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Hawker Aircraft

Hawker Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer responsible for some of the most famous products in British aviation history.

Hawker Aircraft had its roots in the aftermath of the First World War, which resulted in the bankruptcy of the Sopwith Aviation Company. Sopwith test pilot Harry Hawker and three others, including Thomas Sopwith, bought the assets of Sopwith and formed H.G. Hawker Engineering in 1920.[1]

In 1933 the company was renamed Hawker Aircraft Limited, and it took advantage of the Great Depression and a strong financial position to purchase the Gloster Aircraft Company in 1934. The next year it merged with the engine and automotive company Armstrong Siddeley and its subsidiary, Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft, to form Hawker Siddeley Aircraft. This group also encompassed A. V. Roe and Company (Avro).

Hawker Aircraft continued to produce designs under its own name as part of Hawker Siddeley Aircraft, from 1955 a division of Hawker Siddeley Group. The “Hawker” brand name was dropped, along with those of the sister companies, in 1963; the Hawker P.1127 was the last aircraft to carry the brand.

The Hawker legacy was maintained by the American company Raytheon who produced business jets (including some derived from the 125, whose original design dated back to de Havilland days) under the “Hawker” name. This was the result of purchasing British Aerospace’s product line in 1993. The name was also used by Hawker Beechcraft after Raytheon’s business jet interests (Hawker and Beechcraft) were acquired by investors and merged.

Hawker Sea Fury ISS 315
Hawker Sea Fury T.20 WG655 (G-INVN)
Hawker Sea Fury T 20 VX281

Hawker Hurricane

Specifications (Mk IIB):

  • Engine: 1,280hp Rolls-Royce Merlin XX 12-cylinder V piston engine
  • Weight: Empty 5,500 lbs.,
  • Max Takeoff 7,300 lbs.
  • Wing Span: 40ft. 0in.
  • Length: 32ft. 2.5in.
  • Height: 13ft. 1in.
  • Maximum Speed at 22,000 ft: 342 mph
  • Cruising Speed at 20,000 ft: 296 mph
  • Ceiling: 36,500 ft
  • Range: 480 miles
  • Armament: Twelve 7.7mm (0.303in.) wing-mounted machine guns Two 250 or 500-lb bombs

The Hawker Hurricane was the culmination of a series of capable metal biplane fighters evolved by the Hawker concern throughout the 1920s. The Hurricane’s fuselage shape and design borrowed much from the preceding Hawker “Fury” biplane line that the Hurricane was known or a time as the “Fury Monoplane”.

It is perhaps best known as the true star of the “Battle of Britain” engulfing Europe during the summer of 1940. In the campaign, the German Luftwaffe attempted to subdue the British by a relentless air attack sent ahead of its ground invasion force (the proposed “Operation Sea Lion”).

The Hurricane outnumbered the competing – and far more popular – Supermarine Spitfire by two-to-one in the inventory of Fighter Command and proved its most valuable asset against hordes of incoming enemy aircraft. The Hurricane went on to account for more enemy aircraft destroyed in the battle than any other British weapon – including the Spitfire and any ground-based cannon fire – such was its importance to the British defense. Beyond its wartime exploits, the Hurricane became the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) first monoplane fighter and its first capable of exceeding the 300 mile per hour barrier.

Design of the aircraft was attributed to aeronautical engineer Sidney Camm (1893-1966) who also lent his design talents to the wartime Hawker Typhoon and Tempest fighter-bombers. In the post-war years, he helped further the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Harrier “jumpjet” and the Hawker Hunter jet fighter programs which reached their own level of fame during the Cold War.

Sea Hurricane 1B Z7015
Hawker Hurricane Mark IV KZ321
Hawker Hurrivane IIA P3351

Sea Hurricane 1B Z7015

Following the success of the Hawker Hurricane during the Battle of Britain the Royal Navy decided to introduce the Hurricane as protection for the Atlantic convoys and the Sea Hurricane ‘Hurricat’ was born. Hawker Sea Hurricane Z7015 was manufactured as a Mk.I by the Canadian Car and Foundry at the Fort William plant during 1940. The Atlantic convoys were out of range of land based aircraft so Hurricanes were modified with the addition of catapult spools to enable them to be launched from either Catapult Armed Merchant ships (CAM ships) or Fighter catapult ships.

