Supermarine Scimitar: Wikis


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Scimitars at Farnborough 1962
Role Naval strike fighter
Manufacturer Supermarine
First flight 19 January 1956
Introduced 1957
Status No longer in service
Primary user Royal Navy
Number built 76

The Supermarine Scimitar was a British naval fighter aircraft operated by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. The prototype for the eventual production version flew in January 1956 and production aircraft were delivered in 1957. It saw service with the Royal Navy from 1958 until 1969. However, while popular with crews it was beset by design faults and was a poor aircraft in some ways compared to many of its contemporaries.[citation needed]


Design and development

The Scimitar stemmed from a number of designs from Supermarine for a naval jet aircraft, initially to a requirement for an undercarriage-less fighter aircraft to land on rubber decks. The Vickers-Supermarine Type 508 was the first Scimitar ancestor, basically a twin-engined straight-winged type with unconventional V-tail (or 'butterfly tail') and hinged rear fuselage (for trimming at different speeds). Three were to be built, but in the event the second was different enough in detail to be redesignated the Type 529 and the third was markedly different - with swept wings and conventional swept tail surfaces. This was the Type 525 and first flew on 27 April 1954. It later crashed but the basic design had already proved sound enough to proceed with an outwardly fairly similar looking aircraft, the Type 544, to specification N113. 100 were ordered though the Navy had changed the specification and wanted a low level strike aircraft with nuclear capability rather than a dedicated fighter. The first of the N113s flew on 19 January 1956; but the aircraft evolved more and the third N113 was different with aerodynamic changes and a stronger airframe. The first true Scimitar flew in January 1957.

Operational history

At the time of introduction the Royal Navy only had a couple of large carriers, most were still quite small and the Scimitar was a comparatively large and powerful aircraft. Landing accidents were common. The Scimitar suffered from a high loss rate; over all types of accidents 39 were lost.

The aircraft was perceived by many as too innovative mechanically.[citation needed] It pioneered fuel flow proportioning and integral mainplane tanks along with 'blown' flying surfaces to reduced landing speeds. At one time, it held the notorious record of 1,000 maintenance hours per flying hour.[citation needed]

Although the Scimitar could be equipped as a fighter the interceptor role was covered by the de Havilland Sea Vixen. In the attack role it was replaced by the Blackburn Buccaneer. The Scimitar was retained initially as a tanker to compensate for the early Buccaneer's low engine power. A Buccaneer would take off with minimum fuel then top up from a Scimitar.



Type 508
Straight-wing research aircraft.
Type 529
Straight-wing research aircraft.
Type 525
Swept-wing research aircraft.


Type 544
Prototype for the F.1 Scimitar, 3 built

Production model

Scimitar F.1
Single-seat multi-role fighter aircraft, 76 built


 United Kingdom


Specifications (Scimitar F.1)

Data from [1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 55 ft 3 in (16.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 37 ft 2 in (11.33 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 4 in (5.28 m)
  • Wing area: 485 ft² (45.06 m²)
  • Empty weight: 23,962 lb (10,869 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 34,200 lb (15,513 kg)
  • Powerplant:Rolls-Royce Avon 202 turbojet, 11,250 lbf [2] (50.1 kN) each





  1. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1987, p. 306.
  2. ^ Thetford 1978, p. 339.


  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Supermarine Aircraft since 1914. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-800-3.
  • Birtles, Philip. Supermarine Attacker, Swift and Scimitar (Postwar Military Aircraft 7). London: Ian Allan, 1992. ISBN 0-7110-2034-5.
  • Gibbings, David and J.A. Gorman. Scimitar. RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK: Society of Friends of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, 1988. ISBN 0-948251-39-5.
  • Morgan, Eric and John Stevens. The Scimitar File. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2002. ISBN 0-7110-2034-5.
  • Thetford, Owen. British Naval Aircraft since 1912. London: Putnam, 1978. ISBN 0-370-30021-1.

External links

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