|Hawker Siddeley Hunter (GB)|
|Fighter Aircraft/Ground Attack Aircraft|
|Combat Experience (With RAF)|
|Number of passengers||1 (all other models)|
2 (Hunter T.7, T.8, Mk.12, T.66)
|Length||45ft 11in (14 metres)|
|Wingspan||33ft 8in (10.26 metres)|
|Height||13ft 2in (4.01 metres)|
|Empty Weight||6405 kg (Hunter F.6)|
|Loaded Weight||8050 kg (Hunter F.6)|
|Max Takeoff Weight||11,158 kg (Hunter F.6)|
|Engine||Rolls-Royce Avon (Hunter F.1, F.3, F.4, F.6, T66)|
Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire (Hunter F.2, F.5)
|Power/Thrust||10,145 lbf (Avon 207)|
8,300 lbf (Sapphire ASSa.6)
Combat Range: 385 nmi (445 mi, 715 km) Ferry Range: 1,650 nmi (1,900 mi, 3,060 km) including additional fuel
|Service Ceiling||50,000 ft (15,240 m)|
|Rate of Climb||50,000 ft (15,240 m)|
|Armament Carried (Hunter F.6)||
4x 30mm ADEN cannon
Originally designed for the Royal Air Force, the Hawker Siddeley Hunter is a fighter/ground attack aircraft of the 1950s and 60s. Famed as one of the UKs most widely exported designs (operating as part of 19 air forces), the Hunter is still in service today, with four active in the Lebanese Air Force. A total of 1,972 aircraft were produced by Hawker Siddeley and others (the design was also built under license elsewhere) during the Hunter's relatively short production run.
The original idea of the Hunter was born for the Air Ministry Specification E.38/46, which requested an experimental aircraft for research into swept wing technology. Hawker's then chief designer, Sydney Camm designed the P.1052 prototype, based on the successful Sea Hawk, except that it was fitted with swept wings. This prototype was first flown in 1948, and performed well, but despite this, development into a production aircraft was not deemed appropriate.
Without government backing, a P.1052 was converted into the intended Australian fighter, the Hawker P.1081, including swept tailplanes, a revised fuselage and a single jet exhaust. This prototype was first flown on 19th June 1950, and proved promising enough to attract the Royal Australian Air Force, although any plans were soon scrapped, and the sole prototype was lost in a crash a year later.
Back in 1946, the Air Ministry issued a further specification, F.43/46, which requested a jet powered interceptor for use in the daytime. Camm jumped at the oppurtunity and modified the successful P.1052 for use with the all new and upcoming Rolls Royce Avon. This gave the new aircraft an advantage over its forefather, the Sea Hawk, as the Avon utilised Axial compressor technology over a centrifugal engine, allowing for a more slender engine design, whilst increasing thrust. This was in part possible due to new, stronger metals being developed at the time, which allowed the Axial flow design to work for long periods of time (The Messerschmitt Me 262 of WWII utilised this technology, but a lack of durable materials meant that the engine was lucky if it lasted for more than 24 hours of flight).
Two years later, in March 1948, another specification (F.3/48) was issued to cover development of the new project, and the new aircraft was modified, being fitted with a single air intake and T-shaped tail, although these ideas soon evolved into a shape that more closely matched the final design. The single air intake became a twin, and these were fitted to the wings (where the wings joined the fuselage), and these allowed for radar and further weaponry to be carried. The T-Shaped tail was also scrapped in favour of a more conventional design over fears that it would make the aircraft unstable.
The P.1067, or Hunter as it was soon designated, first took off from MoD Boscombe Down on 20th July 1951, powered by a comparatively gutless 6,500 lbf Avon 103 taken from an English Electric Canberra. Soon a second prototype was constructed, and this was fitted out towards a more production capable aircraft, including production ready avionics, armament and a more powerful 7,550 lbf Avon 107 jet engine. This model first flew on 5th May 1952.
The Air Ministry asked Hawker to produce another aircraft, utlising a back-up engine, which would also be a British axial turbojet. The Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire was soon adopted, with the prototype running 8,000 lbf and in silver opposed to duck egg green for the two Avon prototypes.
The Hunter was first ordered in March 1950, over a year before the Hunter was flown for the first time. The first Hunter to be produced (an F.1) was fitted with a 7,600 lbf Avon 113 engine, and first flew on 16th March 1953. For the first twenty aircraft produced, a number of one off modifications were used, including 'blown flaps' to aid lift and an 'area ruled fuselage'. The world air speed record was broken by a Hunter F.3 on 7th September 1953  flown by Neville Duke, reaching 727.63 mph over Littlehampton, but this record lasted for under three weeks until it was broken by an RAF Supermarine Swift on 25th September 1953.
Operational History in the RAFEdit
Entering service with the RAF in July 1954, the Hunter saw use in a number of engagements. One of its first major tests was in the Middle East during the Suez Crisis of 1956, where F.5s of No.1 and No.34 squadrons where deployed from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, flying escort for a group of English Electric Canberra bombers who were on missions into Egypt for just one day, when it was decided that the Hunters had too poor a range and so were put on local air defence.
