Miles Magister


Following the success of the civilian Miles M2 Hawk Trainer as an elementary trainer in the mid-1930s, the first low-wing monoplane to be adopted as a trainer by the Royal Air Force, the company’s management decided to further develop its military trainer range . They decided to produce a derivative of the M2 Hawk Trainer to satisfy the Air Ministry’s Specification T.40/36. The submission ignored an established policy of only procuring metal aircraft which the RAF had instituted at that time. Designated the Miles M14 Magister, the aircraft first flew in May 1937 with production starting shortly thereafter and entry to RAF service beginning in October of that year.

Magister training aircraft were delivered not only to the RAF, but also to flying clubs, as well as abroad. By the beginning of World War II, the Magister was already the main machine in RAF flying schools.


The Miles Magister is a low wing cantilever monoplane primarily designed for training of RAF pilots during WW2 and its design was evolved from the earlier Miles Hawk Trainer. Main differences between the two aircraft was the enlargement of the two cockpit areas to accommodate training aids and a complete set of instruments for teaching “blind” flights, and parachute seats. The open cockpits were fitted with forward facing perspex screens. Pilots access to the cockpits was via hinged doors and wingroot walkway on the starboard side. The rear cockpit on aircraft operated by the RAF were equipped with a folding curtain, mounted on the outside rear of the cockpit, for practicing blind flights.

The Magister is largely constructed of wood, consisting of a rectangular fuselage with semicircular top, of a spruce structure with a completely sheathed plywood covering; similar materials were used for the three-piece wing and the tail unit. A protective tubular frame was installed for the front cockpit, which protected the pilot in the event of an aircraft nosedive. The wing centre section has no dihedral and is of constant section with outer sections having dihedral and tapering towards the tip. It has split flaps as standard and thus the first RAF trainer to have flaps. It has a fixed tailwheel undercarriage with drag-reducing spats on the main wheels; to reduce the landing distance, the undercarriage was fitted with Bendix drum brakes. The Magister retained the Hawk’s de Havilland Gipsy Major 4-cylinder, in-line, air-cooled De Havilland Gipsy Major, 130 hp engine. Propeller is a De Havilland wooden, constant pitch, diameter 1900 mm.


By the time WW2 was declared, over 700 Magisters were now in RAF service as its handling characteristics provided and excellent introduction for new pilots to the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. They were used in 16 Elementary Flying Training Schools in the UK and additionally deployed with squadrons and airfields as communication ‘hacks’. In addition to this RAF usage, they were also used by the British Army and Fleet Air Arm.

By the time production had ceased in the UK in 1941, a total of 1,229 had been built in the UK, of these, 1225 entered the RAF where they served throughout the war. In the post-war period, the Magister was taken out of RAF service, with the machines that were still serviceable being sold off. They were acquired by flying clubs, private owners and the Air Force of small countries (such as Ireland or Lebanon). The Miles company itself sold aircraft after a major overhaul under the name “Hawk Trainer” MkIII. After the war, 100 Magisters were built under license in Turkey.

Miles Magister Specifications:


1 × de Havilland Gipsy Major I four cylinder air-cooled inverted in-line piston engine, 130 hp (97 Kw)


Max speed:142 mph (229 km/h,Cruise speed: 122 mph (196 km/h),Service Ceiling height: 16,500 ft (5,000m),


Wing span:3 ft 10 in (10.31m), Length: 24ft 7.5 in (7.506m), Max Height: 6ft 8 in (2.03m), Range:367 miles (591 km).


Unladen: 1,286 lb (583 kg), Max laden: 1,900 (862 kg)





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2 Responses to Miles Magister

  1. Paul Robinson says:

    Only twice seen a Magister fly (though more in museums or static). Pugnatious little aircraft, softened slightly by training colours. Think only five remain flying worldwide (including civilian Hawks), though I’m not sure if that includes one in New Zealand.

  2. Frank Brejcha says:

    Thank you for an interesting article, I was wondering how it fitted into training as I had thought the Tiger Moth was the first aircraft new recruits to the RAf flew. Shame more of the Magisters have not survived as they would be a great club aircraft I imagine.

    [Moderators comment: The Tiger Moth – a slow twin-seat biplane which was very easy and forgiving to fly -was indeed the 1st trainer aircraft that aspiring CzRAF pilots would use at a UK Elementary Service Flying Training School. If their instructor considered that the pupil had the right aptitude to become a pilot, the trainee would then continue their training on a Magister, which while still twin-seat, was single-wing and with a more powerful engine. If the trainee was competent in the Magister, their next step would be a single seat fighter aircraft or a multi-engined aircraft.]

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