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Percival Prentice

The Percival Prentice was a basic trainer of the Royal Air Force in the early post-war period.

It is a low-wing monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage.

Front seating was in a side-by-side configuration with a rear seat provided.

Designed to meet Air Ministry Specification T.23/43, the Prentice was the first all-metal aircraft to be produced by the Percival Aircraft Company.

The first (of 5) prototype Prentice TV163 first flew from Percival’s factory at Luton Airport, Bedfordshire on 31 March 1946.

Early trials revealed lateral instability with inadequate rudder control and poor spin recovery, which required extensive tests with revised tail configurations.

These resulted in modifications to the fin, rudder, elevators and upturned wingtips.

An unusual design feature was the provision for three seats.

While the instructor and pupil were equipped with dual controls in a side-by-side arrangement in the front, a second pupil sat in the rear seat without controls to receive “air experience”.

Both pupils could communicate with the instructor.

Night flying training was to be carried out in daylight by means of amber screens incorporated into the canopy and the use of special goggles.

The amber screens were folded back when not in use.

The RAF ordered a total of 455 Prentices (95 subsequently cancelled) as well as a limited number of export sales.

When the Percival factory was concentrating on production of the Percival Proctor and development of the Merganser as the Prince light transport aircraft, production of 125 aircraft was sub-contracted to the Blackburn Aircraft works at Brough.


Prentice T.1

Standard three seat trainer for the Royal Air Force and export models.

251 hp (187 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Queen 32 engine.

Prentice T.2

Fitted with a supercharged 296 hp (221 kW) Gipsy Queen 51.

Prentice T.3

Fitted with a 345 hp (257 kW) Gipsy Queen 70-2.


T.1 – Gipsy Queen 51




31 ft 3 in (9.53 m)


46 ft 0 in (14.02 m)


12 ft 10.5 in (3.924 m) with tail in rigging position

Aspect ratio



RAF 48

Empty weight

2,891 lb (1,311 kg)

Gross weight

3,860 lb (1,751 kg)

Fuel capacity

40 imp gal (48 US gal; 182 l) fuel in two wing tanks,

4.9 imp gal (6 US gal; 22 l) oil


1 × de Havilland Gipsy Queen 51,

6-cylinder air-cooled inverted in-line piston engine,

296 hp (221 kW) supercharged


251 hp (187 kW) de Havilland Gipsy Queen 32 un-supercharged engine


2-bladed de Havilland constant-speed propeller


Maximum speed

171 mph (275 km/h, 149 kn) at 6,800 ft (2,073 m)

153 mph (133 kn; 246 km/h) at sea level

Cruise speed

 160 mph (260 km/h, 140 kn) at 5,400 ft (1,646 m) maximum continuous

147 mph (128 kn; 237 km/h) at sea level maximum continuous

154 mph (134 kn; 248 km/h) at 12,200 ft (3,719 m) maximum economic

129 mph (112 kn; 208 km/h) at sea level maximum economic

Stall speed

62.4 mph (100.4 km/h, 54.2 kn) flaps up

51 mph (44 kn; 82 km/h) flaps down


505 mi (813 km, 439 nmi) at sea level maximum economic

517 mph (449 kn; 832 km/h) at 12,200 ft (3,719 m) maximum economic


3 hours 55 minutes maximum economic at sea level,

3 hours 43 minutes 139 mph (121 kn; 224 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)

Service ceiling

19,000 ft (5,800 m)

Rate of climb

1,070 ft/min (5.4 m/s) initial

960 ft/min (4.88 m/s) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)

Wing loading

12.65 lb/sq ft (61.8 kg/m2)


0.0769 hp/lb (0.1264 kW / kg).

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