Hunter, Hawker

Hawker Hunter

The Hunter was a progressive development of the P.1081 swept-wing subsonic fighter. It was one of the most beautiful fighters ever built, and probably also one of the most long-lived. The Hunter provided the RAF with a long-awaited transsonic fighter, but it was later also much used as trainer and ground attack aircraft. Some airforces used the Hunter into the 1980s and 1990s. 1985 built.

Type: Hunter FGA.9
Country: UK
Function: fighter-bomber
Year: 1953/1960
Crew: 1
Engines: 1 * 45.1 kN R.R. Avon Mk. 207
Wing Span: 10.26 m
Length: 13.98 m
Height: 4.01 m
ing Area: 32.42 m2
Empty Weight: 6532 kg
Max.Weight: 11158 kg
Speed: 1144 km/h
Ceiling: 15240 m
Range: 2970 km
Armament: 4*g 30 mm 907 kg

The Hawker Hunter is a classic plane with a long and exciting history. It was designed between the close of WWII and the Korean War, the latter even hastening (and complicating) its development, in the real beginnings of the 'blowtorch' era, a period when the basic features of jet fighters -- many of them still valid - had to be designed. Notably of interest with the Hunter is its adaptability to different roles and hence its long service life despite the even increased pace of development.

The first prototype Hunter was aerodynamically cleaned up and reconfigured for a world speed record attempt in 1953 by installing a stronger engine with reheat, twin airbrakes and a pointed nose cone. Painted in a high gloss bright red scheme, it set a (short standing) world speed record at 709.22 mph over a 100 km course.

Basically, the Hunter was designed as an air superiority fighter. It was to be armed with the then standard four Hispano 20 mm guns, which was later changed to 30 mm Aden guns. The maiden flight of the first prototype took place on 20 July 1950, but it was only 1953 that the first production planes were introduced with RAF squadrons.

Development of the Hunter had been pressed forward under "Super Priority" conditions following the appearance of the then superior MiG 15 jet fighter in Korea, but as it turned out, the Korean war was over before the Hunter could be deployed. As a consequence of the speed-up development, several design flaws appeared only in the production planes and had to be cured the hard way. Main problems were the very short range, a strong tendency to nose pitch-downs caused by the use of the flaps as airbrakes and several problems with the guns.

The early Hunters were retired after only five years and replaced by improved variants. The F.4 and F.5, introduced in 1955 (produced by Hawker and Armstrong-Whitworth respectively and equipped with Rolls-Royce or Armstrong powerplants) had an improved internal fuel capacity plus reinforced wings with provisions for underwing stores (fuel tanks, bombs or rockets) and the link collector blisters.

The final fighter variant was the F.6, equipped with a 10,000 lb thrust Avon engine. The higher thrust effected the necessity of several aerodynamical modifications, outwardly most notable a redesigned wing with leading edge extensions and blast deflectors on the gun muzzles. As an interceptor, the Hunter was soon outperformed and replaced by the English Electric Lightning, which was a fully supersonic plane whereas the Hunter had to go into a dive to become supersonic.

The Hunterīs role with the RAF changed to ground attack purposes in the 1960īs. The main ground attack variant was the FGA.9 with reinforced wings until it was replaced by more advanced planes in the 70īs. Hunters were still used in various secondary roles in ever diminishing numbers well into the 80īs by the RAF and the RN plus several smaller establishments.

The Hunter was an even bigger success as an export than at home. Beginning with the Swedish Air Force in 1954, it was exported in literally dozens of countries on nearly every continent, including India, Chile and Somalia, just to mention a few of the more exotic. Several European countries license-built the Hunter at times, and Switzerland employed it as a first-line plane even far into the 90ies. Last but not least, many aerobatic teams throughout the world have used Hunter at times.

In 1954 120 Hawker Hunter Mk 50s were purchased by the Swedish Air Force. Mk 50 was the export designation for Mk 4s destined for Sweden. Swedish designation became J 34. The aircraft equipped the two wings in Stockholm, F 8 at Barkarby and F 18 at Tullinge, each of which got 60 aircraft during 1955-57.

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