Birmingham Guild

Birmingham Guild Ltd
Yorkshire Sailplanes
Swales Sailplanes


The original Gypsy was the brainchild of Air Commodore Lawrence Patrick Moore, CBE, A.F.R.Ae.S. (born 27 Aug 1906, died 15 January1976 in Hereford) and designed by Sailplane Designs Ltd (Moore, J. Gibson and K. Emslie) in 1965. It was offered to every glider and aircraft manufacturer in Britain and rejected. Eventually a prototype was built by the Birmingham Guild Ltd, a company specialising in metal components for the aircraft industry, and made its first flight from Pendeford airfield near Wolverhampton on 7 April 1970, piloted by Derek Piggott. The original wing design used a foam core to stabilise a thin skin, but when Birmingham Guild took up the design they wanted metal, and the BG-100/12 prototype first flew with 12m wings using 0.3mm dural skin.

A 13.46 m span BG-100/13.5 was first flown on 30 May 1971. A rebuild of the sole BG-100/12, it had new wings and an increased span tailplane of higher aspect ratio. The first pre-production Gypsy, the BG-135, originally designated Gypsy 12/15, flew in March 1972. It differed from the earlier versions chiefly in its wing construction, having the foam-stabilised thin skin of the BG-100s replaced by an aluminium alloy skinned D-box leading edge, based on the main spar, and with fabric covering between main and rear spars. Following some minor modifications, production of batch of seven was prepared. Birmingham Guild anticipated a follow-on batch of 20 aircraft and planned minimum production of 25 per year.

However, the sailplanes flying qualities were not well received and in 1973 Yorkshire Sailplanes bought the rights to the BG-135. Renamed the YS-55 Consort, production began in September 1973, the company at first completing four of the original Birmingham Guild aircraft. Some changes were carried out to the original design, notably in the fuselage profile, and the flying controls operated by rods instead of cables.

In 1975 Yorkshire Sailplanes was declared bankrupt and the jigs and materials were acquired by Bryan Swales of Swales Sailplanes, of Long Street, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, who developed an improved version called SD-3. However, little of the original design by now remained. The wingspan was increased to 15m, and the detail parts redesigned for production in a small workshop. The prototype SD3-15 was built for Swales by Gerry Kemp and Jim Beck. The original V-tailed SD3-15 (later designated SD3-15V) first flew in July 1975 and the SD3-15T, a T-tailed version, flew in December 1976. Production ceased in 1979.

Company References
  1. Sailplane and Gliding, April-May, 1976
  2. Flight 14 Dec 1972
  3. Flight 9 Aug 1973
  4. Flight 21 Aug 1975
  5. Flight 12 Mar 1977

Project Data top

Project No

Type No


Alternative Name(s)







 Birmingham Guild Ltd
  BG-100/12 Gypsy  1970  Proto 1 1S sailplane 2
  BG-100/13.5 Gypsy  1971  Proto (1) 1S sailplane (1)
  BG-135 Gypsy  1972  Proto 4 1S sailplane 1,6
 Yorkshire Sailplanes
  YS-55 Consort (See note 1) 1973  Prdn 10 1S sailplane 1,5
 Swales Sailplanes
  SD3-15V   1975  Prdn 2 1S sailplane 1,4
  SD3-15T   1976  Prdn 4 1S sailplane 1,3

Project References
  1. Gliders and Sailplanes of the World, Michael Hardy, (Ian Allen, 1982)
  2. British Gliders and Sailplanes 1922-1970, Norman Ellison (Adam and Charles Black, 1970)
  3. Flight 12 Mar 1977
  4. Flight 21 Aug 1975
  5. Flight 9 Aug 1973
  6. Flight 14 Dec 1972

Production Data top

Type No




 Birmingham Guild Gypsy




 Birmingham Guild Gypsy




 Yorkshire Sailplanes Consort




 Swales SD3-15



   Total Production     21   

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V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017