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Thread: Auster Agricola

  1. #1
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    Auster Agricola

    I have tracked done some information on the Agricola, but I am sure there are more photographs and information out there.

    There is not a lot around on the internet on the Agricola, Wikipedia gives only a short summary:
    "Constructed of fabric over corrosion proofed steel frame the design featured a large high lift low set monoplane wing, external control cables, fixed tail wheel undercarriage and a somewhat angular fuselage, with an aft cabin that could seat two passengers, a hopper over the centre of the wing which could hold 750 kg of superphosphate in the topdressing role, or 654 litres of spray as a crop duster. The pilot sat forward of the hopper over the wing leading edge, a position which gave a good field of view compared with the American practise of placing the pilot behind the hopper, though this view was somewhat restricted by the extensive canopy joinery and bulky rear decking. The Agricola's handling was generally described favourably, particularly it's slow speed performance and controls, while its rugged and simple construction allowed for easy maintenance and repair. The aircraft was utilitarian rather than attractive; one web site has short-listed the Agricola in a competition for the ugliest aircraft of all time[citation needed]. The type was first flown in 1955. It was out competed in its target market by the PAC Fletcher and attempts to sell the type for Aerial application work in Britain, Australia and Europe met with little success. Only 9 were made before production ceased. Of these ZK-BXO, is the sole survivor. Restored by John Stephenson of Whitianga, it was operated for many years by him as both historic aircraft and personal transport. BXO was sold to the UK in 2005."

    There was an initial batch of eight built at the Auster works in Rearsby. All were registered in New Zealand, but only six actually arrived there.

    c/n B.101
    First flown 8th December 1955 by test pilot Ranald Porteous as G-25-3



    It's allotted British makings of G-ANYG were not used, and it did fly in the UK as ZK-BMI (see clipping below). However, this aircraft never made it to NZ and was dismantled at Rearsby in 1959. It is reported that some parts from this airframe are now with Cliff Baker of Carr Farm, current owner of Agricola G-CBOA/ZK-BXO


    c/n B.102
    Was sent to the NZ Auster agents, Bristol Aeroplane Co. NZ Ltd., Wellington, for a demonstration tour as ZK-BMJ. Sold to Airlift (NZ) Ltd., Kilbirnie and registered to them in October 1956.
    At Rongotai, probably with Airlift:



    Parked on an airstrip, unknown location:



    When this company folded in 1960, Claude Stephenson (their chief pilot) formed a new company, Associated Farmers Aerial Work Ltd. based at Martinborough and BMJ was registered to this new company in August 1960.
    ZK-BMJ was hired to Air Contracts Ltd., Masterton later in 1960 until damaged in a crash 8th May 1961 (place?).



    Associated Farmers rebuilt the aircraft:



    and continued to operate it until it crashed on landing Wairongomai, near Otaki, 10Dec76.
    ZK-BMJ at Masterton 30th June 1976. Colours noted at that time were red and white with green trim



    c/n B.103
    Followed a similar path, being sold through the Agents to Airlift (NZ) Ltd. as ZK-BMK from May 1957. Under their ownership, crashed into Waingawa River, after failed t/off at Hood, Masterton, 11May57.
    ZK-BMK at Rongotai May 1957:





    c/n B.104
    Imported through the Agents as ZK-BML, went to Rangitikei Air Services Ltd. of Taihape in April 1957. Fitted out as a sprayer. Crashed & DBF near Taihape 22Jan59.
    Note the built-in spray rig:



    c/n B.105
    Imported through the agents as ZK-BMM. Remained unsold, and stored at Blenheim (Woodbourne?) until sold to Associated Farmers Aerial Work in 1960. Hit HT wires & crashed Stoney Creek, Martinborough, 7Jun62, Pilot Claude Stevenson.
    The aircraft was then rebuilt with parts from BMK BML and CCV and given a new registration of ZK-CCU 11 June 1965, the date of the first flight. It continued to operate under Associated Farmers ownership until it crashed on t/off from strip at Ohariu Valley, nth of Wellington, 13Feb77.
    ZK-CCU operating off a very steep strip at Baring Head on the far side of Wellington Heads:



    Resting at Masterton, date not recorded:



    ZK-CCU at Hamilton in March 1968 for engine work. Colours were noted as yellow upper surfaces, orange lower surfaces and black registration