During the Aden Emergency, FGA.9s and FR.10s were used from the No.43 and No.8 squadrons extensively, combatting an enemy trying to overthrow the Federation Of South Arabia, utilising new 3 inch high explosive rockets as well as 30 mm Aden cannon. These two squadrons effectively continued their operations until the UK decided to pull out in November 1967.
The Brunei Revolt of 1962 saw the RAF deploying Hunters to protect ground troops in Brunei. The Hunters even saved allies from execution, overflying a rebel compound and preventing any killings. During the Borneo Confrontation, which came later, Hunters were sent over both Borneo and Malaya.
It comes as no surprise that a plane that was so popular on the export market flies incredibly well. The chief test pilot of Hawker at the time said of the Hunter; 'It's a real pilot's airplane!' . Takeoff is seamless, with the Hunter lifting off 'very naturally' , featuring balanced controls throughout the range of speeds.
The Hunter is also known for its adaptability, performing 'as well at 600 knots as it does in the traffic pattern' . The controls, although spread throughout the cockpit create a feeling of seamless aileron and rudder movements, making even models with the smaller Rolls-Royce engines well suited to a dogfight. Its testament to the Hunter's predictable stall and spin characteristics that the aeroplane is the only swept wing craft in the world that is routinely used for training in these dangerous manoeuvers.
Throughout its lifetime, the Hunter was constantly upgraded for the RAF. Following are all of the variations on the traditional Hunter design used by the British Armed Forces:
- P.1067 - The first prototype Hunter, first flown on 20th July 1951.
- P.1101 - A two seat trainer prototype, first flown on 8th July 1955.
Production Versions for RAF:
- Hunter F.1 - First model ever produced, 139 aircraft built. Utilised the Avon 113 turboshaft engine, first flying on 16th March 1953.
- Hunter F.2 - 45 built, used the Sapphire 101 engine. This first flew on 14th October 1953.
- Hunter F.3 - First model to be fitted with an afterburner - the Avon RA.7R afterburning turboshaft. This produced 9,600 lbf. Other updates for the F.3 included a revised windscreen and airbrakes on the side of the fuselage. This model was used to break the world air speed record in 1953. Just one built; it was sold on as an instructional airframe.
- Hunter F.4 - This model was able to carry extra fuel due to newly designed additional fuel bladders in the wings along with the provision for drop tanks underwing. It used the Avon 115 engine and first flew on 20th October 1954. 349 of this model were built.
- Hunter F.5 - Basically an F.4 but with the Sapphire 101 engine from the F.2. In total, 105 models were built.
- Hunter F.6 - Designed as a 'clear weather interceptor', the Hunter was now powered by a 10,150 lbf Avon 203 engine, and included a new wing design with a 'dogtooth' leading edge as well as an all-moving tailplane (on later aircraft only) to combat the loss of control that came towards the speed of sound ('transient speed'). 384 were built, and it first flew on 22nd January 1954.
- Hunter F.6A - The F.6A was an F.6 with the strengthened wings that came with the FGA.9 ground attack version.
- Hunter T.7 - The first production two seat model, built as a trainer for the RAF, with the single seat nose replaced by a side by side seating arrangement.
- Hunter T.7A - This aircraft model was a T.7 fitted with the 'Integrated Flight Instrumentation System' (IFIS), and was used by the RAF to train pilots switching to the Blackburn Buccaneer.
- Hunter T.8 - A T7 fitted with an arrestor hook to be used on Royal Navy airfields.
- Hunter T.8B - Fitted with thew new 'TACtical Air Navigation system as well as IFIS. The cannon of the standard Hunters was also removed along with the ranging radar. This was also used by the RAF as a Blackburn Buccaneer training aircraft.
- Hunter T.8C - Basically a T.8 with the T.8Bs TACtical Air Navigation radio navigation system fitted.
- Hunter T.8M - This model was a T.8 utlising the Sea Harrier's Blue Fox radar, and was used by the Royal Navy to train Sea Harrier pilots.
- Hunter FGA.9 - A single seat ground attack fighter aircraft.
- Hunter FR.10 - An FGA.9 designed for reconnaissance.
- Hunter GA.11 - This aircraft was used as a weapons training Hunter. Fourty old RAF F.4s were converted into this model for the Royal Navy. It included an arrestor hook and a 'Harley light'.
- Hunter PR.11 - Here the GA.11s Harley light was replaced with a camera for reconnaissance.
- Hunter Mk.12 - This was a two seat test model designed and built for the Royal Aircraft Establishment. Just one was built.
Today, just Lebanon still uses the Hunter for combat roles (with four remaining in service and four inactive), but a number of organisations around the world operate the Hunter as a civil aircraft. Delta Jets  and Hunter Flying Ltd.  operate three and fifteen Hunters respectively in the UK, and the Dutch Hawker Hunter Forundation operates two Hunters in the Netherlands . The multinational Embraer uses one Hunter as a chase aircraft for flight tests  (Link shows a photo). Finally, seven Hunters are operated by Thunder City from Cape Town International Airport in South Africa .
There are a large number of surviving Hunters on display in both museums and collections.