The Parnall Panther, designed by Harold Bolas for Parnall & Sons, was a biplane that played a role in the final years of the First World War.
First flown in 1917, the Panther responded to the call of the Air Ministry for a reconnaissance aircraft that was able to take off from a ship's deck, and was equipped with several novel features, including a monocoque fuselage which could be folded away for storage on board the ship. This wooden, single-bay biplane would have a run of 150, and were one of Parnall & Sons' most successful aircraft, being exported to both the US and Japan.
In the Panther, the pilot and observer were seated within individual cockpits in the deep fuselage. While this gave a good view for landing, it restricted access to the pilot's cockpit. Its seaplane - specific modifications included inflatable flotation airbags fitted beneath the wings, which could keep the aircraft afloat in the event of having to ditch into the sea. At the front of the undercarriage was also fitted a hydrovane, which prevented the Panther from nosing over.
Our Ambitious Reconstruction
Our ambitious project to reconstruct this aircraft aims to create an authentic non-flying replica using data collected from a range of sources. The challenge is all the greater for the lack of factory documentation and absence of any other existing examples of the aircraft. We are therefore making use of the latest in CAD modelling techniques and profile-cutting technology to create a aircraft that is as faithful as possible to the original design.
State of the Art Technology
The Panther’s remarkable motor represented state-of-the-art technology for the time: it was powered by a Bentley BR2 engine, a nine-cylinder rotary engine capable of 230 horsepower at 1,300 RPM. Although complete engines and original parts are scarce, we are looking to acquire any historic parts relating to the Bristol Airplane Company of this era or Parnall & Sons itself. Please get in touch if you can help.
Breathing Life in to South West Aviation
A total of 150 Panthers were built by Bristol Aeroplane Company, continuing in service until 1926.
The Panther Project is an exciting chapter in our quest to breathe life into the aviation history at the heart of the South West.