    A few years later, at Martinborough June 1976



    c/n B.106
    Imported through the agents as ZK-BMN. Remained unsold, and stored at Blenheim (Woodbourne?) until sold to Air Contracts Ltd. in 1961 (replacement for ZK-BMJ?). Passed on to Associated Farmers and registered to them in October 1963. Crashed 5mls SE of Paraparaumu 11Mar65, out of fuel. Pilot M H Lacey.
    Under Air Contracts ownership, location looks to be Masterton airfield:



    c/n B.107 (later c/n B.118)
    Allotted ZK-BMO, but the slow sales of BMM and BMN meant that this aircraft was retained in the UK and became G-APFZ with Aerial Agriculture Ltd. of Lasham with whom it flew about 300hrs. (ZK-BMO was reallocated to a Beaver). WFU Rearsby after CofA expiry 22Apr60. Rebuilt at Rearsby with a new c/n B118 and sold to Air Contracts Ltd., Masterton. First NZ flight at Masterton 8 October 1962 as ZK-CCV. Operated from Masterton until crashed Pongaroa, Masterton, and partially DBF 19Feb63. Pilot Barry Cook.
    Operational on a farm strip, date and place unknown:



    ZK-CCV at what is obviously Whenuapai (Auckland) in January 1963. Looks like it had some engine problems during its short life in New Zealand



    c/n B.108
    Allotted ZK-BMP but also remained unsold in the UK. Completed with c/n B.117 and went to British Guiana as VP-GAZ where it crashed 27 June 1959. The remains of this aircraft were then returned to the Auster factory. (ZK-BMP was reallocated to a Cessna 180).

    c/n AIRP-680
    Associated Farmers collected up the remains of ZK-BMN and other crashed aircraft and arranged for Temple Martin to build up another Agricola at Airepair Hastings from these remains. This was given the c/n AIRP-680 and registered to Associated Farmers Aerial Work Ltd. as ZK-BXO on 15th October 1966. This aircraft operated from Martinborough until WFU & stored early 1970s (at Martinborough?).
    ZK-BXO operating off a strip at Makara:



    ZK-BXO was restored to airworthy in the early 1980s and passed into the ownership of John Stephenson, a pharmacist, of Whirtianga. John operated ZK-BXO as a private aircraft still showing Associated Farmers signage until selling it to new ownership in the UK. She left NZ by ship 9Feb02, and became G-CBOA on 22 April 2002 owned by Cliff Baker, Carr Farm, Newark
    ZK-BXO at Whitianga 2000



    c/n AF-001R
    There was a final sweep around of parts in 1970 and another Agricola was constructed at Martinborough. Allotted the registration ZK-DEU in March 1971 and operated by Associated Farmers Aerial Work Ltd., this aircraft did not last long, being destroyed in a fatal crash at Ruakokoputuna, Martinborough, 7.30am 2Dec71 @ 374hrs. Pilot Brian Court-Patience.
    ZK-DEU at the Martinborough base



    Not a thing of beauty, slow development, a lousy paint job and poor marketing of the end product doomed the Agricola project to eventual failure, but by all accounts they excelled at the job they were designed to do.

    Hopefully, this thread will generate more information (and photographs) from those who were involved in or observed the Auster Agricola in action. In particular I am interested in any pics of B.101/ZK-BMI in UK/Europe, B.103/ZK-BMK at Farnborough SBAC show in 1956, and B.107/G-APFZ during its time with Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd.
    Also, does anyone have an update on the current state of ZK-BXO/G-CBOA?

    (Acknowledgments to A J Jackson/British Civil Aircraft volumes for some info above).
    Last edited by flyernzl; 30th June 2009 at 10:59.

  2. #2
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    Who needs a book when someone is willing to post the history of the Agricola online. Excellent stuff.

    Whilst I accept that the Agricola wasn't a pretty aeroplane, show me a bespoke crop sprayer that would win a beauty contest! It's a classic example of an aeroplane designed to do a specific job.

    But the bottom line is that it is an Auster. It's a bit like a mother having a plug ugly child - to her the child is Adonis! You can forgive a lot when it emanates from Rearsby.

  3. #3
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    Flyernzl...

    Sadly (some people may disagree whith my use of the word 'sadly'!) CBOA of now in the hands of the Baker's and while that does mean she's in good company, it also means she'll allmost certainly never fly again... At least for as long as she remains at Carr Farm

    But at least we know that she's in safe hands... I just wish that they would fly some of those aircraft! Such a shame to see than sat in an old barn like that!!!

