Bristol 52 Bullfinch at Filton on 27 November 1922
Bristol 52 Bullfinch monoplane at Filton on 27 November 1922

The Bristol Aeroplane Company Type 52 Bullfinch was conceived as a single seat parasol wing monoplane (designated MFA), that could be converted into a two seat reconnaissance biplane (MFB) by the fitting of a cantilever lower wing beneath the rear fuselage together with an additional gunner position behind the pilot’s cockpit. This dual-design allowed Bristol Aeroplane Company to meet the RAF requirement for both a single-seat fighter and a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft as well as being cost saving through the use of the Jupiter engine, the rights for which were acquired from the bankrupt Cosmos engineering.


Designed by Frank Barnwell, the prototypes featured a metal fuselage and wooden wings, although it was intended that any production design would convert to all-metal construction.


Bristol 52 Bullfinch monoplane at Filton on 27 November 1922
Another view of a Bristol 52 Bullfinch monoplane at Filton on 27 November 1922


Two monoplane prototypes were built, the first of which flew on 6th November 1922 and delivered to the Air Ministry in April 1923. A single biplane prototype (Type 53) was also ordered and although it flew in May 1923, it was was not delivered until March 1924.


Bristol 53 Bullfinch J6903 in biplane configuration
Bristol 53 Bullfinch J6903 in biplane configuration


The third and final prototype was converted into a biplane and flew on 17th March 1924.  Whilst the monoplanes demonstrated good performance, the two seat biplane was overweight and could not operate satisfactorily with the required military load.  At this point Bristol abandoned the type and no further production took place. 



  Type 52 Monoplane Type 53 Biplane
Powerplant  One 425 hp Bristol Jupiter III or IV
Span  38 ft 5 in
Maximum Weight  3,205 lb  4,088 lb
Capacity & Armament  Pilot only armament not known but  likely to be one fixed machine gun  Pilot, observer and one fixed and one  defensive machine gun
Maximum Speed  135 mph  120 mph
Endurance 4 hours


Variants and numbers built

 Type 52 Bullfinch Monoplane
 2 built (J6901 & J6902)
 Type 53 Bullfinch Biplane   One only (J6903)



 No Bullfinch aircraft survive                                      


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