Hawker Fury

Hawker Fury

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Hawker Fury

One of the finest biplane fighters, the Hawker Fury was the fighter counterpart to the Hawker Hart light bomber. Both planes were powered by the Rolls-Royce F.XI, which gave them greater speed than any other aircraft in the RAF, including the Bristol Bulldog, which the RAF had ordered in large numbers. During the early thirties the Bulldog was the best fighter in the RAF, although towards the end of the decade the Gloster Gauntlet and Gladiator had outclassed them, although some remained in service until the Munich crisis, when they were replaced by the Hawker Hurricane. By the outbreak of the Second World War the only Furies remaining in the RAF were in training squadrons.

Fury Mk I [ edit | edit source ]

The first variant was the Fury Mk I, of which 160 have been built. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIS engine with a power of 525 horsepower (390 kW).

Fury Mk II [ edit | edit source ]

The Fury Mk II was equipped with a more powerful engine than the Mk I (power of 640 horsepower, 477 kW), which was a Rolls-Royce-Kestrel-VI-engine. The maximum speed of the Mk II was about 10 per-cents higher than the Mk I’s, however causing higher fuel consumption. Even though it had bigger fuel tanks, its range was lower than on its predecessor.

All in all 98 aircraft were built, which were used by six RAF squadrons. The first of them entered service with the No.25 squadron in the year 1937. Two years later, it was replaced by the Hawker Hurricane. After the beginning of World War II, some of them were still used as trainer aircraft.

The South African Air Force operated them at the beginning of World War II over East Africa. Yugoslavian Mk II Furies saw combat during the German invasion of the year 1941.

Hawker Fury I (Sabre-Powered) Fighter

While testing of the Tempest prototypes was still underway in 1942, the Hawker design team began to study ways to improve and lighten the fighter aircraft. Some of their ideas were influenced by the study of a German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-3 that had inadvertently landed in Britain in June 1942. The Fw 190 proved smaller and lighter that its Hawker-built contemporaries. In September 1942, the British Air Ministry issued Specification F.6/42 calling for a new fighter aircraft. Hawker proposed three versions of its improved Tempest, each to be powered by a different engine: the V-12 Rolls-Royce Griffon, the 18-cylinder Bristol Centaurus radial, and the H-24 Napier Sabre.

The Napier Sabre-powered Hawker Fury LA610 in-flight exhibiting exactly what a high-performance aircraft should look like.

The Air Ministry supported Hawker’s designs under Specification F.2/43 issued in February 1943. In April 1943, Specification N.7/43 was issued for a new Navy fighter. Sydney Camm, Hawker’s chief designer, felt that arresting gear and folding wings could be added to the “improved Tempest” design to make it meet the requirements laid out in N.7/43. This plan was approved, and Specification N.22/43 was issued to Hawker for the new Navy fighter. Around this time, the two new Hawker aircraft received their official names: Fury (for the Royal Air Force’s land-based version) and Sea Fury (for the Fleet Air Arm’s naval version).

From the beginning, the preferred power plants were the Napier Sabre for the Fury and the Bristol Centaurs for the Sea Fury. Although the detailed design drawings for the Sabre-powered Fury were finished first, developmental delays of the new Sabre VII (NS.93/SM) engine resulted in the Centaurus- and Griffon-powered Furys being completed first. The Centaurus-powered Fury (NX798) first flew on 1 September 1944 followed by the Griffon-powered Fury (LA610) on 27 November 1944.

The Hawker Fury LA610 originally flew with a Griffon engine and contra-rotating propellers. The large duct under the spinner housed the radiator, similar to that used on the Tempest V and VI.

Although the Air Ministry ordered 200 Sabre-powered Fury I aircraft in August 1944, there were rumors that Sabre production would be shut down following the war’s end. In October 1944, the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) assured Hawker that Sabre production would continue. In November 1944, the MAP requested a Sabre-powered Fury prototype be built utilizing the Griffon-powered LA610 airframe. However, in February 1945 the Fury I order was reduced by 50 aircraft to 150. But in March 1945, two additional Sabre-powered prototypes (VP207 and VP213) were requested. Work to install a Sabre engine in LA610 began in July 1945. With the war over and the future of fighting aircraft pointing toward jet power, orders for the Fury I were reduced again in September 1945 to 120 units.

In December 1945, the Air Ministry had informed Hawker that ground attack would be the Fury I’s primary role. Hawker felt the aircraft was not suited for this because of its liquid-cooled engine, and it did not have the armor needed for a ground attacker. As a result, in February 1946, the number of Furys on order was further reduced to 60—and even those were in jeopardy. During this time, modifications of the LA610 airframe had been completed, but the Sabre VII engine was not ready. Rather than wait for the engine, a Sabre VA (2,600 hp / 1,939 kW) was substituted. Soon, a Sabre VII was installed, and Fury LA610 was flown for the first time with its intended power plant on 3 April 1946.

The Hawker Tempest I (HM599), with its close-fitting cowl and wing radiators, was a stepping stone to the Fury I.

