Scottish Aviation Single Pioneer

Single Pioneer

Served with 209 Squadron Raf Seletar 1959 to 1968

The Following Article was researched and compiled by Ian Old.

Scottish Aviation Pioneer CC.1

Based at:

Seletar, 1 October 1959 to 31 December 1968 and

Tengah, 1 January 1969 to 1 February 1970

The Pioneer was the first design produced by Scottish Aviation, at Prestwick, Scotland, in response to Air Ministry Specification A.4/45, for a light, single-engined communications aircraft which could operate from small airstrips. The first flight of the first prototype, equipped with a 240 hp engine, took place on 5 November 1947. The aircraft was high-winged, with a very large wing area and a tall undercarriage. The Pioneer I could be flown at very low speeds, its stalling speed being 33 mph, although its maximum speed was only 124 mph. Three passengers could be carried. The RAF chose not to order any at this time.

It was soon realised by Scottish Aviation that a more powerful engine was required to increase the likelihood of sales and the re-engined prototype, now featuring a 540 hp powerplant, first flew on 5 May 1950. The Pioneer II could carry four passengers and was an impressive performer in and out of small airstrips. It could reach an altitude of fifty feet after only 185 yards after commencing its take-off run. Fully laden, from a height of 50 feet, it could come to a halt in 130 yards, its ground run being an impressive 20 yards. Its dimensions were length was 34 feet 4 inches, wingspan 49 feet nine inches and height 10 feet three inches. The empty weight was 3,835 lb., the maximum weight being 5,800 lb. Its maximum speed was 162 mph, optimum cruising speed 141 mph and stall speed 36 mph. Maximum range was 365 nautical miles and service ceiling was 23,000 feet.

Unrest in Malaya began in 1948 which resulted in a long campaign, Operation FIREDOG and this concluded in 1960. As operations became more intense, it was decided in 1953 by the Air Ministry to carry out trials using four Pioneers to see if these were more suitable in theatre than Austers and more effective in certain roles than helicopters. The quartet was shipped to Singapore, being reassembled at Maintenance Base Far East, Seletar, before joining 1311 Transport Flight, at Kuala Lumpur in September 1953. The Pioneers were used to resupply the numerous outposts in the jungle and for personnel transport, the minimum specification of the small airstrips involved being a runway measuring a mimimum of 150 yards in length and at least 20 yards wide. By the end of 1954, the trial was deemed to be a success and 36 aircraft were ordered, the last being delivered by January 1957.

The Pioneer saw service with 267 Sqn. (which had absorbed 1311 Flt. during the trial period) when it was reformed on 15 February 1954, at Kuala Lumpur. In April 1956 two further units were reformed to operate the Pioneer, namely 78 Sqn. at Khormaksar, Aden, and 215 Sqn. at Dishforth. In September 1958, 215 Sqn. was renumbered 230 Sqn. and moved to Nicosia, Cyprus, due to the anti-terrorist operations being carried out, returning to the UK in 1959. 267 Sqn. was redesignated as 209 Sqn. on 1 November 1958, it having last been active on Sunderlands until it was merged with 205 Sqn. at Seletar on 1 January 1955. 78 Sqn. did not operate Pioneers after September 1959. 209 Sqn. moved base to Seletar, on 1 October 1959, although some Pioneers remained at Kuala Lumpur for a few months. During its service in Malaya, Pioneers visited Seletar to receive modifications and the highest level of servicing (Category 4) 230 Sqn. re-equipped with Whirlwind HAR.10s in June 1962, meaning that the only active Pioneers were now in the Far East, with 209 Sqn.

Operational flying for 209 Sqn. was reducing as Operation FIREDOG drew to a close, the official end being 31 July 1960. The Pioneers remained busy, providing support to the Army.

In 1962 Indonesian military activities led to the start of the Borneo Confrontation and operational flying for the Pioneers began again, the aircraft operating in Malaysia and Borneo, the RAF using RN commando carriers to transport the aircraft to Labuan and Kuching. The Confrontation ended in August 1966.

