The fascinating history of the 1930s-built Spartan Cruiser

Aircraft manufacturing on the Isle of Wight began long before the Britten-Norman Islander took to the air. Pete London shines a light on one of the island’s most successful but little-known early products

Spartan Cruiser
This example, G-ACOU (c/n 9), was one of two examples acquired by the Bata shoe company based at Zlin, Czechoslovakia. It is seen here at Cowes in June 1934 ahead of delivery and placement on the Czechoslovakian register as OK-ATM the following month
ALL IMAGES PETE LONDON COLLECTION, UNLESS STATED

Designing and building light civil types, Simmonds Aircraft of Weston, Southampton, was formed by Oliver Simmonds in 1928. But the market was highly competitive and despite reasonable sales for the company’s size, Simmonds soon found itself in financial trouble. During 1930, it was acquired by management and investment company Whitehall Securities Corporation and rebranded as Spartan Aircraft.

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