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Percival P.40 “Prentice”
Single-engine three-seat low-wing monoplane trainer


Archive Photos ¹


Percival P.40 Prentice (N1041P, s/n VS385) on display at the 2005 Camarillo Airshow, Camarillo, California (08/27/2005 photos copyright © 2005 Skytamer Images by John Shupek)

Percival P.40 Prentice (N1041P, s/n VS385) on display at the 2006 Camarillo Airshow, Camarillo, California (08/19/2006 photos copyright © 2006 Skytamer Images by John Shupek)

Overview ²


  • Role: Military trainer aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Percival Aircraft, Ltd.
  • First flight: 31 March 1946
  • Introduction: November 1947
  • Retired: 1953
  • Primary users: Royal Air Force; private pilot owners after disposal by the RAF
  • Produced: 1947-1949
  • Number built: >370

The Percival “Prentice” three-seat trainer was designed to Specification T.23/43. The first prototype flew early on 31 March 1946. As a result of flying trials, a number of modifications were incorporated in the design of the production aircraft, including upturned wing-tips, re-designed control surfaces, and provision for an anti-spin extension to the tailplane.

The “Prentice” was to be fitted with either the 250-hp DH “Gypsy Queen 32” or the 296-hp “Gypsy Queen 51” engine. The “Prentice” was produced by Percival Aircraft, and by Blackburn Aircraft, Ltd. at Brough, and by Hindustan Aircraft, Ltd. at Bangalore, India.

Specification and Performance ²


Manufacturer:

  • Percival Aircraft, Ltd., Luton Airport, Luton, Bedfordshire, England

Type:

  • Three-Seat Basic Trainer

Wings:

  • All-metal cantilever low-wing monoplane.
  • Wing section R.A.F. 48.
  • Aspect ratio 6.94
  • Dihedral (front spar) 3° 24'.
  • Two-spar structure built into sections attached direct to fuselage.
  • Detachable wingtips.
  • Spars have light extruded flanges and reinforced plate webs.
  • Leading and trailing-each portions made up as complete units.
  • Full-depth pressed light alloy ribs approximately 20 inches (50.8 cm) apart with three light former ribs top and bottom between.
  • Light alloy steel covering.
  • Reinforced root has span-wise stringers to form walkway.
  • Ailerons have light alloy D-spar, pressed sheet ribs and fabric covering.
  • Trim-tab in port aileron adjustable on ground only.
  • Pneumatically-operated split trailing edge flaps and three sections between ailerons.
  • Safety device prevents immediate retraction of flaps after baulked landing.
  • Gross wing area 305 ft² (28.3 m²).
  • Aileron area (total) 24 ft² (2.23 m²).

Fuselage:

  • All-metal structure in two portions, front portion of rectangular section to aft of cockpit, and rear portion of flattened elliptical section.
  • Front portion has sides and bottom built up as a semi-braced structure with light alloy sheet covering.
  • Two build-up girders across fuselage form attachments for main wing spars.
  • Rear portion is a semi-monocoque structure with light alloy frames, longitudinal stringers and light alloy sheet covering.
  • Maximum fuselage with 4 feet 2 inches (1.27 m).

Tail Unit:

  • All-metal cantilever structure.
  • Tailplane has two light alloy stars, pressed sheet ribs and stressed metal skin, and is bolted to fuselage.
  • Two-spar fin with main spar bolted to fuselage sternpost.
  • Elevators have light-alloy D-spar, pressed sheet ribs and fabric covering.
  • Rudder of similar construction with metal covering and with mass balance in horn-balanced portion.
  • Controllable trim-tabs and rudder and elevators.
  • Area of tailplane and elevators, 57.34 ft² (5.32 m²).
  • Area of fin 21.3 ft² (1.97 m²).
  • Area of rudder 18 ft² (1.67 m²).

Landing Gear:

  • Fixed two-wheel divided type.
  • Each unit consists of cantilever shock-absorber leg incorporating steel springs and oleo damper, and is bolted to casting on front face of main spar.
  • Streamlined fairing over leg and wheel.
  • Medium-pressure wheels.
  • Pneumatic brakes operated by rudder-bar.
  • Track 12 feet 0 inches (33.65 m).
  • Tail-wheel carried in full-swiveling self-centering fork which rotates in cast aluminum rocker-arm hinged at bottom of sternpost.
  • Steel-spring shock-absorption with Ferodo band recoil-damper.

Power Plant:

  • One 250-hp DH “Gypsy Queen 32” un-supercharged, or 296-hp “Gypsy Queen 51” supercharged, six-cylinder in-line inverted air-cooled engine on rubber anti-vibration blocks of steel-tube mounting.
  • De Havilland two-blade constant-speed airscrew.
  • Cowling in four parts, side panels hinged on top centerline.
  • Two 20 Imperial gallon (91 liters) crash-proof fuel tanks in wing-roots between spars with detachable access panels in undersurface of wing.
  • Oil tank of 4.9 Imperial gallons (22 liters) capacity in leading-edge of port wing root with oil-cooler inboard.