From 1967, the number of Pioneers on strength with 209 Sqn. slowly declined as individual airframes succumbed to damage, corrosion and high utilisation. Only four machines were still active on 31 December 1968 when 209 Sqn. was disbanded. These aircraft were transferred to 20 Sqn. at Tengah, to be operated in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role in support of the Hunters that were the main equipment of that unit. One other, recently retired, was allocated to the growing RAF Museum Collection and shipped back to the UK. 20 Sqn. was disbanded on 1 February 1970 and the Pioneer’s RAF service was at an end.

Of the forty airframes which served with the RAF, 26 were written off in flying accidents. This high attrition is not surprising given the nature of the terrain and weather that many flights had to endure. Few flights were made from airfield to airfield. 23 Pioneers served with 209 Sqn. and nine were lost in accidents.

Only one of the Pioneers to serve in the Far East survives today (see XL703 below). It is also the only RAF example of the type that still be seen.

Pioneers on strength of 209 Sqn. on 1 October 1959 (HQ Seletar) and each year afterwards:

Serial

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

XE515

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XG558

YES

YES

YES

YES

 

XG560

YES

XG561

YES

XJ450

YES

YES

XJ465

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XJ466

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XK367

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XK368

YES

YES

YES

XK370

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL517

YES

YES

YES

XL558

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL665

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL666

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL700

YES

YES

YES

XL702

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL703

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL704

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL705

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

XL706

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

Total

9

8

8

9

10

12

11

10

8

4

Colour schemes and markings

Pioneers were initially unpainted but from the early 1960s, were camouflaged in Dark Grey and Green upper surfaces and Light Aircraft Grey underneath. Whilst unpainted, squadron markings are believed not to have been applied. The 209 Sqn. badge, of a diving red eagle, was applied to camouflaged machines

Individual aircraft details (209 and 20 Sqn. service only)

XE512

(This was built as the first prototype, serial VL515. Later converted to Pioneer 2 standard, in 1950. Upgraded to Pioneer CC.1 for use in the trials and given another serial). On strength with 267 Sqn., Kuala Lumpur when it was renumbered 209 Sqn., on 1 November 1958. Crashed on 4 November 1958 due to a heavy landing at Kuala Lumpur, coming to rest facing the opposite direction. Only four days with 209!!

XE515

On strength with 267 Sqn., Kuala Lumpur when it was renumbered 209 Sqn., on 1 November 1958. It suffered Cat.3 damage when it had an engine fire on take-off, Seletar, on 13 April 1962. As a result it was allocated to 390 MU for repairs, rejoining 209 Sqn. on 16 May of the same year. Placed in store with 389 MU later that year, on 14 December. Issued to 209 Sqn. on 25 April 1964. It was Struck off Charge (SOC) on 26 August 1966 and was scrapped.

XG558

At Maintenance Base, Far East, Seletar on 1 November 1958 for servicing. Upon completion, it was issued to the newly-reformed 209 Sqn. on 8 January 1959. To 390 MU for minor servicing from 19 May to 12 June 1962. It was Struck off Charge (SOC) on 7 June 1963 and was scrapped.

XG560

On strength with 267 Sqn., Kuala Lumpur when it was renumbered 209 Sqn., on 1 November 1958. On 26 August 1960 it flew into a tree at Seletar due to engine failure. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) 6 September 1960 and was scrapped.

XG561

At Maintenance Base Far East, Seletar on 1 November 1958 for repairs following a heavy landing, Fort Iskander, Malaya 10 July 1958 (the same applies to XJ465). Issued to 209 Sqn. on 7 January 1959. Aircraft destroyed on 23 October the same year, when it struck a radio mast shortly after take-off, at Ipoh, Malaya, the starboard wing being ripped over. The two occupants were killed.