While the rest of the aircraft remained the same as the other prototypes, the power section of LA610 was completely different. A streamlined cowling was installed to cover the liquid-cooled Sabre engine. Coolant radiators were installed in the inboard wing sections, replacing additional fuel tanks. Cooling air would enter the wing’s leading edge, pass through the radiators, and exit via shutters under the wing. This configuration was similar to that used on the sole Tempest I prototype (HM599)—production did not occur because the Air Ministry perceived the wing radiators as too vulnerable to combat damage. The radiator shutters of the Fury I were automatically controlled based on engine temperature. A split duct under the spinner supplied intake air to the engine via the duct’s upper section. Air from the lower duct was directed through engine oil coolers and then out the bottom of the cowling.

Not only was it one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built, the Sabre-powered Fury proved to be the highest performance piston-engine aircraft built by Hawker. The 24-cylinder Napier Sabre engine was a horizontal H layout with two crankshafts. The engine had a 5.0 in (127 mm) bore, 4.75 in (121 mm) stroke, and displaced 2,238 cu in (36.7 L). The Sabre VII utilized water/methanol injection to boost power and was capable of 3,055 hp (2,278 kW) at 3,850 rpm with 17 psi (1.17 bar) of boost. To transfer this power to thrust, the Fury I used a 13 ft 3 in (4.0 m) four-blade Rotol propeller. A five-blade propeller like the Sea Fury’s 12 ft 9 in (3.9 m) Rotol unit was considered, but the decreased weight of the four-blade unit proved decisive in its adoption.

This rear view of the LA610 Fury shows how well the 3,055 hp (2,278 kW) Sabre-engine was fitted to the airframe, enabling the aircraft to exceed 480 mph (775 km/h). Note the large 13 ft 3 in (4.0 m) four-blade propeller.

The Sabre-powered Fury had a top speed of 483 mph (777 km/h) at 18,500 ft (5,639 m) and 422 mph (679 km/h) at sea level. In contrast, the 2,560 hp (1,909 kw) Centaurus-powered Sea Fury had a top speed 460 mph (740 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,487 m) and 380 mph (612 km/h) at sea level. The Sabre Fury’s initial rate of climb was 5,480 ft/min (27.8 m/s), and it could reach 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 4.1 minutes. By comparison, The Sea Fury’s initial rate of climb was 4,320 ft/min (21.9 m/s), and it took 5.7 minutes to reach 20,000 ft (6,096 m). The Fury I’s service ceiling was 41,500 ft (12,649 m). All Fury and Sea Fury aircraft had the same 38 ft 5 in (11.7 m) wingspan. At 34 ft 8 in (10.6 m), the Sabre-powered Fury was 1 in (25.4 mm) longer than the Sea Fury. The Fury I had an empty weight of 9,350 lb (4,241 kg) and a loaded weight of 12,120 lb (5,498 kg).

On 14 August 1946, the remaining Fury I aircraft on order were cancelled. Of the three Fury I prototypes, LA610 would remain with Hawker for testing, VP207 would be completed and loaned to Napier for engine testing, and VP213 would be used for parts and not completed. VP207 was chosen to go to Napier because it had a larger radiator that could handle developmental power increases of the Sabre VII engine. With the cancellation of the Fury I there was no longer a need for the Sabre VII engine, and its development was stopped Napier would not take over VP207. VP207 was completed by Hawker and first flew on 9 May 1947. Hawker retained the aircraft as a company demonstrator for a period of time. The final disposition of LA610 has not been definitively found, but it is believed that the aircraft was scrapped in the late 1940s. VP207 was stored and maintained in Hawker’s facility at Langley Airfield until the mid-1950s, when the aircraft was scrapped.

Fury LA610 preparing for a flight. The air scoop under the spinner, and the wing radiators can clearly be seen in this image.

Although the Fury never progressed beyond the prototype phase, the Sea Fury did enter production, with some 789 aircraft built (number varies by source)—including prototypes and 61 two-seat T.20 trainers. Sea Furys served in Korea, were the last front-line piston-engine aircraft operated by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, and were sold to and used by various other countries. A number still fly today, but due to the rarity of the Bristol Centaurus engine, many have been re-engined with Wright R-3350s. In addition, two Sea Furys have been built up for racing with Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines, and one has a Pratt & Whitney R-2800. But none have looked quite as stunning or performed as well (in military trim) as the Napier Sabre-powered Hawker Fury I.

The Sabre-powered Hawker Fury VP207 at the Society of British Aircraft Constructors show at Radlett in September 1947. Some believe the aircraft was painted silver with a red stripe, but the stripe was actually blue. (Robert Archer image via Victor Archer / American Motorsports Coverage)

The Fury Mk I is a typical reserve aircraft in that it is an unremarkable plane. It is neither outstanding in speed, its manoeuvrability or even weapons loadout. Though contemporary aircraft may have a speed advantage, beefier weapons or even more manoeuvrability, the Fury Mk I can still find its place on the battlefield in both in air battles and the ground attack game.

