Hawker P.V.3

Hawker P.V.3

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Hawker P.V.3

The Hawker P.V.3 was a fighter aircraft designed to satisfy Air Ministry specification F.7/30, but that was made obsolete by the 1933 issuing of the specifications that led to the Hurricane and that never entered production. Specification F.7/30 made the first clear break with the two-gun fighter designs that had dominated RAF thinking since the end of the First World War. It called for a single-seat fighter armed with four Vickers machine guns, and preferably powered by the steam-cooled Rolls Royce Goshawk engine.

While other manufactures produced some quite unusual designs in response to F.7/30, the Hawker design was effectively an enlarged version of the Hawker Fury, taking advantage of new features that had been developed on two experimental aircraft, the Intermediate Fury and High-Speed Fury. The P.V.3 had a four-foot wider wingspan and was two feet longer than the Fury, and the new engines and doubling in the number of guns also meant that it was heavier. The four guns were all carried around the nose - two on top of the engine cowling and two on the sides.

The P.V.3 was ready to be evaluated in 1934, but delays to the other entries meant that the F.7/30 contest was postponed to 1935. During this gap the P.V.3 was given the most up-to-date version of the Goshawk, then the 700hp B.43, and in the summer of 1935 it was sent to Martlesham Heath for evaluation. By this point the F.7/30 contest had dragged on for so long that it became obsolete. On 6 November 1935 the prototype Hurricane made its maiden flight, and the era of the 300mph monoplane fighter aircraft was born. The Hawker P.V.3 and all of its biplane contemporaries became obsolete almost overnight. Although the Gloster Gladiator, also designed to satisfy F.7/30, was ordered into production, it was effectively a back-up design in case the new monoplanes ran into unexpected problems.

Engine: Rolls Royce Goshawk III steam-cooled engine (performance figures for 700hp Goshawk B.43)
Power: 695hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 34ft 0in
Length: 28ft 2in
Height: 10ft 5in
Empty Weight: 3,530lb
Loaded Weight: 4,670lb
Max Speed: 224mph at 14,000ft
Climb: 4min 20sec to 10,000ft, 12min 5sec to 20,000ft
Service Ceiling: 29,600ft
Armament: Four forward firing machine guns, all in nose

Hawker P.V.3 - History

The Goshawk III powered Hawker P.V.3. (I-PV3) at Brooklands in 1934.

The H.G HawkerHawker P.V.3. was a private venture prototype designed against Specification F.7/30. This specification sought a single seat &lsquoZone fighter&rsquo with four guns that should be suitable for day and night-fighting. A high-rate of climb, good endurance at 15,000 ft and a slow landing speed were required, together with an expressed preference for the Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine.

The night-fighting requirement was deemed to place a premium on a good pilot field-of-view and on ease of landing. In the event, field of view was interpreted by other designers as a 'design-driver', resulting in some very unusual configurations, including the Westland P.V.4, Bristol Type 123, and Blackburn F3 biplanes.

H.G. Hawker and Gloster Aircraft entered strictly conventional and evolutionary biplanes. The Hawker P.V.3. was in essence a Rolls-Royce Goshawk-powered, four-gun, enlarged Hawker Fury biplane.

Gloster Aircraft, wisely in retrospect, ignored the customer&rsquos Goshawk preference in favour of the Bristol Mercury-powered SS37 which was subsequently ordered into production as the Gloster Gladiator.

The Hawker P.V.3. competed with several other aircraft against Specification F.7/30.

Designed by Sidney Camm, the Hawker P.V.3. built upon developments that had be proven on the High-Speed Hawker Fury biplane (K3586) and as with the latter aircraft, steam condensers were incorporated into the wing leading-edge, with a retractable unit fitted between the undercarriage legs.

The four forward-firing Vickers guns were mounted in the forward fuselage, with two firing above the engine (as on the Hawker Fury) and one to each side (as on the Hawker Demon).

Large wheel spats were fitted (as on the High Speed Hawker Fury) and &lsquorams-horn&rsquo exhausts were used, with a view to reducing glare that would otherwise spoil the pilot&rsquos night vision.

H.G. Hawker eventually submitted two designs to meet the specification, a monoplane and a biplane although neither were selected and in 1932 prototype orders were placed with Blackburn Aircraft for its Blackburn F.3 and to Westland, for their F.7/30.

The prototype Hawker P.V.3. was eventually flown by Hawker Chief Test Pilot George Bulman on 15th June 1934 whilst fitted with a 695 hp Goshawk III engine. It subsequently joined its competitors on the official trials in 1935, although development issues with other manufacturers meant that the official testing was postponed until 1935. By this time the Hawker P.V.3 had been fitted with a Rolls-Royce Goshawk B.41 engine and then, a Rolls-Royce Goshawk B.43 engine, flying with the latter on 7th July 1935.

It performed well in the comparison trials although, despite good reports for handling and performance, it failed to receive any orders.

The Hawker P.V.3. fitted with a Goshawk B.41 engine in 1935.


