Percival Proctor


The Percival Proctor was a British radio trainer and communications aircraft of the Second World War. The Proctor was a single-engined, low-wing monoplane with seating for three or four, depending on the model.

Percival Proctor
Percival proctor.jpg
RAF Percival Proctor IV
Role Radio trainer/communications aircraft
Manufacturer Percival Aircraft Limited
Designer Edgar Percival
First flight 8 October 1939
Retired 1955
Primary users RAF
Fleet Air Arm
Number built 1,143
Developed from Percival Vega Gull

Design and developmentEdit

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,[1] 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.[2]

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.[when?] 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.[citation needed]

Operational historyEdit

The Proctor was initially employed as a three-seat communications aircraft (Proctor I). This was followed by the Proctor II and Proctor III three-seat radio trainers.

In 1941, the Air Ministry issued Specification T.9/41 for a four-seat radio trainer. The P.31 – originally known as the "Preceptor" but finally redesignated the Proctor IV – was developed for this requirement with an enlarged fuselage. One Proctor IV was fitted with a 250 hp (157 kW) Gipsy Queen engine. This was used as a personal transport by AVM Sir Ralph Sorley but production models retained the 210 hp (157 kW) motor of earlier marks.

Proctor 5 of Field Aircraft services on a business flight to Manchester in 1953

At the end of the war, many early mark Proctors were sold on the civilian market and were operated in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The Mk IV continued in service with the RAF until the last was withdrawn in 1955.

In 1945, a civil model derived from the Proctor IV was put into production for private owner, business and light charter use as the Proctor 5. The RAF purchased four to be used by air attachés.

The final model of the line was the solitary Proctor 6 floatplane sold to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1946.

Three highly modified Percival Proctors, nicknamed the "Proctukas," were produced for the film Battle of Britain as stand-ins for the Ju 87 Stuka. After test flights revealed instability, they were ultimately abandoned and never appeared in the film.


P.28 Proctor I
Three-seat dual-control communications and radio/navigation trainer for the Royal Air Force, 147 built.
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, 100 built.
P.29 Proctor
One aircraft converted to a light-bomber to carry 16 20 lb (9.1 kg) bombs under the wings for anti-invasion defence.
P.30 Proctor II
Three-seat radio trainer, 175 built (including 112 IIA aircraft for the Royal Navy)
P.31 Proctor IV
Four-seat radio trainer with enlarged fuselage, 258 built.
P.34 Proctor III
Three-seat radio trainer for Bomber Command radio operators, 437 built.
P.44 Proctor V
Four-seat civil light aircraft, 150 built. RAF designation was Proctor C.Mk 5
P.45 Proctor VI
Floatplane version, 1 built.
Heavily modified Proctor IV fuselage with a new wing, built by Heston Aircraft as the Youngman-Baynes High Lift Monoplane.
Proctor VI variant with 250 hp (190 kW) DH Gipsy Queen 31



Civil Proctors have been registered in the following countries; Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Gold Coast, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, New Zealand, Portugal, Rhodesia, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Transjordan, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.[3]


  • Belgian Air Force
    • 367 Squadron received four P.31C delivered in June 1947, one in October and one in March 1948. Operated as liaison aircraft until 1950.[4] Last withdrawn from use 1954.
  • Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) operated six P.44 Mk. III between November 1945 and November 1951. First aircraft operated by RDAF after World War II.
  • Armée de l'Air received 18 Proctor IVs between September 1945 and May 1946 for use by ERN 703 (Radio Navigation School) in Pau. When the navigation training was transferred to Morocco in 1949 the Proctors were replaced by Ansons and 16 Proctors went to the civil market.
  • Royal Netherlands Air Force received one Proctor III in June 1946 (scrapped in February 1951) and 10 Proctor IVs in June 1947. Used as liaison aircraft they were all scrapped in October 1953.[6]
  United Kingdom
  United States

Notable OwnersEdit

  • Nevil Shute flew his Proctor from England to Australia and terminated the return flight in Italy, 1500 miles short of his goal, after a ground loop caused by a crosswind landing damaged the undercarriage. Italian bureaucracy delayed the importation of replacement parts and he was forced to return to England by commercial airline.