The Fury Mk I has a crazy low stall-speed which allows it to circle anti-aircraft artillery or anti-aircraft vehicles easily. Though the plane's Vickers 7.7 mm machine guns are relatively weak, they can wreak havoc on the ground targets if enough bullets connect with their targets. If there are no enemy aircraft circling above the Mk I, then it can leisurely eliminate the ground targets, even tightly grouped vehicles. Even without access to bombs, the Fury Mk I can be an effective ground attacker.

With many contemporary aircraft using faster firing machine guns, larger calibre guns or just more of them, it will take a skilful Fury pilot to balance or tip the scales. With 600 rounds of ammunition for each Vickers machine gun, there is a lot to work with however, it is to the pilot's detriment to spray bullets everywhere. To make the most impact with the 7.7 mm rounds, the best chances to hit the enemy are when while in close. The longer the shot, the more likely bullets will either miss or harmlessly bounce off the target. Attacking close in between 100 and 300 metres gives the best chances in critically damaging the enemy. Unless the pilot pulls off a pilot snipe and knocks out the pilot, chances are it may take a couple passes to inflict enough damage to send the target to the ground in flames. Close in attacks may offer the best opportunities to damage the enemy, but it can make for some hectic flying.

The 7.7 mm bullets fired at aircraft fuselage do relatively little damage therefore, it is crucial to target critical components such as the pilot, engines, oil coolers, and fuel tanks to eliminate the enemy effectively. Aircraft wings can also be susceptible to snapping if enough bullets perforate the skin and structure.

One use for the Fury Mk I is as an early interceptor aircraft against bombers. While He 111, Do-17, TBD-1, SB 2M, Ki-21, and F.222.2 bombers have various defensive gunners, they are not impossible to shoot down with the Fury. The pilot does need to watch how they approach the bombers. Typically flying in from the front or the underside of the bombers allows for an unscathed approach. However, if you find that you must approach with a defensive position firing at you, make small adjustments to stay out of the line of fire and wait for the gunner to run out of ammunition before levelling off and taking a shot. Chances are you can knock out the gunner or even work on taking out the engines. A crippled bomber easily allows the more manoeuvrable biplane to make enough passes to finish the job.

Manual Engine Control

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Controllable Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Combined Not controllable
1 gear
Not controllable

Pros and cons

  • Turns well for a biplane
  • Excellent vertical manoeuvrability
  • Incredibly low stall speed
  • Great climb speed, easily reaches 3,000 m (10,000 ft)
  • Only has two rifle-calibre 7 mm machine guns, a challenge to damage enemy aircraft
  • Loses energy quite easily, mostly able to turn just once or twice
  • Not very beginner-friendly due to its flying characteristics
  • Engine tends to overheat, especially so in hot maps (RB/SB)

Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

United Kingdom [ edit | edit source ]

A Sea Fury FB 11 launches from HMS Glory in 1951

Sea Fury T 20 two-seat trainer of No. 1831 Squadron RNVR at RNAS Stretton, Cheshire, in 1951

778 Naval Air Squadron was the first unit of the Fleet Air Arm to receive the Sea Fury, with deliveries commencing in February 1947 to the squadron's Intensive Flying Development Unit, while 787 Squadron, the Naval Air Fighting Development Squadron, received the Sea Fury in May that year. ⎯] ⎰] The first operational unit to be equipped with the Sea Fury was 803 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Canadian Navy, which replaced Seafires with Sea Furies in August 1947, with 807 Naval Air Squadron was the first operational Royal Navy Sea Fury squadron when it received the aircraft in September that year. ⎯] The Seafire was ill-suited to carrier use, as the pilot's poor view of the deck and the aircraft's narrow undercarriage made both landings and takeoffs difficult. Consequently, the Sea Fury F Mk X replaced the Seafire on most carriers. ⎱] For some years the Sea Fury and Seafire operated alongside each other, with the shorter-range Seafire operating as a fleet defence fighter while the Sea Fury was employed as a longer-range fighter-bomber. ⎲]

Sea Furies were issued to Nos. 736, 738, 759 and 778 Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm. The F X was followed by the Sea Fury FB 11 fighter-bomber variant, which eventually reached a production total of 650 aircraft. The Sea Fury remained the Fleet Air Arm’s primary fighter-bomber until 1953, at which point jet-powered aircraft, such as the Hawker Sea Hawk and Supermarine Attacker, were introduced to operational service. ⎳]

The Sea Fury FB 11 entered service with the fighter squadrons of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) in August 1951. The RNVR units also operated the Sea Fury T.20 two-seat trainer version from late 1950 to give reserve pilots experience on the type before relinquishing their Supermarine Seafire aircraft. RNVR units which were equipped with the Sea Fury were Nos. 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835 and 1836 Squadrons. No. 1832, based at RAF Benson, was the last RNVR squadron to relinquish the type in August 1955 for the jet-powered Supermarine Attacker. ⎴]

Korean War [ edit | edit source ]

Following the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, Sea Furies were dispatched to the region as a part of the British Commonwealth Forces Korea, Britain's contribution to the United Nations multinational task force to assist South Korea following an invasion by North Korea. Sea Furies were flown throughout the conflict, primarily as ground-attack aircraft, from the Royal Navy light fleet carriers HMS Glory, HMS Theseus, HMS Ocean, and the Australian carrier HMAS Sydney. ⎵] After a Fleet Air Arm Seafire was shot down by a United States Air Force Boeing B-29 Superfortress on 28 July 1950, all Commonwealth aircraft were painted with black and white Invasion stripes. ⎶]