The Hawker P.1127 and the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 were the experimental and development aircraft that led to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) jet fighter-bomber. Kestrel development began in 1957, taking advantage of the Bristol Engine Company’s choice to invest in the creation of the Pegasus vectored-thrust engine. Testing began in July 1960 and by the end of the year the aircraft had achieved both vertical take-off and horizontal flight. The test program also explored the possibility of use upon aircraft carriers, landing on HMS Ark Royal in 1963. The first three aircraft crashed during testing, one at the 1963 Paris Air Show.

Improvements to future development aircraft, such as swept wings and more powerful Pegasus engines, led to the development of the Kestrel. The Kestrel was evaluated by the Tri-partite Evaluation Squadron, made up of military pilots from Britain, the United States, and West Germany. Later flights were conducted by the U.S. military and NASA.

Testing at Dunsfold in the engine detuning pens

Related work on a supersonic aircraft, the Hawker Siddeley P.1154, was cancelled in 1965. As a result, the P.1127 (RAF), a variant more closely based on the Kestrel, was ordered into production that year, and named Harrier – the name originally intended for the P.1154 – in 1967. The Harrier served with the UK and several nations, often as a carrier-based aircraft.

Following the end of the Korean War, a number of aircraft companies in both Europe and America separately decided to investigate the prospective of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which would eliminate the requirement for vulnerable runways by taking off and landing vertically as opposed to the conventional horizontal approach. In addition to military applications, the prospect of applying such technology to commercial airliners was also viewed with considerable interest by the mid 1950s, thus the value of developing viable vertical take-off systems was judged to be substantial. However, even during this era, few companies had envisioned that a VTOL aircraft would also be realistically compatible with the characteristics of high performance military aircraft.

In 1957, jet engine engineer Stanley Hooker of the Bristol Engine Company informed aeronautics engineer Sydney Camm of Hawker Aircraft that Bristol had been working a project that combined major elements of their Olympus and Orpheus jet engines to produce a directable fan jet. The projected fan jet harnessed rotatable cold jets which were positioned on either side of the compressor along with a ‘hot’ jet which was directed via a conventional central tailpipe. The original concept upon which the engine, which had been named Pegasus, was based came from Michel Wibault, a French aviation consultant. Several adaptions and enhancements were made by Bristol to reduce size and weight over Wibault’s original concept.

Around the same point as Hooker’s approach, Hawker had been working upon the development of a replacement fighter aircraft for the Hawker Hunter, designated as the P.1121. However, the P.1121 was cancelled shortly after the publishing of the 1957 Defence White Paper, which had advocated a policy shift away from manned aircraft and towards missiles. In light of this cancellation, Hawker found itself with the available resources to commit to a new project, and thus decided to study the use of the projected Pegasus engine as a basis for a new military aeroplane that would be able to conform with an active NATO specification that sought a new Light Tactical Support Fighter to replace the Fiat G.91, particular attention was paid to meeting the specification’s performance and load requirements.

According to Air Chief Marshal Sir Patrick Hine, Hawker’s interest may have also been stimulated by the presence of Air Staff Requirement 345, which sought a V/STOL ground attack fighter for the Royal Air Force (RAF). [9] Aviation author Francis K. Mason expressed a contrary view, stating that Hawker’s decision to proceed was independent of British government initiatives, and that the P.1127 project was primarily based upon the NATO requirement instead. Hawker had a keen ally in its development in the form of Bristol, but by that point the latter was experiencing financial difficulties, and the lack of foreseeable commercial applications for the Pegasus engine in particular, coupled with refusals from HM Treasury, mean that development would have to be financed by NATO institutions instead. The close cooperation between Hawker and Bristol was viewed by project engineer Gordon Lewis as a key factors which had enabled the P.1127’s development to proceed in spite of technical obstacles and political setbacks.


Senior project engineer Ralph Hooper at Hawker promptly set about establishing an initial layout for a theoretical aircraft to take advantage of the Pegasus engine, using data provided by Bristol. This proposed aircraft soon received the internal designation P.1127. In July 1957, a modification made to the design was the incorporation of a bifurcated tailpipe, similar to the Hawker Sea Hawk, which was equipped with rotatable nozzles for the hot exhaust, similar those already used for the cold exhaust. The switch from a single tailpipe meant that the initial tailwheel undercarriage could also be discarded in favour a conventional nose wheel-led undercarriage. The design process extended throughout 1958, being financed entirely by Hawker, while approaches were made to NATO headquarters to better establish the tactical requirements sought, particularly between the conflicting demands for a lightly armed supersonic fighter and a simpler multipurpose subsonic one.

The development process had involved extensive use of physical models for one series of blowing trials, mixtures of focused hot and cold air were directed onto ground platforms to simulate the ground effect upon take-off. This work was considered to be critical to the project as there was very little knowledge of the adverse effects which could influence the aircraft during the vertical takeoff process as there was no airflow over the ailerons, tailplane, and rudder while the aircraft was held in a stationary hover, wingtip control jets were experimented with as an alternative reaction control approach. These research included the development of an all-new control response simulator which linked a series of simple flying controls to a computer. By the end of 1958, barely eighteen months after the start of the project, all the main features of the P.1127 were developed with one exception, that being the reaction control system, the development of which was completed by April 1959.

