Hawker Sea Fury

Fighters with Pakistan Air Force

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Hawker Sea Fury FB 11

  • Role: Naval fighter-bomber
  • Manufacturer: Hawker
  • Designer: Sydney Camm
  • First flight: 1/9/1944 (Fury); 1/2/ 1945 (Sea Fury)

Introduction     

  • October 1945 (Fleet Air Arm [FAA])
  • 1947 (Royal Canadian Navy)
  • Retired 1953 (FAA)
  • Produced: 1945–55
  • Number built: 864
  • Developed from: Hawker Tempest

The Hawker Sea Fury was a British fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by Hawker. It was the last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy, and also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built.  Developed during the Second World War, the Sea Fury entered service two years after the war ended. The Sea Fury proved to be a popular aircraft with a number of overseas militaries, and was used during the Korean War in the early 1950s, as well as against the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Sea Fury’s development was formally initiated in 1943 in response to a wartime requirement of the RAF, thus the aircraft was initially named Fury. As the Second World War drew to a close, the RAF cancelled their order for the aircraft; however, the Royal Navy saw the type as a suitable carrier aircraft to replace a range of increasingly obsolete or poorly suited aircraft being operated by the Fleet Air Arm. Development of the Sea Fury proceeded, and the type began entering operational service in 1947. The Sea Fury attracted international orders as both a carrier and land-based aircraft; it was operated by countries including Australia, Burma, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, West Germany, Iraq, and Pakistan. The type acquitted itself well in the Korean War, fighting effectively even against the MiG-15 jet fighter. Although the Sea Fury was retired by the majority of its military operators in the late 1950s in favour of jet-propelled aircraft, a considerable number of aircraft saw subsequent use in the civil sector, and several remain airworthy in the 21st century both as heritage and racing aircraft.

Development-Origins

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TMK 20 Sea Fury: 2014 Reno Air Races

The Hawker Fury was an evolutionary successor to the successful Hawker Typhoon and Tempest fighters and fighter-bombers of World War II. The Fury’s design process was initiated in September 1942 by Sydney Camm, one of Hawker’s foremost aircraft designers, to meet the Royal Air Force’s requirement for a lightweight Tempest Mk.II replacement; the Tempest, while a successful aircraft, had been viewed as being heavy and oversized for typical fighter duties. Developed as the “Tempest Light Fighter”, the semi-elliptical wing of the Tempest was incorporated, but was shortened in span by attaching the two wings at the aircraft centreline, eliminating the centre-section. The fuselage itself was broadly similar in form to that of the Tempest, but was a fully monocoque structure, while the cockpit level was higher, affording the pilot better all round visibility.

The first Fury to fly, on 1 September 1944, was NX798 with a Centaurus XII with rigid engine mounts, powering a Rotol four-blade propeller. Second on 27 November 1944 was LA610, which had a Griffon 85 and Rotol six-blade contra-rotating propeller. By now development of the Fury and Sea Fury was closely interlinked so that the next prototype to fly was a Sea Fury, SR661, described under “Naval Conversion.” NX802 (25 July 1945) was the last Fury prototype, powered by a Centaurus XV. LA610 was eventually fitted with a Napier Sabre VII, which was capable of developing 3,400–4,000 hp (2,535–2,983 kW); this aircraft become possibly the fastest piston-engined Hawker aircraft after reaching a speed of around 485 mph (780 km/h).

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Naval version: Hawker Sea Fury FB 11 VR930 with wings folded, at Kemble Airfield, Gloucestershire, England. Operated by the Royal Navy Historic Flight.

With the end of the Second World War in Europe in sight, the RAF began cancelling many aircraft orders. Thus, the RAF’s order for the Fury was cancelled before any production examples were built because the RAF already had excessive numbers of late Mark Spitfires and Tempests and viewed the Fury as an additional overlap with these aircraft. Although the RAF had pulled out of the programme, development of the type continued as the Sea Fury.

