Brunner Winkle and Bird Aircraft Designations


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Bird - Royal Aircraft Corporation, Brunner Winkle Aircraft, Bird Aircraft, and Speed Bird Corporation

The origins of the Brunner Winkle Aircraft Corporation trace back to another Michael Gregor-related firm. Some sources claim that the Royal Aircraft Corporation had been formed by designer Michael Gregor (and other investors) at Roosevelt Field on Long Island, NY in 1916. [1] Not so, the founder was Charles A. Prohinsie. [2] Royal Aircraft was probably a subsidiary of Charles Prohinsie, Inc. of Garden City, Long Island. When Royal Aircraft Corporation was operating, Charles Prohinsie, Inc. was also New York distributor for WACO airplanes. In 1928, Prohinsie seems to have divested his aviation interests. New York Aircraft Distributors, Inc. superceded Charles Prohinsie, Inc. as WACO representative. Royal Aircraft Corporation was also sold off to new owners.

Aeronautical Engineer Michael Gregor was certainly involved with the Royal Aircraft Corporation. He designed the firm's sole built airframe - the 2-seat Royal Bird (or Royal Bird?) sesquiplane (c/n 100, US civil registration NC4997). Whether he worked on other designs at the time is unknown. Indeed, I haven't been able to find out much about the Royal Bird itself. However, this airplane has been described as a "pre-prototype for the Bird series". [3]

Alas, with a name like Royal Aircraft, this firm is hard to track. It is often mis-listed - eg: Wikipedia's "Royal Aircraft Factory, Garden City, NY" - or otherwise wrongly associated with the production of Farnborough. Suffice it to say that, in 1928, the Royal Aircraft Corporation was sold to other investors.

The bought-out firm was renamed for the new management. The names behind 1928's Brunner Winkle Aircraft Corporation were Joseph E. Brunner and William E. Winkle. The latter, who would be named President of the company, had been a US Army pilot during WWI. [3] Joseph Brunner was listed as Treasurer. Other company officials were Jacob J. Winkel (a mechanical engineer), Vice President; and August 'Harry' Brunner, secretary. [5] Not mentioned in early press releases was Michael Gregor as chief designer. Operations began in an empty match factory in Glendale, a Queens neighbourhood (which, weirdly has a Brooklyn post code).

By November 1928, Brunner Winkle had relocated to larger premises in Glendale. Newspaper reports of the time say that the firm had 33 employed with Michael Gregor identified as a "consulting engineer". [6] Finishing touches were being put on the prototype Brunner Winkle Model A (c/n 1000 X7878) which was being prepared for entry in the Guggenheim Safety Plane competition. In contrast with the Royal Bird, the Model A was a 3-seater - with a side-by-side forward cockpit in front of the pilot's seat. While photos of X7878 show a 90 hp Curtiss OX-5 installed, the prototype is said to have first been fitted with a 80 hp Anzani radial (unless that is further confusion with the mysterious Royal Bird?).

Certified for flight in January 1929, the prototype Bird A proved too slow for the Guggenheim competition. Otherwise the Brunner Winkle sequiplane had excellent handling. Production began of Model A Bird, with components trucked the 12 miles from Glendale to Roosevelt Field. Final assembly and flight-testing took place there on Long Island. When supplies of 'jugged', war-surplus Curtiss OX-5 aero-engines dried up, Brunner Winkle launched its radial-engine Model B Bird. The series got a publicity boost when, in 1930, then-stunt flier Alexander de Seversky bought a Model BK for his demonstrations. Evelyn de Seversky's enthusiasm for her husband's aircraft would result in sales to other members of the Long Island Aviation Country Club. When William Winkle heard of this, he insisted upon paying Evelyn de Seversky a commission on all Brunner Winkle sales to club members. The connection with the de Severskys and the friendship which developed would also have implications for Michael Gregor's future career.

