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The Slingsby T.53 was the first all-metal sailplane designed and built in the United Kingdommarker. It was designed and built by Slingsby Sailplanes for evaluation by the Royal Air Force.

Design and development

In the early 1960s the RAF issued a requirement to replace the current wooden gliders used by the Air Training Corps with a new tandem two-seater. Slingsby took the opportunity to design a new glider that would meet both the needs of the ATC and could be used by civil gliding clubs. Slingsby decided to make the glider in metal, which would make it more marketable in areas like the United States and Australia where the traditional wooden gliders did not sell well. The glider would also be lighter and the labour costs would be less, although the cost of tooling would be higher. To gain experience the company purchased a kit of the Schweizer 2-22 which was then constructed to learn the techniques applicable to metal gliders.

The construction of the prototype was started in June 1966 with the first flight on 9 March 1967 at Wombleton. The T.53 is constructed using a conventional light alloy flush-riveted design. To ensure the rear occupant is forward of the wing leading edge the shoulder-mounted wing is swept forwards by 5 degrees. It has a high-mounted stabiliser.

The Royal Air Force ordered 40 gliders and the second T.53 was evaluated by them for use by the Air Training Corps. The order was cancelled following evaluation and the disruption caused when the Slingsby factory was destroyed by fire in November 1968. Following the fire Slingsby built a small batch of modified T.53B aircraft for the civil market which it named the Phoenix, and later sold the rights of the design to Yorkshire Sailplanes which then resumed production as the YS-53 Sovereign.


prototype with flaps on wings, one built.
updated with two fixed tandem wheels and a swept-forward flapless wing of constant chord, 20 built.
Production variant for the RAF, not built.

Specification (T.53B)

See also


  1. Halley 2001, p. 96



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