Hawker Hunter was a UK jet fighter
aircraft of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Hunter served for
many years with the Royal Air Force
and was widely exported, serving with 19 air forces. A total of
1,972 Hunters were produced by Hawker
and under licence.
The origins of the Hunter trace back to the Hawker Sea Hawk
fighter. Seeking better performance and fulfillment of the Air Ministry Specification E.38/46
created the Hawker P.1052
, which was essentially a Sea
Hawk with a 35-degree swept wing
flying in 1948, the P.1052
performance but did not warrant further development into a
production aircraft. As a private venture, Hawker converted the
second P.1052 prototype into the Hawker
with swept tailplanes and revised fuselage, with a
single jet exhaust at the rear. First flying on 19 June 1950, the
P.1081 was promising enough to draw interest from the Royal Australian Air Force
development went no further and the sole prototype was lost in a
crash in 1951.
Meanwhile, in 1946, the Air Ministry
issued Specification F.43/46 for a daytime jet-powered interceptor.
Camm took the basic P.1052 design and adapted it for the upcoming
Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet
. The Avon's major advantage over the
, used in the Sea
Hawk, was the axial compressor
which resulted in a much smaller engine diameter and better thrust.
In March 1948, the Air Ministry issued Specification F.3/48, to
cover development of the project. Initially fitted with a single
air intake in the nose and a T-tail, the project rapidly evolved to
the more familiar shape. The intakes were moved to the wing roots,
to make room for weapons and radar in the nose. A more conventional
tail arrangement was devised, as a result of stability
P.1067 first flew from MoD Boscombe
Down on 20 July 1951, powered by a 6,500 lbf
(28.91 kN) Avon 103 engine from an English Electric Canberra
"Miss Demeanour" - a privately owned
Hawker Hunter F 58A in England.
The second prototype was fitted with production
avionics, armament and a 7,550 lbf (33.58 kN) Avon 107
turbojet. It first flew on 5 May 1952. As a back-up, Hawker was
asked to adapt the new fighter to another British axial turbojet.
The third prototype with an 8,000 lbf (35.59 kN) Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire
flew on 30 November 1952. The two Avon-engined aircraft were
duck-egg green in color, while the Sapphire prototype was
The Ministry of Supply
the Hunter into production in March 1950, a year before the first
flight. The first production Hunter F 1
7,600 lbf (33.80 kN) Avon 113 turbojet flew on 16 March
1953. The first 20 aircraft were, in effect, a pre-production
series and featured a number of "one-off" modifications such as
fuselage. On 7 September 1953, the sole Hunter Mk 3
(the modified first prototype, WB 188) flown by Neville Duke broke the world air speed record, achieving
727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h) over
However, the record stood for less than
three weeks before being broken by a Supermarine Swift
on 25 September
The rear-fuselage can be removed to
gain access to the engine for maintenance
The Hunter was a conventional all-metal monoplane. The pilot sat on
2H or 3H ejector seat
. The two-seat trainer version used
the Mk 4H ejection seats. The fuselage was of monocoque
construction, with a removable rear
section for engine maintenance. The engine was fed through
triangular air intakes in the wing roots and had a single jetpipe
in the rear of the fuselage. The mid-mounted wings had a leading
edge sweep of 35° and slight anhedral
. The tailplanes and fin were
also swept. The controls were completely conventional. A single
airbrake was fitted under the ventral rear fuselage. The aircraft
had conventional retractable tricycle landing gear. A noteworthy
feature of the single seat fighter version was the armament of four
30 mm (1.18 in) ADEN cannon
The cannon and ammunition boxes were contained in a single pack
that could be removed from the aircraft for rapid re-arming and
maintenance. Interestingly, the barrels of the cannon remained in
the aircraft when the pack was removed. In the two seat version,
either a single ADEN cannon was carried or, in some export
versions, two 30 mm (1.18 in) ADEN cannon, with a
removable ammunition tank. A simple Ekco ranging radar was fitted
in the nose. Later Marks (Mks) of Hunter had SNEB Pods fitted.
These were 68 mm (2.68 in) rockets in 18-round Matra
pods, giving a strike capability against road convoys and
The Hunter F 1 entered service with the Royal Air Force in July
1954. It quickly became apparent that the new fighter had
insufficient fuel capacity. In addition, incorrectly-designed air
intakes produced disruptions in air flow to the engine, with
resultant compressor stalls
engine problems were compounded by ingestion of gas when the cannon
were fired, which resulted in flameouts
The potential solutions of cutting fuel to the engine when the
cannon fired and restricting the use of cannon to low speeds and
altitudes were obviously unsatisfactory. The F 2
produced at the same time which used the Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire
engine did not suffer from flameouts.