Another celebrity endosement came when Charles Lindbergh bought a Kinner-engined Bird. Sources differ as to whether NC980V was/is a Bird BK or CK model but this aircraft was used by Anne Morrow Lindbergh to learn to fly. This practice took place in May 1931 at the Long Island Aviation Country Club. (Whether or not the Lindbergh purchase earned Evelyn de Seversky her 10% commission goes unrecorded.) However, the Lindbergh connection would have a major effect on corporate organization. On 23 March 1929, the Bird Aircraft Corporation was registered in Delaware, a corporate tax haven. Obviously, the Brunner Winkle operation was being renamed after the firm's best-known product.

By the time the name change was made fully public in September 1930, it was clear that Brunner Winkle had been through a major shake-up. William Winkle was gone, replaced as President by Thomas George Lanphier Sr. who was responsible for re-organizing the firm. Major Lanphier was an active Army Air Corps pilot who had been one of Charles Lindbergh's flying instructors. [7] Obviously, the Lindberghs had been more impressed with the Bird than with the company which had built it. Taking the helm of a small aircraft maker just as the Great Depression was an ineviable position. By the end of Lanphier's first year as President, the Bird Aircraft Corporation was in receivership.

In 1932, the Perth Amboy Title Company of New Jersey took over the assets of the Bird Aircraft Corporation. Operating as Speed Bird Corporation, Perth Amboy continued assembling Bird components at a Key Port, NJ, facility. [8] The Speed Bird Model A (c/n 1000, NC15641) seems to have been the sole attempt to develop the airframe at Key Port. The Bird story comes to an end in 1933 when Perth Amboy closes the Speed Bird Corporation - either because available Bird components had been exhausted or there were simply more sales. Meanwhile, Michael Gregor had moved on to Seversky at Farmingdale ... but that is another story.


[1] Aerofiles said Royal Aircraft Corporation was established in 1925 and Brunner Winkle in 1926. The latter is certainly incorrect - the Brunner Winkle Aircraft Corporation having been incorporated in New York in May 1928.

[2] I can find no corporate registration information online for either Charles Prohinsie, Inc. or the Royal Aircraft Corporation.

[3] 'Max Krueger's Bird Biplane Restoration' by Dick Hill, Bird Airplane Club, Vintage Aircraft, EAA, Vol 19, No 4, April 1991, page 27.

[4] William Edwin Winkle had served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force in France. After his career in aviation, Winkle stayed in Queens. He began a real estate business but died of a heart attack on 04 June 1946, at the relatively young age of 52.

[5] The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, NY, 13 Jan 1929, page 29.

[6] Daily News, New York, NY, 25 Nov 1928, page 104. Therein, Gregor is identified as "the first man ever to fly in Russia".

[7] Lanphier had also headed Transcontinental Air Transport in 1928 - another firm with Lindbergh connections. Although Lanphier and Lindbergh were both friends and business partners, its not clear whether Lindbergh was invested directly in Bird Aircraft. Lanphier would return to service during WW2. His son, USAAF Capt. TG Lanphier Sr., was at one time assigned the sole credit for shooting down the G4M transporting Admiral Yamamoto over Bougainville.

[8] Speed Bird was set up in the former Aeromarine Airplane and Motor Company facility in Key Port on Lower Bay. This location was 12 miles away from Perth Amboy, NJ.


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Bird - Brunner Winkle Aircraft Corporation Designations

Brunner Winkle and later Bird types were given basic model numbers - Models A-through-F (although I find no trace of a 'Model D'!). Sub-type letter were applied for particular engine installations. So, the base Model A was fitted with a Curtiss OX-5. When that engine was changed to an air-cooled derivative, the aircraft became a Model AT.

Brunner Winkle also distinguished variants by grouping of construction numbers. These were:

c/n 10xx = Bird Model A, Model AT
c/n 20xx = Bird Model BK (most with hyphenated numbers, eg: 2001-52 NC116M)
c/n 30xx = Bird Model BW (most with hyphenated numbers, eg: 3001-12 X892W)
c/n 40xx = Bird Model CK (but CK NC817W had c/n 2063-43)
c/n 50xx = Bird Model C (c/n 5001 X876W/NC876W)
c/n 60xx = Bird Model E (c/n 6001 NR855W)
c/n 70xx = Bird Model CJ (prefixed as in c/n CJ-7004 NC999M)
c/n 80xx = Bird Model F (c/n 8001 X790N)
c/n 90xx = Bird Model CC (c/n 9001 X789N)

The Models B and RK are missing from the list above because original construction numbers whenever existing airframes were modified into another Model type. So, the sole Model B - being a re-engined Model A - would be within the 10xx series (although I have been unable to find its c/n); the Model RKs - being rebuilt Model CKs - had 40xx series construction numbers (eg: c/n 4039 NC767N).

