Nash & Thompson

Nash & Thompson was a British engineering firm that developed and produced hydraulically operated gun turrets for aircraft. As part of Parnall Aircraft it was also an important manufacturer of hydraulic-powered radar scanners used on radar systems such as H2S and AI Mark VIII.

Nash & Thompson also designed the hydraulically-powered turret traversing systems that were used in British Cruiser tanks from the A9 - the first tank with a powered turret traverse - through to the Cromwell.


Nash & Thompson was established in 1929 at Kingston upon Thames by business partners Archibald Goodman Frazer Nash and Esmonde Grattan Thompson[note 1]

Nash & Thompson developed the hydraulic gun turrets that Frazer-Nash invented and his designs were consequently numbered in a series prefixed with "FN".

Parnall Aircraft

In May 1935 they formed Parnall Aircraft taking over George Parnall & Company and Hendy Aircraft Company. Thompson was appointed managing director and Frazer Nash technical director.[1]

The company's major competition in the UK was from Boulton & Paul, which had licensed the designs of the French company S.A.M.M. (Societe d'Application des Machines Motrices). The FN turrets used hydraulic power produced by the aircraft's engine: the BP designs used individual hydraulic pumps for each turret supplied from the aircraft's 24-volt electrical system.


Nash & Thompson built a wide range of turrets for aircraft. All were powered hydraulically and carried 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers K or Browning machine guns, except where noted. Many were built by Parnall Aircraft with which they merged in 1935.[2]

  • FN-1 – "lobster back" partially enclosed turret for Hawker Demon
  • FN-4A – four-gun rear turret
  • FN-5 – two-gun nose turret on Avro Manchester, Short Stirling and Vickers Wellington
  • FN-5A – two-gun nose turret on Avro Lancaster
  • FN-7 – two-gun dorsal turret on Blackburn Botha, Manchester, Short Sunderland, Stirling
  • FN-9 – two-gun retractable "dustbin" ventral turret on Wellington, rarely fitted.
  • FN-10 – two-gun tail turret on early-model Wellington and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
  • FN-11 – two-gun retractable nose turret in Sunderland
  • FN-13 – four-gun tail turret in Sunderland
  • FN-16 – single Vickers 'K' gun front turret in Whitley
  • FN-17 – two-gun retractable "dustbin" ventral turret on Whitley, rarely used
  • FN-20 – four-gun tail turret on Lancaster, Wellington, Stirling and Whitley
  • FN-21A – two-gun retractable "dustbin" ventral turret on Manchester, rarely used
  • FN-25 – two-gun retractable "dustbin" ventral turret for the Wellington I based on the FN-17
  • FN-50 – two-gun dorsal turret ("Centre Gun Turret") on Lancaster, late-model Stirling
  • FN-51 – two-gun dorsal turret on early-model Handley Page Halifax
  • FN-54 – two-gun rearward firing chin turret on Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV and Bristol Beaufort
  • FN-64 – two-gun ventral turret ("Under Gun Turret") on Lancaster with periscopic sight, rarely fitted
  • FN-77 – retractable ventral turret fitted with Leigh Light for the Wellington and Warwick based on the FN-25
  • FN-82 – two-gun (0.5 inch (12.7 mm) Browning) tail turret on late-model Lancaster
  • FN-120 – four-gun tail turret; refinement of the FN-20 weighing 40 lb (18 kg) less; used on late-model Lancaster and Wellington
  • FN-121 – four-gun tail turret on late-model Lancaster fitted with Village Inn gun-laying radar; also used without AGLR on Wellington and Warwick
  • FN-150 – an improved two-gun dorsal turret, based on the FN-50, and fitted to many Lancasters

See also


  1. Esmonde Grattan Thompson died Roquebrune, Cap-Martin 19 January 1960, Managing Director of Parnall Aircraft. Obituary, The Times, Wednesday, Jan 20, 1960; pg. 15; Issue 54673


  1. Parnall Aircraft Limited. The Times, Monday, May 27, 1935; pg. 23; Issue 47074
  2. The Times, Wednesday, Jan 20, 1960; pg. 15; Issue 54673
  • Tarring, Trevor and Mark Joseland. Archie Frazer-Nash ... Engineer. London: The Frazer Nash Archives, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9570351-0-2.
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