Surviving aircraftEdit

Proctor IV built by F. Hills & Son at Manchester Barton Aerodrome in early 1944. Displayed at the Torbay Museum in 1976.
A Proctor on display at the Danish Museum of Science & Technology
New Zealand
United Kingdom

Specifications (Proctor IV)Edit

Data from The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II,[34] British civil aircraft 1919-1972 Volume III[35]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 / 2
  • Capacity: 2 / 1
  • Length: 28 ft 2 in (8.59 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 6 in (12.04 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m)
  • Wing area: 202 sq ft (18.8 m2)
  • Airfoil: RAF 48 modified[36]
  • Empty weight: 2,340 lb (1,061 kg)
  • Gross weight: 3,500 lb (1,588 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × de Havilland Gipsy Queen II 6-cylinder air-cooled inverted in-line piston engine, 210 hp (160 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed variable-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 157 mph (253 km/h, 136 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 135 mph (217 km/h, 117 kn)
  • Stall speed: 48 mph (77 km/h, 42 kn) [37]
  • Range: 500 mi (800 km, 430 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 700 ft/min (3.6 m/s)

Notable appearances in mediaEdit

The Proctor was mentioned in the song "Flying Doctor" by Hawklords (1978)

It was Biggles' main aircraft in the Air Police stories by W.E. Johns

Two Proctors were modified with angular gull wings to resemble Junkers Ju 87 Stukas for the 1969 film Battle of Britain, and were dubbed Proctukas.

See alsoEdit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ Thetford, Owen. Aircraft of the Royal Air Force 1918–57, 1st edition. London: Putnam, 1957.
  2. ^ Scholefield 2004, p. 227.
  3. ^ Gearing 2012, pp. 193–259.
  4. ^ Jackson 1977, p. 75.
  5. ^ "Italian Air Force". aeroflight. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  6. ^ Jackson 1978, p. 96.
  7. ^ "Aircraft register search [VH-UXS]". Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Australian Government. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor I, s/n P6187 RAF, c/n K.246, c/r VH-UXS". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Percival Proctor Mk 1 monoplane VH-FEP". Trove. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival-Hillson Proctor I, s/n P6245 RAF, c/n K.279, c/r VH-FEP". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  11. ^ {{cite web|title=Percival Proctor |url=
  12. ^ "Percival Proctor". Royal Australian Air Force Association (W.A. Division) Inc. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor III, s/n Z7203 RAF, c/n K.392, c/r VH-BQR". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Percival Proctor 1 VH-AUC". Australian National Aviation Museum. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor III, s/n 62-605 RDAF, c/n H.274, c/r OY-ACP". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor V, c/n AE.097, c/r ZK-ARP". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  17. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor V, c/n AE.143, c/r ZK-AQZ". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor I, s/n P6271 RAF, c/n K.305, c/r ZK-DPP". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d "Restorations". Great Oakley Airfield. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor 5, c/n AE.058, c/r G-AHTE". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  21. ^ "1948 PERCIVAL PROCTOR 5 MONOPLANE". Bonhams. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor 5, c/n AE.129, c/r G-AKIU". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  23. ^ "BORN OF THE WINGS OF A GULL". Classic Air Force. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor III, s/n BV651 RAF, c/r G-AOGE". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Percival Proctor". Demobbed. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor III, s/n LZ766 RAF, c/n H.536, c/r G-ALCK". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  27. ^ "PERCIVAL PROCTOR III". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  28. ^ "Aircraft". Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor IV, s/n NP294 RAF, c/n H.678". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  30. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor IV, s/n RM221 RAF, c/r G-ANXR". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor III, s/n Z7197 RAF, c/n K.386, c/r G-AKZN". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  32. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Percival Proctor IV, s/n Z7252 RAF, c/r G-ALJF". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  33. ^ "ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 147416". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  34. ^ Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press, 1994. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.
  35. ^ Jackson, A. J. (1974). British civil aircraft 1919-1972 Volume III (2nd ed.). London: Putnam. p. 107-111, 516-526. ISBN 978-0-370-10014-2.
  36. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  37. ^ Air Transport Auxiliary Ferry Pilots Notes (reproduction ed.). Elvington, York, UK: Yorkshire Air Museum. 1996. ISBN 0-9512379-8-5.


  • Ellison, Norman H. Percivals Aircraft (The Archive Photographs Series). Chalford, Stroud, UK: Chalford Publishing Company, 1997. ISBN 0-7524-0774-0.
  • Gearing, David. W. On the Wings of a Gull - Percival and Hunting Aircraft. Stapleford, UK:Air-Britain (Historians), 2012. ISBN 978-0-85130-448-9.
  • Jackson Paul A. Belgian Military Aviation 1945-1977. London: Midland Counties Publications, 1977. ISBN 0-904597-06-7.
  • Jackson Paul A. Dutch Military Aviation 1945-1978. London: Midland Counties Publications, 1978. ISBN 0-904597-11-3.
  • Percival, Robert. "A Portrait of Percival." Aeroplane Monthly, Vol. 12, No. 9, September 1984.
  • Scholefield, R.A. "Manchester's Early Airfields", an extended chapter in Moving Manchester. Stockport, Cheshire, UK: Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 2004. ISSN 0950-4699.
  • Silvester, John. "Percival Aircraft 1933–1954 (Parts 1–4)." Aeroplane Monthly, Vol. 11, No. 1-4, January–April 1983.

External linksEdit

  • New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority aircraft register