Hawker Hunter F. Mark 4

The Hawker Hunter F.Mark 4 was the first major version of the aircraft, and was the first that could carry drop tanks or bombs on under-wing pylons. A total of 365 F.Mark 4s were built before production moved onto the greatly superior F.Mark 6.

At first the F.Mark 4 was powered by the same Avon 113 engine as the F.Mark 1, and thus suffered from the same surge problems. Starting with the 157th machine the engine was changed to the Avon 115, which reduced the surge problems. Most of the earlier aircraft also received the same modifications.

From the start the F.Mark 4 had an increased internal fuel capacity - up from 334 gallons to 414 gallons, with the extra 80 gallons carried in the wings. The wings were also strengthened to allow the installation of an under-wing pylon mounted just outside the main wheels. Each pylon could carry a 100 gallon drop tank or 1,000lb of bombs. A more minor change was the addition of two external blisters mounted just behind the guns to catch the metal links in the ammunition belts which were flying back after being ejected from the gun and damaging the fuselage and airbrake. The same changes were introduced on the Armstrong Whitworth produced F.Mark 5.

A total of 365 F.Mark 4s were produced, with production split between Hawker's factories at Kingston and Blackpool. The first Kingston aircraft made its maiden flight on 20 October 1954 and the first Blackpool aircraft on 20 January 1955. In March 1955 the F.4 was issued to the Air Fighting Development Unit, and in March Nos.54 and 111 Squadrons became the first operation units to receive the new aircraft.

In April 1955 No.98 Squadron of the 2nd Tactical Air Force became the first squadron based in Germany to receive the Hunter, and by June 1956 thirteen squadrons of 2nd TAF had made the switch - ten from the Sabre F.1/F.4 and three from the DH Venom FB.1. By the end of 1956 seven home based squadrons had also received the type. Despite this rapid deployment the F.4 had a short front-line career, and in 1957 began to be replaced by the F.Mark 6, with its more powerful Avon 200 series engine. Most of the F.4s went to training units, although some were converted into two-seat T.7s or T.8s or returned to Hawkers to be sold overseas.

The F.4 was produced under licence by Fokker in Amsterdam for the Dutch air force and Avions Fairey in Brussels for Belgian. Fokker produced 96 aircraft, which served with the Dutch air force from 1955 and almost saw combat over Indonesia. Avions Fairey produced 112 aircraft which served into the mid 1960s before being replaced by the Lockheed F.104G Starfighter. Both companies then switched production to the F.6, and many of these later aircraft would be purchased by Hawkers and sold on to overseas customers. 

A number F.4s were used for trials. Hawkers used WT703 for tests with the 100 gallon drop tanks as well as different combinations of bombs and rockets. WT780 was used to test a Plessey ram-air turbine which was installed in the starboard side of the rear fuselage. This was intended to work alongside a new slab tail plane, but when work on the new tail was abandoned the ram-air turbine was removed from the aircraft. It was then used as a prototype photo-reconnaissance aircraft, with five cameras in the nose and the designation FR. Mark 4. This aircraft was submitted to satisfy specification FR.164D, which led to the Hunter F.R. Mark 10. Finally XF310 was used to test fire the Fairey Fireflash beam-riding guided missile.  

Engine: Rolls Royce Avon 115
Power: 8,000lb thrust
Crew: 1
Wing span: 33ft 8in
Length: 45ft 10.5in
Height: 13ft 2in
Empty Weight: 12,760lb
Maximum Weight: 19,700lb
Max Speed: 622mph
Cruising Speed:
Service Ceiling: 52,000ft
Range: 1,650 miles without tanks
Armament: Four 30mm Aden cannons
Bomb-load: 2,000lb carried externally

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 May 2010), Hawker Hunter F. Mark 4 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_hunter_4.html

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