XJ450

On strength with 267 Sqn., Kuala Lumpur when it was renumbered 209 Sqn., on 1 November 1958. It turned over on landing, at Fort Kemar, Malaya, 4 October 1960, the damage being later assessed as Cat.5 (the most serious level) and was Struck off Charge (SOC) 3 December 1960.

XJ465

At Maintenance Base Far East, Seletar on 1 November 1958 for repairs following a heavy landing, Fort Iskander, Malaya 10 July 1958 (the same applies to XG561). Issued to 209 Sqn. on 22 December that year. Suffered damage on 12 October 1962, assessed as Cat.3, to the slat and flap mechanism, returning to 209 Sqn. 30 March 1963. Its undercarriage was damaged during a forced landing at Seletar, on 20 February 1964 and repairs were needed. It was placed in store with 389 MU on 1 October 1964, not rejoining 209 Sqn. until 23 August 1967. It was with 389 MU for servicing from 3 November 1967 to 4 June 1968 and 23 October to 6 December 1968. Transferred to 20 Sqn. on 1 January 1969 when 209 Sqn. was disbanded. Struck off Charge (SOC) on 1 January 1970 at Tengah and scrapped.

XJ466

On strength with 267 Sqn., Kuala Lumpur when it was renumbered 209 Sqn., on 1 November 1958. Suffered serious damage (assessed as Cat.4) on 1 November 1960 due to a heavy landing at Ipoh, Malaya, it not rejoining 209 Sqn. until 26 May 1961. With 389 MU between 5 October 1962 and 20 July 1963, when it was reissued to 209 Sqn. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 26 November 1964 and scrapped.

XK367

Arrived at Seletar on 27 November 1959, having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand. It was placed into storage, until issued to 209 Sqn. on 17 October 1960. To 389 MU for servicing 19 January to 14 September 1966, then returned to 209 Sqn. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 11 August 1967 and scrapped.

XK368

On strength with 267 Sqn., Kuala Lumpur when it was renumbered 209 Sqn., on 1 November 1958. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 27 September 1962 and scrapped.

XK370

Arrived at Seletar on 14 October 1963, having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand. It was not issued to 209 Sqn. until 2 April 1964. To 389 MU for storage 25 November of the same year, not rejoining 209 Sqn. until 11 July 1966. Transferred to 20 Sqn., Tengah, when 209 Sqn. was disbanded on 31 December 1968. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 1 January 1970 and scrapped.

XL517

Arrived at Seletar on 28 August 1962 (as did XL665), having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand. It was issued to 209 Sqn. on 14 December the same year. It stalled on approach at Long Pa Sia, Borneo on 15 July 1966 and was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 11 August 1966.

XL518

After being loaned to the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (SOAF), it was shipped to 389 MU, arriving there on 14 September 1962. However, for unknown reasons it did not see any further service, being Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 30 October of the same year and scrapped. Therefore it was is the only Pioneer to reach Seletar but not see any squadron service.

XL558

Arrived at Seletar on 1 August 1962, having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand, and was issued to 209 Sqn. on 15 December of that year. On 18 April 1968 it suffered damage assessed at Cat.3. However due to imminent retirement of the type the damage was reassessed as Cat.5 and was scrapped by 390 MU during August 1968.

XL665

On 9 August 1962 it arrived at Seletar, having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand, and was issued to 209 Sqn. on 2 October 1962. With 389 MU for servicing from 8 July to 27 September 1966, then reissued to 209 Sqn. Struck off Charge (SOC) 26 October 1967 and scrapped.

XL666

It arrived at Seletar on 28 August 1962 (with XL517), having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand, and was issued to 209 Sqn. on 27 September 1962. On 13 May 1968 damage assessed as Cat.3 was discovered, this being believed to have been caused by numerous hard landings. The aircraft was then present on detachment to the British Embassy, Laos. Repairs were made and it rejoined 209 Sqn. on 11 June 1968. Transferred to 20 Sqn., Tengah, when 209 Sqn. was disbanded on 31 December 1968. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 1 January 1970 and scrapped.

