Percival Meganser, 
Prince & Pembroke

A family of light civil transport that led to communications and training aircraft for the Royal Navy and the RAF
The Percival Aircraft Company produced 3 very similar looking aircraft in the Percival Meganser, the Percival Prince and the Percival Pembroke. All 3 were high-wing, cantilever monoplanes with twin-engines and were constructed as all-metal, stressed skin aircraft with a retractable, tricycle undercarriage.

 

Percival Meganser


Percival Aircraft Company designed a light-transport aircraft in the late 1940s, known as the Percival P.47 Meganser. It was specifically targeted to have 'passenger appeal', with a low-level access floor and the best possible view from the cabin.  The first appearance of the type was unusually at the Paris Air Show in November 1946, where the Percival Aircraft Company exhibited a fully-furnished fuselage section.
 
Regardless of receiving a warm reception, sadly the P.47 Meganser was already doomed due to the total lack of available engines, especially the De Havilland Gipsy Queen 51 on which the design had been based. Despite this, the initial aircraft was completed, flying for the first time on 9th May 1947 at Luton Airport with 'loaned' engines from the Ministry of Supply.
 
Meganser The only flying Percival Meganser (G-AHMH)
 
These flight trials allowed Percival Aircraft to gain important flight data, especially when the P.47 Meganser appeared at the SBAC Show, Radlett in September 1947. Sadly, with very little future, it was scrapped at Luton the following year.
 
A 2nd aircraft had been built although this too was scrapped in 1948, without ever achieving flight. The fuselage section was retained however, and it was used as a static structural test frame. Plans for the development of a floatplane and a ski-plane were also scrapped. Whilst there was always a desire to create a survey-plane, this was also abandoned.
 
Although the P.47 Meganser never entered production, the development and design data gathered would lead to the larger and much more successful Percival Prince.
 

Percival  Prince


The family resemblance to the Percival Meganser continued in the Percival P.50 Prince 1, although it was much larger and heavier, with an 8 ft longer wing span and nearly a 50% weight increase. 
 
Lessons learned with the engine supply issues of the Meganser, the P.50 Prince 1 had almost twice the installed power from the two 520 hp Alvis Leonides 501/4 engines. The prototype P.50 Prince (G-23-1/G-ALCM) first flew at Luton on 13th May 1948.
 
The type would operate initially in an Executive transport role with Shell Oil and Standard Motors, although 3 aircraft were also utililised by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, checking airport facilities and systems.
 
Over the next few years, Percival modified the aircraft and substituted engines producing 6 further variants of the Prince (listed at the end of this webpage).
 
Percival P50 Prince G-ALJA Percival P50 Prince 2 G-ALJA
 
Most importantly however, on 24th March 1948 they secured an instruction for 2 prototype Percival Prince C.1s, one version to be used for communication and the other as a training aircraft. 
 

The first Sea Prince C1 entered service in February 1953 and it was soon followed by the trainer version which was given designation as the Percival P.57 Sea Prince T1. Following successful trials, an order was placed in 1949 for twenty one aircraft, three for communications and eighteen to be used in the training role. A further two orders for the T.1. were placed, one order in early 1951 for an additional eight aircraft followed later that year by a second order for another fifteen.

In April 1953, an improved version was introduced as the Percival P.57 Sea Prince C.2.

Some Percival P.57 Sea Prince T.1.'s were scrapped in the 1960's when the RNVR (Air Divisions) were disbanded although a number of Percival P.57 Sea Prince C.1's continued in service until 1965 when it was replaced by the De Havilland Sea Devon and De Havilland Sea DoveDe Havilland Sea Dove aircraft.

Despite being predominantly sidelined, it was 1970 before the Percival P.57 Sea Prince C.2. was finally retired. The remaining Percival P.57 Sea Prince T.1.'s continued in service for many more years after their airframe fatigue life was enhanced by being re-sparred in the early 1970's.

These remaining aircraft were finally retired from service in 1979 when they were replaced by the Jetstream.

 
Percival P57 Sea Prince T.1 WP313 Percival P57 Sea Prince T.1 WP313 568 CU of 750 Sqn in the FAA Museum reserve collection at Yeovilton.
 
75 aircraft, across all nine variants were built. They served in civil operations in 13 different countries around the world, together with military service in Australia, Thailand and of course the United Kingdom.
 

Percival P.66 Pembroke


The Percival P.66 Pembroke was a development of the Percival P.57 Prince and had a longer wing to permit a higher fully laden weight. The prototype (WV698) flew on 21st November 1952. It featured another 8 ft 6 in increase in span and an increase in maximum weight to 13,500 lbs.
 
It entered service with the RAF as the Percival P.66 Pembroke C.1 during 1953, when it replaced the Avro Anson in a transport role and as with other RAF transports, the passenger seats are rearward-facing for improved safety.

 

Belgian Air Force Percival P66 Pembroke C.51 OT-ZAA RM1Air-to-air photograph of Belgian Air Force Percival P66 Pembroke C.51 OT-ZAA RM1.

Six aircraft were produced as the Percival P.66 Pembroke C(PR).1 photo-reconnaissance platform and these were used by No.81 Squadron during the Malayan Emergency until 1960. Despite production be concluded in 1958, some RAF aircraft were later modified to extend their lifespan in 1970, although the last of the type in use was with No.60 Squadron RAF, in Germany in 1988.
 
