Hawker Seahawk, Kemble 2008 ©Nigel Key
2 September 1947.
Towards the end of WW2, Hawker modified a 'stretched' Hawker Sea Fury fuselage with a mid-positioned Rolls Royce Nene jet engine. The cockpit was moved further forward resulting in an experimental aircraft designated P.1035.
With feedback from the Air Ministry, the design was further modified by losing the elliptical shape of the wing, by adding wing root air intakes and forked jet exhausts. This design was designated P.1040.
Initially the P.1040 was intended as an aircraft for the Royal Air Force, but with a top speed of only 600 mph the advancement over existing aircraft such as the Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Vampire, the RAF lost interest in the project.
Interest in the P.1040 was switched to the Admiralty for the aircraft as a fleet support fighter. The P.1040 prototype with naval modifications flew on the 2nd of September 1947.
A second prototype with had folding wings, catapult spools and full armament flew on the 31st of August 1948.
A third prototype was flown in 1949 which had further modifications including a longer arrester hook due to problems with aircraft failing to engage with arrester cable during dummy carrier landings.
The production Sea Hawk F1 had tricycle undercarriage to make it easier to land on carriers but otherwise was of a conventional design with straight wings. The first production aircraft flew on the 14th of November 1951.
Contemporary fighters of the time, such as the F-86 Sabre, had swept wings. A prototype version of the Sea Hawk was modified with swept wings and became instrumental in the development of the Hawker Hunter.
The Hawker Seahawk was produced from 1953, with 542 built.
Rolls Royce Nene 103, producing 5,400 lb st.
4 x Hispano 20mm cannon
2,000 lb (907 kg) Bomb/Rocket load
Due to aircraft such as the Hawker Hunter lacking the range or clearance to deliver munitions, the entire British ground attack capability during the Suez Crisis was delivered by the Navy Sea Hawks and the Westland Wyverns of No. 830 Squadron, typically being escorted by de Havilland Sea Venom fighters.
The Sea Hawk was phased out from 1958 by the Royal Navy and eventually replaced with the De Havilland Sea Vixen and the Supermarine Scimitar.
The last Sea Hawk in service with the Fleet Air Arm, No. 806 Squadron, was disbanded on 15 December 1960 and the last Royal Navy Sea Hawks were retired in 1969.
|Crew - 1
|Length - 39ft 8in (12.08m)
|Wingspan - 39ft 11in (11.89m)
|Height - 8ft 8in (2.79m)
|Empty Weight - 9,720lb (4,410kg)
|Max. Weight - 16,200lb (7,355kg)
|Max. Speed - 599 mph (958 km/h)
|Range - 1400 miles (2,253 km)*
|*External tanks fitted