Into production: The first production model, the Sea Fury F Mk X (Fighter, Mk 10), flew in September 1946. With the completion of flight testing at Boscombe Down in 1946, the trials process was repeated aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious. Carrier testing revealed directional stability issues related to rudder effectiveness during landing, and this was resolved by the adoption of a tail wheel lock, which also improved the wheel retraction behaviour. Several rectifying design changes were made by Hawker in response to feedback from the test pilots, including the adoption of a five-bladed Rotol propeller to greatly reduce overspeed tendencies, a re-designed rudder assembly to increase rudder effectiveness,  Dynafocal engine mountings to reduce vibration at low speeds, and an improved undercarriage with greater flexibility; these changes greatly improved the aircraft’s deck landing characteristics. Arrestor hook trials initially revealed the Sea Fury to be prone to missing the wires; this was rapidly resolved by modifications to the hook dampener mechanism. By March 1947, a number of production Sea Furies were already being produced for the Fleet Air Arm. Both the fourth and sixth production aircraft were used in further trials onboard Illustrious, and the main change from the earlier aircraft was the adoption of a longer, more rigid arrestor hook. A total of 50 Mk X Sea Furies would be produced, which were practically identical to the SR 666 prototype except for the Centaurus 18 engine and four-bladed propeller being used; at least 20 of the 50 aircraft performed in the aircraft’s extensive trials programme. Following the successful completion of weapons trials at the A&AEE Boscombe Down, the Sea Fury was cleared for operational use on 31 July 1947.Hawker Aircraft continued to develop and refine the Sea Fury Mk X, resulting in the significantly more capable Sea Fury Mk 11, otherwise known as the Sea Fury FB 11. This upgraded model featured several improvements, most notable being the hydraulically powered wing folding mechanism which considerably eased flight deck operations and the adoption of a number of new weapons for performing air-to-ground combat. The Admiralty also chose to procure a two-seater trainer variant of the Sea Fury, and atypically this decision took place after an order for a similar two-seater Sea Fury model had already been placed by an export customer, Iraq. During testing, the rear canopy collapsed, leading to a significant redesign of the type’s two-seat cockpit prior to entering service. Designated as the Sea Fury T 20, a total of 60 aircraft would be manufactured for the Fleet Air Arm between 1950 and 1952. The Royal Navy ultimately procured a total of 615 Sea Furies, the overwhelming majority of them being of the Mk 11 standard.

Export market: Hawker Aircraft was keen to market the Sea Fury to foreign operators, and conducted an intense sales drive for their export version of the aircraft, designated Sea Fury F 50. On 21 October 1946, the Royal Netherlands Navy placed an order for ten F 50 aircraft, which were basically identical to the FAA’s Sea Fury Mk X aircraft, to equip the Netherlands’ first aircraft carrier, the ex-HMS Nairana, renamed HNLMS Karel Doorman. The Dutch also ordered an additional twelve FB 60s in 1948 and these were delivered in 1950. A manufacturing license was also acquired for the production of a further 25 FB 51s by Fokker Aircraft in the Netherlands, which were delivered from 1951 onwards.

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Sea Fury FB.11 modified for unlimited racing. It had previously served the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Canadian Navy.

The Sea Fury became an export success, being purchased both to operate on foreign  aircraft carriers and for purely land-based roles by a number of nations, including Australia, Germany, Iraq, Egypt, Burma, Pakistan and Cuba. Several of the nations that did not have active aircraft carriers often had the tail hooks and catapult hooks removed from their aircraft. A final variant, the Sea Fury TT 20 was developed by Hawker for West Germany as a target tow aircraft, these remained in service into the 1970s. Upon the type’s withdrawal from military service, a large number of Sea Furies were sold onto private individuals, often as a racing aircraft due to its high speed. The final production figures for all marks reached around 860 aircraft.

