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P.1127 / Kestrel
Prototype Hawker P.1127 XP831 in 1962
Role Experimental VSTOL aircraft
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Hawker Aviation
Hawker Siddeley
Designed by Sydney Camm
First flight 19 November 1960 (P.1127)
7 March 1964 (Kestrel)
Primary users Royal Air Force
DOD/NASA
Luftwaffe
Number built 6 P.1127s
9 Kestrels
Variants Hawker Siddeley Harrier

The Hawker P.1127 and the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 were the development aircraft that led to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first VSTOL jet fighter-bomber.

Contents

Design and development

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Background

In 1957, the Bristol Engine Company informed Sydney Camm of Hawker that they had a project to combine their Olympus and Orpheus jet engines to produce a directable fan jet, an idea brought to them via NATO's Mutual Weapons Development Project (MWDP) Team from the French engineer Michel Wilbault.[1] Hawker took the planned engine, which became known as the Pegasus, as a basis for a plane that could meet the current NATO specification for a Light Tactical Support Fighter.[2] This was a time of deep UK defence cuts, detailed in the 1957 Defence White Paper; as a result, Hawker's had to seek commercial funding and significant engine development funding came from the USA.[2] Much model testing was done by NASA at Langley Field for the project.[2] Hawker test pilot Hugh Merewether went to the US at NASA's request to fly the Bell X-14.[3] In March 1959, the company's board of directors (now Hawker Siddeley) decided to fund two P.1127 prototypes.[4] Then the UK Ministry of Supply contracted for two P.1127 prototypes in late 1959.[5]

P.1127

Third prototype P.1127 XP972 at Farnborough 1962, showing the unswept trailing edges.

The first prototype P.1127, serial XP831 was delivered in July 1960 for static engine testing, and in October the Pegasus flight engine was made available. The first tethered flight took place the same month and free flight hover achieved on 19 November,[2] after which the first publicity photos were released. The second prototype made its first take off conventionally on 7 July 1961. The two aircraft proceeded to "close the gap" between vertical take off and flight, achieved by 8 September.[2]

Four more prototypes were ordered. Throughout this period improved Pegasus engines were being developed, with the Pegasus 3 being capable of 15,000 lbf (67 kN) of thrust. Apart from this, the first four aircraft were quite similar, but the fifth, XP980 introduced the taller fin and tailplane anhedral seen on the Harrier.[6] The fourth machine was used, in part to give the Hawker production test pilots P.1127 familiarisation.[6] The first carrier vertical landing was performed by the first prototype on HMS Ark Royal in 1963.[7] The last P.1127, XP984, introduced the swept wing.[6] It was eventually fitted with the 15,000 lbf (66.7 kN) Pegasus 5 and functioned as the prototype Kestrel.[8]

The first three P.1127s were lost, the second and third during development. The first prototype crashed at the Paris Air Show in 1963. All the pilots involved survived.[9]

Kestrel FGA.1

Hawker Siddeley XV-6A Kestrel in USAF livery

Nine[10] evaluation aircraft were ordered as the Kestrel FGA.1, an improved version of the P.1127, the first flying on 7 March 1964. The Kestrel had fully swept wings and a larger tail than the early P.1127s, and the fuselage was modified to take the larger 15,000 lbf (85 kN) Pegasus 5 engine as in the P.1127/Kestrel prototype XP984.[10]

Due to interest from the US and Germany, the Tri-partite Evaluation Squadron (TES) was formed on 15 October 1964 at RAF West Raynham, staffed by military test pilots from Britain, the US and West Germany.[10] During testing one aircraft was lost;[10] and evaluations finalised in November 1965.[11]

Six of the eight surviving evaluation aircraft (the three allocated to US plus those allocated to Germany) were transferred to the USA[10] for evaluation by the Army, Air Force, and Navy (but not the US Marine Corp) as the XV-6A Kestrel. After Tri-Service evaluation they were passed to the USAF for further evaluation at Edwards Air Force Base, except for two that were assigned to NASA.[12]

One of the two remaining British based Kestrels was attached to the Blind Landing Experimental Unit (BLEU) at RAE Bedford and the other, XS693, went to Blackburn's for modification to take the uprated Pegasus 6 engine.[13] In addition to some strengthening, there were alterations to the air intake, which had throughout the P.1127 and Kestrel series featured an inflatable lip to smooth the intake airflow when the aircraft was almost stationary. There were concerns about the Service life of these devices, so they were replaced with conventional suction relief doors.[14] This aircraft became the prototype for pre-production Harriers.[15]