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    I saw it sat in that old barn about four months ago . It didn't seem to be suffering too much and in fairness to the Bakers - they bought it and brought it back to the U.K - something that nobody else did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Burke View Post
    I saw it sat in that old barn about four months ago . It didn't seem to be suffering too much and in fairness to the Bakers - they bought it and brought it back to the U.K - something that nobody else did.
    DB... Absolutely... I think they should be applauded for bringing the aircraft home… I do just think it’s a shame that they do all that work, but don’t fly any of them! But each to their own… At least they’re safe.

  6. #6
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    Another shot of BMI, looks like the same source/session as the one posted
    Last edited by old eagle; 15th June 2009 at 21:53.

  7. #7
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    The fuselage frame of an Agricola was donated to the Midland Aircraft Preservation Society (fore runner of Midland A.M.) about 1968 - haven't got my records to hand - along with an AOP 9 fuselage. I'm pretty sure the frame was that of VP-GAZ.
    A couple of years later the two frames were exchanged for some 'slightly bent' Tiger Moth wings (to be used in the restoration of Fox Moth G-ACCB) with the South Wales Historic Aircraft Preservation Society.
    I'm not sure what happened to the two fuselages when SWHAPS closed down some years later.
    I'll see if I can find my photo' of the two fuselages on a hired self-drive truck about to depart for South Wales.

    Roger Smith.
    A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

  8. #8
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    Just to confirm . . .
    are we talking about Cliff Parker of Cliff Barker here?

  9. #9
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    Might even be Cliff Baker!

  10. #10
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    Its a shame Newark couldn't get hold of it on loan, at least people would be able to see it.

    Its a big old brute when you stand next to it!
    "The Auster should be recognised for what it is: a gentleman's aerial touring carriage and a nice aeroplane"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwinOtter23 View Post
    Might even be Cliff Baker!
    Ok, so now we've got the name right. That's a start.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Petroni View Post
    Its a shame Newark couldn't get hold of it on loan, at least people would be able to see it.

    Its a big old brute when you stand next to it!
    What are you doing Joe - starting such rumours!!

    Can't see it on their aircraft list ... http://www.newarkairmuseum.org/aircraftlist.htm

  13. #13
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    flyernzl,

    Are you familiar with g-info? http://www.caa.co.uk/application.asp...ype=65&appid=1

    Type in the aircraft registration, and it will give you certain bits of information about the aircraft including the registered owner.

  14. #14
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    Google for "Flight cutaways "and then click on Agricultural aircraft there is an auster agricola . Also loads more there, worth putting in your favorites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwinOtter23 View Post
    What are you doing Joe - starting such rumours!!

    Can't see it on their aircraft list ... http://www.newarkairmuseum.org/aircraftlist.htm

    I wasn't aware I was starting any rumours.

    All I said was it is a shame it's not on display at Newark, for people to see rather than it sitting in a barn out of public view.

    The best place would be to see it in the air, but as VX pointed out that ain't likely to happen.
    "The Auster should be recognised for what it is: a gentleman's aerial touring carriage and a nice aeroplane"

  16. #16
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    Not a pretty aircraft but attractive in a strange sort of way. That's my opinion anyway but I'm a strange sort of person so matbe it doesn't count All a matter of form and function, as said earlier no crop dusters were pretty. I guess as long as they do the job looks don't matter
    Last edited by mike currill; 29th January 2008 at 18:55.
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by old eagle View Post
    Another shot of BMI, looks like the same source/session as the one posted
    Indeedy, if you look at the tailwheel in both photographs, there is (the same?) clump of grass lodged in the assembly.

    Parker is now altered to Baker - though my NZ export source did definatly say Parker!

    Thanks for the details of the cutaway drawing, marvelous detail there.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPSmith View Post
    The fuselage frame of an Agricola was donated to the Midland Aircraft Preservation Society (fore runner of Midland A.M.) about 1968 - haven't got my records to hand - along with an AOP 9 fuselage. I'm pretty sure the frame was that of VP-GAZ.
    A couple of years later the two frames were exchanged for some 'slightly bent' Tiger Moth wings (to be used in the restoration of Fox Moth G-ACCB) with the South Wales Historic Aircraft Preservation Society.
    I'm not sure what happened to the two fuselages when SWHAPS closed down some years later.
    I'll see if I can find my photo' of the two fuselages on a hired self-drive truck about to depart for South Wales.

