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John Dudley North

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John Dudley North (1893–1968), aircraft designer

Described by George Purvis Bulman as 'the quaint genius and designer of Boulton and Paul Aircraft Co'. North was a fellow pupil of Bulman at Bedford School.[1]

1893 Born

Educated at Bedford School

After a brief apprenticeship and a short period as a student with the Aeronautical Syndicate at Hendon.

Joined Grahame-White Aviation Co as chief designer

From 1913 produced a series of original designs including the Popular, the type VI which was designed for fighting (even though, at that time, the expected use of aeroplanes in war was for reconnaissance), and the type XIII of 1914 which was originally conceived as a seaplane but was converted to a landplane. The Charabanc was an early passenger carrying aircraft with capacity for 4 passengers. He also designed a small single-seater aircraft which was the first to do the loop.

1915 Joined Austin's Aircraft Department at Longbridge as superintendent of the department.

1917 Moved to Boulton and Paul as chief aircraft designer

Amongst other designs he produced the Phoenix in 1929, the Sidestrand and the Overstrand.

Became chairman and managing director of the Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd where he was responsible for the development of the Defiant with its novel mechanically operated turret.

1961 Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society


1968 Obituary [2]

Mr John Dudley North, CBE, (Fellow), Chairman and Managing Director of Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd, for whom as Chief Engineer he designed such well-known RAF aircraft as the Sidestrand, Overstrand and Defiant, died recently at the age of 75.

Marine engineering was the professional starting point for Mr North. He went directly from Bedford School into aviation and, after a brief period as a student with Horatio Barber's Aeronautical Syndicate at Hendon, he became Grahame-White's Chief Engineer.

In 1915 he joined the Austin Co. at Longbridge as Superintendent of the Aviation Department and two years later was appointed Chief Engineer and Director of Boulton and Paul of Norwich.

His work ranged from light aircraft to a highly original series of twin-engined aeroplanes for the RAF.

Mr North, a Member of this Institution since 1944, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in May 1961 and was created a CBE in 1962.

It is with deep regret that the Institution records the death of this highly creative and brilliant aeronautical engineer.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'An Account of Partnership - Industry, Government and the Aero Engine: The memoirs of George Purvis Bulman' edited and with a commentary by M. C. Neale, Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, Historical Series No. 31, 2002. 376 pages
  2. 1968 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  • The Times, Jan 12, 1968