The mystery aircraft in our last issue was Britain's Miles Master advanced trainer. The Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and South African Air Force used hundreds of these aircraft, which were functional and useful, if not exactly pretty. Some 3,227 were built. Our photos depict the M.27 Master TMk-3 version.
As our "name the plane" contest arrives at the quarter-century mark, it's time to fess up. When we started this feature in 1989, we didn't keep a list. Once in a long time, we've goofed and used the same aircraft more than once. That appears to be the case with the Master.
The first production M.9 Master TMk-1 made its maiden flight on March 31, 1939. It was a derivative of an aircraft called the Kestrel and relied on an engine with the same name, the 715-horsepower (535 kW) Rolls-Royce Kestrel 30.
Subsequently versions included the M.9 Master II with a Bristol Mercury engine and the M.27 Master III with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior. All were similar in appearance except for differences in the shape of the cowling. A single-seat fighter version with the rear seat removed and with six .303-cal. Browning machine guns in the wings was not successful. Trainer versions had one forward-firing gun mounted in the port wing.
The Master was fast, strong and fully aerobatic. It was credited with a maximum speed of 260 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 28,000 feet and a range of 393 miles. In the two-seat tandem cockpit the instructor in the rear seat sat higher than the student and had an excellent view of the student's handling of the controls. According to the Royal Air Force Museum, some 15,000 British Commonwealth pilots completed flight training at the controls of the Master.
In a 1997 interview, author Bill Gunston, a former RAF pilot, said the Master "certainly wasn't any AT-6 Texan"--also used by the Commonwealth--but was, "a frugal and sensible aircraft to have, designed on fairly short notice and used widely."
Our "History Mystery" winner is Michael LeGendre of Chaparral, New Mexico, who takes the prize for the second time. Michael will receive a copy of "Mission to Berlin," a history of B-17 Flying Fortress bomber crews in World War II.
But what about you? Will you enter our next contest?
This Issue's Mystery Plane
Several readers have asked if our puzzler-plane challenge could be made a little easier (this is the fun part of the magazine, remember). So let's see if you can identify our new History Mystery. Remember the rules:
1. Submit your entry via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries may also be sent via postal mail in any format to Robert F. Dorr, 3411 Valewood Drive, Oakton VA 22124.
2. Write a sentence about the aircraft shown here. Include your address and telephone number. One contest entrant had to be disqualified this time around because she did not include a phone number.
3. A winner will be chosen at random from among correct entries and will receive an aviation book.
And by all means, weigh in. Would you like this feature to continue? If so, dig into those historical treasures in your attic or basement. Dig out your slide or snapshot of a rare aircraft and lend it to Air Power History for this contest.