Supermarine Sparrow

Supermarine's first landplane design after its change of identity from Pemberton-Billing Ltd.
Supermarine Sparrow I The Supermarine Sparrow I biplane built for the Two-Seater Light Aeroplane Competition of 1924.

When Hubert Scott Paine purchased Pemberton Billing Limited in 1916, he immediately changed the company identity, adopting the previous telegraph address as the main trading name Supermarine Aviation Works Limited.  Initially the company concentrated of whole range fighters, sea planes and flying boats whilst still maintaining an interest in racing machines.


The Supermarine Sparrow was one such type, as an entrant in the Air Ministry 1924 Two Seat Light Aeroplane Competition, held at Lympne, Kent.  The Sparrow I was a light biplane, of similar concept to the Hawker Cygnet, with which it was to compete in 1926 (see below).  The 2-seat design was powered by a three cylinder 35 hp Blackburne Thrush engine although this was eventually replaced with a Bristol Cherub III engine.


The Sparrow I was first flown on 11th September 1924 (G-EBJP) and although initial promise was seen, it was eliminated from the Grosvenor Trophy Race at Lympne just a month later due to engine failure. It flew a few more times with its competition number (‘9’) painted on the fuselage sides and despite it flying well it was dogged by engine trouble.


After the competition in 1924, the type was converted to a high wing parasol monoplane and re-engined with a 32 hp Bristol Cherub and as the Sparrow II, it was entered into the 1926 Daily Mail Two-seater Light Aeroplane Competition.


Supermarine Sparrow II Monoplane Supermarine Sparrow II Monoplane at Lympne 1936

Again the aircraft was dogged with troubles and had to make a forced landing near Beachy Head and the competition was won by the Hawker Cygnet.  By then however, the appearance of the DH Moth had shown the real future direction for practical and affordable two seat private aircraft.  


The Sparrow II was later the subject of an Air Ministry contract during 1927 in which a number of wings of different aerofoil section were fitted for comparison purposes before ending its flying days with the Halton Aero Club.



  Sparrow I Sparrow II
Powerplant One 35 hp Blackburne Thrush  One 32 hp Bristol Cherub
Span 33 ft 4 in 34 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight 860 lb 1,000 lb
Capacity  Pilot and passenger
Maximum Speed 72 mph 65 mph

Variants and number built

One aircraft             Initially flown as Sparrow (biplane), modified to Sparrow II (parasol monoplane)


None         Sparrow II believed scrapped circa 1933