Throughout the development, Camm heavily emphasised the importance of the design’s simplicity, observing that “Sophistication means complication, then in turn escalation, cancellation, and finally ruination”. [12] In 1958, the design centered around a single Pegasus engine capable of generating 13,000 lb of thrust when fully equipped, the aircraft was to weight slightly less than the maximum thrust, thereby allowing vertical takeoffs to be performed under all nominal conditions. [12] During late 1958, the rapid progress of the P.1127 project had been noticed by technical advisors at NATO, who began promoting the acceleration of the aircraft’s development and that member nations should skip over the next generation of support fighters in favour of the emergent P.1127 instead. In Britain, support for the program was also growing within the British Air Staff, from January 1959 onwards, rumours of a pair of P.1127 prototypes being ordered by the Ministry of Supply alongside those of a Air Ministry specification being drafted around the project frequently echoed.

As the P.1127 had been developed at a time of deep UK defense cuts, Hawker had to seek commercial funding, and significant engine development funding came from the U.S. Research assistance was also provided by U.S. including a series of wind tunnel tests conducted by NASA’s Langley Research Center using sub-scale models, which demonstrated acceptable flight characteristics. Hawker test pilot Hugh Merewether went to the U.S. at NASA’s request to fly the Bell X-14. In March 1959, the company’s board of directors (Hawker Siddeley then) decided to privately fund two P.1127 prototypes.

In February 1959, Hawker had completed practically all of the design work and thus passed the entirety of its manufacturing design work to the company’s Experimental Design Office at Kingston, London. [12] In April 1959, the Ministry of Supply formally issued a contract for the completion of a pair of P.1127 prototypes. However, there were critics amongst the Air Staff of the project, typically disliking the P.1127 for its subsonic speeds, favouring supersonic-capable aircraft instead Mason attributes this as having caused considerable delay in the issuing of a contract to Hawker. On 23 July 1959, Hawker authorised the application of maximum effort to complete the development of the P.1127.

On 15 July 1960, the first “P.1127 Prototype V/STOL Strike Aircraft”, serial XP831, was delivered to RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, to commence static engine testing. On 31 August 1960, the Pegasus engine was ran for the first time while inside the airframe. Some of the tests were performed from a purpose-built platform at the aerodrome, which functioned to deflect the hot exhaust gases away from the aircraft during early hovering trials while more powerful versions of the engine were developed. [20] On 13 October 1960, the first Pegasus flight engine, capable of generating 11,300 lb of thrust, was delivered to Dunsfold.

On 21 October 1960, the initial tethered flight, performed by XP831, was conducted at Dunsfold at this stage of development, this feat had required the airframe to have been stripped of all extraneous weight and restrictions on the engine meant it could not be run for more than 2.5 minutes at a time. Several tethered flights took place, partially so that the test pilots could familiarise themselves with the hovering controls on 4 November, the first tethered flight without use of the auto-stabiliser system was accomplished. In mid-November, conventional taxying trials were performed at speeds of up to 70 knots.

On 19 November 1960, the first un-tethered free-flight hover of XP831 was achieved a week later, the first publicity photos of the P.1127 were released. [20] Prior to the first flight, Hooker is claimed to have asked of Camm “I suppose you are going to do some conventional flying first Sydney?” and Camm replied “What for?” Hooker said “Well you know, just to make sure the aeroplane is a nice aeroplane, and everything under control.” Camm replied, “Oh, Hawker aeroplanes are always beautiful, nothing wrong with a Hawker aeroplane, not going to bother with that. Vertical first time”. [21]

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1950-1969 (RAF-T 6932) Two Hawker Siddeley P.1127 experimental VTOL aircraft in flight over typical English countryside. They were probably flying from Hawker’s testing ground in Dunsfold, Surrey. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215043 THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1950-1969 (RAF-T 6800) A Hawker Siddeley P.1127 after landing vertically on the test pad at Dunsfold. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215020

On 13 February 1961, XP831 performed its first conventional flight, flown by Bill Bedford and lasting for 22 minutes. [22] Soon after this, XP831 was refitted with a new model of the Pegasus engine, capable of generating 12,000 lb of thrust, prior to embarking on new hovering trials in May 1961. In June, XP831 attained another milestone in the program when it performed the first transition from vertical hover to horizontal flight, initially flying the length of Dunsford’s runway at a height of 50 meters.

On 7 July 1961, the second prototype, XP836, performed its first take off conventionally. Continuing tests of the two prototypes proceeded to close the gap between vertical take off and flight, a feat which was achieved on 8 September 1961. ] During September, the feat was repeated multiple times by both prototypes, transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight and vice versa, including instances in which the auto-stabiliser was intentionally disabled.