Design

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Three Hawker Sea Fury FB 11 fighters of the Royal Canadian Navy

The Sea Fury is a navalised aircraft, capable of operating from the aircraft carriersof the Royal Navy. It was heavily based on preceding Hawker fighter aircraft, particularly the Tempest; features such as the semi-elliptical wing and fuselage were derived directly from the Tempest but featured significant refinements, including significant strengthening to withstand the stresses of carrier landings. While the Sea Fury was lighter and smaller than the Tempest, advanced aspects of the Sea Fury’s design such as its Centaurus engine meant it was also considerably more powerful and faster; the Sea Fury has the distinction of being the final and fastest of Hawker’s piston-engined aircraft, as well as being one of the fastest production piston engined fighters ever produced. The performance of the Sea Fury was striking; in comparison with the 15 years older Hawker Fury biplane the Sea Fury was nearly twice as fast and had double the rate of climb despite far heavier equipment and greater range. The Sea Fury Mk X was capable of attaining a maximum speed of 460 mph and climb to a height of 20,000 feet in under five minutes. The Sea Fury was reportedly a highly aerobatic aircraft with favourable flying behaviour at all heights and speeds, although intentional spinning of the aircraft was banned during the type’s military service. During flight displays, the Sea Fury could demonstrate its ability to perform rapid rolls at a rate of 100 degrees per second, attributed to the spring tab equipped ailerons. For extra thrust on takeoff Jet Assisted Take off (JATO) could be used.

The Sea Fury was powered by the newly developed Bristol Centaurus piston engine, which drove a five-bladed propeller. Many of the engine’s subsystems, such as the fully automated cooling system, cockpit gauges, and fuel booster pump were electrical, powered by an engine-driven generator supplemented by two independent batteries. The hydraulic system, necessary to operate the retractable undercarriage, tail hook, and flaps, was pressurised to 1,800 psi by an engine-driven pump. If this failed a hand pump in the cockpit could also power these systems, a pneumatic pump was also driven by the engine for the brakes. Internal fuel was stored in a total of five self-sealing fuel tanks, two within the rear fuselage and three housed within the wings. Various avionics systems were used on Sea Furies, it was unusually well equipped for an aircraft of the era in this respect. Many aircraft would be equipped with onboard radar, often the ARI 5307 ZBX, which could be directly integrated with the four-channel VHF radio system. Several of the navigational aids, such as the altimeter and G2F compass, were also advanced; many of these subsystems would appear on subsequent jet aircraft with little or no alteration. Other aspects of the Sea Fury, such as the majority of the flight controls, were conventional. Some controls were electrically powered, such as the weapons controls, onboard cameras, and the gyro gunsight.

Although the Sea Fury had been originally developed as a pure air superiority fighter, the Royal Navy viewed the solid construction and payload capabilities of the airframe as positive attributes for ground attack as well, accordingly Hawker tested and cleared the type to use a wide range of armaments and support equipment. Each aircraft had four wing-mounted 20 mm Hispano V cannon, with up to 16 rocket projectiles, or a combination of 500 lb or 1000 lb bombs being carried too. Other loads included 1000 lb incendiary bombs, mines, type 2 smoke floats or 90 gallon fuel tanks. The Sea Fury could also be fitted with both vertical and oblique cameras and a dedicated control box in the cockpit, for photo reconnaissance missions. Other ancillary equipment included chaff to evade hostile missile attack and flares.

Operational history

Britain

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 A Sea Fury FB 11 launches from HMS Glory 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. Sea Furies were issued to Nos. 736, 738, 759 and 778 Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm. The FX 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 FB11 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.

Korean War: 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. In addition to their ground attack role, Sea Furies also performed combat 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 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.

Australia

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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.

Burma: 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.

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Canadian Sea Fury serial WG 566

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.

Cuba: 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. 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.

Netherlands: 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.

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Pakistan Air Force Sea Fury T 61

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.

