MILES M.12 MOHAWK
1936 Built by Philips & Powis
Aircraft Ltd at Woodley, as an all-wood tandem two seat dual control cabin
monoplane, constructor's number 298; The American, Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh,
who in May 1927 had made the first solo west-east transatlantic flight, was in
Britain that year as part of an extended mission to Europe. He wanted a fast,
long range light touring aeroplane in which he and his wife could make business
trips around Europe, and asked F.G. Miles to build one for him to his
specification. This was the only Mohawk to be assembled.
Aircraft Logbooks held by RAFM,
ref. DC71/59/1-2 covering period 22 Aug 1936 - 24 October 1949.Also engine
14 Jul 36 Registered to Phillips & Powis
Aircraft Ltd, Woodley
22 Aug 36 First flight; pilot F.G. Miles;
duration 15 minutes, with a further 15 minute flight later that day with
Lindbergh at the controls. Given a distinctive orange and black colour scheme,
with the fuselage and undercarriage in black, with orange fuselage cheat line,
orange wings and tail, chosen by Lindbergh as a high-visibility scheme, with
Class B registration U-8. Photos on ground and during test flights; Flight
November 5th 1936 pp.473-475 and Aeroplane November 4th
1936 pp.576-7.Also RAFM PC71/66 and Air Britain Archive Summer 2003
18/19 Nov 36 Lindbergh flew the Mohawk from Reading via
Croydon to Baldonnel, Southern Ireland to inspect and test the site of the
unfinished Shannon Airport, near Limerick. He gave a flight to the President of
the Irish Free State, Eamon de Valera, who had never flown before. Photo -
Charles A Lindbergh An American Life (015154) p.66. Upon his return on
24th November he landed at RAF Sealand due to fog instead of
Croydon, asking the RAF not to publicise his arrival and causing a temporary
panic over his supposed disappearance, flying on to Lympne on 28th
November. By 30 November 1936 the aircraft had completed 18.10 hours flying. It
did not fly again until 12th January 1937, with F.G. Miles at the
13 Jan 37 Flown by F/L J.F.Moir, an instructor
with No.8 E&RFTS, Woodley on undercarriage test.
28 Jan 37 Certificate of Airworthiness issued.
Though flown as G-AEKW, one 'Flight' photo shows it on the ground newly built as
G-AEKN, a registration actually allocated to a BAC. Drone, possibly applied in
The delay between first flight
and issue of the C of A may have been due to difficulties in producing the
sub-contracted downwards-sliding cockpit hood sections, which had to be
re-manufactured, together with possible undercarriage
1 Feb 37 Officially handed over to Lindbergh in
a ceremony at Woodley, who then departed via Rome to India.
said it was precisely what he wanted. During February, March and early April
that year Lindbergh flew the Mohawk and his expectant wife in easy stages to
India and back, flying across France and landing at Pisa on February
2nd, arriving in Rome on the 3rd. In India he flew via Jodphur and
returned to the UK via Belgrade on 12th April 1937, visiting
Baldonnel, near Dublin on 7 July 1937. By 7 August 1937 the aircraft had flown
211 hours 26 minutes.
The original American 200hp supercharged
Menasco Buccaneer B6-S engine, s/n 6046 gave considerable trouble through
overheating and the Mohawk could not be flown for more than half an hour without
the cylinders and oil temperatures rising dangerously, and ground running led to
similar problems. The only other Buccaneer engine in the UK, s/n 6062 was later
installed in 1937 after the return from India, followed by re-installation of
s/n 6046 later that year, but the overheating continued and in June 1938 a
Hamilton Variable Pitch airscrew was fitted in place of the original Fairey Reed
type, reducing the overheating on ground runs but was too heavy and the aircraft
never flew with it fitted. The engine was again swapped over at the same time,
with another swap of the two engines in August 1938.
16 Aug 38 Lindbergh flew the aircraft from Lympne
to Hanover, en route to Russia, via Warsaw, Moscow, Kharkov, Rostov, Kiev,
Odessa, returning via Cracow on 1st September, Prague, Stuttgart,
Paris, Rotterdam, back to Berlin, where he stayed between 23 October 1938 and 18
Jan 1939, Paris again and finally back to Lympne on 22nd January
After renewal of the Certificate
of Airworthiness, the aircraft flew again on 28th February 1939 for a
40 minute flight.This was its last pre-war flight. Total flying hours
remained in the UK after the Lindberghs returned to the USA in April 1939, and
was gifted to the British Government by Lindbergh soon after the outbreak of
12 Sep 39 Stored dismantled with Phillips &
Powis Aircraft Ltd at Woodley.
Donated to Britain by
Lindbergh circa 1940.
29 Oct 41 1 hour 10 minute test flight by W.G.
Capley following removal from storage. Aircraft had been re-sprayed into RAF
camouflage. Three further flights over the next two days.
8 Nov 41 Impressed into RAF service as HM503;
Flying hours 348.20. Civil registration cancelled as sold on this
25 Nov 41 5 ½ hour delivery flight to RAF
Turnhouse, Edinburgh. Used on communications duties.
11 Apr 42 To No. 5 Maintenance Unit at
RAF Kemble, Glos; roundels and fin flash altered 1 June 1942.
6 Jul 42 Air test at No. 5 MU
7 Jul 42 By Air to RAF Ternhill, Salop.
Flying hours 353.00; last wartime entry on logbook.