During the flight test program, the issuing of NATO Basic Military Requirement 3 (NBMR-3) did not prove to be the opportunity as envisioned by Hawker, as NBMR-3 sought performance characteristics of which the P.1127 was not only unable to meet, but unlikely to be developed to meet in its current form either. As such, in 1961, there was little military interest in the P.1127 program, although, in January 1961, Hawker was requested to provide a quote for the costs involved in a potential 100 production standard P.1127 aircraft. Meanwhile, Hawker believed that the continuing development of the P.1127 would serve a successful demonstration, acting to dissuade potential customers from pursuing competing ‘paper’ VTOL aircraft projects.

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1950-1969 (RAF-T 6899) A Hawker Siddeley P1127 experimental VTOL aircraft at Dunsfold, Surrey, with a company standing by. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215035 THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1950-1969 (RAF-T 6901) A striking head on study of a Hawker Siddeley P.1127 aircraft at Hawker’s test centre at Dunsfold, Surrey. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215036

On 2 November 1960, the Ministry of Supply issued a contract for a further four prototypes to be produced, which were intended to develop the aircraft further towards being a realistic combat design, such as the refinement of the wing, engine improvements, and of accompanying operational equipment. Throughout this period, improved models of the Pegasus engine were rapidly developed, such as the Pegasus 3 being capable of 15,000 lbf (67 kN) of thrust. Apart from the improved powerplants, the first four P.1127 prototypes were quite similar the fifth prototype, XP980, introduced the taller fin and tailplane anhedral which were later used on the production Harrier. The fourth machine was partially used to provide Hawker production test pilots with type familiarisation. [25] The first carrier vertical landing was performed by the first prototype on HMS Ark Royal in 1963. The last P.1127, XP984, introduced the swept wing. [25] It was eventually fitted with the 15,000 lbf (66.7 kN) Pegasus 5 and functioned as the prototype Kestrel.

The first three P.1127s crashed, the second and third occurring during development. In 1963, the first prototype, XP831, publicly crashed at the Paris Air Show the accident had been caused by a speck of dirt in the air feed lines of the nozzle control motor, which had caused the engine nozzles to stick. XP831 was later fully repaired and resumed development flying. All the pilots involved survived.

Hawker P.V.3 - History

After Flight Lieutenant Chris House was shot down in RB396, he knew he had to get away from the crash site as quickly as possible. As he was coming in for his forced landing, he had noticed a large build with a Red Cross on the roof. Rightly deciding this was a German field hospital, he made for the fields in the other direction.

As he was escaping, he could see German troops making their way towards RB396. Safely away, Chris needed to make sure he wasn’t found. In a field where he noticed a few people working, Chris burrowed into a haystack and hoped for the best. He was found by Herman ter Duis and taken to their farmhouse. With the aid of a translator, Chris explained his situation and that he had come from an airfield in Germany. Chris remembered they listened to the BBC before turning in for the night.

The next day, April 2nd, a local guide turned up with a spare bicycle and they made their way toward Allied lines, using the ditches and hedges for cover. Eventually, Chris found the advanced units of the Guards Armoured Division and he was safe. From there, he made his way back across the Rhine to B.100 at Goch, Germany. When he arrived back, the rumours that had been whispered were now confirmed, 174 (Mauritius) Squadron was to be disbanded in the following days.

The Squadron was not in the best of mood but the ORB Summary noted that the mood lifted noticeably when an exhausted Chris turned up and told all about his adventure. With the war’s end in sight, 2TAF were consolidating their units. In 121 Wing, 174 Squadron were the third to be disbanded. Between Chris’ return and the formal disbanding of the unit, 174 Squadron flies 11 more sorties, Chris himself flew one more on the 7th, four days after getting back, before being posted to 175 Squadron where he saw out the war.

174 Squadron had been formed at Manston on 3 March 1942 around seventeen Hurricanes and eight pilots from No.607 Squadron, and as a result, was able to begin operations on the same day. They flew on the Dieppe Raid and converted to Typhoons a year later. After being equipped with Rockets in January 1944, 174 would play a key role as part of 121 Wing 2nd Tactical Air Force, including the attack on the Jobourg radar station near Cap de la Hague on the day before the D-Day landings. RB396 would only be a part of the squadron for a little under four months but she lived up to the squadron’s simple but apt moto, “Attack”.

April 1st 1945 dawned dull but 174 Squadron was called upon at noon to deal with a report of MET (Mechanised Enemy Transport) on the roads near Hengelo in the Netherlands. Departing the safety of their base at B.100 outside of Goch, Germany, Flight Lieutenant Chris House was flying as Red 4 in Hawker Typhoon MkIb, RB396 for the first time. Her usual pilot, Frank Johnson, was shot down just two days before and taken PoW. He was flying another aircraft that day because RB396 was being repaired from flak damage picked up whilst being flown by Sydney Russell-Smith two days prior to that.

The convoy was soon spotted and Red Section made their first attack, unleashing the Typhoon’s powerful payload of 8 RP-3 60lb rockets on the trucks below them. Wheeling around after his first pass, F/L House and RB396 followed up their attack with their 20mm cannons. Despite the carnage created by the rocket attack, the Germans responded with heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire from their light flak guns. RB396 was at about 500 feet when she was hit by this intense flak.

