Sea Fury

Hawker Sea Fury at Dunsfold, by Jonny White on Flickr

The Hawker Fury was designed to a RAF requirement for a ‘light Tempest’, which they had found to be very effective as a ground attack aircraft.  A lighter version, it was argued, would make a good fighter.  The Fury was built in the same general arrangement as the Hawker Tempest but with a reduced wingspan and with the Tempest II’s Bristol Centaurus engine, the first production aircraft flying in 1946.

However, with the end of the Second World War, the RAF decided that they would not proceed with this aircraft in favour of waiting to re-equip with jets.  At that time the Royal Navy felt that the operation of jet aircraft from ships flight decks was still something of an unknown quantity and instead specified a Naval variant of the Fury.

Re-designed with a strong point for a catapult strop, an arrester hook, folding wings and high energy absorption undercarriage the Sea Fury entered Naval service in 1947 as the Sea Fury F.10 (Fighters).  Like many aircraft of the day it could employ Rocket Assisted Take Off Gear to help a heavily laden aircraft achieve flying speed from the restricted length of a flight deck.

The Sea Fury was the Fleet Air Arm’s last piston-engined fighter to serve in front-line Squadrons.  The prototype Sea Fury first flew on 21 February 1945 and carried out deck landing trials in HMS Ocean in October of that year.  The first production aircraft (Mk.F.10) flew on 15 August 1946 and the first Squadron, No.807 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), re-equipped with F.10s at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in late 1947.  The first Squadron to fly with the FB.11 variant, 802 NAS, re-formed in May 1948.  In all, fifty Sea Fury F.10s were built, followed by 615 Sea Fury FB.11s (Fighter Bombers), the last of which came off the production line in November 1952.

A 2-seat weapons trainer variant, the T.20, was also produced with the prototype flying in January 1948.  Quite apart from the obvious addition of the rear cockpit fitted with duplicated controls, the T.20 differed from its F.10 and FB.11 brethren in a number of ways: not being intended for carrier operations the arrester hook was removed, as was the retractable tailwheel unit – presumably the removal of the associated hydraulic jacks and piping going some way to help redress the centre of gravity issue caused by adding the second cockpit.

Training for carrier landings were carried out at Culdrose and often at nearby Predannack in what were termed Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landings (ADDLs) prior to aircrew getting to try the real thing.  Mounted between the front and rear cockpits a tripod periscope arrangement developed by Hawker enabled the instructor in the rear cockpit to see what the student in the front seat was viewing through his gyro gunsight.

This was probably all the instructor could see as those who have flown in the back seat will probably testify that visibility is, to say the least, dire!  Two of the Hispano Mk.5 20mm canon were deleted from the centre mainplanes in order to provide additional space to house equipment displaced from the fuselage by the addition of the rear cockpit.  A total of 60 of these aircraft were built.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Sea Fury was the Fleet Air Arm’s leading single-seat fighter, and it fought with great distinction during the conflict.  The Sea Fury squadrons involved in Korea were 802 NAS (HMS Ocean), 807 NAS (HMS Theseus), 801 NAS and 804 NAS (HMS Glory) and 805 NAS and 808 NAS (HMAS Sydney).

The aircraft were used in the ground attack role armed with bombs and rockets and were also engaged in air-to-air combat with the much faster MiG-15.  On 9 August 1952 a Flight of Sea Furies from 802 NAS flown by Lieutenants Carmichael and Davis, and Sub-Lieutenants Haines and Ellis, were on an armed reconnaissance flight in an area just North of Chinimpo when they were attacked by eight enemy MiG-15s.

Despite the enemy’s superiority in numbers and a 200 mph speed advantage, the Sea Fury pilots shot down one MiG and badly damaged two others without incurring serious damage to their own aircraft.  As Flight leader, Lieutenant Carmichael was officially accredited with the ‘kill’ and was subsequently awarded the DSC for his heroism, but all of the other pilots officially claimed their quarter share.

With the advent of the introduction into Fleet Air Arm service of jet aircraft such as the Sea Hawk, the Sea Fury was relegated to second-line duties, with many being employed by the Air Branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR).  After the axing of the RNVR units in 1957 the majority of Sea Furies were scrapped.  Happily a handful survived to see service with the civilian-run Fleet Requirements Unit, used as ‘flying targets’ for the training of Royal Navy ship crews, until finally being retired in 1962 – the final piston-engined, fighter-type aircraft to see service in Royal Navy markings.

David Lockspeiser

David Lockspeiser, Obituary 2014

David Lockspeiser who has died aged 86, was a leading test pilot and an innovative aircraft designer and engineer who designed and built the Boxer utility aircraft, an “Aerial Land Rover”.  Originally named the LDA-01, or Land Development Aircraft, the Boxer was intended as a multi-purpose aircraft for developing and agricultural regions. A single-seat monoplane of metal and fabric construction, it had a canard foreplane, which was the same size as each mainplane mounted at the rear of the box structure fuselage, itself fitted with a four-wheeled landing gear.

