The Balliol was designed by Boulton Paul Aircraft of Wolverhampton to fulfil Air Ministry Specification T7/45. This called for a replacement of the wartime North American Harvard trainer. It was specified for the aircraft to use the newly developed turboprop engine. On 17 May 1948, the Balliol became the world’s first single-engined turboprop aircraft to fly.
Eventually, the production model received the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. Around 200 Balliols served as an advanced training aircraft with both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. With the Royal Navy the aircraft were known as Sea Balliols.
This particular Balliol was one of a batch of 20 that were ordered by the Royal Navy in 1950. Consequently it is fitted with naval features such as an arrester hook that the RAF aircraft did not have. The engine fitted to the aircraft is a later variant of the famous Rolls Royce Merlin.
Balliols only lasted in service for a few years before being stored. This example was later reactived for trials work which allowed it to be preserved.
WL732 is the only original and complete Balliol preserved in the UK.