Aircraft of the Month
SCOTTISH AVIATION TWIN PIONEER
The Twin Pioneer was designed by Scottish Aviation Ltd as a two-engined STOL (short take-off and landing) transport aircraft for both military and civil use. The prototype first flew from Prestwick Airport on 25th June 1955 with three pre-production aircraft for flight trials and sales demonstrations quickly following.
The RAF submitted an order for 39 aircraft in 1956 and the first military version flew in August 1957. The Twin Pioneer entered service with No 78 Squadron at RAF Khormaksar, Aden, in October 1958 and subsequently equipped a further 5 squadrons. It was also operated by the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the aviation wing of the Nepalese Army.
Powered by 2 x Alvis Leonides 514 radial engines, the ‘Twin Pin’, as it soon became known, had a crew of two and could carry either 13 troops or 2,000 lb of freight. Its main claim to fame, however, was the ability to operate effectively from a cleared area of no more than 900 ft by 100 ft. Indeed, the aircraft came into its own when engaged in operations from short airstrips and unprepared surfaces during the Borneo and South Arabian Campaigns of the 1960s and the Kuwait crisis of 1962. It was also successfully deployed on internal security duties in Kenya. Twin Pioneer production came to an end in mid-1964 and the aircraft was retired from the RAF in 1968.
Although used mainly for military operations, the Twin Pin was also successful as a commercial aircraft, particularly for use in terrain where its STOL capability came into play. Civil companies in no fewer than 21 countries operated the aircraft at one time or another.
A total of 87 Twin Pioneers were built. An airworthy machine sporting its original Empire Test Pilots’ School livery is owned and flown by Air Atlantique of Coventry while several others are on display in museums at home and abroad. A fine example can be seen at the RAF Museum, Cosford.