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.
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.
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|
Variants and numbers built
Type 52 Bullfinch Monoplane
|2 built (J6901 & J6902)|
|Type 53 Bullfinch Biplane||One only (J6903)|
|No Bullfinch aircraft survive|