The first Sea Furies arrived in theatre with 807 Naval Air Squadron embarked on HMS Theseus, which relieved HMS Triumph in October 1950. ⎶] Operations on Theseus were intense, and the Sea Furies of 807 Squadron flew a total of 264 combat sorties in October. During a brief rest period at the Japanese port of Iwakuni the catapult was found to be excessively worn, necessitating the launch of Sea Furies with RATOG assistance until it was repaired. In December 1950, Sea Furies conducted several strikes on bridges, airfields, and railways to disrupt North Korean logistics, flying a further 332 sorties without incurring any losses. At this early point in the war little aerial resistance was encountered and the biggest threats were ground-based anti-aircraft fire or technical problems. ⎷]

In addition to their ground attack role, Sea Furies also performed air patrols. In this role a total of 3,900 interceptions were carried out, although none of the intercepted aircraft turned out to be hostile. During the winter period, the Sea Furies were often called upon as spotter aircraft for UN artillery around Inchon, Wonsan, and Songiin. ⎸] In April 1951, 804 Naval Air Squadron operating off HMS Glory, replaced 807 Squadron, which in turn was replaced by HMAS Sydney in September 1951 with 805 and 808 Squadron RAN. The Australian carrier air group flew 2,366 combat sorties. ⎶] In January 1952, HMS Glory with 804 NAS returned to relieve Sydney following a refit in Australia. For the rest of the war Glory and Ocean relieved each other on duty. ⎶]

In 1952, the first Chinese MiG-15 jet fighters appeared. On 8 August 1952, Lieutenant Peter "Hoagy" Carmichael, of 802 Squadron, flying Sea Fury WJ232 from HMS Ocean, shot a MiG-15 down, making him one of only a few pilots of a propeller driven aircraft to shoot down a jet. ⎹] [N 2] The engagement occurred when a formation of Sea Furies and Fireflies was engaged by eight MiG-15s, during which one Firefly was badly damaged while the Sea Furies escaped unharmed. Some sources claim that this is the only successful engagement by a British pilot in a British aircraft during the Korean War, although a few sources claim a second MiG was downed or damaged in the same action. ⎺] In addition, the recollections of Sub-Lieutenant Brian "Schmoo" Ellis, the youngest member of the flight, differ from the official version of events. ⎻] [ citation needed ]

Australia [ edit | edit source ]

An ex-Iraqi Air Force Sea Fury, repainted in an Australian Fleet Air Arm livery.

Australia was one of three Commonwealth nations to operate the Sea Fury, with the others being Canada and Pakistan. The type was operated by two frontline squadrons of the Royal Australian Navy, 805 Squadron and 808 Squadron a third squadron that flew the Sea Fury, 850 Squadron, was also briefly active. Two Australian aircraft carriers, HMAS Sydney and HMAS Vengeance, employed Sea Furies in their air wings. The Sea Fury was used by Australia during the Korean War, flying from carriers based along the Korean coast in support of friendly ground forces. The Sea Fury would be operated by Australian forces between 1948 and 1962. ⎼]

Burma [ edit | edit source ]

Between 1957 and 1958, Burma received 21 Sea Furies, the majority of them being ex-FAA aircraft. The Sea Fury was frequently employed as a counter-insurgency platform in Burmese service and on 15 February 1961, a Republic of China Air Force Consolidated PB4Y Privateer was intercepted and shot down by a Sea Fury near the Thai-Burmese border. Of the aircraft's crew, five were killed and two were captured. The aircraft had been on a supply run to Chinese Kuomintang forces fighting in northern Burma. ⎽] It is believed that the Burmese Sea Furies were retired in 1968, and replaced by armed Lockheed T-33 Shooting Stars. ⎾]

Canada [ edit | edit source ]

Canadian Sea Fury serial WG566

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) became a significant customer of the Sea Fury, and many of its aircraft were diverted from existing Royal Navy contracts. On 23 June 1948, the first aircraft was accepted at RCAF Rockcliffe. The type was quickly put to use replacing Canada's existing inventory of Seafires, taking on the primary role of fleet air defence operating from the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent. Two Canadian squadrons operated the Sea Fury, Nos. 803 and 883 Squadrons, which were later renumbered as 870 and 871. Pilot training on the Sea Fury was normally conducted at the RCN's HMCS Shearwater land base. Landing difficulties with the Sea Fury were experienced following the RCN's decision to convert to the US Navy's deck landing procedures, which were prone to overstressing and damaging the airframes as the Sea Fury had been designed for a tail-down landing attitude. ⎿] The Sea Fury would be operated between 1948 and 1956 by the RCN, at which point they were replaced by the jet-powered McDonnell F2H Banshee. The aircraft themselves were put into storage, and some were subsequently purchased by civilians. ⏀]

Cuba [ edit | edit source ]

