The Auster J1 Autocrat was a civil touring aircraft developed from the successful Taylorcraft Auster observation aircraft that was widely used by Commonwealth forces during the Second World War. First flown in 1945, the Autocrat became one of the most successful British light aircraft in the immediate postwar period, with over 400 built. They were widely used by individuals, flying clubs and by small air charter companies for passenger flights.

In 1950, Auster produced the Auster J1B Aiglet, which was basically an Autocrat with a more powerful 130 hp Gipysy Major engine compared with the Autocrat's 100 hp. The new aircraft was externally very similar and was optimised for the Australian market where the more powerful engine was needed because of the hotter weather in summer. Some 86 of these Aiglets were built.

The Auster and BigglesEdit

The Auster was a favourite aircraft of Biggles and his colleagues during the time they were in the Special Air Police and they used it whenever they felt they needed an aircraft that could land in a very small area, whether it be a tiny farm pasture in Britain or a jungle airstrip in India or Africa.

In a footnote in Biggles in the Terai, Johns gives his readers a detailed description of the Autocrat, where he explained that the advantage of the Autocrat over other faster aircraft for Air Police work lay in its very short landing run, well under 100 yards. The Autocrat therefore features in a great number of the Air Police era Biggles novels and short stories.

List of Books and stories where the Autocrat occursEdit

  • Biggles in the Underworld - Biggles used an Autocrat. Also featured were two Aiglets belonging to the Podbury Flying Club. Biggles also borrowed one for a time.

In derivative worksEdit


  • Crew: Three
  • Length: 23 ft 5 in (7.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1,850 lb (841 kg)
  • Engine: 1 × Blackburn Cirrus Minor 2 piston engine, 100 hp
  • Maximum speed: 120 mph (194 km/h)
  • Range: 320 miles (515 km) (according to Johns, 600 miles with long-range tanks)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4300 m)

See alsoEdit