Granger Archaeopteryx

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Role Light sport aircraft/experimental
Manufacturer F and J Granger
Designer F and J Granger, C.H. Latimer-Needham
First flight October 1930
Status Under restoration
Number built One

The Granger Archaeopteryx is a British single-engined, tailless parasol monoplane designed and built in the late 1920s by two brothers, R.F.T. and R.J.T. Granger. The sole example built is currently under restoration for flight.


After seeing the success of the Westland-Hill Pterodactyl, the Granger brothers decided to build their own aircraft in which to learn to fly. They were also influenced by the designs of John William Dunne, and with the assistance of C.H. Latimer-Needham they designed a tailless parasol wing monoplane with full chord tip elevons. The type first flew at Hucknall near Nottingham in October 1930. The aircraft was not initially registered with the CAA and flew without markings until two years later when it was given the registration of G-ABXL on 3 June 1932.[1]

The brothers both piloted the aircraft many times in the Nottingham area, and flew it as far as Hatfield in June 1935 to attend a flying display. Performance on the Bristol Cherub engine was marginal; as originally built the Archaeopteryx was an Ultralight and as such the performance was adequate, so long as the pilot was no more than 11 stone, it was flown quite successfully for five years prior to it retirement,[2] the throttle control was placed outside of the fuselage and a positive climb rate could only be obtained by the pilot moving his arms and elbows into the cramped cockpit to minimise drag. The external throttle linkage was not a feature of the original aircraft, this was a later addition when in 1975 it was restored to flight condition by the Shuttleworth trust who used the throttle linkage from a Tiger moth,[2] The aircraft was difficult to control in pitch, especially on landing where a series of large bounces often developed.[1]

The Archaeopteryx (named after the prehistoric bird), was the first tailless design to feature a tractor engine installation; previous types had used a pusher engine layout.[1]

The single aircraft built was flown regularly between 1930 and 1936 before being stored for 30 years at the Chilwell, Nottingham, home of one of the Granger Brothers. The designers realised the type's significance as the forerunner of modern swept wing aircraft, and on 28 April 1967, G-ABXL was presented to the Shuttleworth Collection by R.J.T. Granger where it was restored to an airworthy condition and flew again in June 1971 in the hands of Sqn.Ldr. J. Lewis.[1][3]

Ownership passed back to the Granger family in May 2002 and the aircraft is being restored to fly once again in the Nottingham area.[4][5]

Specifications (Archaeopteryx)[edit]

Data from Jackson and Guttery [3][6]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 14 ft 10 in (4.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.2 m)
  • Wing area: 102 ft2 (9.5 m2)
  • Wing profile: RAF 340 series
  • Empty weight: 400 lb (181.4 kg)
  • Gross weight: 612 lb (277.6 kg)
  • Powerplant: × Bristol Cherub I, 32 hp (24 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 95 mph (153 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 75 mph (121 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 37 mph (60 km/h)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ a b c d Ogilvy 1989, Ch. 3.
  2. ^ a b original documentation
  3. ^ a b Guttery 1969, p.44.
  4. ^ UK CAA, G-INFO entry for G-ABXL Retrieved: 19 July 2007
  5. ^ Restoration of G-ABXL (see lower page) Retrieved: 19 July 2009
  6. ^ Jackson 1974, p.318.


  • Guttery, T.E. The Shuttleworth Collection. London: Wm. Carling & Co, 1969. SBN 901319-01-5
  • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft since 1919 (Volume 2). London, Putnam, 1974. ISBN 0-370-10010-7
  • Ogilvy, David. Shuttleworth - The Historic Aeroplanes. Shrewsbury, England: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1989 ISBN 1-85310-106-0