Accommodation:

  • Crew of three and ventilated and heated enclosed cockpit.
  • Pilot (on starboard) and pupil, side-by-side with dual controls in front, with third central seat for second pupil undergoing air experience behind.
  • Standard S.B.A.C seats, front two adjustable.
  • Entire cabin top made as complete unit and bolted to fuselage structure.
  • Forward portion has direct-vision safety-class windscreen.
  • Perspex hood sides Backward for access.
  • Side and top panels amber-tinted.
  • Front windscreen and forward half of lower panel in sliding hood fitted with folding amber-colored screens for night instruction.
  • Rear seat entered through upward sliding door on port.
  • Steel-tube crash-pylon between front and rear seats.
  • Cabin sides from front arch to front of rear door jettisonable.

Dimensions:

  • Span: 46 feet 0 inches (14.02 m)
  • Length: 31 feet 3 inches (9.52 m)
  • Height (tail up, over rudder): 12 feet 10½ inches (3.9 m)

Weights (Non-Aerobatic):

  • Weight empty: 3,080 lbs (1398.3 kg)
  • Fuel: 280 lbs (130.7 kg)
  • Oil: 40 lbs (18.2 kg)
  • Radio: 24 lbs (10.9 kg)
  • Crew (3): 600 lbs (272.4 kg)
  • Equipment: 18 lbs (18.2 kg)
  • Weight loaded: 4,650 lbs (1,838.7 kg)

Weights (Aerobatic):

  • Weight empty: 3,080 lbs (1398.3 kg)
  • Fuel: 280 lbs (130.7 kg)
  • Oil: 40 lbs (18.2 kg)
  • Radio: 24 lbs (10.9 kg)
  • Crew (2): 400 lbs (181.6 kg)
  • Equipment: 18 lbs (18.2 kg)
  • Weight loaded: 3,850 lbs (1,748 kg)

Performance (DH Gypsy Queen 32 engine):

  • Maximum speed at sea level: 150 mph (242 km/h)
  • Maximum speed at 5,000 feet (1,525 m): 146 mph (235 km/h
  • Maximum continuous cruising speed at 2,200 feet (670 m): 145 mph (234 km/h)
  • Maximum economical cruising speed at 3,500 feet (1,066 m): 140 mph (225 km/h)
  • Stalling speed (flaps up): 61.5 mph (99 km/h)
  • Stalling speed (flaps down): 56.3 mph (90.6 km/h)
  • Initial rate of climb: 700 ft/min (213 m/min)
  • Rate of climb at 5,000 feet (1,525 m): 500 ft/min (152 m/min)
  • Climb to 5,000 feet (1,525 m): 8.3 minutes.
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 feet (4,575 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from grass: 390 yards (357 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from concrete: 365 yards (334 m)
  • Range at 5,000 feet (1,525 m) at 138 mph (222 km/h): 485 miles (780 km)

Performance (DH Gypsy Queen 51 engine):

  • Maximum speed at sea level: 150 mph (241 km/h)
  • Maximum speed at 6,800 feet (2,0872 m): 168 mph (270 km/h
  • Maximum continuous cruising speed at 5,400 feet (1,945 m): 156 mph (251 km/h)
  • Maximum economical cruising speed at 12,200 feet (3,718 m): 155 mph (249 km/h)
  • Stalling speed (flaps up): 61.9 mph (100 km/h)
  • Stalling speed (flaps down): 56.6 mph (91 km/h)
  • Rate of climb at sea level: 9200 ft/min (280 m/min)
  • Rate of climb at 5,000 feet (1,525 m): 700 ft/min (213 m/min)
  • Climb to 5,000 feet (1,525 m): 7.1 minutes.
  • Service ceiling: 18,520 feet (5,640 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from grass (tropical summer temperature): 420 yards (394 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from grass (normal temperature, at 5,000 feet=1,525 m): 390 yards (357 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from concrete (normal temperature, at 5,000 feet=1,525 m): 360 yards (339 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from grass (tropical summer temperature, at 5,000 feet=1,525 m): 435 yards (398 m)
  • Takeoff run to clear 50 foot (15.25 m) from concrete (tropical summer temperature, at 5,000 feet=1,525 m): 405 yards (370 m)
  • Range at 5,000 feet (1,525 m) at 5,000 feet (1,525 m) at 139 mph (224 km/h): 517 miles (832 km)

References


  1. Shupek, John, Photos & 3-view, “The Skytamer Archive”
  2. Bridgman, Leonard, “Jane's All The World’s Aircraft 1948”, Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd., London, 1948, pp. 83c-84c

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