21 May 43 Officially recorded as returned to Miles
(Phillips & Powis) at Woodley for coarsened pitch Fairey Reed propeller to
be fitted to reduce overheating problems, although F/L H.V Kennedy recorded a 15
minute 'handling flight' in it at Woodley on 17th May
3 Jul 43 Work complete - awaiting
14 Sep 43 To RAF Andover, Hants for use by the
Maintenance Command Communications Squadron. For excellent and informative
letter on this period, see file letter from John Painter, dated 8 May 2006.
Following unsuccessful fitting of a new Menasco engine, which needed the piston
rings from the original engine, and a new Hamilton Standard constant-speed prop
was fitted and the aircraft given a new coat of camouflage paint by then
technician Mr. Painter. Taken for unsuccessful 5-minute test flight, due to
propeller vibration problems, by the Station Commander, a Group Captain Lowe,
with Mr. Painter in the back seat.
1 Feb 44 Returned to No. 5 MU for
21 Mar 46 Recorded on Home Census of
May 46 Reconditioned by Southern Aircraft (
Gatwick) Ltd following sale to that company that month.
28 May 46 Restored to UK civil register as G-AEKW
by Southern Aircraft.
Feb 47 Menasco s/n 6047 fitted and ground
run for 30 minutes.
20 Feb 47 20 minute flight recorded in engine
31 Jul 47 First post-war logbook entry; 20
-minute local flight at Redhill. Seen at this time painted in high-gloss maroon
overall with white trim.
7 Aug 47 Certificate of Airworthiness renewed
30 Aug 47 Flown in the Folkestone Trophy Race by
Wing Commander M.J. Earle, race number 3 being carried on the tail. Photo at
this time - British Civil Aircraft 1919-59 Vol. 2 (014668) p. 384; Air Britain
Archive Summer 2003 p.75. Advertised for sale that year at £2,500 and bought by
Mr. Ernest Garth Fidler Lyder of Bexley, Kent, being re-registered to him on
20th February 1948. Based at Redhill/Broxbourne.
28 May 48 Sold to Mr. Bruno Peter Pini of London
N.W.1, a member of the Broxbourne Aero Club. Most flights were local in the
Converted to open cockpit form-
sliding hoods removed. Photo - Air Britain Archive Summer 2003
Lympne the previous day, on 14th October 1949 a trip to France
included a precautionary landing at Le Havre due to carburetor trouble. The
aircraft then proceeded southwards via Limoges, Barcelona and Alicante en route
to North Africa.
24 Oct 49 Crashed at Adra in Spain whilst being
flown by Mr. Pini when returning from the Oran International Rally. Last flight;
the aircraft had hit an obstacle whilst taking off.
1 Jan 50 Ministry of Aviation Cancellation of
Aircraft Registration form held by RAFM, ref. DC71/59/5 with effect from that
date 'by virtue of destruction of aircraft'
Feb 50 Sold locally in Spain; though badly
damaged it was taken over by the Granada Aero Club and in 1958 was 'awaiting
Dec 73 Remains found by Wilson
'Connie' Edwards in a scrapyard near Tablada Air Force Base, Seville, missing
its elevators, wheel spats and instruments ; photo - Flypast May 2001 p.86-87,
with the propeller moving to a nearby air base bar shortly
Nov 75 Airframe and propeller acquired by Mr.
Louis (Lew) Casey of Charlottesville, VA USA (Curator of the National Air &
Space Museum) and shipped to the 'States, with the intention of restoring it for
static museum display. Photo of complete fuselage and centre section, in poor
condition with rotted woodwork, decayed fabric, stripped cockpit, but engine in
situ, as delivered to the USA; Aeroplane Monthly July 1976 p.371. Initially
stored as part of the Aeroflex Museum Foundation Collection at Santee, North
Carolina, Fred Hussey, owner of the Aeroflex Collection sponsoring the move from
Andres Air Force Base.
Some restoration duly undertaken
by Louis Casey, and Peter Schare; the aircraft later moved to Lew Casey's home
in Fork Union, Virginia where a basement was dug under the house to make room
for the aircraft! Photo- Air Britain Archive Summer 2003 p.76.
New drawings were produced,
missing parts were acquired and many smaller components conserved, and much
structural work completed. The engine, estimated to have flown some 100-150
hours, was overhauled at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Jul 2000 Donated to RAF Museum by Mr. Casey
and shipped to UK shortly afterwards.
16 Oct 00 Arrived at Felixstowe Docks,
19 Oct 00 Delivered to RAFM Reserve Collection
facility at RAF Wyton, Cambs. Photo of partly restored airframe laid out at
Wyton for press day, 15th November 2000; Flypast January 2001
30 Mar 01 Airframe to Skysport Engineering,
Hatch, Beds for restoration. Photos - Flypast May 2001 p.87; Flypast November
2001 p.9, with undercarriage fitted and cockpit being fitted out.
3 May 02 To new Michael Beetham Conservation
Centre, Cosford, Shropshire for continued restoration. Photos - Flypast July
2002 p.24; Aircraft Illustrated February 2003 p.85; Wrecks and Relics
19th and 21st editions.
26 Sep 04 To Skysport Engineering, Hatch, Beds
for restoration of outer wing panels and recovering of the ailerons. Photos at
Skysport - Flypast December 2004 p.16; Aeroplane April 2005 p.10.
16 Feb 06 Returned to MBCC, RAF Museum Cosford
for further work and painting.
18 Aug 08 By road to RAFM for display in
TEXT; ANDREW SIMPSON
ROYAL AIR FORCE