Furthermore, ejected cannon ammunition links had a tendency to
strike and damage the underside of the fuselage. The original split
flap airbrakes caused adverse changes in pitch trim and were
quickly replaced by a single ventral airbrake. Unfortunately, this
meant the airbrake could not be used for landings. Finally, the
canopy suffered from fogging and icing during rapid descents.
Its short range was crippling for the new British fighter, with a
maximum flight endurance of about an hour. On 8 February 1956, a
flight of eight Hunters was redirected to another airfield due to
inclement weather. Six aircraft ran
out of fuel and crashed
, with one pilot killed. One of the
aircraft that landed ran out of fuel while taxiing. On the positive
side, the aircraft possessed good handling characteristics and even
the early F 1 version would exceed sonic speed in a 30°-40° dive at
full throttle from 40,000 ft (12,192 m) and above with
comparatively minor trim changes.
The first Hunter prototype was fitted with an afterburning
Avon RA.7R with 9,600 lbf
(42.70 kN) of thrust and other aerodynamic refinements (most
noticeably a pointed nose). Dubbed Hunter Mk 3
7 September 1953 it set a speed record of 722.2 mph
(628.1 kn, 1,163.2 km/h) over a 1.86 mi
(1.62 nmi, 3 km) course.
To address the problem of range, a production Hunter F 1 was fitted
with a modified wing which featured bag-type fuel tanks in the
leading edge and "wet" hardpoints. This increased the internal fuel
capacity from 337-414 Imp gal
(404-497 US gal, 1,533-1,833 l). In addition, a single
100 Imp gal (120 US gal, 454 l) external fuel tank
could be carried under each wing. The resulting Hunter F
first flew on 20 October 1954, entering service in March
1955. A distinctive Hunter feature added on the F 4 was the pair of
blisters under the cockpit, which collected spent ammunition links
to prevent airframe damage. Crews dubbed them "Sabrinas
" after the contemporary movie
star. The Sapphire
-powered version of the
F 4 was designated the Hunter F 5. Although the Sapphire did not
suffer from the flameout problems of the Avon and had better fuel
economy, it had other problems and the Sapphire-powered Hunters had
many engine failures; those versions had very short service lives.
The RAF elected to persevere with the Avon in order to simplify
supply and maintenance, since the same engine was also used by the
To deal with surging and flameout problems, Rolls-Royce developed
the Avon 200 series engine. This was almost wholly a new design,
with a new compressor, combustion chamber, and improved fuel
control system. The resulting Avon 203 produced 10,000 lbf
(44.48 kN) of thrust and was fitted to XF 833, which became
the first Hunter F 6
. The other crucial revisions
on the F 6 included a revised fuel tank layout, the centre fuselage
tanks being replaced by new ones in the rear fuselage, and the "Mod
228" wing, which has a distinctive "dogtooth" leading edge notch to
alleviate the pitch-up
problem, and four
"wet" hardpoints, finally giving the aircraft a good ferry range.
The notch prevented spanwise flow of air. The Hunter F
was given the designation Hawker
The Hunter F 6 was retired from its day fighter role in the RAF by
1963, being replaced by the English Electric Lightning
However, many F 6s were given a new lease of life in the close air support
role, after being
converted into the Hunter FGA 9
variant. This had
a further strengthened wing and greater external fuel and weapons
capability. The FGA 9 saw front line use from 1960 to 1971,
alongside the closely related Hunter FR.10 tactical reconnaissance
variant. The F.6 and FGA.9 continued in service with
the RAF at the Tactical Weapons Unit at RAF Brawdy in South
Wales and at RAF Chivenor in Devon.
variant of the F 6, the F 6
A, was also flown at
Brawdy; they were essentially F 6 aircraft with 230 gal
(1,045 l) under-wing tanks and brake parachutes fitted. The
component squadrons of the TWU were No.63
and No. 234
with No. 79
acting as the standards organisation and for the
training of foreign and Commonwealth
students from the Singapore Air Force
. The types remained
in service until shortly after the Hawk T.1
entered service in the mid-1970s.
Two-seat trainer versions of the Hunter, the T 7
and T 8
remained in use for training and secondary
roles by the RAF and Royal Navy
In December 2006, the Hunter re-entered RAF service with two
ex-Swiss examples leased from a private operator to act as targets
for a surface to air missile program. They were allocated RAF
serials ZZ190 and ZZ191. This was followed by a two-seat aircraft
in April 2007, which reverted to its original RAF serial
The Hunters were used by two RAF display units, the "Black Arrows
" of No. 111 Squadron who set a
record by looping and barrel rolling
formation 22 Hunters, and later the "Blue Diamonds" of 92 Squadron
that used 16 Hunters.
