287 Squadron RAF between February and August 1942, to No. 286 Squadron RAF from November 1944 to February 1945[6] and to No. 613 Squadron RAF between August 1941 and October 1943.

Miles Master IIs were used for target tug purposes at the Central Gunnery School whilst the School was based at RAF Sutton Bridge from April 1942 to March 1944. In this role, they pulled the drogue targets required for aerial gunnery training by pupils at the Pilot Gunnery Instructors' Training Wing. The Miles Martinet, a derivative of the Master, was a developed specifically to be a target tug and would see widespread use.

Diversions from RAF stocks included 426 to the South African Air Force, 52 to the Fleet Air Arm, nine to the USAAF in the UK, 23 to the Royal Egyptian Air Force and, early in 1945, 23 to Turkey. Fourteen also went to the Irish Air Corps and two to Portugal.

No examples survive today, although a few outer wings and other parts are held by several UK aviation museums.


Miles M.9 Kestrel Trainer
Prototype fighter-trainer with Kestrel engine.
Miles M.9A Master I
Initial production of the Master with Kestrel engine, 900 built.
Miles M.19 Master II
Production with Bristol Mercury engines.
Miles M.24 Master Fighter
Proposed stop-gap fighter version of Master I with rear seat removed and six 0.303 Browning machine-guns in the wings.
Miles M.27 Master III
Improved Master II.

Military operators[edit]

  • Irish Air Corps – 12 former RAF Master IIs were purchased (six in 1943 and six in 1945),[9]
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
  • Fleet Air Arm – about 200 Master Is transferred from the Royal Air Force.
 United States

Specifications (Mk II)[edit]

Data from British Warplanes of World War II[3]

General characteristics



See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



  1. ^ Amos Aeroplane Monthly August 1980, pp. 413–414.
  2. ^ Amos Aeroplane Monthly August 1980, pp. 414–416.
  3. ^ a b March 1998, p. 177.
  4. ^ Amos Aeroplane Monthly September 1980, p. 462.
  5. ^ Amos Aeroplane Monthly September 1980, pp. 432, 464.
  6. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 85.
  7. ^ Amos 2012, pp. A226-A227
  8. ^ a b Amos 2012, pp. A146 – A181
  9. ^ Amos 2012, p. A228
  10. ^ Amos 2012, pp. A212-A223
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap Amos 2012, pp. A28-A69
  12. ^ Amos 2012, p. A231-A233


  • Amos, Peter. "RAF Piston Trainer No. 10: Miles M.9A Master I". Aeroplane Monthly, August 1980, Vol. 8, No. 8. pp. 412–418.
  • Amos, Peter. "RAF Piston Trainer No. 10: Miles M.19 and M.27 Master II and III". Aeroplane Monthly, September 1980, Vol. 8, No. 9. pp. 460–464.
  • Amos, Peter and Don Lambert Brown. Miles Aircraft Since 1925, Volume 1. London: Putnam Aeronautical, 2000. ISBN 0-85177-787-2.
  • Amos, Peter Miles Aircraft – The Wartime Years Tonbridge, Kent, England:Air-Britain Historians Ltd, 2012. ISBN 978 0 85130 430 4
  • Brown, Don Lambert. Miles Aircraft Since 1925. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970. ISBN 0-370-00127-3.
  • Jane, Fred T. Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1945/6. London: Sampson Low Marston, 1946. ISBN 0-7153-5019-6 (1970 David & Charles reprint).
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Lukins, A.H. and D.A. Russell. The Book of Miles Aircraft. Leicester, UK: The Harborough Publishing Company Ltd., 1946.
  • March, Daniel M. British Warplanes of World War II. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-874023-92-1.
  • Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press, 1994. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.
  • Temple, Julian C. Wings Over Woodley – The Story of Miles Aircraft and the Adwest Group. Bourne End, Bucks, UK: Aston Publications, 1987. ISBN 0-946627-12-6.

External links[edit]