These Sea Hurricanes Mk.1a were not able to be recovered by the catapult ship it was launched from and either had to make it back to land or ditch in the sea close to the convey. Hawker Sea Hurricane Z7015, after being shipped to England was issued to General Aircraft for conversion to Sea Hurricane IB standard which included an arrester hook to enable them to land on a small flight deck on modified merchant ships.

After transferring to 880 Squadron in 1941 Hawker Hurricane Z7015 went unserviceable before she could embark on embark on HMS Indomitable and was returned for repair before being used by Naval Fighter School 759 Squadron and finally Loughborough College as an instructional airframe.

Several restoration attempts were made until a formal agreement was reached between the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and the Shuttleworth collection which meant that the team who had restored Shuttleworths Spitfire would restore Z7015. This restoration started in 1986 and led to the first flight in the hands of pilot Andy Sephton, on September 16 1995

Hawker Sea Hurricane Z7015 is now in the Fleet Arm Arm colours of 880 Squadron and is the only airworthy Sea Hurricane Mk.Ib in the world

 

Hawker Hurricane Mark IV KZ321

This Mark IV was originally manufactured by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. at the company’s Kingston-upon-Thames factory sometime after 1942. It was assigned constructors number KZ321.

The aircraft was stored for a time until taken into service with the RAF’s No. 6 Squadron at Grottaglie Italy in March of 1943.

The unit was transfered to the RAF’s Balkan Air Force (which in 1944 included a Yugoslav contingent of one Hurricane squadron) four months later at Canne Greece.

The aircraft operated from various detachments in Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. The squadron ended up in Proks, Yugoslavia where it remained until VE day. Post-war, the unit moved to Palestine and Nicosia, flying Hurricanes including this aircraft. KZ321 was ultimately abandoned in what is now Israel when the squadron converted to Tempest F.VIs on 15 January 1947, the last RAF unit to operate Hurricanes.

Recovered from a Jaffa scrap yard by Doug Arnold’s Warbirds of GB Ltd, it was returned to the United Kingdom in 1983 where it was stored at Blackbushe and Biggin Hill. It was then acquired by The Fighter Collection of the Imperial War Museum at, Duxford England in 1991.

Restoration was started by Hawker Restorations Ltd. of Suffolk, England in 2001 returning the aircraft to zero hour condition using original and refurbished parts. It was registered as G-HURY, painted in the authentic RAF markings of No. 6 Squadron. Its first post restoration flight was in 2003 and was thereafter flown by The Fighter Collection. Vintage Wings acquired and registered KZ321 in Canada as CF-TPM in May of 2006.

KZ321 is the last Hurricane Mark IV in existence.

Hawker Hurricane I R4118

Hawker Hurricane Mark I, R4118, was delivered new to 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron at Drem on 17 August 1940.

During the Battle of Britain it flew 49 sorties from Croydon and shot down five enemy aircraft. After being battle damaged on 22 October 1940, the aircraft was rebuilt and taken on charge by 111 Squadron at Dyce on 18 January 1941.

There it was flown on patrol over the North Sea and was again in combat. Over the following two years it was used primarily as a training aircraft with 59 and 56 OTUs, and was rebuilt a further three times following major accidents, including hitting a lorry on the runway and being stuffed into a snowbank!

In December 1943, R4118 was crated at Cardiff and shipped to India as a training aircraft. However it was never needed and remained in its packing case in Bombay until 1947 when it was struck off charge. It was donated to a university for engineering instruction. The fuselage was stood outside in a compound with the propeller, wings and tailplane laid on the ground. There it remained until June 2001 when Peter Vacher was able to conclude six-year-long negotiations and R4118 was loaded into a container. The aircraft has been restored to flying condition over the past three years.

During its lifetime, it was fitted with no fewer than five Rolls-Royce Merlin III engines, and underwent four major rebuilds. It is still powered by a Merlin III (the only other aircraft in the world to retain a Merlin III is the Sea Hurricane at Shuttleworth). It is said to be the most historic fighter aircraft to have survived the war.

Meticulous restoration was undertaken by Hawker Restorations Ltd in Suffolk. This included fitting every piece of equipment which was in the aircraft during the Battle, such as the first of the VHF radios (the TR1133), the Identification Friend or Foe unit, the original 8 Browning machine guns, and the camera gun in the starboard wing.

