The Hawker Demon was a two seat fighter aircraft developed from the Hawker Hart light bomber. When that aircraft had first flown in 1928, it was faster than every fighter in RAF service. The logical assumption was that any potential enemy would also be able to produce bombers with the same speed. It was thus essential to produce a fighter capable of catching the Hart.
The aircraft that would achieve this was the Hawker Fury, the first of a new breed of interceptor fighter. However, Hawker also produced the Demon, a fighter based on the Hart. The resulting aircraft was very similar to the Hart. However, it was powered by the supercharged Kestrel IIS, which gave it better performance at high altitudes than the Hart.
The first prototype Demons were produced by modifying production Harts during 1930. At first the new aircraft was known as the Hart Fighter, being renamed the Demon in July 1932. Six Hart Fighters were produced by May 1931, when they entered service with one flight of No. 23 Squadron. The aircraft was ordered into full production, entering full service in 1933. In all 305 Demons were produced, 232 of them for the RAF.
The Demon was not a great success as a fighter. The speed of the aircraft was such that the rear gunner had great difficulty manoeuvring the gun against the slipstream produced at high speeds. In response the Demon was given a basic Frazer-Nash turret. This consisted of a protective shield, hydraulically powered, which much improved the rear gunner's accuracy. However, when the turret was pointed to the side, it badly affected the accuracy of the two fixed guns.
No 23 Squadron became the first full Demon squadron in April 1933. Eventually the type equipped seven regular squadrons and five squadrons of the Auxiliary Air Force. Four of these squadrons saw service overseas at the time of the Abyssinian crisis of 1935-6, something that distinguishes the type from other British fighter aircraft of the period.
The Demon remained in front line service until late 1938. At that point the remaining Demon squadrons received the Bristol Blenheim IF night fighter.
Engine: Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIS
Max Speed: 182mph at 13,000 feet
Endurance: 2 hours 30 minutes
Span: 37ft 3in
Length: 29ft 7in
Armament: Three 0.303in machine guns, two fixed forward firing, one on flexible mounting in rear cockpit.