Parnall Heck

The Parnall Heck was a 1930s British four-seat cabin monoplane built by Parnall Aircraft Limited at Yate, Gloucestershire. Originally a Hendy design, few were built. It combined the strength and comfort of a cabin aircraft with the speed of a racer.[1]

Parnall Hendy Heck G-AEGI at Wolverhampton (Pendeford) airfield on 17 June 1950 after being damaged beyond repair by a landing Supermarine Spitfire
Role Cabin Tourer
Manufacturer Parnall Aircraft Limited
Designer Basil B Henderson
First flight 1934
Retired 17 June 1950
Primary users Parnall Aircraft
Royal Air Force
Number built 6
Variants Parnall 382


The Heck was designed by Basil B. Henderson as a single-engined, conventional low-wing cabin monoplane, built of spruce with a plywood covering, initially with a two-seater in tandem layout. It had a manually operated retractable undercarriage, leading edge slats and slotted flaps, giving it good short-field performance in spite of its high wing loading compared to contemporary aircraft in this class.[1]


The type was originally designated the Hendy 3308 Heck, with the prototype built by the Westland Aircraft Works at Yeovil. Registered G-ACTC, it first flew in July 1934.

Parnall Aircraft Limited was formed in May 1935 when George Parnall and Company merged with the Hendy Aircraft Company and the armament engineering firm Nash and Thompson Limited. The Heck was redesignated the Parnall Heck. A number of problems with the undercarriage led to it being locked down and covered with 'trouser' fairings. The aircraft set a new record for the flight from Cape Town to England of 6 days, 8 hours and 27 minutes in November 1936.

A small production line was started at Yate, Gloucestershire and the production version was designated the Heck 2C. The production aircraft were three-seaters with fixed spatted undercarriages. None of the aircraft was sold, and four (G-AEGH, G-AEGI, G-AEGJ and G-AEMR) were operated by Parnall Aircraft for communications and liaison with RAF squadrons in connection with Parnalls armament contracts. When the Second World War started, the aircraft were repainted from dark grey to a brown and green camouflage scheme but retained civilian registration markings.[2]

The fifth production Heck 2C, registered G-AEGL, was flown as serial K8853 under contract 486334/36, and was used for trial installations of engines and armaments, including the development of the gun sight installation for the Spitfire and Hurricane. It was later allocated the M serial 3125M.

In March 1943, G-AEGH was impressed into service with the Royal Air Force as serial NF749 on communications and liaison duties.[3]

The Parnall 382 was a newly designed two-seat open cockpit trainer, with some Heck components to meet Air Ministry Specification T.1/37. It was flown in February 1939 and later assessed at Martlesham Heath as the Heck III, but was not ordered.

The last surviving Heck was G-AEGI which was damaged beyond repair in a taxying accident on 17 June 1950. The aircraft had just come seventh in the King's Cup Race at Wolverhampton's Pendeford airfield (with a speed of 159 mph) when a landing civil Supermarine Spitfire hit the rear of the Heck and demolished it. Attempts at reconstruction failed and the aircraft was broken up in 1953.[4]


Civil operators

 United Kingdom

Military operators

 United Kingdom

Specifications (Heck 2C)

Data from British Civil Aircraft 1919–1972: Volume III [5]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Related lists


  1. Lukins 1944
  2. Jackson, 1974, pp. 90/91
  3. Moss 1962
  4. Jackson, 1974, p. 91
  5. Jackson 1988, p.92.


  • Jackson, A.J. (1988). British Civil Aircraft since 1919 Volume 3. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-818-6.
  • Lukins, A.H. (1944). The Book of Westland Aircraft. Leicester: Harborough.
  • Moss, Peter W. (1962). Impressments Log Volume III. UK: Air-Britain.
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