The Hawker P.1081 was a version of the P.1052 swept-wing Sea Hawk modified to use a straight-through jet pipe in place of the bifurcated pipe of the P.1052 and Sea Hawk. The P.1052 was itself a swept-wing version of the P.1040, the precursor to the Sea Hawk. The swept-back wings gave it a better top speed than the straight-winged P.1040, reducing the impact of compressibility at high mach numbers. This higher performance interested the Australian Government, which approached Hawkers with a set of performance requirements.
Hawker's response was to propose a version of the P.1052 powered by the Rolls-Royce Tay jet engine. The bifurcated exhaust pipes of the Nene-powered P.1052 would be replaced by a single pipe that emerged below the rudder. Approval was given for the work, and the second P.1052 prototype was taken to be converted. The Tay engine was not available, and so the P.1081 retained the Nene, combined with the jet pipe from a Supermarine Attacker. The modified aircraft made its maiden flight on 9 June 1950 with Sqn. Ldr T.S. Wade at the controls. It achieved an impressive top speed of Mach 0.89, higher than the Mach 0.87 of the remaining P.1052 in its latter configuration, with a swept tail similar to that used on the P.1081.
On 14 November 1950 Hawkers were informed that the Australian government was no longer interested in the project. In January 1951 the aircraft was handed over to the RAE for trials, but only two months later, on 3 April 1951, the P.1081 was destroyed in a crash that killed T.S. Wade.
Engine: Rolls Royce Nene R.N.2
Wing span: 31ft 6in
Length: 37ft 4in
Height: 13ft 3in
Empty Weight: 11,200lb
Loaded Weight: 14,480lb
Max Speed: Mach 0.89 at 36,000ft
Service Ceiling: 45,600ft