Percival Mew Gull
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The Percival Mew Gull G-AEXF designed by Captain Edgar W. Percival and produced in 1936. Alex Henshaw exchanged his de Havilland Leopard Moth for a Mew Gull in 1937, and achieved the fastest times in many air races and won the Folkestone Aero Trophy in the same year.
During this period Alex met Jack Cross of Essex Aero Ltd who made mechanical and structural alterations to XF in order to win the 1938 King's Cup. The effect was a dramatic increase in performance and resulted in winning success in the King's Cup at a speed of 380.2km/h (236.25mph). This record still stands to this day for British aircraft.
Alex then decided to attempt the solo records on the England to Cape Town route. He set off from Gravesend on 5 February 1939 and after four days returned having broken all records on this route. They remain unbroken to this day for an aircraft in this class. Each leg took 39 hours 23 minutes at an average speed of approximately 334.7km/h (208mph).
The Mew Gull was sold in the late summer of 1939 to a Frenchman. XF remained hidden from the Germans throughout World War Two occupation of France. It then passed through a number of different owners before eventually being bought by Robert Fleming in 2002. In 2014 the real G-AEXF is flying as part of the Shuttleworth Collection.
What makes this a milestone aircraft?
The Percival Mew Gull set the fastest time ever recorded for a British aircraft in the King's Cup air races and a world record time between London - Cape Town - London which in its class stands to this day.