A Sea Fury F 50 preserved at the Museo Giron, Cuba in 2006

In 1959 during the Cuban Revolution, the Fuerza Aérea del Ejercito de Cuba (FAEC) ⏁] purchased a total of 17 refurbished (ex-Fleet Air Arm) Sea Furies from Hawker. The aircraft were briefly flown by FAEC prior to the ousting of President Fulgencio Batista and the assumption of power by Fidel Castro. Following the change in government, the Sea Furies were retained by the Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria ("Revolutionary Air Force" FAR) the Sea Fury proved difficult to keep operational, partially because the new military lacked personnel experienced with the type. ⏂]

In April 1961, during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, air support for the Cuban exiles' Brigade 2506 was provided by ex-FAEC, CIA-operated Douglas B-26B Invaders US President John F. Kennedy had decided against involving U.S. Navy aircraft. ⏃] The only FAR fighter aircraft to see combat were three Sea Furies and five Lockheed T-33 armed jet trainers belonging to the Escuadrón Persecución y Combate ("Pursuit & Combat Squadron"), based at the San Antonio de los Baños and Antonio Maceo air bases. ⏄] ⏅]

A Cuban Hawker Sea Fury at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana.

In pre-emptive attacks on April 15, two Sea Furies were destroyed on the ground, one at Ciudad Libertad and one in a hangar near Moa. ⏄] ⏅] During the ensuing aerial combat, a single airborne Sea Fury was lost during the Invasion. ⏂]

In the early hours of April 17, Brigade 2506 began to land at Playa Girón. Around 06:30, a FAR formation composed of three Sea Furies, one B-26 and two T-33s started attacking the exiles' ships. At about 06:50, 8.0 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of Playa Larga, the transport ship Houston was damaged by rockets and cannons from FAR aircraft, including Sea Furies piloted by Major Enrique Carreras Rojas and Captain Gustavo Bourzac Houston caught fire and was abandoned. ⏄] ⏅] While attempting to land at an airbase, Carreras Rojas's Sea Fury was attacked and damaged by a CIA B-26 he was able to abort his approach and escape. Carreras Rojas later shot down another B-26. ⏅] While attempting to shoot down a Curtiss C-46 transport aircraft, Nicaraguan-born pilot Carlos Ulloa crashed in the Bay of Pigs around 08:30, either due to an engine stall or having received anti-aircraft fire. ⏄] Around 09:30, multiple FAR aircraft destroyed an ammunition ship, Rio Escondido. ⏅] A Sea Fury piloted by Lieutenant Douglas Rudd also destroyed a B-26. ⏅] ⏆]

Netherlands [ edit | edit source ]

The Netherlands was the first export customer for the Sea Fury, and the Netherlands Royal Navy operated the aircraft from two of their aircraft carriers, both of which were named HNLMS Karel Doorman as they were operated at separate periods from one another. It was common for Royal Netherlands Navy vessels to operate alongside Royal Navy ships, thus Dutch Sea Furies also regularly operated from FAA land bases and RN carriers. During 1947, Dutch Sea Furies operating from HNLMS Karel Doorman were employed in a ground support capacity against insurgent fighters in the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch procured and license-built additional Sea Furies for carrier operations, although the type was ultimately replaced by the jet-powered Hawker Sea Hawk from the late 1950s onwards. ⎢] ⏇]

Pakistan [ edit | edit source ]

One of the largest export customers for the type was Pakistan. In 1949, an initial order for 50 Sea Fury FB 60 aircraft for the Pakistan Air Force was placed. A total of 87 new-build Sea Furies were purchased and delivered between 1950 and 1952 some ex-FAA and Iraqi Sea Furies were also subsequently purchased. The aircraft was operated by three frontline squadrons, Nos. 5, 9, and 14 Squadrons. The Sea Fury began to be replaced by the jet-powered North American F-86 Sabre in 1955, and the last Sea Furies in Pakistani service were ultimately retired in 1960. ⏈]

Sea Fury vs MiG-15 - the true story

PAUL BEAVER FRAeS sheds new light on a classic air combat encounter from the Korean War in 1952 - where Royal Navy Sea Fury piston-engine fighters shot down a North Korean MiG-15 jet. But was the correct pilot credited for the kill?

Brian 'Schmoo' Ellis' Sea Fury. The piston-engine fighter was used in ground attack missions in the Korean War. (via Author)

The early morning mist had started to dissolve as the ‘finger four’ formation of Hawker Sea Fury fighters from 802 Naval Air Squadron dropped down to 4,000 feet over Pyongyang ready to reconnoitre the main north-south railway. This was the main artery for supplies and its weak points were 19 bridges across which the troops and ammunition went south.

It was 9 August 1952 and the United Nations’ forces had been engaged in fighting back a Communist invasion of South Korea for nearly two years. They were not making good progress and every effort from carrier-based air power was needed to stem the hordes.

I saw a MiG get around behind me as if he wanted to dogfight. Big mistake a jet can’t dogfight a Sea Fury"

As they flew circled round to cross enemy territory to the sea at Chinnampo, the flight’s leader, Lieutenant Peter (Hoagy) Carmichael called for the other three fighters to step out into a combat formation making the fighting formation about one mile wide. This would allow them to spot enemy aircraft quicker and made them feel less vulnerable to ground fire.