Continue reading “David Lockspeiser”

VC10

VC10 ZA150 at Dunsfold  Jelle Hieminga, VC10.net

The Dunsfold VC10 K.3 was purchased from the RAF upon its retirement by the Brooklands Museum as it was the last VC10 to be built at Brooklands. Dunsfold being the nearest airfield to the museum that could accept such a large aircraft. Continue reading “VC10”

Kestrel

Content coming soon – we are a new Society so keen to add new information in the coming months.  The P.1127, Kestrel, Harrier is a big story so it will take us a while to accumulate the information.

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1950-1969 (RAF-T 6901) A striking head on study of a Hawker Siddeley P.1127 ‘Kestrel’ aircraft at Hawker’s test centre at Dunsfold, Surrey. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215036
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1950-1969 (RAF-T 6899) A Hawker Siddeley P1127 Kestrel experimental VTOL aircraft at Dunsfold, Surrey, with a company standing by. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215035
If you worked on the P.1127 or Kestrel projects and have information you’d like to share we would like to hear from you.

Rod ‘Fred’ Frederiksen

Lieutenant Commander ‘Fred’ Frederiksen 1947-2009

With Sea Harrier jump-jets landing on the carrier Hermes in Portsmouth, Frederiksen, who had been testing aircraft at Boscombe Down, inveigled his way aboard as an additional pilot in 800 Naval Air Squadron, under the command of Lt Cdr Andy Auld. A month later he was in the thick of war.

On May 1 Hermes entered the Total Exclusion Zone which Britain had declared around the Falklands, and Frederiksen led a bombing strike by three Harriers on the airfield at Goose Green. After taking his aircraft at wave-top height down the Falklands Sound, Frederiksen flew low over a range of hills and, completely surprising the air defences, destroyed one enemy aircraft as it was taxiing and damaged two others.

Continue reading “Rod ‘Fred’ Frederiksen”

Duncan Simpson

Duncan M S Simpson OBE

Simpson joined Hawker in 1954 and became Hawker’s Chief Test Pilot in 1970. He flew the P.1127 as well as making the first flight in a Hawk. In 2011, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators awarded him the Guild Award of Honour in recognition of his outstanding lifetime contribution to aviation: “for his long record as a particularly accomplished pilot, his outstanding contribution to experimental test flying, his intimate involvement in bringing three iconic British Fighters – the Hunter, Harrier and Hawk – into service and his exemplary commitment to British aviation generally”.

Duncan centre frame in this group shot of Hawker test pilots

A comprehensive account of Duncan’s flying time is here.

Profile.

Taylor Scott

Taylor Scott (1947-1987)

Taylor Scott joined the Royal Navy in 1964. After training he flew Sea Vixens before a tour with the US Navy,including the Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) at NAS Mirimar.

From 1974 to 1977 Taylor was an Air Weapons Instructor flying F-4 Phantoms from Ark Royal before being appointed the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier Project Liaison Officer at Dunsfold. Continue reading “Taylor Scott”

Hugh Merewether FRAeS

Hugh Merewether FRAeS   (1924-2006)
Merewether was appointed Deputy Chief Test Pilot at Dunsfold in 1956. He was the second pilot to fly the P.1127. In 1963, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air for crash landing the P.1127 rather than ejecting and thereby saving the machine to be examined to locate the fault. He became Chief Test Pilot in 1967. Continue reading “Hugh Merewether FRAeS”

Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars AFC

Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars AFC, FRAeS  (1922-2007) 
Duke had a “remarkable record” as a World War II fighter pilot, flying Spitfires over France and later, North Africa and Italy. He became a test pilot for the Hawker Aircraft Corporation in 1948. He held the world air speed record in 1953 flying a Hunter but had to retire as a test pilot in 1956 following a serious accident. Nevertheless he continued flying to the day he died, aged 85 – and not as a result of an air accident. He wrote several books including Sound Barrier, Test Pilot, The Crowded Sky and The War Diaries of Neville Duke; and even endorsed a card game named after him in 1955! Continue reading “Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars AFC”

Bill Bedford OBE AFC

Bill Bedford OBE AFC FRAeS (1920-1996)
Bedford was a World War II pilot, flying Hurricanes and Mustangs. From 1956 until 1963 he was Hawker Aircraft Ltd.’s Chief Test Pilot, “and then chief test pilot for Hawker Siddeley Aviation at Dunsfold from 1963 to 1967. He worked on the development of the Sea Hawk, the Hunter and the P.1127, Kestrel and the Harrier aircraft, making the first flights of all of the last three aircraft.” During this time the family lived at Primemeads Farm on Dunsfold Aerodrome. Primemeads Farm, used as wartime flight offices by 180 Squadron, is an historic building in its own right, dating from 1685. Continue reading “Bill Bedford OBE AFC”