The Shuttleworth Aircraft Collection

1932 - Parnall Elf

1932 - Parnall Elf

1932 - Parnall Elf


            The Parnall Elf was designed by Harold Bolas and built by George Parnall & Co in their factory at Yate near Bristol in 1929.

The first example was exhibited alongside a number of new aircraft at the Seventh International Aero Exhibition at Olympia in London in 1929, where it was intended to compete with the de Havilland Moth which was of similar design and performance.

            Like the Moth it was a two seat light biplane aimed at the civil market as a potential replacement for many of the ageing, ex-service aircraft which, by this time, had become costly to run and maintain.

            The Elf was of conventional construction with a wooden airframe and a combination of plywood and fabric covering. The emphasis was on sturdiness and ease of maintenance and operation and the wings could be folded for storage. The interplane struts were arranged in the form of warren girders thus avoiding the need for extensive wire bracing.

            The prototype, later registered G-AAFH, was powered by a 105 hp Cirrus Hermes I four cylinder in line engine. Parnall built two more Elfs, registered G-AAIN and G-AAIO, both fitted with the uprated 120 hp Hermes II.

            Unfortunately the prototype received a less than glowing report when tested at Martlesham Heath and later it and IO were destroyed in flying accidents in 1934. Further interest in the Elf failed to materialise.


The sole surviving Elf first flew in 1932 and was purchased from Parnall’s by Lord Apsley at Badminton in November 1934, he previously having owned the prototype which was written off in a forced landing, and later was stored  for the duration of WW II.