To Carmichael’s left was his wingman, Sub-Lieutenant Carl Haines, known as the sharpest eyes in the Fleet, and to this right were Sub-Lieutenant Peter (Toby) Davis and his young wingman, Sub-Lieutenant Brian (Schmoo) Ellis.

MiGs, four o'clock high!

'Schmoo' Ellis was reunited with his old foe, the MiG-15 in 2017. (Via author)

Sixty-six years later Schmoo Ellis remembers every detail of that day. “We crossed the coast on a deserted stretch near Chungsan at about six o’clock. There was no sign of activity. The Communist air defence forces seemed to still be asleep. That was no anti-aircraft fire all seemed quiet.”

The reason for the lack of tell-tale puffs of anti-aircraft fire was simple. “We should have realised there were enemy fighters in the local area,” remembers Ellis. “Within minutes it had all changed”

“It was Carl who spotted them first. He called ‘MiGs four o-clock high.’”

“I was the nearest to the fast approaching enemy, so I called the break. With a well-practiced manoeuvre, we crossed over – the right pair taking the lead - and turned towards the enemy, at the same time opened the throttle to its highest power setting, in a climbing turn.

“My four 20 mm cannon were set to fire and I braced into the turn, pulling hard. As I did so, I saw a MiG get around behind me as if he wanted to dogfight. Big mistake a jet can’t dogfight a Sea Fury".

What happened next has gone down in the Royal Navy’s history but not quite in the way it has always been portrayed.

“The MiG came in from behind and realised that he had too much energy he was going too fast. He put out his air brakes to slow but in doing so loss momentum and dropped into my gyro gunsight. I fired and even as he accelerated away, I kept firing. I had no time to watch him go down as there was still a fight underway,” is how Ellis recalls it today.

Kill recognition denied

The shootdown was one of the few post-1945 British air combat kills and one of the rare piston vs jet encounters. (RAeS NAL)

In the four minutes of air combat, it was a MiG ‘kill’ and two or three damaged, probably beyond repair. It became a cause célèbre in the Fleet Air Arm. Many Sea Fury pilots were disappointed for Schmoo Ellis, who kept his own counsel on the matter even when flight leader Carmichael was awarded the victory.

WI: both Hawker Fury and Gloster Gladiator conceived as monoplanes?

Mixed response, I think. The Italians and Swedes and others were flying Fiat CR.42 biplane fighter's into WW2. The Germans still used the Henschel Hs.123's until they ran out of air frames. Some of the early monoplane steps for the US were the P-26 Peashooter and the Curtis Shrike, which both made notable use of wires, struts, and spats.

I think the real leap of faith comes with the acceptance of the un-strung cantilever monoplanes leaving their nimble biplane counter parts in the dust. Wider acceptance comes with the change in tactics that maximizes what the clean monoplane can do best. Would that change need to be evolutionary, or a revolutionary jump, with no war to drive change.

Also 165 of the 746 production Gladiators were built to export contracts and delivered 1937-38. Would these customers have ordered the G.38 instead?

6 of them (delivered in 1937) plus another 6 Gladiator Mk II diverted from an RAF contract and delivered in 1939 were sold to Norway. 7 of them were scrambled to defend Oslo in April 1940. What would the result have been had they had been G.38s? They were 60 mph faster (with the same engine) and had 8 machine guns instead of 4. The G.38 probably had a better rate of climb an time to height.


Also 165 of the 746 production Gladiators were built to export contracts and delivered 1937-38. Would these customers have ordered the G.38 instead?

6 of them (delivered in 1937) plus another 6 Gladiator Mk II diverted from an RAF contract and delivered in 1939 were sold to Norway. 7 of them were scrambled to defend Oslo in April 1940. What would the result have been had they had been G.38s? They were 60 mph faster (with the same engine) and had 8 machine guns instead of 4. The G.38 probably had a better rate of climb an time to height.

Tomo pauk

Boeing P-26 is in pipeline, so is the P-30 (retractable U/C, closed canopy), Soviets have the I-16 in the works. Japanese have a host of prototype monoplane fighters in mid-1930s, some with fixed U/C, some with retractable. So Britain is merely within the trend here, not making a 'driver' for others? Plus, Gauntlet can be designed as OTL, pretty much old fashion stuff - it is later than OTL Fury.

Question - how small is not too small, how big is not too big? Eg. the Fokker D.XXI have had wing area of 174 sq ft (of what looks like a reasonably thin wing), vs. Gloster's 230 sq ft. Wing area of 200 sq ft looks like a good compromise?

The Wooksta!


The result could be that more Gloster G.38 fighters were built instead of the Hurricane.

According to its Wikipaedia entry the Gloster G.38's p had a maximum speed of 275 knots (316 mph, 509 km/h at) at 16,000 ft (4,875 m) on one Bristol Mercury IX nine-cylinder radial engine, 840 hp (627 kW).

The Hurricane Mk I on a 1,030hp Merlin had a maximum speed of 330 mph at 17,500 ft.

