The Falcon Major – a fiercer Hawk

By: shortfinals

Feb 12 2011

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Category: aircraft, airshow, Aviation, British Isles, England, Great Britain, military, RAF, Royal Air Force, Second World War, warbird


Focal Length:21mm
Shutter:1/0 sec

Phillips and Powis Aircraft Ltd built the most spectacular private aircraft in Britain during the 1930s, and the Miles M.3A Falcon Major was no exception. Originally developed by the company’s Chief Designer, F.G. Miles, as a cabin version of the successful M.2F Hawk Major, the prototype first flew on 12th October, 1934. Original versions of the Falcon had three seats (pilot, then seats for two passengers, with luggage space behind), although a more powerful engine allowed an extra passenger to be carried. The aircraft had a distinctive forward-sloping windscreen, rather like the American-built Vultee V-1.  An advertisement in ‘Flight’ stated, “FALCON – four-seater. The designer’s first real cabin aeroplane….in all respects similar to the Hawk Major”. Power was provided, initially, by a 130 hp De H Gipsy Major, 4-cylinder engine, but racing and record-breaking success came when the bigger Gipsy 6 of 200 hp was fitted. One of these aircraft, flown by Flight Lieutenant Tommy Rose, won the 1935 King’s Cup Air Race; Rose went on to break the London to Cape Town record in the same machine. The Short & Mason Company Ltd. made a great deal of the fact that one of their ‘Sestrel’ compasses was used in the Cape flight (‘London to the Cape – 3 Days 18 Hours’ read an advertisement). By 1936, second-hand Falcons were coming onto the market; one was being offered for sale by the well-known firm of Airwork Ltd, at Heston Airport, Middlesex, and Aircraft Distributors Ltd , of Skegness Aerodrome, Lincolnshire were offering this example, “MILES FALCON, Gipsy Major engine, Schwarz propeller, total hours 150. Price, with C of A for 1 year, £725.”

Phillips & Powis Aircraft Ltd were getting in on the act themselves, offering a ‘Hire and Fly Yourself’ service under the following terms! “Have started an Air Hire Service equipped with MILES FALCON MAJORS. The rates include insurance for flying in the British Isles and Europe. Per day – £5.5.0, plus petrol and oil; per 3 or more days – £4.10.0 per day, plus petrol and oil; per hour – £3.0.0, including petrol and oil. Reading Aerodrome, Berkshire.” A Falcon, flown by Henry Deterding, was one of 57 foreign entries (4 of them from the U.K.) which flew into the Olympic Air Rally at Rangsdorf, to the south of Berlin, to mark the ill-fated Berlin Olympic Games in 1936.

G-AEEG (c/n 216) is seen here in the sunshine at the former RAF Abingdon (now an Army base, known as Dalton Barracks). She is in a very pleasing white over blue colour scheme, with the Miles Falcon symbol under the windscreen. This aircraft was built during March 1936, but was soon sold to a Swedish owner (as SE-AFN).

Falcons in the U.K. and Australia were impressed by the military authorities during WW2, and the Swedish Air Force acquired SE-AFW as a communications machine in 1940 (as the single Tp7, “913” coded F1-71) based at Västerås, which was the home to the only ’heavy’ bomber unit in the Swedish AF at the time, F1 Wing, flying the Junkers 86K. Sold to a civilian firm in 1944 (Svensk Flygtjänst AB, as SE-AFW), after a series of adventures, it has ended up in the hands of that great Miles enthusiast and collector, Peter Holloway. It couldn’t be in a better place!

2 comments on “The Falcon Major – a fiercer Hawk”

  1. Another beautiful photograph and of a sleek aircraft. I recall from reading about Jean Batten’s flights in the late 1930s that she used a Percival Gull — can I assume that these two aircraft fit the same niche? They surely look competitive with regard to one another.


    • As usual, Joe, you hit the nail on the head…..the Percival Gull flown by Jean Batten (impressed by the RAF during WW2) is of the same era and roughly the same performance. The really BAD news is that the Shuttleworth Trust SOLD G-APDR to New Zealand, where she hangs from the ceiling in an airport building! A very very bad decision in my opinion.


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