Variants

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Critical Mass, a modified Sea Fury air racer

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Hawker FB 11

Fury Prototypes

  • LA610 originally ordered as a Hawker Tempest III it was completed as a Fury prototype and first flew on 27 November 1944.
  • NX798 One of two Fury prototypes to specification F.2/43, the first to fly on 1 September 1944.
  • NX802 One of two Fury prototypes to specification F.2/43.

Sea Fury prototypes

  • SR661: a semi-navalised Fury prototype to Specification N.22/43, first flew on 21 February 1945 with a Centarus XII engine (later changed to a Centarus XVIII) and Rotal four-bladed propeller, did not have folding wings.
  • SR666: a fully navalised Fury prototype to Specification N.22/43, first flew on 12 October 1945 with a Centarus XV engine and a Rotol five-bladed propeller.
  • VB857 Sea Fury X prototype built by Boulton-Paul and first flew on 31 January 1946 with a Centarus XVI, later used as a FB11 prototype with a Centarus XVIII engine.
  • Fury Order for 200 aircraft placed on 28 April 1944, order cancelled.
  • Sea Fury F 10: Single-seat fighter version for the Royal Navy, 50 built by Hawker, an order for a further 300 placed at the same time to be built by Boulton Paul was cancelled. First production aircraft flew on 15 August 1946.
  • Sea Fury FB 11: Single-seat fighter-bomber for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, 615 built, including 31 for the RAN and 53 for the RCN.
  • Sea Fury T 20 prototype VX818 prototype training variant to Specification N.19/47, originally ordered by Iraq it first flew on 15 January 1948.
  • Sea Fury T 20: Two-seat training version for the Royal Navy, 61 built, 10 of which were later converted to target tugs for West Germany, operated by a civilian company
  • Sea Fury F 50: Single-seat fighter version for the Royal Netherlands Navy, 10 built.
  • Sea Fury FB 51: Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the Royal Netherlands Navy, 25 built.
  • Fury FB 60: Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the Pakistan Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Navy, 93 built for Pakistan and 12 for the Netherlands.
  • Fury T 61: Two-seat training version for the Pakistan Air Force, five built.
  • Fury I: Single-seat land-based fighter version for the Iraqi Air Force. Unofficially known as the “Baghdad Fury”, 55 built.
  • Fury Trainer: Two-seat training version for the Iraqi Air Force, five built.

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Specifications (FB 11)

Data from Hawker’s Tempestuous Finale, Flight International

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 34 ft 8 in (10.56 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 43⁄4 in (11.69 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 101⁄2 in (4.84 m)
  • Wing area: 280 ft2 (26.01 m2)
  • Empty weight: 9,240 lb (4,191 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 12,350 lb (5,602 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 14,650 lb (6,645 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Centaurus 18 18-cylinder twin-row radial engine, 2,480 hp (1,850 kW) (take-off)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 460 mph (400 knots, 740 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,500 m)
  • Range: 700 mi (609 nmi, 1,126 km) with internal fuel; 1,040 mi (904 nmi, 1,674 km) with two drop tanks
  • Service ceiling: 35,800 ft (10,910 m)
  • Rate of climb: 4,320 ft/min (21.9 m/s)

Armament

  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V cannon
  • Rockets: 12× 3 in (76.2 mm) rockets or
  • Bombs: 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

  • CAC Kangaroo
  • Focke-Wulf Fw 190
  • Grumman F8F Bearcat
  • Lavochkin La-9
  • Kawasaki Ki-100
  • Martin-Baker MB 5
  • Nakajima Ki-84
  • North American P-51 Mustang
  • Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Supermarine Seafang
  • Vought F4U Corsair

By courtesy:  Wikipedia.org

 

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One thought on “Hawker Sea Fury

  1. I dedicate this effort to my instructor at the Pakistan International Airlines Flying Training Academy (1967-69), Captain Hyder Baluch, a former Fury pilot with Pakistan Air Force.

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