Hawker Fury / Sea Fury

Specifications (Sea Fury FB.Mk 11):

  • Engine: One 2,480-hp Bristol Centaurus 18, 18-cylinder radial piston engine.
  • Weight: Empty 9,240 lbs., Max Takeoff 12,500 lbs.
  • Wing Span: 38ft. 4.75in. Length: 34ft. 8in.
  • Height: 15ft. 10.5in.
  • Maximum Speed: 435 mph
  • Ceiling: 34,300 ft.
  • Range: 680 miles
  • Armament: Four 20-mm cannon in wings Underwing racks for eight 60-pound rockets or two bombs

The Hawker Sea Fury Carrier borne fighter-bomber was the British Fleet Air Arm’s last piston-engined fighter, developed during WWII it did not see service with the Fleet Air Arm until after the war.

It was arguably the fastest piston powered aircraft ever manufactured. It was a development from the Hawker Tempest, itself a development of the Hawker Typhoon. Originally, the Hawker Fury was designed by Sidney Camm in 1942 under F.2/43 specification, to provide the RAF with a lightweight replacement for the Tempest II.

The design was modified in 1943 to meet a Royal Navy specification (N.7/43) for a carrier-based interceptor and named the Hawker Sea Fury. Hawker was designated to work on the land-based version, and responsibility for the naval conversion was assigned to Boulton-Paul Aircraft Ltd. of Wolverhampton.

More than 50 Hawker Furys were delivered to Iraq during the 1950s and, upon retirement, were stored in the dry desert environment. The aircraft was among a large cache recovered to the USA from the mid-1970s.

These so-called ‘Baghdad Furys’ provided an injection of high-performance machines into the warbird market, many having the original maintenance-heavy Centaurus engine replaced with a Wright R-3350 engine.

The most noticable differences between the Sea Fury and Fury is that the latter lacks an arrestor hook system and the folding wings.

Hawker Sea Fury T.20 WG655 (G-INVN)
HawkerSea Fury ISS 315
Hawker Sea Fury FB 11 F-AZXJ

Fury ISS F-AZXL

The fighter is an orignal Hawker Fury FB10 ISS (Iraqi Single Seater) built for the Iraqi Air Force around 1948. The Fury ISS was unofficially known as the Baghdad Fury, which was a customer for the land- based variant of the Sea Fury. The major differences between the two variants are the lack of both an arrestor hook and folding wings on the non-naval version. This aircraft was first flown in June 1948 and delivered to Iraq in November of the following year. There, it was serialled IAF 250.

Once their operational careers were complete, many of the Iraqi Furies were left in desert storage from the mid- 1960s. They languished in abandonment until 1979, when American collectors decided to recover them. The Furies were duly transported to the USA, where they were found to be low-houred and still in relatively good condition. One of several to take to the air again, IAF 250 was stored in Florida prior to a restoration.

This Fury suffered a belly landing in Alabama during July 1990, and was restored by Texas-based Nelson Ezell. It was at this time that the aircraft’s Bristol Centaurus powerplant was replaced by a Wright R-3350- 26WD — a common alteration to US-owned Furies/Sea Furies, as spares and maintenance support for the American engine are rather more easily available.

The South African warbird scene welcomed the Fury when it was purchased by Stu Davidson during 2001. He operated the aircraft for six years until Frédéric Akary became its owner in 2007, importing the Royal Australian Navy-marked fighter to France and basing it at Avignon. Apart from Flying Legends, amongst the other major European events at which Frédéric has demonstrated his Fury are two of Germany’s largest, the Hahnweide Oldtimer Meeting and the ILA Berlin Air Show.

The colours currently applied on the F-AZXL represent a Sea Fury FB10 of the Royal Australian Navy who operated the type from 1949 to 1953.

Hawker Sea Fury T.20 WG655 (G-INVN)

Built at Hawkers, Kingston-upon-Thames with final assembly at Langley with serial No. WG655. Delivered 9.10.1951 to Anthorn for initial storage then to 781 Sqdn Lee-on-Solent 7.12.1951. Returned to RDU Anthorn and preserved 13.2.1952. Purchased by Hawker 27.4.1957 for conversion to Target Towing configuration. Sold to German MoD for TT operations) and registered D-CACU.

Federal Republic of Germany c/o Ministry of Defence, operated by Deutscher Luftfahrt-Beratungsdienst (of Wiesbaden) on target-towing flights in Sigmaringen area, based on München-Riem airport. Operator changed to Rhein Flugzeubau (RFB) for operation in Todendorf-Putlos range in Baltic Sea, based at Lübeck from 1.1.1966. Undertook last flight of a German Sea Fury (Lübeck – Köln) on 12.11.1975 and stored at Köln airport. Withdrawn from use on 23.6.1976, unregistered and prepared for ferry to Royal Navy. Noted at RAF Colerne. To RNHF Yeovilton 29.6.1976 marked as 910/GN.