P.1127 (RAF)

NATO requirement NBMR-3 specified for a VTOL aircraft, but one that was expected to have the performance of an aircraft like the F-4 Phantom along with the VTOL capability. Hawker drafted the P.1150, a supersonic P.1127 and the P.1154 which would meet NBMR-3. The latter was a winner of the NATO competition and development continued until cancelled at the point of prototype construction in 1965. The RAF then began looking at a simple upgrade of the Kestrel[16] as the P.1127 (RAF).[17]

In late 1965, six pre-production P.1127 (RAF) aircraft were ordered by the RAF (actually the remaining number from Kestrel order).[18] The first pre-production aircraft flew on 31 August 1966.[16] The aircraft was named Harrier in 1967.[18]

Variants

The last of the six P.1127 prototypes (XP984) and the only one with a swept wing, later converted to the first Kestrel prototype with Pegasus 5 engine.
P.1127
Experimental V/STOL fighter, two prototypes and four development aircraft.
Kestrel FGA.1
Aircraft for the tripartite evaluation squadron, nine built, six eventually becoming designated XV-6A.
P.1127 (RAF)
Development V/STOL ground attack and reconnaissance fighter, six built ordered into production as the Harrier GR1.
XV-6A
United States military designation for the Kestrel FGA.1.
VZ-12
United States Army designation for two P.1127 development aircraft, not delivered.

Operators

 West Germany
  • Luftwaffe (participated in the Tri-partite Evaluation Squadron, allocated aircraft not delivered and passed to United States)
 United Kingdom
 United States

Survivors

TV Appearance

Both a P.1127 and a Kestrel appeared as a single aircraft in the 1966 Flight Plan episode of the Roger Moore TV series The Saint. The plot involves a P.1127/Kestrel (called the Osprey in the episode) being stolen and flown behind the Iron Curtain by an RAF pilot (William Gaunt).

Specifications (Kestrel FGA.1)

Data from Mason[15]

General characteristics

Performance

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ Mason 1971, pp. 369
  2. ^ a b c d e Mason 1971, pp. 370
  3. ^ Spick and Gunston 2000, pp. 359–360.
  4. ^ Spick and Gunston 2000, p. 358.
  5. ^ Jenkins 1998, p. 13.
  6. ^ a b c Mason 1971, pp. 371
  7. ^ Mason 1971, pp. 372
  8. ^ Mason 1971, pp. 373
  9. ^ Mason 1971, pp. 371-2
  10. ^ a b c d e Mason 1971, pp. 375
  11. ^ Spick and Gunston 2000, p. 362.
  12. ^ Evans, A: "American Harrier - Part One", Model Aircraft Monthly Vol.8 Iss.4, p. 36-39
  13. ^ Mason 1971, pp. 375-6
  14. ^ Mason 1971, pp. 376
  15. ^ a b Mason 1971, pp. 377
  16. ^ a b Mason 1971, pp. 378
  17. ^ Spick and Gunston 2000, pp. 362–363.
  18. ^ a b Jenkins 1998, p. 21.
  19. ^ "Science Museum - Home - Hawker P 1127 VSTOL Experimental Aircraft, 1960.". www.sciencemuseum.org.uk. http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects/aeronautics/1992-796.aspx. Retrieved 2008-04-02.  

Bibliography

  • Cowan, Charles W. (ed.) Flypast 2. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1972. ISBN 0-85383-191-2.
  • Hannah, Donald. Hawker FlyPast Reference Library. Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK: Key Publishing Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-946219-01-X.
  • James, Derek N. Hawker, an Aircraft Album No. 5. New York: Arco Publishing Company, 1973. ISBN 0-668-02699-5. (First published in the UK by Ian Allan in 1972)
  • Jenkins, Dennis R. Boeing / BAe Harrier. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 1998. ISBN 1-58007-014-0.
  • Mason, Francis K. Hawker Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam, 1991. ISBN 0-85177-839-9
  • Mason, Francis (1971). Hawker Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam Publishing. ISBN 0 370 00068 8.  
  • Spick, Mike and Bill Gunston. The Great Book of Modern Warplanes. Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7603-0893-4.

External links


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