Hawker P.V.4

The Hawker P.V.4 was a general purpose aircraft and level bomber designed in response to an Air Ministry specification of 1931, but that didn't make its maiden flight until 1934, by which time interest in the entire specification had faded.

Specification G.4/31, for a General Purpose aircraft, was issued in July 1931. From the start it was overambitious, calling for an aircraft capable of serving in tropical and temperate climates, as a day and night bomber with a position for a prone bomb aimer, as a dive-bomber, an army co-operation aircraft, a reconnaissance aircraft and a casualty evacuation aircraft. Many of these tasks were being performed by specialised versions of the Hawker Hart, but to combine them in a single aircraft would have been difficult enough before the Air Ministry's October 1932 decision to add coastal reconnaissance and torpedo bombing roles to the specification.

Hawkers didn't get involved in the contest at first, but by 1933 rumours were spreading that the Air Ministry was about to split the specification in two. Thomas Sopwith suggested to Sydney Camm that he take advantage of the Hart's excellent steep diving abilities to produce a dive-bomber version of the Hind (then being developed as a replacement for the Hart), ignoring the torpedo carrying part of the specification.

The P.V.4 was essentially an enlarged version of the Hart, with many of the modifications designed for the Hind, including a stronger airframe, night flying instruments and a tail wheel. The aircraft was powered by an 800hp Bristol Pegasus III when it made its maiden flight on 6 December 1934. By the time the aircraft was delivered to Martlesham Heath in June 1935 it had been given a slightly more powerful Pegasus X. By this point the torpedo bombing and dive bombing requirements had been dropped, and it was unlikely that any of the aircraft designed to G.4/31 would be ordered in their original role.

The P.V.4 performed reasonably well in the trials. It was the only aircraft suitable for use as a dive bomber, although it couldn't carry the required bomb load for level bombing. It was also criticised for not being fast enough for use as a level bomber, despite being the fastest of the competitors, and for being under-armed. These criticisms had more to do with the rapid advance in aircraft capabilities during the mid 1930s than any flaw with the P.V.4.

After the end of the trials the P.V.4 was purchased by the Air Ministry and used as an engine test bed, taking part in the development of the Bristol Perseus and Taurus sleeve-valve radial engines, before being struck off charge on 29 March 1939.

Engine: Bristol Pegasus X radial engine
Power: 820hp
Crew: 2
Wing span: 40ft 0in
Length: 29ft 10in
Height: 11ft 10in
Empty Weight: 3,728lb
Loaded: 6,650lb
Max Speed: 183mph at 6,600ft
Climb: 6min 45sec to 10,000ft
Cruising Speed:
Service Ceiling: 23,700ft
Armament: One fixed forward firing Vickers Mk III gun, one Lewis gun on Somers mounting
Bomb-load: 570lb made up of 20lb, 112lb and 230lb or 3.45in flares

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 April 2010), Hawker P.V.4 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_PV4.html

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