Gloster Grouse

The Gloster Grouse was a British biplane of the 1920s developed by the Gloster Aircraft Company. Often referred to as the prototype to the Gloster Grebe, the Grouse originally built as an experimental aircraft and then later developed as a trainer. Despite its compact design and maneuverability, the Grouse was not in itself a commercial success, although it formed the basis for the Gloster Grebe and Gamecock fighters which were used by Britain's Royal Air Force into the 1930s.

Gloster Grouse
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Gloster Aircraft Company
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1923
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Sweden 1924 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Gloster Aircraft Company 1 View

The design of the Gloster Grouse was an experiment to combine the advantages of the monoplane with those of a biplane. It was designed by English aviation engineer and aircraft designer Henry Folland, the designer of the S.E.5 among other aircraft. The top wing had a thick, high lift aerofoil, while the bottom wing was smaller, with a thinner medium lift aerofoil set at a smaller angle of attack than the upper wing. This arrangement was meant to produce high lift for take-off with low drag.

To test this arrangement, new wings were fitted to a modified Gloster Sparrowhawk fuselage to produce the Gloster Grouse. The resulting aircraft was a small biplane with single bay wooden wings. The fuselage was rather short, and while the aircraft used the fuselage of a two-seat Sparrowhawk II, the forward cockpit was faired over, leaving a single seat for the pilot in an open cockpit.The Grouse retained the Bentley BR2 rotary engine of the Sparrowhawk driving a two blade propeller.

The prototype Grouse Mk I (registration G-EAYN) first flew in 1923, proving during testing that Folland's theories were correct. After evaluation by the RAF, orders were placed for three fighter derivatives, to be powered by Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar radial engines, designated Gloster Grebe.

In 1924, Gloster rebuilt the Grouse into a two seat basic trainer, the Grouse II, powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx radial to replace the RAFs aging Avro 504s, emerging in this form in 1925.

The Grouse II was unsuccessful in meeting the RAF's needs, a new version of the Avro 504, the 504N, also powered by the Lynx engine, being preferred. The Swedish Army Aviation Company purchased the Grouse II prototype as an advanced trainer. The aircraft was delivered just a short time before the Swedish Air Force was founded in the summer of 1926. During its time in Sweden, it only flew 109 hours. The pilots were impressed with the good performance of the aircraft, but no more Gloster Grouses were provided to the Air Force.

Role Experimental Aircraft, Fighter
Manufacturer Gloster Aircraft Company
Designer H.P.Folland
First flight 1923
Introduction 1924
Status retired
Primary user Swedish Air Force
Number built 1
Developed from Gloster Sparrowhawk
Variants Gloster Grebe

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 20 ft 4 in (6.19 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 10 in (8.47 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 5 in (2.86 m)
  • Wing area: 205 ft² (19.0 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,395 lb (619 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 2,118 lb (960 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Armstrong Siddeley Lynx seven-cylinder air cooled radial engine, 185 hp (138 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 120 mph (104 knots, 193 km/h) at sea level
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,500 m)
  • Wing loading: lb/ft² (kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: hp/lb (W/kg)
  • Endurance: 3.75 hours
  • Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 17 min

End notes