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Percival Gull

The Percival Gull was a British single engine monoplane.

It was successful as a fast company transport, racing aircraft and long-range record breaker.

One Gull Six was evaluated by the RAE.

Six Gull Sixes were impressed into the RAF and Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War, in the UK, Egypt and India.

The South African Air Force & Spanish Air Force also used the Gull in training and utility aircraft roles.

The Percival Gull was the first aircraft of the Percival Aircraft Company, formed in 1932 by Edgar Percival and Lt. Cdr E.B.W. Leake.

It was designed by Percival himself, and was strongly influenced by the Hendy 302, designed by Basil “Hendy” Henderson, that he had previously owned and raced.

The new company did not have the facilities to build the Gull, so the prototype was produced by the British Aircraft Company of Maidstone, Kent, and the first 24 production machines were manufactured by Parnall Aircraft of Yate, Gloucestershire.

In 1934, the Percival Aircraft Company moved to Gravesend Airport, Kent, where it built its own Gulls, with the last gull built at Percival’s new Luton works.

The Gull was a low-wing cantilever monoplane, constructed of wood with fabric covering.

The wings tapered outwards in both thickness and chord, with dihedral outboard of the centre section.

They were constructed according to Basil Henderson’s patent, and folded rearwards at the rear spar for storage.

There were split flaps inboard.

The fin and rudder were initially very similar to those of the Hendy 302, with a horn balance and a notable nick on the leading edge where that balance met the fin, but this was soon replaced by the final symmetric, elliptical and unbalanced arrangement.

The horizontal surfaces were also rounded, and tail plane incidence was adjustable in flight for trim; the elevators were mounted on a common shaft.

Although Gull variants were powered by five different engines, those were all inverted inline air-cooled types driving two-bladed propellers, making for a neatly faired installation.

The rear fuselage was of square cross section with a rounded top.

The glazed cabin joined smoothly into a raised dorsal fairing and placed the pilot in front and two passenger seats, slightly staggered behind.

Entry into the early models was via the sliding canopy.

The main undercarriage was fixed and spatted; each wheel mounted on three struts in the early models; there was a small steerable tail wheel.

The early models could be fitted with one of two 130 hp (97 kW) 4-cylinder engines, the Cirrus Hermes IV, or the de Havilland Gipsy Major.

Alternatively, for racing or for pilots desiring more power, the 160 hp (119 kW) Napier Javelin III 6-cylinder engine was an option.

The D.2 variants are known generically as the “Gull Four” (not “Gull IV”).

That was despite the Javelin 6-cylinder engine in the Gull Four Mk IIA, and that before the war the Gipsy Major-powered variant was known as the “Gull Major”.

In 1934, one Gull was modified with cabin doors, revised and shorter glazing, and a faired, single-strut main undercarriage.

This version was known as the Gull Four Mk III, (retrospectively P.1D), and those refinements were incorporated in all later Gulls.

The final variant was the D.3 “Gull Six”, similar to the D.2 “Gull Four Mk III” with the revised canopy and undercarriage, but with the much more powerful 200 hp (149 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Six 6-cylinder engine.

This had the same length and span as the Gull Major variants but was 195 lb (88 kg) heavier and much faster at 178 mph (286 km/h).

One Gull Six (VT-AGV) had the cabin replaced with a tandem pair of open cockpits. It was sometimes known as the P.7 “Touring Gull”.


         D.1 Gull Mk I Prototype (P.1)

130 hp (97 kW) Cirrus Hermes IV     

    D.2 Gull Four Mk II (P.1A)

  130 hp (97 kW) Cirrus Hermes IV

Mk IIA (P.1B)

160 hp (119 kW) Napier Javelin III

Mk IIB (P.1C)

130 hp (97 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Major

Mk III (P.1D)

130 hp (97 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Major

Mk III (P.1E)

135 hp (101 kW) Blackburn Cirrus Major I or II

D.3 Gull Six (P.3)

200 hp (149 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Six





2 passengers


24 ft 9 in (7.54 m)


36 ft 2 in (11.02 m)


7 ft 4.5 in (2.25 m)

Wing area

169 sq ft (15.70 m2)

Empty weight

1,170 lb (531 kg)

Gross weight

2,050 lb (930 kg)


1 × Cirrus Hermes IV,

4-cylinder, inverted inline, air-cooled engine,

130 hp (97 kW).


Maximum speed

145 mph (233 km/h, 126 kn)

Cruise speed

125 mph (201 km/h, 109 kn)


700 mi (1,126 km, 610 nmi)

Service ceiling

16,000 ft (4,877 m)

Rate of climb

850 ft/min (7.3 m/s).

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