One puzzle is the reputed Model B prototype. I say 'reputed' because I begin to doubt its existence. Within the Brunner Winkle system, that prototype should have been c/n 2000. But that construction number was given to the first Model BK (X221E). My best guess is that, if there ever was a Model B prototype, it became the first Model BK when the designation system was rationalized to include engine types. The reasoning here is that both the supposed Model B prototype and all Model BKs were powered by Kinner K-5 radials. I considered the possibility that the Model B prototype might have been a Model A conversion (the c/n listing for Model As being far from complete). However, when other Model As received Kinner K-5 radials, they became Model BKs - not Model Bs.

A note on style: the Brunner Winkle/Bird sub-type designations are occasionally rendered with a hyphen (eg: 'Model A-T') but I have ignored this. Very often, these machines are simply referred to as Bird BKs or the like - with 'Bird' referring to model name or maker depending on when a particular airframe was made. [1]

Brunner Winkle Aircraft Corp. & Bird Aircraft Designations

Model A Bird - 1929-30 3-seat tourer, x ~85*
- Model A : Single-bay sesquiplane,** 2 x open-cockpits
- Model A : Prototype, 80 hp Anzani, c/n 1000 X7878
- Model A : 1 x 90 hp Curtiss OX-5 V-8, span 10.36 m
-- * Prod. continued until OX-5 supplied exhausted
-- ** Sometimes Bird described as a sequiplane
-- Ford-Leigh Safety Wing: Modified Bird Model A
-- Slotted upper span by Alfredo G. Leigh of Chile
-- NASM/SIRIS: Drawer AF, Folder 740750-01, Documents
-- NASM/SIRIS: Drawer AF, Folder 740750-80, Photos

Model AT Bird - 1930 re-eng. Model A, x 2 conv.
- Model AT: Conver. to Milwaukee Tank Works engine
- Model AT: 1 x 115 hp Milwaukee Tank V-502 V-8 *
- Model AT: Conv'ns c/n 1062 NC15K; c/n 1050 NC83K
-- * Air-cooled deriv. of water-cooled Curtiss OX-5

Model B Bird - 1929 radial-engined Bird, x 1
- Model B : 1 x 100 hp Kinner K-5 5-cylinder radial
-- Model B acted as prototype for prod'n Model BK*
-- * Unsure whether Model B was a Model A conv. (?)

Model BK Bird - 1929 radial-engined Bird, x 84*
- Model BK: 1 x 100 hp Kinner K-5 radial, span 10.36 m
- Model BK: Desig. for Model B-Kinner, sometimes 'B-K'
-- * Some A-to-BK conv. (eg: c/ns 1016, 1060, & 1094)
-- * Brunner Winkle rec'd ATC for Model BK, Sept 1929

Model BW Bird - 1930 radial-engined Bird, x 7*
- Model BW: 1 x 110 hp Warner Scarab radial, span 10.36 m
-- * 5 x new-build Model BWs + 2 x Model BW conv., ATC 382
-- Model A conv. c/n 1084 NC836W; BK conv. 2043-23 NC734Y
-- c/ns 3002 NC723N; 3003 NC724N; 3004 NC725N; 3005 NC702Y

Model C Bird - 3-or-4-seat sequiplane tourer, x 1
- Model C : 1 x 175 hp Wright J-5 Whirlwind 9-cyl.
- Model C : 3rd model, no engine sub-type given
- Model C : c/n 5001 X876W/NC876W, not a conversion

Model CC Bird - 1929 radial-engined Bird, x 1
- Model CC: 1 x 185 hp hp Curtiss R-600 Challenger*
-- * A 6-cylinder double-row air-cooled radial
- Model CC: c/n 9001 X789N; desig. for Model C-Curtiss