F/L House had moments to react, getting RB396 away to the north, he knew he would not be able to return to base and he successfully force landed RB396 in a field outside of Denekamp, Netherlands. Once down, the rest of Red Section were relieved to hear Chris radio that he was OK. Chris unstrapped himself, unplugged his RT and Oxygen cables and perhaps with one last look at the Typhoon with the name of another man’s girlfriend written on the nose, in his words, ‘did a runner’.

This newly discovered image of RB396 was taken while she was being salvaged, sometime after 1st April 1945. It clearly shows the impact of the landing that Chris carried out 75 years ago.

Chris recalled that dull April day many years later in a letter, he said, “I left the aircraft and ran away from the direction of what I presumed was a German field hospital. I also observed some Germans heading in the direction of the crash. I skirted several fields in which there were one or two men working and eventually I came to a haystack and decided to burrow into it pulling the hay in behind me.” Later Chris was found by a local farmer, Herman ter Duis. Noticing the British uniform, Herman approached and was greeted by the offer of a cigarette. Chris was taken back to the farm that Herman shared with his brother, where he spent the night.

Chris later wrote in a letter, “I was discovered by a young lad who took me into the farm where several adults were in the kitchen. They made me welcome and whilst there they showed me their hidden radio with which they listened to the BBC news. They were very kind to me.” Chris slept in one of the farmhouse bedrooms with his revolver placed on the bedside cabinet.

The following morning Chris was provided with overalls, a bicycle and a guide. They set off in the direction of the Allied advance. Chris remembered, “we had to cycle past a long column of German armour and eventually later in the day I said goodbye to my guide and bicycle and after using ditches to hide in, I was eventually found by the advanced elements of the Guards Armoured Division and a couple of days later was returned across the Rhine to my Squadron.”

In a very matter of fact way, Chris recorded in his logbook that he had been “Shot down 5 miles SW of Lingen. Evaded. Returned a couple of days later.” His return was recorded by his CO in the Squadron’s ORB on 3rd April by the comment, “Depression lifted slightly today when House was known to be safe and on his way back. Poor Chris looked nearly exhausted when he came in but what an adventure.”

75 years on from that final flight, the project to return RB396 to the skies where she belongs has announced new initiatives for how you can support the rebuild. There is a new and exciting tier to the Supporters’ Club, as a route for those who are able and willing to contribute to the rebuild at a higher level than is currently available. It is the Platinum Club, and with significant interest already, it has the potential to enable the rebuild to progress at a much faster pace than is currently possible. It seeks just one thousand people who really want to see the rebuild take off, membership to this club is limited. Alongside that, a range of special new merchandise to commemorate the events of the 75th anniversary have been produced, including a Limited Edition artwork, depicting Chris escaping from the scene of his forced landing. Throughout this 75th anniversary year, the HTPG is planning special events, to mark the anniversary. As soon as restrictions allow, those events will come to fruition and will be incredibly special.

Chris heard that the family who had helped him escape had been shot by the Gestapo. This haunted him forever, and he passed away in 2007 never being able to bring himself to return to the area. Through countless hours of extensive enquiries, the research team on the HTPG have now discovered that the family survived. They were not shot by the Gestapo. The team have now been in touch with the descendants who helped Chris, including the then young boy, as well as Chris’ own family. Planning is ongoing to reunite the two families, in the anniversary year of the final flight, at the exact site, bringing a degree of closure to the story.

To support the project to return RB396 to the skies, 75 years after she fell from them, please head to the “Get Involved” section of this website.

While RB396 was still being repaired from the damage of the 28th, P/O Frank Johnson continued to fly, today in Typhoon SW495. They took off in a flight of four 174 Squadron Typhoons at 13:40 with Frank flying as Red 4. They were tasked with intercepting some enemy transport on the roads near Neimberg. after their first attack with rockets, Frank seems to have been hit by flak and radioed in that his engine was cutting out and he was returning to base at Goch. He never made it back, force landing near Gronau. Germany.

Frank can explain what happens next better than we can.

On this 75 th anniversary of Frank being shot down, we are delighted to present this excerpt of The Memory Project’s Shayla Howell interview with Frank, where he describes the mission and its aftermath.

We are honoured to have partnered with The Memory Project, an initiative of Historica Canada, to share Frank’s and other Canadian Typhoon pilot’s experiences.

The Memory Project Archive houses more than 2,800 testimonials and over 10,000 images from veterans of the First World War, Second World War, the Korean War and peacekeeping missions. While the archive no longer accepts submissions, it remains the largest of its kind in Canada. You can access the interviews, digitised artefacts and book a speaker at www.thememoryproject.com/stories.

