The Hawker Tomtit was an elementary trainer designed as a possible replacement for the aging Avro 504N but that was only produced in small numbers. In 1927 the Air Ministry issued a specification for a new trainer which would have to be powered by the Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose five-cylinder radial engine, use the all-metal frameworks now becoming standard in the RAF, and be as close as possible to modern combat aircraft of the late 1920s.
The Tomtit used the new Hawker metal construction system, with a tubular steel and duralumin framework and hexagonal dumb-bell spars. It was the first British elementary trainer to have Handley Page automatic slots (on the upper wings) and full provision for blind flying, using an adjustable hood and the Reid and Sigrist blind flying panel. Both cockpits were well clear of the main wings, making it safer to bail out of the aircraft in an emergency. The first prototype was powered by the Mongoose IIIC, but Hawkers also produced a design for a civil version of the aircraft, powered by a Cirrus Hermes inline engine.
The Tomtit made its maiden flight came in January 1929. Three months later the Air Ministry ordered the first ten of twenty five aircraft purchased for the RAF. The Tomtit was found to be a delightful aircraft to fly, but its complex construction and high cost meant that it was never ordered in large numbers. The RAF aircraft were used by No.3 Flying Training School at Grantham from 1929 to 1932, and the Central Flying School at Wittering, but only alongside the Avro 504N, which would not be replaced as the RAF's main trainer until the June 1932 acceptance of the Avro Tutor.
The Tomtit had a longer life as a civil aircraft. Only five were built from new for the civil market, but in 1935 the RAF declared its aircraft obsolete and offered twelve of them for sale. Nine of these aircraft found buyers in Britain and several of them remained in use well into the post-war period. The last airworthy Tomtit is now owned by the Shuttleworth Collection,
All stats for Service Trainer version with Mongoose engine
Engine: Armstrong Siddeley Mongoose IIIC five-cylinder radial engine
Wing span: 28ft 6 5/8in
Length: 23ft 8in
Height: 8ft 4in
Empty Weight: 1,100lb
Loaded Weight: 1,750lb
Max Speed: 124mph at sea level
Climb: 14min 30sec to 10,000ft
Service Ceiling: 19,500ft