In addition to military service, the Percival P.66 Pembroke was also exported to Belgium, Finland, Sudan, Sweden and Germany. The Percival P.66 President was a civil equivalent to the Percival P.66 Pembroke.

 

Percival P66 Pembroke C.1 XL954 Take off of Percival P66 Pembroke C.1 XL954 G-BXES
 

Specifications


                                   Meganser Prince 2 Prince 6 Pembroke
Powerplant
Two De Havilland Gipsy Queen 51
Two 520 hp Alvis Leonides 501/4 Two 540 hp Alvis Leonides 504/5A Two 550 hp Alvis Leonides 127
Span
47 ft 9 in
56 ft 0 in 56 ft 0 in 64 ft 6 in
Maximum Weight
6,700 lb
11,000 lb 11,800 lb 13,500 lb
Capacity Five to eight passengers Six to eight passengers Six to eight passengers Eight to ten passengers
Maximum Speed 193 mph 193 mph 229 mph 224 mph
Cruising Sped 167 mph 160 mph 197 mph 155 mph
Range 800 miles 800 miles 894 miles 1,150 miles

 

Variants & Number built


P.48 Meganser Five to eight-seat transport, one completed and two fuselages.
P.48A Meganser Proposed floatplane variant, not built.
P.48B Meganser Proposed ski-plane variant, not built.
P.49 Meganser II Proposed aerial survey variant, not built.
P.50 Prince 1                Prototype, two 520 hp Alvis Leonides 501/4 engine, one built.
P.50 Prince 2 As Prince 1 with sloping windscreen, stronger main spar, five built.
P.50 Prince 3 Alvis Leonides 502/4 engine, lengthened nose on some aircraft, 12 built.
P.50 Prince 4 Conversions to Alvis Leonides 503 engines, ten converted.
P.50 Prince 6 Conversions to Alvis Leonides 504 engines.
P.54 Survey Prince Prince 2 with lengthened transparent nose and camera hatches, six built.
P.57 Sea Prince C1 Prince 2 for Royal Navy use, three built.
P.57 Sea Prince T1 Prince 3 with long nose housing radar, twin wheeled main undercarriage and lengthened nacelles, 41 built
P.57 Sea Prince C2 Transport version of Sea Prince T1, four built.
P.66 Pembroke C.1 Communications and transport variant for the RAF, 44 built.
P.66 Pembroke C(PR).1 Photo-reconnaissance variant for the RAF, 6 built and 2 conversions from C.1.
P.66 Pembroke C.51 Export variant for Belgium.
P.66 Pembroke C.52 Export variant for Sweden. Swedish military designation Tp 83.
P.66 Pembroke C.53 Export variant for Finland.
P.66 Pembroke C.54 Export variant for West Germany.
P.66 Pembroke C.55 Export variant for Sudan.
P.66 President Civil transport version, five built.

 

Survivors


1/98, Prince T1 Royal Thai Air Force Museum, Don Muang AFB                                                
Prince 3E
(G-AMLZ)
Speke Aerodrome Heritage Group, Merseyside, England

www.spekeaero.org/

Sea Prince T.1
(WF128)
Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum, Suffolk, England

www.aviationmuseum.net/

Sea Prince T.1
(WP309)
Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle Airport, England.
Sea Prince T.1
(WF118 / G-DACA)
Gatwick Aviation Museum, Surrey, England
Sea Prince T.1
(WF122)
Aeroventure, Doncaster, Sth Yorks.
Pembroke C.51
(RM-4)
Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels.
Pembroke C.51
(RM-7)
Melsbroek Air Base in Steenokkerzeel, Belgium.
Pembroke C.54
(54+02 / D-CAKE)
Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum, Baden-Württemberg.

www.sinsheim.technik-museum.de/en/

Pembroke C.54
(54+07)
Militärhistorisches Museum, Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow

www.mhm-gatow.de/dasmuseum

Pembroke C.54
(54+08)
Aeronauticum in Nordholz, Lower Saxony.

www.aeronauticum.de/

Pembroke C.54
(54+21)
Flugausstellung Hermeskeil in Hermeskeil, Rhineland-Palatinate. www.flugausstellung.de/
Pembroke C.54
(54+24)
Flugausstellung Hermeskeil in Hermeskeil, Rhineland-Palatinate. www.flugausstellung.de/
Pembroke C.52 Tp 83
(83007),
Svedino Automobile and Aviation Museum in Ugglarp, Halland.

www.svedinos.se/en/aviationmuseum/

Pembroke C.52 Tp 83
(83008 / SE-BKH)
Airworthy Västerås Flygmuseum in Västerås, Västmanland.

www.flygmuseum.com/

Pembroke C.1
(WV740 / G-BNPH)
Airworthy at Exeter, Devon.
Pembroke C.1
(WV746)
Royal Air Force Museum Cosford in Cosford, Shropshire.

www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/

Pembroke C.1
(XL954 / G-BXES)
Airworthy with Air Atlantique in Coventry, West Midlands.
Pembroke C.1
(XF796)
Airworthy with Giuseppe Baldassarri in Carrollton, Georgia.
Pembroke C.51
(RM-1)
Airworthy with the World On The Wind Museum in Quartzsite, Arizona.
Pembroke C.5
(1RM-2)
Taylor's Stateline Liquor Store in Neelyville, Missouri