After a day of indifferent weather, RB396 and P/O Frank Johnson were back in action, flying close support mission in aid of the ground forces pushing deeper into the Reich. The morning operation had four 174 Squadron Typhoons proceed to their cab rank station, with P/O Frank Johnson in RB396 flying as Red 3 with the newly joined F/L Chris House flying as his wingman in Red 4. Soon their controller, ‘Limejuice’, had trade for them. They were vectored to a farmhouse the Army designated with red target smoke. A force of German troops were holed up inside and the four Typhoons made four attacks on the building, first with rockets and then with cannon. The result was that the building was totally destroyed. All aircraft returned safely to B.100 at Goch, Germany after a forty-minute sortie.

That afternoon, Frank and Chris would together again on an Armed Recce to Winterswijk on the Netherlands/German border. Frank would be flying in another Typhoon, XP-M, as F/O Sydney Russell-Smith was flying RB396 as Red 4 that afternoon.

The operation was a patrol over the bomb line that took them to Zutphen in the Netherlands. While no trade was given by forward controllers, they spotted some anti-aircraft guns and made an attack. Due to the increasing cloud cover, the results on the ground were inconclusive, but the effect on RB396 was clear. Sydney reported that they had been hit in the starboard tank.

This did not stop Sydney and RB396 from making a safe return to B.100 after a sortie of 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Sydney Russell-SMith’s logbook for the 28th March 1945

RB396 would be out of action for the next three days.

The project has had extensive contact with Sydney’s son and family, and Sydney is still with us. He is certainly the last known pilot to have physically flown in the very aircraft that the project is working on rebuilding. Sydney managed to sign two copies of the artwork depicting RB396 that was painted by Neil Hipkiss. Sydney, who was a P/O at the time, completed his ground training for the Typhoon MkIb on the 8/9th January 1945 and he appeared to arrive with 174 Squadron, who were at B100 Goch, sometime before the 22nd March 1945, completing his first sortie with them on that date.

The day broke fine and 174 Squadron put up 9 operations of four aircraft each. RB396 and P/O Frank Johnson would fly two of them with Sydney Russell-Smith as their wingman. The advance into Germany continued apace with Monty’s 21st Army Group pushing into the Rhineland from Wessel and Patton and Bradley in the south pushing in from Remagen.

The first op of the day saw them airborne for 09:15, flying as Red 3, and they proceeded to the holding point for the Visual Control Point (VCP) ground controller to call them in. With no target given, they were directed to their alternate, which was the town of Isselburg, north-west of Wessel. They attacked the town with rockets and cannon, which all landed in the target area but no clear results were seen or reported. All aircraft returned to B.100 safely after a sortie of just 45 minutes, which show how close to the frontline 174 Squadron was based.

Churchill crossing the Rhine at Wessel. 25 March 1945

Shortly after RB396’s return, the next set of four Typhoons departed for their cab-rank. But the lead aircraft, flown by F/L D.C. Nott crashed on takeoff. The remaining three aircraft got away ok, Nott was unhurt and his Typhoon would be repaired and returned to service. On such a busy day, this could have been disastrous for the wing operating out of Goch.

The interior of “G Air” Command vehicle. “G Air” is responsible for all air support within the Corps and sets in motion bombing by Allied planes of enemy concentrations and Typhoon RP attacks on tanks. Image: IWM BU 428

The interior of “G Air” Command vehicle. “G Air” is responsible for all air support within the Corps and sets in motion bombing by Allied planes of enemy concentrations and Typhoon RP attacks on tanks. Image: IWM BU 428

After a break of 6 hours, RB396 with Frank Johnson at the controls were airborne again. Their usual V.C.P. controller, callsign ‘Limejuice’ handed them over to another, callsign ‘Armour’, who had a group of enemy troops holed up in a house that needed clearing. White smoke was laid on to the house and RB396 went into the attack. Attacking with rockets and cannon, Frank noted the success of the strike in his logbook saying: “Attacked “Jerry” billets. Scored several strikes. Buildings left burning.”

All aircraft returned to base safely after a 50-minute sortie. 174 would fly two more operations that day, including one lead by F/L Nott in a borrowed Typhoon. The squadron summary noted at the end of the day that “targets and results were both very good. Pilots happy and tired.”

While RB396 and Frank Johnson were busy, freshly captured Wessel was visited by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. He made the crossing with little fanfare and was not far from the fighting throughout his visit. Eisenhower was not amused.

From Graces Guide

Note: This is a sub-section of Hawker Aircraft.

The Hawker P.V.3 was a British single-engined biplane fighter prototype of the 1930s. Only a single example was built, the Gloster Gladiator being selected instead to fulfill the requirement to which it was designed.

In 1930 the British Air Ministry circulated a draft version of Specification F.7/30 for a heavily armed day and night fighter around likely manufacturers. The new fighter was to have a speed of at least 250 mph (400 km/h) and a good climb rate. As it was expected that the high speeds of both the fighter and its prospective targets would only allow short bursts of fire to hit the target, an armament of four Vickers machine guns was required, double that of earlier fighters.

The P.V.3 made its maiden flight on 15 June 1934, piloted by George Bulman and powered by a 695 hp (518 kW) Goshawk II engine.