Any ideas on what a Merlin powered G.38 could do? Or if the G.38 had more development potential than the Hurricane?

Does anybody know if the above performances are with the same octane fuels and the same type of propellers?

My guess is that the G.38 is with 87 octane fuel and a fixed-blade airscrew, while the Hurricane is with 100 octane and an constant-speed propeller. If that is correct then a G.38 with high octane fuel and a CS propeller would be as fast or faster as a Hurricane.


Tomo pauk

Does anybody know if the above performances are with the same octane fuels and the same type of propellers?

My guess is that the G.38 is with 87 octane fuel and a fixed-blade airscrew, while the Hurricane is with 100 octane and an constant-speed propeller. If that is correct then a G.38 with high octane fuel and a CS propeller would be as fast or faster as a Hurricane.

The 100 oct fuel will improve performance at low altitudes, while the CS prop will improve take-off capabilities and climb. Neither will improve speed much at high altitudes the fixed-pitch prop was already with pitch best suited for high speed, and max speed was achieved at high altitudes anyway.

Quirk might be that Merlin (as well as other liquid-cooled engines with reasonably low compression ratio) will be rated for ever greater max boost whenever the octane rating of available fuel is upped. So the Merlin III can make 1300 HP at lower altitudes once 100 oct fuel is available (on +12lbs/sq in boost

300 HP gain), while Mercury XV will do 955 HP with same fuel (less than 120 HP gain). On Sea Hurricanes, the Merlin III was rated for +16 lbs/sq in boost = 1440 HP, of course at low altitude. At a bit higher oct fuel, 100/115 oct?

Zheng He


Here's a couple of WHIF takes on the monoplane Gladiator from the "Beyond the Sprues" modeling shite JP Viera (I believe) created the drawings. In the same thread there's also some nifty alternative versions of the Hurricane and the Fokker D.XX!


The OP suggested a monoplane version of the Hawker Fury with fixed gear.

Since the original Fury flew 223 mph with a 700 horsepower Rolls Royce Kestrel engine, the next question is how much faster a monoplane version could fly?

Merely eliminating all those bracing wires should add a good 50 mph to the top speed.
Note, modern light planes (RV-series, Cirrus, Cessna Columbia, etc.) routinely cruise faster than 200 with fixed gear.

The second question is how many guns and gallons of fuel a monoplane Fury could lift from a typical RAF grass airstrip?
Remember that grass airstrips kept take-off and landing speeds low long after engineers figured out how to build monoplanes with high wing-loadings. Higher wing-loadings usually allow higher top speed but have the disadvantage of higher landing speeds.

And yes, the first Fury monoplane would have a thick, cantilever wing optimized for short, grass airstrips.

To keep things simple, let's retain a wooden, fixed-pitch propeller similar to those installed in Hurricane Mark 1, Spitfire Mark 1, etc.

I can see a monoplane Fury as an excellent "conversion" airplane for pilots transitioning from biplanes to WW2-vintage airplanes. Improvements like: flaps, controllable-pitch propellers, enclosed cockpits, retractable gear, etc. can be added to later models.


Depends upon the length of the flight deck.
Since larger wings equal lower landing speeds, the lightest-loaded biplanes could fly off the shortest decks.
For example, Fairey Swordfish remained in service until the end of WW2 because they could fly off even the shortest of escort carriers. Their u-boat prey did not care about Swordfishs' slow speed because they knew that even the slowest of airplanes carried Aldis lights and radios to call in heavier guns.

Zheng He

Depends upon the length of the flight deck.
Since larger wings equal lower landing speeds, the lightest-loaded biplanes could fly off the shortest decks.
For example, Fairey Swordfish remained in service until the end of WW2 because they could fly off even the shortest of escort carriers. Their u-boat prey did not care about Swordfishs' slow speed because they knew that even the slowest of airplanes carried Aldis lights and radios to call in heavier guns.


Earlier, I suggested limiting this thread to the wooden, fixed pitch propellers similar to those installed in Hurricane Mark 1 and Spitfire Mark 1 because this narrows the discussion to one level of technology . the level of technology available at the start of WW2.
Limiting discussion to wooden, fixed-pitch propellers also keeps the playing field level for simple comparisons.

Fixed-pitch propellers are available in a variety of pitches ranging from climb to cruise. But they can only be optimized for one speed. For example a course-pitched, cruise propeller is great for its intended mission, but will never allow the engine to turn fast enough to generate its maximum rated horsepower A cruise prop will accelerate slowly for take-off and climb sluggishly.
OTOH a climb prop is pitched shallow, to allow the engine to spin up to its red-line rpm for take-off and climb, but will cruise 20 mph slower.


Some Bloke

Some Bloke


From memory the Gloster Gauntlet and Hawker Fury were both designed in the second half of the 1920s. Therefore for TTL I suggest that Gloster and Hawker build monoplane versions of both with fixed undercarriages. The Monoplane Fury Mk I enters service with the RAF in the middle of 1931 in place of the biplane Fury Mk I. The Gauntlet Monoplane, like the biplane version of the real world, eventually enters service with the RAF in May 1935.