- Switzerland and Singapore
Perhaps the most enthusiastic Hunter users were Switzerland and
Singapore, who used it from 1958 to 1994, both improving it in
service and often choosing to retain it in lieu of newer
The Swiss AF for some years ran a display team using Hawker Hunter
s, which performed internationally. Some
Hunters in private hands are ex-Swiss AF. (The aerobatic
demonstration team of Swiss Air
is the Patrouille
, which now flies six Northrop F-5E Tiger II jets).
In the early 1950s, the Swedish Air
saw the need for an interceptor that could reach enemy
bombers at a higher altitude than the J
that formed the backbone of the fighter force. A
contract for 120 Hawker Hunters was therefore signed in 1954 and
the first one were delivered in August 1955. The model was
designated J 34 and was assigned to the F 8 and F
18 wings that defended Stockholm.
The J 34 was armed with four 30 mm
(1.18 in) cannons and two Sidewinder
. The Swedish Air Force
's aerobatic team Acro
Hunters used five J 34s during the late 1950s. The J 34s were
gradually replaced by supersonic J 35
and re-assigned to less prominent air wings, F 9 in
Gothenburg and F 10 in Ängelholm, during the 1960s. The last ones
were retired in 1969.
A project to improve the performance of the J 34 by installing a
Swedish-designed afterburner proved successful in 1958. However,
the cost turned out to be prohibitive, so the project was
During the Suez Crisis
of 1956, Hunters
of No. 1
and No. 34
Squadrons based at RAF
Akrotiri in Cyprus flew escort
for English Electric
Canberra bombers on bombing missions into Egypt for just one
day before being put on local air defence due to their lack of
In 1967 during the Six-Day War
of the Iraqi air force were used. While flying a Hunter from Iraqi
Airbase H3, Flt. Lt. Saiful Azam of PAF
(originally from East Pakistan -- now Bangladesh) shot down two
Israeli jets including a Mach 2.2 Mirage IIIC. Some missions were
also flown by the Jordanian AF, but most of the Jordanian Hunters
were destroyed on the ground on the first day of the war. A total
of 16 were lost in air-to-air battles. Iraqi Hunters flew from
Egypt and Syria also but many were lost in combat.
Aden in May 1964 Hunter FGA 9s and FR
10s of No.
43 Squadron RAF
and No. 8
were used extensively and effectively during the
attempting to overthrow the Federation of South Arabia
predominantly using 3 inch high explosive
and 30 mm Aden cannon. Both squadrons continued
operations with their Hunters until the UK withdrew from Aden in
Brunei Revolt and Borneo Confrontation
During the Brunei Revolt
in 1962, the
Royal Air Force deployed Hunters over Brunei to provide support for
British ground forces. In one event, several Bruneian and Expatriate
hostages were under threat of
execution, however several Hunters overflew the rebel compound
which prevented any executions from taking place. In the following
Borneo Confrontation, Hunters
were deployed along with other RAF aircraft in Borneo and Malaya.
played a role in the military coup that overthrew the socialist
president of Chile, Salvador Allende, on 11 September 1973 Chilean coup
d'état. Hunters of Squadron No 7 of the Chilean Air Force bombarded the
presidential palace, Allende's house in Santiago, and radio stations loyal to the
regime of Siad Barre used Hunters for
bombing during the civil war in Somalia in the late 1980s.
Rhodesians (now Zimbabwe) used their Hunter FGA.9s extensively against
ZANU/ZAPU insurgents in the
late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, including cross-border
Zimbabwe used its Hunters (inherited from the Rhodesian Air
Force) to support Laurent Kabila
during the Second Congo War and
they were supposedly also involved in the fighting in Mozambique.
The Lebanese Air Force
Hawker Hunters from 1958. A Lebanese Hawker Hunter shot down an
Israeli jet over Kfirmishki
sixties, its pilot was captured by the LAF
. One Lebanese Hawker Hunter was
shot down on the first day of the Six-Day
by the Israeli Air Force
They were used infrequently during the Lebanese Civil War
, flying their last
sorties in a period from 1 September to 15 September 1983.
On 20 August 2007, reports indicated that the Lebanese Armed Forces
may restart using them after the conflict with Fatah al Islam
in the Nahr el-Bared camp north of Tripoli.
Further statements have since been made indicating that Lebanon is
returning eight FGA.70 and T.66C Hunters to airworthy condition for
operational combat sorties against guerillas. However, the
programme has been held up in recent times by lack of certain
spares for the aircraft, most notably cartridges for the
Martin-Baker ejection seats.
