Parnall was a British aircraft manufacturer that evolved from a wood-working company before the First World War to a significant designer of military and civil aircraft into the 1940s. It was based in the west of England and was originally known as George Parnall & Co. Ltd.
In 1916, the Bristol based Parnall & Sons shopfitters started to manufacture aircraft at the Colliseum Works at Park Row in Bristol. During the First World War, the skilled staff were moved to sites around the city and in neighbouring South Gloucestershire producing planes to their own designs and, under contract, those of other companies.
In 1919, the aircraft business was split from the parent company Parnall & Sons as George Parnall and Company. In the 1920s, aircraft manufacture was centralised at a factory in Yate close to an airfield used by the Royal Flying Corps. In the 1930s, gun turrets for bomber aircraft were produced. The site was a strategic target for Luftwaffe bombing and during 1941, over fifty people were killed during the raids.
In 1935, Parnall Aircraft Limited was formed when George Parnall and Company amalgamated with the Hendy Aircraft Company and Nash and Thompson Limited. After the Second World War as aircraft component manufacture reduced, domestic appliances were built at the site. To reflect this move away from aviation the company changed its name to Parnall (Yate) Limited in 1946.
The Parnall Panther was a carrier-based wooden, single-bay biplane spotter and reconnaissance aircraft designed by Harold Bolas, who had joined Parnall and Sons after leaving the Admiralty's Air Department. It had a 230 hp Bentley BR2 rotary engine. Following contractual disputes production was transferred to the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
The Parnall Plover single-seat naval fighter aircraft of the 1920s for use off the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, was ordered into small-scale production, but after extensive evaluation, the Fairey Flycatcher was preferred for large-scale service.
The Parnall Pixie was a low-powered single-seat monoplane light aircraft originally designed to compete in the Lympne trials for motor-gliders in 1923, where it was flown successfully by Norman Macmillan. It had two sets of wings, one for cross-country flights and the other for speed; it later appeared as a biplane which could be converted into a monoplane. Parnall Pixie IIIa G-EBJG is still in existence with the Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England. The remains are in deep store and are not generally on view to the public without prior arrangement.
The Parnall Perch was a single-engined, side-by-side-seat aircraft designed as a general-purpose trainer. No contract on this specification was awarded and only one Perch was built.
The Parnall Elf was a two-seat light touring biplane, three being built at Yate between 1928 and 1932. The Elf was the last aircraft designed by Harold Bolas before he left the company to go to the United States.
The Parnall Prawn was an experimental flying boat built in 1930. Its single engine was fitted on a tilting mounting in the nose, so that the propeller could be kept clear of the water on takeoff and landing. Only one was built and it is not known whether it was ever flown.
The Parnall G.4/31 was a 1930s general purpose aircraft which could operate as a day and night bomber as well as the reconnaissance, torpedo and dive-bombing roles. It was a large angular biplane powered by a 690 hp (515 kW) Bristol Pegasus IM3 with a Townend ring.
The Parnall Heck was designed by Basil B. Henderson as a single-engined, conventional low-wing cabin monoplane, built of spruce with a plywood covering, initially a two-seater in tandem layout. The prototype was originally flown as the Hendy Heck but by the time of its first public demonstration in July 1935, the companies had merged and the aircraft was renamed as the Parnall Heck.
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