For Spec. F.7/30 Hawker builds a Monoplane Fury with a retractable undercarriage instead of the High Speed Fury with a 1,000hp Kestrel engine and a 700hp Goshawk version instead of the P.V.3 prototype. However, according to Thetford's Aircraft of the Royal Air Force neither had anything to do with the Fury Mk II. Therefore the Monoplane Fury Mk II built in its place ITTL is just the Mk I with a Kestrel producing 640hp instead of 525hp and doesn't enter service until 1937. Except that I think its more likely that the Air Ministry would order 112 extra Gauntlet Monoplanes in March 1935.

Meanwhile Gloster builds the G.38 instead of the SS.37 Gladiator. It flies in September 1934, which is 3 months behind its competitor from Hawker, but as its Mercury engine has less problems than the PV.3s Goshawk it gets the production contract in July 1935. All other things being equal 747 G.38s are built instead of the Gladiator (one prototype, 581 production aircraft to Air Ministry contracts and 165 direct exports).

ITTL the monoplane with a retractable undercarriage built instead of the Gladiator is effectively the G.38 designed to F.5/34 in the real world. Therefore I think it can be justified that the Hawker P.V.3 and Supermarine 224 of TTL were effectively Goshawk powered versions of the Hurricane and Spitfire. Then for Spec. 5/34 they submit redesigns with the Merlin instead of the Goshawk and 8 machine guns instead of 4. As these are adaptations of existing designs rather than new ones it should take less time to design and build the prototypes, but the first flight dates would be subject to the availability of the Merlin. Also I think the service entry date could not be much earlier than May 1937 because that's the service entry date of the Fairey Battle, which was the first aircraft powered by the Merlin to enter service. That would advance the service entry of the Hurricane by 6 months and the Spitfire by a year.

Therefore I see 2 possibilities:

1) The Gladiator didn't enter service until February 1937, which is only 3 months earlier than my estimated earliest in-service date for the Spitfire and Hurricane. Therefore the Air Ministry orders 581 extra Hurricanes from July 1935. Note that IOTL the first 600 Hurricanes and 300 Spitfires were ordered in June 1936.

2) The Air Ministry orders 900 G.38s in June 1936 instead of the Spitfire and Hurricane, because it thinks the G.38 was adequate until the Hawker Tornado and Typhoon are ready to replace it in 1940-41. Production would be subcontracted to Hawker and the Castle Bromwich factory would be built for G.38 production instead of Spitfires. Supermarine would keep building flying boats and amphibians, but their B.13/36 and Dumbo prototypes might be ready to fly sooner because there is no Spitfire to improve.

Therefore unless the G.38 can be developed as much as the Spitfire was I prefer the first option. This is partly because Gloster built 2,750 Hurricanes and 200 similar Hawker Hotspurs so there would be less re-tooling.

The Last Dogfight

Ironically, history’s last known piston-engine dogfight was between two legendary American warbirds from the Second World War – the P-51 Mustang and the Corsair. When a brief shooting war broke out in July of 1969 between estranged neighbours El Salvador and Honduras following a series of bitterly contested World Cup qualifying-round soccer matches, both countries’ antiquated air forces took to the skies. On July 17, Honduran Vought F4U Corsairs engaged a flight of Salvadorian Goodyear FG-1D Corsairs and Cavalier Mustangs — militarized versions of civilian air racing P-51s. During the duel, a Honduran pilot named Fernando Soto shot down two of the Salvadorian planes. El Salvador continued to fly its surviving Corsairs into 1975 Honduras didn’t retire its fleet until 1979.

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.

Hawker Fury - History

The Centaurus-powered first prototype Hawker Fury, NX798.

The Hawker Fury and Sea Fury are monoplanes designed and built by Hawker Aircraft in the 1940s which should not be confused with the Hawker Fury biplane design of the 1930s.

In late 1942, Hawker Chief Designer Sydney Camm proposed a lighter version of the Tempest fighter, for which Specification F.2/43 was issued in May 1943.

The second Hawker Fury LA610 was initially flown with a Griffon 85 engine.

When fitted with a Sabre VII engine, LA610 was the fastest of all Hawker's piston engine fighters.

With arrester hook and folding wings, SR666 was the first fully-navalised Hawker Sea Fury prototype.

Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 WF619 with an impressive display of weaponry..

The two-seat trainer Sea Fury had its origins in the Iraqi Dual Trainer IDT1.

An air-to-air photograph of the prototype Sea Fury T.20, VX818.

Four single-seat 'Baghdad Furies' prepare for delivery to Iraq.

A Pakistan Air Force Sea Fury T.61 with the twin cockpit configuration.

Hawker Fury prototype G-AKRY prior to its eventful sales tour of Egypt.

UB451 is one of three Sea Fury T.20s and 18 FB.11s exported to Burma.

Scarlet-painted Sea Fury T.20 D-CABY at Dunsfold prior to delivery.

Sea Fury T.20 VX281 G-RNHF is one of several still flying and was photographed in July 2018.

Watch the video: Hawker Fury flown by Alan Walker


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