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The Proctor was a military development of the highly successful Vega Gull, a prominent racing aircraft of the 1930s which held many speed records. Early Proctors (Mks I to III) were essentially three seat variants of the Vega Gull with roughly similar performance characteristics. However the Proctor Mk IV, introduced in 1943, was a substantial redesign, with a strengthened, longer and deeper fuselage with four seats. Being heavier, its performance naturally suffered. The Mk V was a postwar civil version of the Mk IV.

The Proctor and BigglesEdit

The Proctor is encountered many times during the Air Police era of Biggles' career. It was one of the first aircraft on the permanent inventory of the Air Police and was used on many occasions, particularly when there was a good prepared landing strip or when they needed something faster than its stablemate the Auster J1 Autocrat.

The Proctor in the Biggles books was quite clearly a 4-seater. For example, in Biggles Follows On, Algy and Bertie pick up Biggles and Ginger in a Proctor. This suggests that it was a Mk IV or Mk V.

In some ways it was surprising that Biggles would have chosen the Proctor. It was faster than the Auster but its performance was hardly spectacular. It was reportedly unpopular with pilots and had many flying vices. Its low speed handling was poor, it had a fairly high landing speeds of 75-80 mph and as a result it was "not a machine for the shortest landing runs."[1] Maximum rate of climb was a docile 680 ft/min, not much more than a Tiger Moth, so there was no question of zooming away from a threat. It was also a wooden aircraft held together by glue and suffered structural problems by the 1960s, but perhaps by then the Proctor was no longer in use by the Air Police. But perhaps Biggles didn't have a choice. In the early days of the Air Police, he was very much dependent on cast-offs and hand-me-downs from the R.A.F. And Biggles had already flown the Sopwith Camel, so he knew well how to cope with aerodynamic vices.

List of Books and stories where the Proctor occursEdit

  • Biggles Follows On - Biggles uses it to get to Paris ahead of Ross on his B.E.A. flight. Later, Algy and Bertie retrieve Biggles and Ginger from a field on the outskirts of Prague in a Proctor.

SpecificationsEdit

(figures are for a Proctor 5)

  • Seats: Four
  • Length: 28 ft 2 in (8.59 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 6 in (12.04 m)
  • Empty weight: 2,375 lb (1,075 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 3,500 lb (1,588 kg)
  • Engine: 1 × de Havilland Gipsy Queen II driving a 2-bladed propeller, 210 hp
  • Maximum speed: 157 mph

Cruise speed: 146 mph Range: 500 miles Service ceiling: 14,000 ft

ReferencesEdit

  1. David Ogilvy, "More Glue Please, Mr Percival," General Aviation, February 2006, 36-39, url

See alsoEdit

Wikipedia:Percival Proctor

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