    Roger Smith.
    Found the photo for anyone interested . The "AOP9" fuselage was, in fact, believed to be an AOP6. The photo looks to have been taken outside of Berkswell Forge so, I assume, Ken Woolley (long time guardian of Foster Wikner Wicko G-AFJB) had been storing the Auster bits.

    Roger Smith.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by RPSmith; 6th February 2008 at 18:57.
    A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

  19. #19
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    The more times I look at the frame in the back of that truck it does IMHO look like a AOP.9 frame, but I could be wrong, I usually am!

    Martin

  20. #20
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    Auster Agricola

    Here is a (not very good) photo of Agricola ZK-BMJ, taken, I believe, at an air show at Milson Airport, Palmerston North, New Zealand, in the 50's.

    I only had an elderly box camera at the time - my apologies for the poor quality.

    Jeff Law
    New Zealand
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    quote: 'In particular I am interested in any pics of B.101/ZK-BMI in UK/Europe, B.103/ZK-BMK at Farnborough SBAC show in 1956, and B.107/G-APFZ during its time with Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd.'

    Scramble Airshows reports ZK-BMK at Farnborough 55 and 56

    AIRCRAFT MOVEMENTS REVIEW
    VOL. 1 NUMBER 3 JUNE 1959

    South-East England (North of Thames)
    Uxbridge.
    25/4. 12.30 SW. G-APFZ Agricola first time seen.
    http://www.abheston.btinternet.co.uk/amr5906.txt
    Last edited by wieesso; 3rd May 2008 at 06:38.

  22. #22
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    The date of the photo I would guess is likely to be 1957. ZK-BMJ arrived in NZ at the end of 1956. ZK-BLZ, the J/5P Autocar in the background, was being used to supply the NZ Antarctic Expedition in training on the South Island in August 1956.

    If ZK-BMK was on display at the SBAC Show in 1955 it must have been static or a mock-up. The prototype Agricola didn't fly until December 1955 (see first post above).

    The photo of the frames on the truck is intriguing. I think Martin may well be correct. It's more AOP9 than B.8. Does anyone have any knowledge of the current location of these frames or have a contact with anyone that was connected with the South Wales group please?

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    Fascinating stuff! ZK-BMK was at Farnborough in the main tent at the 1956 show.
    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by edskarf View Post
    If ZK-BMK was on display at the SBAC Show in 1955 it must have been static or a mock-up. The prototype Agricola didn't fly until December 1955 (see first post above).

    http://www.scramble.nl/mil/show/show...s/farnbo55.htm

  25. #25
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    Yes I saw that ... but...

    According to Les Leetham, Auster Co. test pilot, in "Rearsby Recalled"- "The prototype flights were halted during August 1956, when the first production
    B.8, ZK-BMJ, was rolled out of the hangar and put through its paces ...."

  26. #26
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    oops - I missed the last bit..

    Les Leetham continues - " ... the next batch of Agricolas, ZK-BMK, ZK-BML and ZK-BMM, filled in the end year's activities ..." i.e. 1956

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    That's an error in the Scramble report for 1955. See the 1956 report by yours truly!
    Jim

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    Persistent digging around for more Agricola photos has met with some success. Keith Morris, who lived in the Wellington area during the 1960s recorded some of these aircraft and has also been able to provide me with additional prints from photographs from the collection of Murray Kirkus.
    For the sake of clarity I have added these to the history outlined above, viz:
    - a clearer print of ZK-BMI taken while flying in the UK (possibly an Auster publicity photograph).
    - additional photographs of ZK-BMJ showing it early in life at Rongotai (Wellington), the results of its 1961 crash (still looking for the location of this 1961 incident?) and its rebuild, probably at Martinborough.
    - additional photo of ZK-BMK at Rongotai
    - photographs of ZK-BML and ZK-BMN
    - photographs of ZK-BXO ZK-CCU and ZK-CCV taken during their operational lives.


    Still seeking photographs of ZK-BMM (c/n B.105) and VP-GAZ (c/n B.108)

    Anyone here who worked at Rearsby during Agricola production or know anyone else who did able to help?

  29. #29
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    ZK-BMJ

    The 1961 crash took place on a marginal airstrip near Tiraumea.

  30. #30
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    The Aeroplane Pictorial Review No3 has a 3/4 front shot of the starboard side of ZK-BMI which is probably the Auster publicity photo you mentioned. There is also a near head on flying shot but no registration is visible.

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