Model CJ Bird - 1930 radial-engined Bird, x 6
- Model CJ: 1 x 170 hp Jacobs LA-1 7-cyl., cowled
- Model CJ: Designation for Model C-Jacobs
-- For some reason, c/n had prefix, eg: CJ-7002 NC854W

Model CK Bird - 1931 radial-engined Bird, x 42
- Model CK: 1 x 100/125 hp Kinner B-5 radial, span 10.36 m
- Model CK: Desig. for alt, installation twin Edo floats
- Model CK: 1 x 220 hp Continental W670, 2 x conv (?) [2]
- Model CK: 1 x 125/160 hp Kinner B-5/R-5, 5 x conv (?) [2]

Model CM Bird - (??) no details
-- NASM/SIRIS list: "Bird (Aircraft Corp) Model CM"
-- NASM: Drawer AB, Folder 379537-01

Model E - Cabin biplane deriv. of open Bird, x 1
- Model E: 1931 4-to-5 seater, no series production
- Model E: 1 x 125 hp hp Kinner B-5 radial, span (??) m
-- c/n 6001 NR855W, damaged 06 July 1931, canc 15 July 1932

Model F Bird - Diesel-powered 2-seat deriv., x 1
- Model F: Side-by-side 2-seater, revised tail & rudder
- Model F: 1 x 225 hp Packard DR-980 9-cyl., [N]X790N
- Model F: 1 x 450 hp P&W Wasp Jr., 1 x conv (?) [2]

Model RK Bird - Export mod. by Kinner Co., x 2
- Model RK: Re-engined Model CK, 1 x 160 hp Kinner R-5
-- c/n 4039 NC767N
- Model RK: (Project) Prod. vers. built by Perth-Amboy
-- Perth-Amboy* o/a Speed Bird Corp. of Key Port, NJ

Speed Bird Corporation Production/Projects

Speed Bird A: 1932-33 2-seat vers mod. of Model A,* x 1
- Speed Bird A: 1 x side-by-side cockpit aft of cabanes
- Speed Bird A: 1 x 90 hp Lambert R-266,** span (??) m
-- Speed Bird Model A had a new constr. no., c/n 1000
-- * Aerofiles speculated this was re-engined Model F*
-- See
-- ** Some sources say the closely-related 90 hp LeBlond
-- ** As restored, NC15641 has 125 hp Warner Scarab

Speed Bird (?): (Project) Prod'n vers. Model RK Bird
- Speed Bird (?): Model CK deriv., 1 x 160 hp Kinner R-5
-- No Perth-Amboy/Speed Bird Corp. designation known

Speed Bird Company, San Jose, CA
-- Short-lived attempt to relaunch Model A [3]


[1] A photo of a Bird Models BK and CK together shows that, at a glance, radial-engined Bird variants were all by indistiguishable one from another.

[2] These 'oddballs' may represent later-day re-enginings of old Bird airframes. The Continental W670- and Kinner B-5/R-5-engined Model CK were listed, along with the Wasp Jr-powered Model F, under the Perth-Amboy Title Company in the Civil Aeronautics Administration's Statistical Study of U.S. Civil Aircraft as of January 1, 1958, page 36.

[3] The sole Speed Bird A was ferried to California. There, in April 1937, the Speed Bird Company was re-formed at San Jose under President FJ Anderson. However, Fred Anderson, would die shortly afterwards and this new incarnation of Speed Bird was soon dissolved. -- Vintage Airplane, EAA, August 1990, Vol.18, No.8, pp 34-35
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Brunner Winkle Aircraft Corporation - Bird Aircraft Corporation Construction Numbers

For completeness, I am going to list the known Bird construction numbers. Virtually all of these have been gleaned from listings -- N.txt

I find this reordering less confusing. However, if mods believe the following listing to be redundant, I am happy to remove it.

