The Percival Proctor was a British radio trainer and communications aircraft of the Second World War.
The Proctor was a single-engine, low wing monoplane with seating for three or four, depending on the model.
The Proctor was developed from the Percival Vega Gull in response to Air Ministry Specification 20/38 for a radio trainer and communications aircraft.
To meet the requirement, the aircraft based on the Vega Gull had larger rear cabin windows and the fuselage was six inches (150 mm) longer.
Modifications were made to the seats to enable the crew to wear parachutes, and there were other changes to enable a military radio and other equipment to be fitted.
In early 1939, an order was placed for 247 aircraft to meet operational requirement OR.65.
The prototype aircraft, serial number P5998, first flew on 8 October 1939 from Luton Airport, and the type was put into production for the RAF and Fleet Air Arm.
The prototype was tested as an emergency bomber during 1940 but that idea was abandoned when the invasion threat receded.
Although the first 222 aircraft were built by Percival at Luton, most of the remaining aircraft were built by F. Hills & Sons of Trafford Park near Manchester.
They built 812 Proctors of several marques between 1941 and 1945, assembling most of the aircraft at Barton Aerodrome.
Whilst the very early Proctors (Mks I to III) followed very closely the last incarnation of the Vega Gull, and consequently retained most of its performance, later versions became much heavier and less aerodynamic, with inevitable detrimental effects upon their performance.
The later marques of Proctor, whilst looking broadly similar, were in fact a complete redesign of the aircraft and were much enlarged, heavier and even less efficient.
Flight performance was poor.
There were later plans to fit them with the 250 horsepower (190 kW) Queen 30 and a larger airscrew, but only one trial aircraft was so fitted, because the all-metal Prentice was being developed to replace the Proctor, utilising the Queen 30 etc.
The Prentice proved to be a very poor aircraft, even worse than the later Proctors, and they served in the RAF for only a handful of years before being withdrawn.
After their Service life, the remaining Proctors soldiered on in private hands until the 1960s, when they were all grounded, owing to concerns about the degradation of the glued joints in their wooden airframes.
Several surviving Proctors have been rebuilt with modern adhesives and should be returned to the air shortly.
Early Proctors still make good light aircraft, because they combine the Vega’s attributes of long range, speed and load-carrying ability.
Notably, all Proctors inherited the Vega Gull’s feature of wing-folding.
P.28 Proctor I
Three-seat dual-control communications and radio / navigation trainer for the Royal Air Force.
P.28 Proctor IA
Three-seat dual-control deck landing and radio trainer for the Royal Navy / Fleet Air Arm with dinghy stowage and naval instruments.
One aircraft converted to a light-bomber to carry 16 20lb bombs under the wings.
P.30 Proctor II
Three-seat radio trainer.
Proctor IIAs was used by the Royal Navy.
P.34 Proctor III
Three seat radio trainers for Bomber Command radio operators.
P.31 Proctor IV
Four-seat radio trainer with enlarged fuselage.
Four-seat civil light aircraft.
RAF designation was Proctor C Mk 5
Floatplane version, 1 built.
A Proctor IV fuselage was modified with a new-wing built by Heston Aircraft as the Youngman-Baynes High Lift Monoplane.