Transported to RNAY Fleetlands 15.5.1985 for refinishing and initially returned to RNHF Yeovilton. Transported to Boscombe Down 14.5.1987. While flying with RNHF 14.7.1990 it suffered engine failure shortly after take-off and made a wheels-up forced landing in a field near Castle Cary. Fuselage broke into three sections on collision with tree. After the accident, the remains were inspected and deemed unrepairable then put up for disposal.

The remains went initially to New Zealand with Grant Beal. Chuck Greenhill, Kenosha, Wisconsin, had always had an interest in aircraft with naval connections. He purchased the remains 17.8.1993 and had them shipped to Kenosha where Tim McCarter and his crew went to work. Re-Regd as N20MD. Nominally Re-Regd 12.9.1902 to Amphib Inc, Lake Zurich, Illinois. Shipped to Sanders Aeronautics for completion at Ione, California. Sold to The Fighter Collection, Duxford in 2008. Shipped in a container to UK and arrived Duxford 29.5.2009. Re-Regd G-INVI 25.07.2018. Acquired by The Norwegian Historic Flight in 2018.

Hawker Sea Fury T 20 VX281

Rather like WG655, Sea Fury T 20 VX281 has enjoyed a recent comeback to the British scene, although in this case after a longer absence. Only the second ever T 20 version built, this aircraft was delivered to 736 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) at RNAS Culdrose, Corwall early in 1950.

Its Royal Navy service career, alas, proved short, for VX281 crashed in mid- 1950 and was not repaired. But this was far from the end of its flying life, as the aircraft was returned to airworthiness for West Germany’s Deutsche Luftfahrt- Beratungsdienst as D-CACO and assumed the target- towing role with that organisation in 1960.

On its retirement by the West Germans 14 years later, VX281 (registered G-BCOW) became part of Doug Arnold’s Warbirds of Great Britain collection and made sporadic display outings. Another well-known name from the British circuit in that era, Spencer Flack, owned the Sea Fury from 1977 until its sale to the USA in 1980.

On the other side of the Atlantic, it went through numerous owners, the last of which was the Zager Aircraft Corporation in California. In 2007 VX281 was bought by Naval Aviation Ltd, an offshoot of the Fly Navy Heritage Trust that supports the RNHE. It was registered as G-RNHE, imported to the UK and subsequently reassembled and prepared for flight by Kennet Aviation at North Weald.

Although the aircraft was flown during 2008, a full overhaul of its Bristol Centaurus engine was required thereafter, so no display appearances were made for the time being.

Following a successful test flight, the CAA awarded VX281 its Permit to Fly, and it was delivered to RNAS Yeovilton.

VX281 has been painted in the markings of Sea Fury F 10 TF912 with the codes 120/VL from 799 NAS, part of the 50th Training Air Group stationed at Yeovilton in 1949.

Until the RNHF’s own Sea Fury FB 11 VR930 gets its Bristol Centaurus engine back from rebuild by Vintage V12s in California, the two-seater will effectively be used as a stand-in at displays, as well as augmenting the RNHF’s training regime for Sea Fury pilots.

VX281 undertook its public display debut at Duxford’s Spring air show this 2008.

Hawker Tempest II

Specification: Hawker Tempest II
  • Crew: Pilot only
  • Length: 10.49m
  • Wing span: 12.49m
  • Empty weight: 4045kg
  • Loaded weight: 5360kg
  • Engine: Single 2,520 hp Centaurus V or VI radial piston engine
  • Maximum speed: 711kph (442mph) @ 4600m
  • Service ceiling: 11400m
  • Maximum range: 1320km

The Hawker Tempest was a British fighter aircraft primarily used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the Second World War. The Tempest was an improved derivative of the Hawker Typhoon, and one of the most powerful fighter aircraft used during the war.

The Hawker Tempest II owed much of it’s features to a closely inspected captured Focke-Wulf Fw-190, and first flew on the 28th of June 1943 but lack of production capability resulted in the production being delayed until Bristol were able to produce the aircraft under licence, the first example rolling off the production line in early October 1944, production remaining with Bristol until Hawker was able to produce the Tempest II itself.

