Auster mix and match – the J5R Alpine

Tail art on Auster J5R Alpine

We have seen that nose art has a long and distinguished history on military (and sometimes civil) aircraft. Here is a splendid example of artwork at the opposite end of an aircraft – tail art, no less.  This painting of a rhinoceros adorns a smartly turned-out example of the rare Auster J5R Alpine, owned by Richard Webber. During the 1950s a whole multitude of Auster varients were produced almost by a process of ‘mix and match’. In this case, you took the fuselage of an Auster Aiglet Trainer, the wings from a J-1 Autocrat, added a De Havilland Gipsy Major 10 engine (130hp) driving a Fairey Reed propeller, stirred it all about and, voila~ a J5R Alpine. Only ten of this variant were built, so this makes the survival from 1953 of G-ANXC something of a minor miracle. The aircraft has, at one time been on the Kenyan registry as 5Y-UBD – hence the rhino!

This was taken early one morning at GVFWE, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

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