On the 12 November 2008, the Lebanese Air Force succeeded in
returning the Hawker Hunter to service 50 years after its original
introduction. The Hawker Hunter fighters of the Lebanese Air Force
participated in the aerial show over Lebanese skies on the 22
November as part of the 65th anniversary of independence.
According to official statistics of the Indian Air Force, a total
of 28 Indian Air Force Hunters were destroyed by Pakistan Air Force
F-86 Sabres and 2 on the ground by Pakistan Air Force during the
The Hunters participated extensively in the war of 1971.
audacious attack of the Pakistani 51st Infantry Brigade backed up
by the 1st Armoured Brigade on the Indian outpost of Longewala became famous as the Battle of Longewala, in which the
Hunters played a crucial role in blunting the attack.
Hunters destroyed several Pakistani tanks (notably T-59 of Chinese
origin). It was also used for strategic bombing of Attock Oil
refinery, which resulted in a severe oil supply shortage in
Belgium and Netherlands produced the Hunter under licence, through Avions Fairey and Fokker
- Apache Aviation
- Operates from Istres in southern France 3 examples (2
signle-seat and one two-seat) contracted by French Navy.
- Delta Jets
- Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation.
- Operates a Hunter T.8C two-seat in classic RNLAF paint and a
single seat Hunter F.6A with the original Dutch colours and
markings. The Hawker Hunter T.8C and the F.6A are
based at Leeuwarden
Air Base in the Netherlands
- Operates an ex-Chilean Air Force Hunter T 72
as a flight test chase plane
- Hawker Hunter Aviation.
- Hunter Flying Ltd.
company, based in Quebec
City, Canada, owns and
operates 12 Hunters (mainly ex-Swiss F.58 variants) for military
co-operation duties such as FAC training, radar calibration, radar
target facilities and missile simulation.
- Northern Lights Combat Air Support
Hunters are based at Thunder City at
International Airport in South
- Thunder City
Aircraft on display
There are a large number of surviving Hunters in private and museum
Specifications (Hunter F 6)
The Hunters' removable pack for 4× 30
mm ADEN cannons.
- Jackson 1982, p. 11.
- "R.Ae.C. Award Winners."
flightglobal.com, 5 February 1954. Retrieved: 3 November
- Goebel, Greg. "The Hawker Hunter." Air Vectors, 1
June 2005. Retrieved: 12 May 2006.
- "وقائع العرض العسكري الذي سيقام بمناسبة عيد الاستقلال
." lebarmy.gov.lb, 21 November 2008. Retrieved: 23
- "Helicopter bombs." yalibnan.com.
Retrieved: 23 July 2009.
- "Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation."
dutchhawkerhunter.nl. Retrieved: 3 November 2009.
- "Embraer liveried Hunter."
airliners.net. Retrieved: 3 November 2009.
- "About HHA: Hawker Hunter Aviation Ltd (HHA)."
hunterteam.com. Retrieved: 3 November 2009.
- "Northern Lights Combat Air Support."
nlcas.ca. Retrieved: 3 November 2009.
- "Cape Town Jets: Thunder City." Incredible
Adventures, 2009. Retrieved: 7 October 2009.
- "Listing." Thunder and Lightnings.
Retrieved: 26 September 2007.
- Deacon, Ray. Hawker Hunter - 50 Golden Years.
Feltham,, UK: Vogelsang Publications, 2001. ISBN
- Griffin, David. Hawker Hunter 1951 to 2007. Tacoma,
WA: Lulu Enterprises, www.Lulu.com, 2007. ISBN 1-4303-0593-4.
- Hannah, Donald. Hawker FlyPast Reference Library.
Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK: Key Publishing Ltd., 1982. ISBN
- "Hawker Hunter." Vliegend in Nederland 4 (in Dutch).
Eindhoven, Netherlands: Flash Aviation, 1990. ISBN
- Jackson, Robert. Modern Combat Aircraft 15, Hawker
Hunter. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Cromwell Books, 1982, ISBN
- James, Derek N. Hawker: Aircraft Album No. 5.
New York: Arco Publishing Company, 1973 (First published in the UK
by Ian Allan in 1972). ISBN 0-668-02699-5.
- Mason, Francis K. Hawker Aircraft since 1920. London:
Putnam, 1991. ISBN 0-85177-839-9.
- McLelland, Tim. The Hawker Hunter. Manchester, UK:
Crécy Publishing Ltd., 2008. ISBN 978-0-85979-123-6.
- Winchester, Jim, ed. "Hawker Hunter." Military Aircraft of
the Cold War (The Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books
plc, 2006. ISBN 1-84013-929-3.