The Miles M.57 Aerovan short-range low-cost transport aircraft

By Willie Bodenstein


Designed by George Herbert Miles as twin-engine affordable, short-range low-cost transport aircraft during the later years of WWII suitable for both civilian and military purposes, the Miles Airvan of which 48 were build had its first flight on 26 January 1945.

Miles initially intended to produce the Aerovan for the British Army as a wartime asset. However, development was put on hold by order of the Air Ministry until the end of the conflict, with quantity production beginning during 1946.

A prototype was constructed at Miles' Woodley factory in Berkshire. The performance of the prototype was immediately positive, proving to be both comfortable and relatively easy to fly. It proved to have an atypically high payload capacity for an aircraft of such power, being capable of lifting payloads in excess of its own weight when operated in a bare configuration.

The successful test flights of the first prototype led to the design of a number of variants, none of which reached the production stage. One was a flying boat derivative featuring a single-step hull, keeping the rear freight door above the waterline with the assistance of two stabilising floats carried on outriggers set on either side of the hull. The other was a specialised aircraft for the air observation post role, intended to be operated by a four-man crew and featuring an enlarged glazed canopy to provide an all-round view in combination with a glazed rear fuselage section.

While there was immediate demand for the type among civilian customers, Miles were not able to keep up with the rate of incoming orders and production was halted as a result of the company's bankruptcy in late 1947.

The majority of Aerovans were employed on passenger and freight services, charter work, joyriding in the UK and in the Near East. The newly formed Israeli Air Force acquired a single Aerovan that entered service during June 1948. Able to use relatively short landing strips, it was repeatedly flown into settlements and Jerusalem airport in the face of defensive rifle fire.

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