15 June 1992 – First Berlin Air Show for 60 years takes place.

15 June 1984 – Saab 340 entered service with Crossair.

15 June 1960 - First flight Mil Mi-10 Soviet military transport helicopter of flying crane configuration, developed from the Mi-6.

15 June 1958 - First flight Westland Westminster, British cargo helicopter powered by two turboshaft engines driving single, 5-bladed rotor

15 June 1954 - First flight Transcendental 1-G US experimental single-seater convertible helicopter with two wingtip contra-rotating rotors

15 June 1954 - First flight Hirsch H-100 French 3 seat twin engine prototype research aircraft to explore gust-absorption (gust alleviation)

15 June 1953 - First flight F-520 'Monitor' III, French two seat single engine monoplane trainer prototype.

15 June 1948 - First flight Sud-Est SE.3101, French experimental single-seater helicopter

15 June 1946 - US Navy's new Flight Demonstration Squadron, Blue Angels, gives first public performance with trio of Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats

15 June 1945 - First flight twin fuselage North American F-82 Twin Mustang fighter based on P-51 Mustang Last American piston-engine fighter

15 June 1943 - RAF's 1st Autogyro Squadron, No.529 Sqdn, formed at Halton Only RAF unit to fly autogyros & helicopters operationally in WWII

15 June 1943 – No. 434 (Bomber) Squadron RCAF was formed at Tholthorpe in England.

15 June 1942 – No. 135 (Fighter) Squadron RCAF was formed at Patricia Bay, BC.

15 June 1942 – No. 147 (BR) Squadron RCAF was formed at Sea Island, Vancouver, BC

15 June 1943 - First flight of The Arado Ar 234 'Blitz', world's first operational jet-powered bomber built by the German Arado company

15 June 1940 - First flight Sukhoi Su-1 or I-330 prototype Soviet high-altitude fighter aircraft

15 June 1937 - First flight of the Wibault 368, French single engine low wing monoplane 2 seat aircraft prototype

15 June 1936 - First flight Vickers Wellington, British twin-engine, long range medium bomber. Over 11,460 were built

15 June 1936 - First flight Westland Lysander, British army co-operation and liaison aircraft with exceptional short-field performance

15 June 1934 - First flight Short Singapore III (S.19), British multi-engined biplane flying boat.

15 June 1934 - First flight Hawker P.V.3, British single-engined biplane fighter prototype.

15 June 1933 - First flight Bloch MB-110, French 3 seat single engine high wing monoplane colonial scouting prototype.

15 June 1931 – Canadian Airways pilot E. W. Stull in a Fokker F.14 A, flew the first radio beam from Winnipeg to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

15 June 1931 - First flight Short Gurnard II, British single-engined two-seat biplane naval fighter in a floatplane version.

15 June 1928 - Mail transferred from airplane in flight to a train by bag from US Air Corps Blimp to Illinois Central train railway clerk.

15 June 1928 – Imperial Airways Argosy races Flying Scotsman train London to Edinburgh Argosy takes 84 min to refuel twice & wins by 15 min

15 June 1927 – US businessman Van Lear Black charters KLM Fokker F.VIIa from Netherlands to Batavia First international charter flight.

15 June 1921 - First African-American woman to earn an international aviation license is Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman.

15 June 1919 – Alcock & Brown complete first nonstop transatlantic flight landing their Vickers Vimy IV twin-engined bomber at Clifden

15 June 1916 - First flight Boeing Model 1 (Boeing B & W Seaplane), American single-engine biplane seaplane aircraft, First Boeing product.

15 June 1913 - First flight of the Alco N° 1, American 3 seat biplane seaplane, First plane built by Loughead Brothers (later Lockheed).

15 June 1910 – The world’s youngest flyer, 15-year-old Frenchman Marcel Hanriot, gets his pilot’s brevet, no. 15.

15 June 1785 – Pilâtre de Rozier and& Jules Romain become first known aeronautical fatalities in balloon crash during cross-Channel attempt

Airplanes in the skies + FAF history

The Hawker Tornado was a British single-seat fighter aircraft design of World War II for the Royal Air Force as a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane. The planned production of Tornados was cancelled after the engine it was designed to use, the Rolls-Royce Vulture, proved unreliable in service. A parallel airframe with the Napier Sabre continued into production as the Hawker Typhoon.

Shortly after the Hawker Hurricane entered service, Hawker began work on its eventual successor. Two alternative projects were undertaken: the Type N (for Napier), with a Napier Sabre engine, and the Type R (for Rolls-Royce), equipped with a Rolls-Royce Vulture powerplant. Hawker presented an early draft of their ideas to the Air Ministry who advised them that a specification was in the offing for such a fighter.

Hawker Tornado (P5224)

Hawker Tornado N (HG641)

The specification was released by the Ministry as Specification F.18/37 after further prompting from Hawker. the specification called for a single-seat fighter armed with twelve 7.7 mm machine guns, a maximum speed of 644 km/h at 4,600 m and a service ceiling of 10,700 m were required. Two prototypes of both the Type N and R were ordered on 3 March 1938.