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model A

Bird Model A construction numbers: 1000 (X7878); 1001 (NC9740, conv. to BK); 1002 (NC9739, conv. to BK); 1003 (NC9744); 1004 (NC975); 1005 (NC9754); 1006 (NC9112); 1007 (NC9115); 1008 (NC9136); 1009 (NC9141, conv. to BK); 1010 (NC9164); 1011 (NC9181); 1012 (NC9186); 1013 (NC9184, conv. to BK); 1014 (NC9185); 1015 (NC127H) 1016 (NC126H, conv. to BK); 1017 (NC9187); 1018 (NC128H); 1019 (NC130H); 1020 (NC129H); 1021 (NC167H); 1022 (NC168H); 1023 (NC169H); 1024 (NC170H, conv. to BK); 1025 (NC6K) 1026 (NC171H); 1027 (NC7K); 1028 (NC8K); 1029 (NC9K); 1030 (NC84K); 1031 (NC10K); 1032 (NC248M); 1033 (NC16K); 1034 (NC17K); 1035 (NC12K); 1036 (NC40K); 1037 (NC11K); 1038 (NC82W); 1039 (NC46K); 1040 (NC85K); 1041 (NC13K); 1042 (NC999V); 1043 (NC210V); 1044 (NC41K); 1045 (NC43K); 1046 (NC945V); 1047 (NC521M); [1] 1048 (NC19K); 1049 (NC837W); 1050 (NC83K, conv. to AT); 1051 (NC976V); [ 1052-1059 ]; 1060 (NC14K, conv. to BK);
1061 (NC975V); 1062 (NC15K, conv. to AT); 1063 (NC978V); 1064 (NC971V); 1065 (NC973V); 1066 (NC49K); 1067 (NC78K); [ 1068-1070 ]; 1071 (NC947V); 1072 (NC42K); [ 1073 ]; 1074 (NC21K); 1075 (NC943V); 1076 (NC76K); 1077 (NC214V); 1078 (NC10366); 1079 (NC979V); 1080 (NC830W); 1081 (NC835W); 1082 (NC10555); 1083 (NC874W); 1084 (NC836W, conv. to BW); 1085 (NC832W); [ 1086 ]; [ 1086 ]; 1087 (NC834W); 1089 (NC958V); [ 1090-1091 ]; 1092 (NC728Y); 1093 (NC890W); 1094 (NC730Y, conv. to BK)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model AT Conversions

Bird Model A construction numbers: 1050; 1062

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model BK

Bird Model BK construction numbers: 2000 (X221E); 2001-52 (NC116M); 2002-53 (NC77K); 2003-54 (NC44K); 2004-55 (NC47K); 2005-56 (NC81K); 2006-57 (NC48K); 2007-58 (NC45K); 2008-(?) (NC18K); [ 2009 ]; 2010-69 (NC79K); 2011-70 (NC82K); 2012-73 (NC80K); 2013-97 (NC211V); 2014-02 (NC213V); 2015-01 (NC212V); 2016-68 (NC946V); 2017-03 (NC944V); 2018-99 (NC972V); 2019-98 (NC974V); 2020-05 (NC977V); 2021-95 (NC980V); 2022-00 (NC812W); 2023-04 (NC829W); 2023-07 (NC10367): [ 2024 - see footnote 2] ; 2025-96 (NC831W); 2026-86 (NC833W); 2027-08 (NC838W); 2028-88 (NC839W); 2029-90 (NC871W); 2030-09 (NC872W); 2031-13 (NC873W); 2032-11 (NC875W); 2033-14 (NC891W); 2034-10 (NC893W); 2035-15 (NC894W); 2036-17 (NC895); 2037-16 (NC727Y); 2038-18 (NC729Y) 2039-19 (NC731Y); 2040-20 (NC736Y; 2041-21 (NC732Y) 2042-22 (NC733Y); 2043-23 (NC734Y, conv. to BW); 2044-24 (NC735Y); 2045-25 (NC737Y); 2046-26 (NC738Y); 2047-27 (NC739Y); 2048-28 (NC740Y); 2049-29 (NC847W); 2050-30 (NC765Y); 2051-31 (NC846W); 2052-32 (NC848W); 2053-33 (NC849W); 2054-34 (NC767Y); 2055-35 (NC768Y); 2056-36 (NC766); 2057-37 (NC73V, to Netherlands as PH-AJS Dec 1932); 2058-33 (NC769Y); 2059-39 (NC10672); 2060-40 (NC10676); 2061-41 (NC788Y); 2062-42 (NC724Y); 2063-43 (NC817W, listed as a CK); [3] 2064-44 (NC909V, to Mexico 14 Feb 1938); 2065-45 (NC10619); 2066-46 (NC789Y); 2067-47 (NC10699); 2068-48 (NC912V); 2069-49 (NC723Y); 2070-50 (NC722Y); 2071-51 (NC857W); 2072-52 (NC721Y); 2073-53 (NC760Y); 2074-54 (NC770Y); 2075-55 (NC771Y); 2076-56 (NC772Y); 2077-57 (NC773Y); 2078-58 (NC961M); [ 2079 ]; 2080 (NC764N); 2081 (NC787N); 2082 (NC799N); 2083 (NC13204)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model BK Conversions

