Centered at Northfield, Birmingham, Warwickshire, this engineering company became a War Office contractor for airplanes during the First World War, building over 2,000 subcontract aircraft. In 1917 the aircraft department, managed by J. D. North (best known for his later Boulton Paul associations) contemplated aircraft of original design. The Osprey (1918) was a triplane single-seater designed by C. H. Brooks; the Greyhound two-seat fighter was flown after the Armistice; and civil types were the Kestrel side-byside two-seater (awarded 2nd prize in an Air Ministry competition) and the tiny Whippet single-seater, for which high hopes were entertained but only five were built. Aircraft activities ceased 1920, but in 1936 the "shadow factory" scheme ensured that the Austin name once again had aircraft connections. Production of Fairey Battles began October 1937; first aircraft tested July 1938.

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