Hawker Hunter F. Mark 1

The Hawker Hunter F.Mark 1 was the first Rolls-Royce powered version of the Hunter fighter, and like the F.Mk.2 was very much an interim design, suffering from a lack of fuel capacity and from engine problems.

The first F.Mark 1 made its maiden flight at Dunsfold on 16 May 1953. Its entry into service was delayed for over a year after the Air Ministry required that all Hunters be given an air-brake. After a search for the best place to put this it was eventually located below the rear fuselage.

The Hunter was still in need of a great deal of development work, and the first twenty F.Mk.1s were used for trials by Hawkers, Rolls Royce and the Air Ministry Experimental Establishments. Amongst the more important experiments were WT568 which was given extended wing leading edges on the outer wing, giving the aircraft a 'saw-tooth' outline; WT569 which was the first Hunter to carry drop tanks; WT656 which was given blown flap and WT571 which had bulged fairings added to the sides of the rear fuselage to try and obey the 'Area Rule', a design technique designed to reduce drag at transonic speeds. Although this did increase the Hunter's speed the improvement was not as significant as expected, and the modification was not introduced on the production line.

It soon became clear that the F.Mk 1 suffered from two serious problems. The first was that it carried a very limited amount of fuel, and a number of aircraft would be lost after running out of fuel. The second was that when the guns were fired at high altitude the gun gasses were sucked into the Avon Mk.113 engine causing it to surge. Neither problem would be fixed on the Mk.1, and would limit its usefulness.

The F.Mk 1 was cleared for limited flight at the start of July 1954, and in the same month the Air Fighting Development Unit at West Raynham received its first twelve aircraft. Later in the same month No.43 Squadron at Leuchars became the first operational squadron to receive the Hunter, fully converting to the new type by October. It was joined by No.222 Squadron in December 1954 and No.54 in February 1955, but they would be the only three operational squadrons to receive the F.Mk 1.

A total of 139 Mk.1s were built by Hawkers, 29 of them at their new factory at Blackpool. The aircraft that were not used by the above units were issued to No.229 Operational Conversion Unit at Chivenor and No.233 OCU at Pembrey. The F.Mk 1 was soon replaced by the F.Mk 4, with an improved engine and more fuel.  

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 May 2010), Hawker Hunter F. Mark 1 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_hunter_1.html

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