Hawker Hornet

The Hawker Hornet was the prototype for the Hawker Fury, one of the best biplane fighters to see service with the RAF. It was developed from the radial-engine powered Hawker F.20/27, which made its maiden flight in 1928. This was a single-bay biplane with staggered wings, and a smaller lower wing, and used Hawker's tubular steel construction method to produce a light but strong aircraft, with a top speed of 190mph.

By the time the F.20/27 made its maiden flight Hawkers had already produced the Hart bomber, which was faster than any fighter then in service with the RAF, and also faster than the Bristol Bulldog, which had not yet entered service. It was clear to Sydney Camm at Hawkers that the F.20/27 specification would soon have to be revised, and so in 1929 Hawkers began work on the Hornet. This was built around the Rolls Royce Kestrel engine, which in 1929 was still under development, and was then called the Rolls Royce F.XI. The Hornet was initially built around a F.XIA engine, but received a 480hp F.XIS before its main flight tests.

The Hornet made its public debut at the 1929 Olympia Aero Show. It was then delivered to Martlesham Heath for service trials. The new aircraft reached a top speed of over 200mph, a great increase on the 178mph of the Bulldog II. The Hornet demonstrated the superiority of the inline engine over the radial engine. It was almost identical to the F.20/27, with the same wings and a virtually identical airframe, and the power-to-weight ration of the Hornet and the Jupiter powered F.20/27 were very similar. The only difference was that cowling around the inline engine was smoother than was possible with the radial engines. The result was a 15mph increase in top speed. Even when given a 520hp Mercury engine the F.20/27 was still slightly slower than the Hornet. 

In September 1929 the Air Ministry purchased the Hornet prototype, giving it the registration number J9682 and the new name Fury. Under its new name the Fury would become the RAF's best fighter of the early 1930s, and some remained in service until the Munich crisis.

Engine: Rolls-Royce F.XIS
Power: 480hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 30ft 0in
Length: 26ft 3in
Height: 9ft 4in
Empty Weight: 2,409lb
Loaded Weight: 3,232lb
Max Speed: 205mph at 13,000ft
Climb: 5min 9sec to 10,000ft
Service Ceiling: 25,500ft
Armament: Provision for two Vickers Mk III guns

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 April 2010), Hawker Hornet , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_hornet.html

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