Bird A construction numbers: 1001, 1002, 1009, 1013, 1016, 1024, 1060, 1094

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model BW: c/n 3001-12 (X892W); 3002 (NC723N); 3003 (NC724N); 3004 (NC725N); 3005 (NC702Y)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model BK Conversions: Model A c/n 1084; Model BK c/n 2043-23

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model C: c/n 5001 (X876W/NC876W)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model CC: c/n 9001 (X789N, to Curtiss Wright Flying Service, 1931)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model CK [3]

Bird Model CJ construction numbers: 4001 (X787Y); 4002 (NC790Y); 4003 (NC791Y); 4004 (NC914V); 4005 (NC8453, to Colombia as HK-6P?); 4006 (NC915V); 4007 (NC726Y); 4008 (NC725Y); 4009 (NC845W); 4010 (NC818W); [ 4011 ]; 4012 (NC850W): 4014 (NC916V); 4015 (NC917V; 4016 (NC918V); 4017 (NC919V); 4018 (NC933V); 4019 (NC758Y); 4020 (NC759Y); 4021 (NC913V); 4022 (NC782Y, to Dominican Republic as HI-?); 4023 (NC94V); 4024 (NC95V); 4025 (NC13929, NC34?); 4026 (NC13930, NC35?); 4027 (NC96V); 4028 (NC97V); 4029 (NC98V); 4030 (NC99V; 4031 (NC972M); 4032 (NC976M); 4033 (NC765N); [ 4034-4036 ]; 4037 (NC726N); 4038 (NC766N); 4039 (NC767N, conv. to RK by Kinner); 4040 (NC768N); [ 4041 ]; 4042 (NC797N)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model CJ

Bird Model CJ construction numbers: CJ-7001 (NC851W); CJ-7002 (NC854W); CJ-7003 (NC990M); CJ-7004 (NC999M);
CJ-7005 (NC2103); CJ-7006 (NC13225)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model D: (??) no information

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model E: c/n 6001 (NR855W, retained by Bird Aircraft Corp.)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model F: c/n 8001 (X790N)

Brunner-Winkle Bird Model RK: c/n 4039 (Kinner conversion of Model CK NC767N)

Speed Bird Model A: c/n 1000 (NC15641)


[1] Model A c/n 1047 was purchased in 1930 by the Kimball Aircraft Corp. of Naugatuck, CT. Established in 1928, Kimball was a maker of light aero-engines. In 1930, Kimball was developing their Model K Beetle engine - a 585 cid, 7-cylinder radial intended to produced 135 hp. So, it is entirely likely that a re-engined Bird was at least being planned.

[2] Note that c/n 2023-04 (NC829W) conflicts with 2023-07 NC10367 which follows. Since c/n 2024 is 'missing', I assume that one of these two '2023' construction numbers was actually '2004'.

NC10367 would go north from Walla Walla, WA in 1933, having been sold to Len Foggin of the BC Aero Club. Based at Sea Island, BC, Foggin's Bird was registered in Canada as CF-AUB on 02 May 1933.

[3] Despite its BK series construction number, c/n 2063-43 (NC817W) is usually listed as a Bird Model CK. That may mean that this airframe was begun as a Model BK (Kinner K-5) but completed as a Model CK (Kinner B-5). Alternatively, perhaps NC817W has simply been mis-listed as a Model CK. For the purposes of this construction number listing, I have considered c/n 2063-43 as a Model BK.

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