The Hawker Hunter is a subsonic British jet aircraft developed in the 1950s. The single-seat Hunter entered service as a manoeuvrable fighter aircraft, and later operated in fighter-bomber and reconnaissance roles in numerous conflicts. Two-seat variants remained in use for training and secondary roles with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy until the early 1990s. The Hunter was also widely exported, serving with 21 other air forces; 50 years after its original introduction it is still in active service, operating with the Lebanese Air Force.
On 7 September 1953, the modified first prototype broke the world air speed record, achieving 727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h). Hunters were also used by two RAF display teams; the “Black Arrows“, who on one occasion looped a record-breaking 22 examples in formation, and later the “Blue Diamonds“, who flew 16 aircraft. Overall, 1,972 Hunters were produced by Hawker Siddeley and under licence. In British service, the aircraft was replaced by the English Electric Lightning, the Hawker Siddeley Harrier and the McDonnell Douglas Phantom.
Seeking better performance and fulfilment of the Air Ministry Specification E.38/46, Sydney Camm designed the Hawker P.1052, which was essentially a Sea Hawk with a 35-degree swept wing. First flying in 1948, the P.1052 demonstrated good performance and conducted several carrier trials, but did not warrant further development into a production aircraft. As a private venture, Hawker converted the second P.1052 prototype into the Hawker P.1081 with swept tailplanes, a revised fuselage, and a single jet exhaust at the rear. First flown on 19 June 1950, the P.1081 was promising enough to draw interest from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), but further development was stalled by difficulties with the engine reheat. The sole prototype was lost in a crash in 1951.
- Role: Fighter, Fighter Bomber, Ground Attack, Reconnaissance
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Hawker Siddeley
First flight: 20 July 1951
Status: In service Lebanese Air Force
Primary Users: Royal Air Force (Historic), Indian Air Force (Historic), Swedish Air Force (Historic), Swiss Air Force (Historic)
Numbers Built: 1,972
- Unit Cost: US $20,000,000 (2013)