A Hunter for two….another Hawker classic

By: shortfinals

Feb 02 2011

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Category: aircraft, Aviation, British Isles, England, Great Britain, Kemble, military, RAF, Royal Air Force, warbird

2 Comments


Through the 1920s and 1930s, it had always seemed to be RAF policy to have at least two frontline fighter types available at any time, in case difficulties showed up in squadron service with one of the designs. So, we had the Gloster Grebe and Armstrong Whitworth Siskin, the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. If the Gloster Meteor and DH Vampire can be regarded as the first generation of British jet fighters, then the postwar Supermarine Swift and Hawker Hunter could be regarded as the second generation. However, whereas the Swift was a flawed jewel, with limited range and difficult handling characteristics, the Hunter was nothing short of superb.

The prototype Hunter was built to an Air Ministry Specification F.3/48 for a day fighter, and was Hawker design number P.1067. It first flew from RAF Boscombe Down on 20th July 1950. Despite initial problems with engine surging and the need for an airbrake, Hunters quickly supplanted the Swift and became the dominant RAF fighter type, as well as being a major export success (Switzerland, Sweden, Lebanon, Rhodesia, Singapore, India, Jordan, Belgium, Chile, etc.).

The RAF quickly realized the need for a two-seat trainer version of the Hunter, and since the RAF was, at that time, going through a ‘side-by-side’ mode of jet instruction (Hunting Jet Provost T.3, DH Vampire T.10), it became necessary to ‘graft’ a new, broader nose to the single-seat airframe. There were some very difficult aerodynamic problems associated with this project, especially the shape of the new, wider canopy. A special 1/7th scale model was built, with various nose shapes, and dropped from a Wessex helicopter, so as to determine the spinning characteristics of the full-scale aircraft. The prototype T.7 Hunter, KJ615, built to specification T.157D was powered by a Rolls-Royce Avon Mk.122 (R.A.21) of 7550 lbs st, and first flew on 11th Oct 1957. Production T.7 aircraft had a 30mm Aden cannon (the fighter version had an incredible punch of four of these weapons) and could carry droptanks or stores on underwing pylons.

The aircraft you can see here (G-BXFI, WV372, ‘R’, No. II (AC) Sqn, RAF) is owned by Conciair Ltd, and operated by Delta Jets from whose hangar at Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire, it has just been towed. It is in the scheme it wore when with the famous No. II (AC) Squadron, RAF, as part of RAF Germany. This T.7 was originally built as a single-seater F.4, but suffered a near-disasterous in-flight fire when the jetpipe separated from the Avon engine. WV372 was sent back to Hawkers, where it became one of only four F.4s converted to a two-seater during 1958/9 (as well as the other 45 new-built T.7s for the RAF). A busy life ensued which included various RAF Squadrons and Station Flights,  4 Flying Training School at RAF Valley for 8 years (it once appeared at an RAF Finningley ‘Battle of Britain’ Air Show in their red/white scheme) and a transfer to the Royal Navy, where it was re-painted in their Dark Sea Grey scheme, and became part of the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit fleet of Hunters, performing such tasks as simulated air attacks on fleet units.

Eventually retired after a spell as an instructional airframe (RN serial ‘A2619’) she was sold at auction, to become one of an elite group of ex-military ‘complex aircraft’ allowed onto the British Civil Aircraft Register. I really like this shot, with the sun shining on the immaculate paint scheme, the canopy popped, brake chute doors open, airbrake partially open, and crew ladder in place. A truly superb aircraft.

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2 comments on “A Hunter for two….another Hawker classic”

  1. It is a very nice shot with great light 🙂

    Like


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