c/n E.20A, G-ACND, destroyed by fire July 7, 1945
c/n E.21, G-AEKL, destroyed by bombing June 1940
c/n E.22, ZS-AHM, G-AEXF, still airworthy
c/n E.23, G-AEMO, ZS-AHO, crashed September 31, 1936
c/n E.24, G-AFAA, destroyed by fire July 7, 1945
The pictured aircraft was built for the South African pilot Captain A.M. Miller for the Schlesinger Race to Johannesburg. The race took place from September 29 to October 1, 1936, and offered a prize of £10,000 to the winner. Powered by a 205 hp de Havilland Gipsy Six Series II six-cylinder, air-cooled, inverted in-line engines, and registered ZS-AHM, it received its CofA on September 11, 1936. Named 'The Golden City', the aircraft started at Portsmouth, only to run out of fuel near Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Miller withdrew from the race and the aircraft was returned to the UK.
The aircraft was re-engined by Percival with a 200 hp Gipsy Six and although sold to Bill Humble who registered it as G-AEXF on May 18, 1937, it was not delivered, instead it was sold to Alex Henshaw, who won the 174 mls (280 km) race for the Folkestone Trophy with it in 1937. In 1938 Jack Cross at Essex Aero Ltd. at Gravesend, Kent, enhanced the aircraft mechanically and structurally, and re-engined it with a 230 hp Gipsy Six R driving a French Ratier variable pitch propeller. In this configuration it won that year's King's Cup, at a speed of 236.25 mph (380.21 kmh), a still standing record for British aircraft.
Again re-engined, this time to the original 205 hp Gipsy Six Series II, G-AEXF set another still standing record over an recognized course in 1939. Alex Henshaw and the Mew Gull left Gravesend on February 5 and flew the 6,377 mls (10,263 km) to Cape Town, South Africa, in 39 hr 23 min, achieving and average speed of 152.16 mph (244.88 kmh). The return flight started 27 hr 20 min after arrival on February 9, and took 39 hours 36 minutes with an average speed of 151.45 mph (243.74 kmh).
In July 1939 the aircraft was sold to the Frenchman Victor Vermoral, who stored the aircraft north of Lyon, France, where it survived WWII. In July 1950 it was acquired by Hugh Scrope, who brought it back to England for racing. In August 1951 it was damaged in a landing accident, and subsequently rebuilt by Doug Bianchi with a raised and enlarged canopy. It was sold to J. Somers and in 1954 the cockpit was raised still more by Adie Aviation at Croydon, thereafter the aircraft was acquired by Fred Dunkerley. On his behalf P.S. Clifford flew the aircraft for several years winning the King's and SBAC Cups in 1955, the Norton Griffiths Trophy in 1957 and the Air League Challenge Trophy in 1958. The last race G-AEXF flew was the Manx Air Derby on May 29, 1965, flown by Ernest Crabtree.
In 1975 the aircraft was acquired by Desmond Penrose, who, with the help of Jack Cross, restored it in three years to its original 1936 configuration. Subsequently the aircraft was again seriously damaged in a crash, this time being rebuilt to the 1939 Cape Race configuration. From 1996 it was operated by the Shuttleworth Collection. On July 8, 2002 it was registered to its present owner Robert Fleming and the sole surviving Mew Gull is operated by The Real Aeroplane Company at Breighton, Yorkshire.
The Mew Gull G-AEXF on display at the RAF Museum Hendon is a static replica built to the order of the late Alex Henshawby by AJD Engineering of Ipswich.