XL699

It arrived at Seletar on 16 November 1959, along with XL700, having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand. It was soon issued to 209 Sqn., on 8 December 1959. It stalled on take-off at Bario, Sarawak on 24 July 1960 and was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 11 August 1960 and scrapped as a result.

XL700

On 16 November 1969 it arrived at Seletar with XL699, they having been shipped out by 2 MU, Sealand. It was issued to 209 Sqn. on 8 January 1960. On 10 February 1963 it stalled on take-off at Patik, Sarawak and crashed into trees. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 11 March 1963 and scrapped as a result.

XL702

On 25 August 1964 it arrived at Seletar, having been shipped out from 2 MU, Sealand. It joined 209 Sqn. on 1 February 1965, making it the last example of the type to join this unit. On 18 April 1968 it suffered damage that was assessed at Cat.3, as did XL558, but unlike the latter, the damage was repaired and it rejoined 209 Sqn. on 27 August the same year. It was transferred to 20 Sqn., Tengah, when 209 Sqn. was disbanded on 31 December 1968. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 1 January 1970 and scrapped.

XL703

It was shipped out to the Far East, from 2 MU, Sealand, arriving at Seletar on 6 June 1963. It was placed into storage before being issued to 209 Sqn. on 23 March 1964. It was flown in a Beverley on 26 March 1964 to Kuching, Sarawak, being returned to Seletar aboard HMS Bulwark on 21 July the same year. From 10 December 1964 to 12 March 1965 it was operating from Labuan, Borneo, having travelled from Singapore onboard HMS Bulwark again. It returned to Borneo from 22 May 1965, this time travelling on board HMS Albion and was returned to Seletar on 29 September 1965. It resumed service in Borneo in November 1965, at Labuan. In April 1966 was transferred to Sibu. On 23 May 1966 it nosed over on landing at Tatua. It was repaired on site and flown out on 5 June 1966. During September 1966 the detachment at Sibu was ended and the aircraft returned to Kuching. All Pioneers were returned to Seletar in November 1966 due to end of the Borneo Confrontation. It made its last flight during August 1968 and was earmarked for preservation, being allocated to the RAF Museum on 1 October 1968. Total flying hours were 3,219, with 1,036 of these operational flying hours with 209 Squadron. It was dismantled at Seletar during December and flown back by air on 1 January 1969 and placed in store at Henlow.

On 29 September 1982 it was moved by road to the newly established Manchester Air and Space Museum. During April 1989 it was transported by road to the Aerospace Museum, RAF Cosford, where it has been on display for most of the time since. By 2009 it had been refurbished, losing its 209 Sqn. markings and camouflage, being restored to the markings and unpainted scheme it bore in 1958 with 230 Sqn.

XL704

On 6 January 1959 it arrived at Seletar, having been shipped out from 47 MU, Hawarden. It did not join 209 Sqn. until 21 September 1959. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 18 April 1967 and scrapped.

XL705

Issued to 209 Sqn. on 17 November 1960. It sustained Cat.3 damage when a forced landing was made near Jesselton airport, Borneo, 21 June 1961. It arrived at Seletar on 27 June for repairs and rejoined 209 Sqn. on 30 October 1961. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 11 August 1967 and scrapped.

XL706

Having finished its loan service with the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (SOAF) in 1962, it arrived at 389 MU, on 18 July of that year. It joined 209 Sqn. on 30 October the same year. Only a few days later, on 7 November Cat.3 damage was found to the flap/slat mechanism, the repairs meaning it did not return to 209 Sqn. until 21 December. On 3 August 1965 it undershot on landing at Muara, Borneo and the damage (Cat.3) was repaired. It was Struck Off Charge (SOC) on 27 July 1968 and scrapped.

Credits:

“UK Serials” website. MoD AHB. Air Britain. “Roundel” (BAR). RAF Museum website. Aviation News.