Percival Aircraft Company | BAE Systems | International

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Percival Aircraft Company

A company that built its reputation through a series of record breaking flights by some of the best known aviators of the day.

Percival Aircraft Company

Percival Advertisment
Australian Capt. Edgar Percival transferred from the Australian Imperial Force to the Royal Flying Corps in 1918.  At the end of World War I however, he returned to Australia to do film work and 'barnstorming' in between giving pleasure and charter flights in Avro 504’s and a DH6.  His interest in design lead to his collaboration in building competition-winning light aircraft, as well as honing his piloting skills in a series of proving flights in carrier-borne aircraft which included being catapulted in a ‘navalised’ Sopwith Pup.
 

On his return to England in 1929, he became an Air Ministry Test Pilot specialising in amphibians, seaplanes and Schneider Trophy racers.  His interest in technology grew further and he became involved in a number of collaborative projects with Saunders Roe Limited such as the Saro Percival Mail Carrier in 1930.

In 1933, Percival turned his attention to building his own designs and set up the Percival Aircraft Company.

Initially operating from his private address in London and contracting out manufacturing to George Parnell & Sons in Gloucestershire, the company quickly expanded its reputation through a series of record-breaking flights by some of the best known aviators of the day, all in Percival aircraft.

In 1934, and after recieving an order for 24 Gull aircraft (which had to be manufactured by Parnell), Percival set up his own manufacturing facility in Gravesend, Kent. 

Percival P6 Mew GullPercival P6 Mew Gull

With business very bouyant during the inter-war years, in 1936 they consolidated operations to a larger facility at the newly-built Luton Corporation Airport with Design Offices in a large Georgian farmhouse nearby. 

Under the new name of Percival Aircraft Limited, all efforts were concentrated on the Percival Gull civilian racing aircraft and the Percival Q.6 Petrel, a communications aircraft and feeder-liner.  With war imminent in 1938 however, Percival Aircraft concentrated on the developement of military communications aircraft such as the Percival Vega Gull and Percival Proctor.

As war raged throughout Europe, Edgar Percival himself become disillusioned with life in England and resigned from the company in March 1940, before moving to the USA.

The company continued independently as Percival Aircraft Limited until 1944 when it was purchased as part of the Hunting Group who, after allowing the name to continue for another 10 years, changed it to Hunting Percival in 1954 and then Hunting Aircraft 1957.

Genealogy

1933 Percival Aircraft Company
1936 Percival Aircraft Limited                                                           
1954 Hunting Percival Ltd
1957 Hunting Aircraft
1960 British Aircraft Corporation                                                                             
1973 British Aerospace
1999 BAE Systems

Aircraft

1932 Percival Gull IV/VI 1946 Percival P.40 Prentice          
1934 Percival Mew Gull 1947 Percival P.48 Merganser
1935 Percival Vega Gull 1948 Percival P.50 Prince P.54 Survey Prince & P.66 President / Pembroke
1937 Percival Q.6 1950 Percival P.56 Provost
1937 Percival Petrel 1956 Percival P.74
1939 Percival P.28 Proctor