Both prototypes were very similar to the Hurricane in general appearance, and shared some of its construction techniques. The front fuselage used the same swaged and bolted duralumin tube structure, which had been developed by Sydney Camm and Fred Sigrist in 1925. The new design featured automobile-like side-opening doors for entry, and used a large 12 m wing that was much thicker in cross-section than those on aircraft like the Spitfire. The rear fuselage, from behind the cockpit, differed from that of the Hurricane in that it was a duralumin, semi-monocoque, flush-riveted structure.

The all-metal wings incorporated the legs and wheel-bays of the wide-track, inward-retracting main undercarriage. The two models were also very similar to each other the R plane had a rounder nose profile and a ventral radiator, whereas the N had a flatter deck and a chin-mounted radiator. The fuselage of the Tornado ahead of the wings was 30 cm longer than that of the Typhoon, the wings were fitted 76 mm lower on the fuselage, and the radiator was located beneath the fuselage. The X-24 cylinder configuration of the Vulture required two sets of ejector exhaust stacks on each side of the cowling, and that the engine was mounted further forward than the Sabre in order to clear the front wing spar.

General characteristics
Crew: One, pilot
Length: 10.01 m
Wingspan: 12.78 m
Height: 4.47 m
Wing area: 26.3 m²
Empty weight: 3,800 kg
Useful load: 1,039 kg
Loaded weight: 4,318 kg for P5219
Max. takeoff weight: 4,839 kg
Fuel capacity: 636 Litres
Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Vulture II or X-24 piston engine, 1,760 hp 1,312 kw Vulture II, Vulture V: 1,980 hp 1,476 kw
Propellers: 3 or 4 bladed propeller
Propeller diameter: 338 cm, Vulture: 306cm
Maximum speed: 641 km/h for Vulture V at 7,102 m.
Service ceiling: 10,640 m
Wing loading: max takeoff: 184.81 kg/m²
Power/mass: max takeoff 3.58 kg/Kw
Time to height: 7.2 min to 6,100 m
Guns: Provision for 12 × 7.7 mm Browning machine guns (1st prototype P5219)
or 4 × 20 mm Hispano cannon. (2nd and Centaurus prototypes P5224, HG641).


Hawker P.V.3 - History

The Tempest Mk V prototype flew for the first time on 2 September 1942, with P.G. Lucas at the controls. Flight trials highlighted the need to restore lateral stability lost because of the extended nose and the prototype was modified with a fin fillet and increased span horizontal stabilizers.
It was realized that, although the Tempest V´s performance was less spectacular than anticipated from the other prototypes with there more advanced engines, all of these other aircraft would take far longer to develop to a point where they would be ready for production. A decision was made to concentrate Hawker´s efforts on the Sabre II powered aircraft in order to get the new fighter into operational service as soon as possible. In 1942 400 Tempests were ordered before the prototype´s first flight (originally Mk Is).

Tempest Mk V were built in two variants, Series 1 and 2. These are the differences:

  • The Series 1 had its Hispano Mk. II cannon protruding ahead of the wings leading edge.
  • The joint between the rear fuselage and tail unit was reinforced as a measure, by riveting over with fish plates thus rendering the tail unit nondetachable.
  • The rear spar pick-up end fitting was cranked in order to pick up the fuselage lugs. This was because the fuselage structure of these early aircraft were converted Typhoon assemblies, whose rear spar pick up lugs were too high to allow direct attachment. The top wing root fillet fairing had to have a bulge in it to clear this fitting.
  • The Mk V Series 2 were fitted with the new short-barrelled Hispano Mk. V cannon which was completely enclosed.
  • The built-up tubular steel fuselage rear spar pick-up structure was replaced by a one-piece casting which gave a direct pick up making a much simpler structural joint.
  • The reinforcement of the rear fuselage was not necessary allowing a detachable tail unit.
  • Provision to carry two 45-gal drop tanks.

The first 100 aircrafts (Series 1 with serialnumbers in the JN range) were manufactured at Langley in Buckinghamshire. The first production aircraft (JN729) made its maiden flight on June 21 1943.
The other 300 Mk Vs were built at the Gloster company and were Series 2 with EJ serialnumbers. Two further orders were placed, all Series 2 standard with NV and SN serialnumbers.

Wing span: 41ft 0in
Wing area: 302 sq ft
Length: 33ft 8in
Height (tail down): 16ft 1in
Weight (empty): 9,000lb
Weight (loaded): 11,400lb
Maximum speed: 435 mph at 17,500ft
Time to height: 5 mins to 15,000ft
Powerplant: Napier Sabre Mk IIA/B/C
Max power: 2,180hp
Propeller diameter: 4-blade 14ft 0in
Numbers built: 801

Hawker Tempest (4+ Publication)
Typhoon/Tempest in action (Squadron/Signal Publications No 102)
The Typhoon & Tempest Story (Chris Thomas & Christopher Shores)
Scale Models February 1973, by Bob Jones

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