It is inevitably the case that many aircraft types do not become commercially successful, but this is often not related to the design’s desirability. Such is the case with the Beagle Pup, an attractive and excellently performing single originating from the UK in the late 1960s.
Beagle Aircraft (an approximate acronym of British Executive & General Aviation Limited) was formed in 1960 by Peter Masefield, formerly of Bristol Aircraft, and amalgamated Auster and Miles respectively. Although ambitious, the company failed to manage properly the costs of manufacturing, and in under a decade, the company went into administration.
The Pup was the final design completed and manufactured by Beagle. The prototype Series 1 with a 100hp O-200 engine first flew on 8 April 1967. The more powerful Series 2, with a 150hp Lycoming O-320, revised cowling and enlarged rudder, followed in October, and the 160hp Series 3 in 1968. Depending on power the aircraft is fitted out with 2, 3 or 4 seats. A roomy cockpit is provided with stick control, and entry is by 2 car-style doors. Handling is often compared favourably to contemporaries such as the Piper Cherokee.
The Pup is often described as over-engineered, with extensive riveting and overlapped panels. As such manufacture was labour intensive, with cost of production double the sales price, and it became clear by 1969 that the Pup would not be viable. In spite of healthy orders, production ceased after some 150 Pups had been completed, although more would be completed later from unfinished airframes. The design was subsequently developed into the Scottish Aviation Bulldog, which served as the RAF’s primary trainer for 25 years.
The Pup is a rare sight in the sky, however in 2020 the original prototype, G-AVDF, was returned to flight by enthusiast David Collings after a restoration period of 6 years, one of very few surviving flying prototypes of any aircraft.
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