Ralph Hooper – aeronautical engineer

Ralph Hooper (1926-2022), aeronautical engineer, was the first designer of the Hawker Siddeley P.1127, the  vertical-take-off-and-landing aeroplane which evolved into the revolutionary Harrier jump-jet. During his later career with Hawker Siddeley, which became part of British Aerospace, he oversaw a number of other projects, including the P1182 that developed into the highly successful Hawk jet trainer, and played an activerole in selling these aircraft overseas. He retired in 1985, following the cancellation of the P1216, a supersonic version of the Harrier.

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Harrier Story – Presentation by John Farley

Former Dunsfold Chief Test Pilot John Farley’s presentation of his story of the Harrier development from 1951 to 2015. This hour long presentation is a unique insight into the early development of the “jump jet” and the evolution of Hawker’s prototypes P.1127 to the Harrier as a military aircraft. This recording was made by the Brooklands Museum Trust in 2015.

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Queen Wilhelmina visits Dunsfold

In 1940 no. 320 (Netherlands) Squadron RAF was formed by members of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service, who had flown from the Netherlands when it was invaded. On 12 June 1944 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands visited Dunsfold to award medals. In all, 320 Squadron were awarded the Dutch Military Order of William four times and the Dutch Airman’s Cross, 176 times. 

The Queen arrives in a fairly rare aircraft the De Havilland DH95 Flamingo. The film also shows how extensive were the dispersal areas to the South and East of Dunsfold airfield.

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P.1127 on Ark Royal – story behind the image

Bill Bedford and P.1127 XP831 on the deck of HMS Ark Royal

February 8th 1963. Here is XP831 on the deck of HMS Ark Royal after Hawker Test Pilot Bill Bedford had completed the deck landing. This was the first ever vertical landing of a fixed wing aircraft on an aircraft carrier and the last of significant milestones in the proving the prototype’s potential. 3 months later XP831 would crash at the Paris Airshow.

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Sea Harrier – story behind the image

XZ450 Sea Harrier at Dunsfold August 1978

It was late in a sunny warm Sunday afternoon in August 1978.

XZ450 just at start up for the first Sea Harrier flight at Dunsfold. the photo was taken by Dunsfold Photographic Dept. John Farley is in the cockpit, Trevor Davies is sitting on the ground and I’m standing with the cine camera.

Dick Poole, formerly of Dunsfold Flight Test Department

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400 Squadron Mustangs

This is a curious piece of propaganda, “Train Busting Mustangs” – a Pathe newsreel. Whilst not identified this film is dated 1943 and noting the names and aircraft serials it appears to feature Mustang I’s of 400 Squadron. 400 Sqdn. had their Tomahawks replaced with Mustangs in July 1942. Whilst the gun-camera footage looks to be from a variety of different sources, some of the ground scenes look to be Dunsfold.

Two notable names are Flight Officers “Bitsy” Grant and J Morton:

MORTON, F/L John Alexander (J7451) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.400 Squadron

GRANT, F/O Duncan Marshall (J5982) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.400 Squadron

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Kestrels – where are they now?

P.1127

  • XP831 Hawker P.1127 1st prototype f/f 21/10/60 now at the Science Museum, London,
  • XP836 Hawker P.1127 2nd prototype f/f 7/7/61 w/o 14/12/61
  • XP972 Hawker P.1127 3rd prototype f/f 5/4/62 w/o 30/11/1962
  • XP976 Hawker P.1127 4th prototype f/f 12/7/62 crashed Tangmere, scrapped Faygate
  • XP980 Hawker P.1127  5th prototype f/f 24/2/63 taller fin, anhedral tail. Yeovilton UK
  • XP984 Hawker P.1127 6th prototype f/f 13/2/64 (effectively 1st Kestrel) with swept wing & Pegasus 5. Now fitted with P.1127 wing at Brooklands Museum UK

Kestrels in the US

All with swept wings and larger tail than the P.1127s

Kestrels in the UK

  • XS693 Hawker Kestrel FGA1 f/f 25/11/1964, w/o 21/09/1967 Boscombe Down UK
  • XS694 Hawker Kestrel FGA1 f/f 30/01/1965, to USAF 64-18268, now Wings Museum, Balcombe UK
  • XS695 Hawker Kestrel FGA1 f/f 19/02/1965, w/o 15/03/1967, to A2619, now RAF Cosford Museum UK
  • XS696 Hawker Kestrel FGA1 f/f 05/03/1965, w/o 01/04/1965, West Raynham UK
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