A total of 452 Tempest II’s were built but were never to see action in WWII although they had been earmarked to join “Tiger Force” in the Pacific theatre. In 1947 24 aircraft were transferred from the FAR to the Pakistani Air Force and a further 89 to the Indian Air Force.

See also Hawker Sea Fury.

Hawker Tempest II “PR536”
Hawker Tempest II “PR536”

Hawker Tempest II “PR536”

PR536 was built by Hawker Aircraft at Langley, contract ACFT/2438/C.23(a) in 1945. PR536 served with No.5 Squadron RAF, based at Peshawar (now part of Pakistan) and several other Indian bases at this time. The squadron disbanded 1st August 1947 at Mauripur, as one of four Tempest II equipped squadrons in India from December 1945, all of which disbanded and passed their aircraft to the Royal Indian Air Force. No. 5 Squadron converted to Tempests at Bhopal in March 1946, moving to Poona on 1 June 1946.

A detachment of the squadron moved to Risalpur on the North-West Frontier of India on 26 November 1946, moving to Peshawar on 22 January 1947, and Mauripur on 3 July 1947, where it disbanded a few weeks later on 1 August 1947. No.5 Squadron served for a time as the Tempest conversion unit for Indian Air Force Squadrons converting to the Tempest.

In September 1947 PR536 was one of 124 Tempest II aircraft handed over to the Royal Indian Air Force from RAF stocks in India. It was given the RIAF serial HA457.

Last front-line Tempests withdrawn from Indian service (No.3 Squadron- plus 4 Squadron until 1955, despite losses to flying accidents mainly due to engine failure). Tempests remained in service for a time (up to circa 1956) as operational trainers at Hakimpet and at the Armament Training Wing, Jamnagar. Others used for ground instruction and latterly, as airfield decoys. The role of HA457 at this time is not known.

In 1979 HA457 was recovered by Warbirds of GB Ltd, Blackbushe, and shipped back to England. It was acquired by Nick Grace and Chris Horsley and stored at Chichester as part of the `Tangmere Flight’. This was also the year of the first discussions between Nick Grace and RAFM over acquisition of HA457. Agreement reached in 1987 for RAFM to acquire fuselage and engine of HA457 in exchange for Napier Sabre and fuselage of Tempest Mk. V EJ693 acquired from Holland.

In 1990-1991 PR536 was restored at Duxford by The Fighter Collection. To assist in restoration, the rear fuselage of a Tempest Mk. II, spuriously marked as `KB418′ was acquired from the Royal Navy Engineering College, Manadon. This makes PR536 a composite of three airframes – rear fuselage from Manadon, wings from Kanpur circa 1971, leaving just the forward fuselage from PR536. This identity being found in the tailwheel well before the rear fuselage sections were exchanged.

Since 10 November 1991 PR536 is displayed at RAF Museum, Hendon, in 5 Squadron markings as OQ-H.

Hawker Thypoon

Specifications Thypoon 1B:
  • Type: Single-seat close up support fighter and fighter-bomber
  • Crew: One
  • Length: 31 ft 11.5 in (9.73 m)
  • Wingspan: 41 ft 7 in (12.67 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.66 m)
  • Wing area: 249 ft² (23.13 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,800 lb (4,445 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 11,400 lb (5,170 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 13,980 lb (6,340 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Napier Sabre IIC liquid-cooled H-24, 2,260 hp (1,685 kW)
  • Maximum speed: 405 mph (650 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,485 m) Stall speed: 88 mph () IAS with flaps up
  • Range: 610 mi (980 km)
  • Service ceiling: 34,000 ft (10,400 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,630 ft/min (13.4 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 45.8 lb/ft² (223.5 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.20 hp/lb (0.33 kW/kg)
  • Armament 4 × 20 mm Hispano cannons 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs 8 × RP-3 (60 lb) unguided air-to-ground rockets

Originally designed as a twelve-gun fighter, the Typhoon was intended to be the successor to the Hurricane. It suffered many development problems both with the airframe and its twenty-four cylinder Napier Sabre engine.

At the time of its introduction in 1941, it was the first 400mph fighter in the RAF and proved a match for the low level tip-and-run Focke-Wulf Fw190s. It was, however, in the low level close support role that the Typhoon excelled. From August 1942 it began offensive sweeps over France, Belgium and Holland, attacking enemy airfields and communications.

Hawker Thypoon 1B – S/N MN235
Hawker Thypoon 1B – S/N MN235
Hawker Thypoon 1B – S/N MN235