General Aircraft company for the Royal Air Force towards the end of the First World War. 16 November 1916 to produce French Nieuport aircraft under licence. To produce a fighter to replace the Sopwith Snipe in service with the RAF, the Air Ministry produced RAF Specification Type 1 for a single-seat fighter to be powered by the ABC Dragonfly engine. To meet this requirement, The Dragonfly of Bombay PDF designed the Nighthawk, a wooden two-bay biplane.
An initial order for 150 Nighthawks was placed in August 1918, well before prototypes or flight-ready engines were available, with the first prototype, serial number F-2909 flying in April or May 1919. Seventy Nighthawks were completed by Nieuport and the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company, with a further 54 airframes without engines being completed. Nieuport built a sport aircraft, the L. Nighthawk with the first civil registered aircraft, K-151 appearing on 21 June 1919 at the first postwar Aerial Derby at Hendon. A new civil Nighthawk, registered G-EAJY, again modified to a two-seater, had its wingspan reduced by two ft and was flown at the 1920 Aerial Derby where it placed fourth at an average speed of 132.
After appearing in the 1921 event, the aircraft was privately sold. General closed down in August 1920, and the rights to the Nighthawk were purchased by the Gloster Aircraft Company, who also hired Folland as chief designer. Napier Lion II engine, this used a Nighthawk undercarriage, rear fuselage and tail with new, single-bay wings, first flying on 20 June 1921. The Mars I, after conversion to the Gloster I, was fitted with floats and used as a training seaplane for the British 1925 and 1927 Schneider Trophy teams, remaining in use until 1930.
Japan, powered by the Bentley BR2 rotary engine. The Japanese Sparrowhawks were flown from the Yokosuka Naval Base as well as from platforms built on gun turrets of warships. Gloster Grouse I powered by a 185 hp Siddeley Lynx, that became the prototype for a small production run of Grouse II for Sweden. The Grouse series was the progenitor of the later Gloster Grebe.
The Gloster Nighthawk, or Mars VI, replaced the Dragonfly with either an Armstrong-Siddeley Jaguar or a Bristol Jupiter radial. Three of the RAF’s Gloster Nighthawks were sent to Iraq in 1923 for more extensive evaluation, being tested by No 1, 8 and 55 Squadrons. The final Nighthawk variant was the Mars X or Nightjar naval fighter powered by a 230 hp Bentley B. All of the series of 22 Nightjars were converted from available stocks of original Nighthawks. Powered by 320 ABC Dragonfly engine. Civil version, appearing in both single- and two-seater configurations.
Civil version, one completed as an air racer. Naval fighter for RAF, equipped with a 230 hp Bentley B. United Kingdom Royal Air Force No. Mars I’s wonderful performance at Martlesham: 212 m. A Brief History of Gloster Aircraft Company. Air Pictorial, Volume 25, Number 8, August 1963. Air Pictorial, Volume 25, Number 9, September 1963.
Sopwith Snipe the RAF’s First Fighter. Air Enthusiast International, Volume 6, Number 6, June 1974. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nieuport Nighthawk. Flightglobal, Volume XI, Issue 48, No.