DescriptionThe Hawker Hunter is a transonic British jet-powered fighter aircraft that was developed by Hawker Aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
It was designed to take advantage of the newly developed Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engine and the swept wing, and was the first jet-powered aircraft produced by Hawker to be procured by the RAF. On 7 September 1953, the modified first prototype broke the world air speed record for aircraft, achieving a speed of 727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h; 632.29 kn).
The single-seat Hunter was introduced to service in 1954 as a manoeuvrable day interceptor aircraft, quickly succeeding first-generation jet fighters in RAF service such as the Gloster Meteor and the de Havilland Venom. The all-weather/night fighter role was filled by the Gloster Javelin. Successively improved variants of the type were produced, adopting increasingly more capable engine models and expanding its fuel capacity amongst other modifications being implemented. Hunters were also used by two RAF display teams: the "Black Arrows", who on one occasion looped a record-breaking 22 Hunters in formation, and later the "Blue Diamonds", who flew 16 aircraft. The Hunter was also widely exported, serving with a total of 21 overseas air forces.
The Hunter entered service with the Royal Air Force as an interceptor aircraft. It was the first jet aircraft produced by Hawker for the RAF. From the outset it was clear that the type had exceptional performance, being the first RAF aircraft capable of effectively matching the English Electric Canberra bomber. The Hunter also set numerous aviation records, including absolute speed records. The type was also lauded for its quick turnaround time – enabled by features such as its removable gun pack and pressurised fuelling system – and for its easy handling in flight.
The definitive version of the Hunter was the FGA.9, on which the majority of export versions were based. Although the Supermarine Swift had initially been politically favoured by the British Government, the Hunter proved far more successful, and had a lengthy service life with various operators, in part due to its low maintenance requirements and operating costs.
The Hunter is a conventional swept wing all-metal monoplane. The fuselage is of monocoque construction, with a removable rear section for engine maintenance. The engine is fed through triangular air intakes in the wing roots and has a single jetpipe in the rear of the fuselage. The mid-mounted wings have a leading edge sweep of 35° and slight anhedral, the tailplanes and fin are also swept. The Hunter's aerodynamic qualities were increasingly infringed upon by modifications in later production models, such as the addition of external containers to collect spent gun cartridges, underwing fuel tanks to increase range, leading edge extensions to resolve pitch control difficulties, and a large ventral air brake.
The specifications below are for the Hunter F.6 variant.
- 45 ft 10.5 in (13.983 m)
- 33 ft 8 in (10.26 m)
- 13 ft 2 in (4.01 m)
- Wing Area:
- 349 sq ft (32.4 sq m)
- Wing Loading:
- 51.6 lb/sq ft (252 kg/sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 14,122 lb (6,406 kg)
- 24,600 lb (11,158 kg). Gross weight: 17,750 lb (8,051 kg)
- 1 × Rolls-Royce Avon 207 turbojet engine, 10,145 lbf (45.13 kN) thrust
- Maximum speed: 623 mph (1,003 km/h, 541 kn) at 36,000 ft (11,000 m) 715 mph (621 kn; 1,151 km/h) at sea level. Mach 0.94
- Combat range: 385 mi (620 km, 335 nmi) Ferry range: 1,900 mi (3,100 km, 1,700 nmi) maximum external fuel
- Rate of Climb:
- 17,200 ft/min (87 m/s)
- Service Ceiling:
- 50,000 ft (15,000 m)