The Hawker Hunter F.Mark 5 was the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire powered version of the Rolls-Royce powered Mk.4, and had the same improvements as on that version. This involved an increase in the internal fuel supply, and the addition of underwing pylons that could carry 100 gallon drop tanks or 1,000lbs of bombs each. The first F.Mark 5 made its maiden flight on 19 October 1954, the day before the first Mk.4, and a total of 105 were built by August 1955.
The F.5 entered service with six home-based squadrons, all during 1955. No.263 Squadron was the first to receive the new aircraft, replacing its F.2s from March 55. Between May and July Nos.56, 41,1 and 257 Squadrons received the F.5, replacing the Supermarine Swift, Meteor F.8 (41 and 1) and the F.2. Finally in December No.34 Squadron began to convert to the F.5. The F.5 had a short front-line career - No.1 Squadron was the last squadron to use it, disbanding as a Hunter squadron on 23 June 1958.
The F.Mark 5 was the first RAF version of the Hunter to see active service. During the Suez crisis of 1956 Nos.1 and 34 Squadrons flew to Nicosia - their greater fuel capacity allowed them to operate over Egypt from the base on Cyprus. At first the Hunter was used to provide top cover for RAF Canberra and Valiant bombers and Royal Navy carrier aircraft carrying out attacks on Egyptian airfields. It soon became clear that no air-to-air combat was going to take place, and the Hunters were then used as base defence aircraft to protect against any hit-and-run attacks by Egyptian Il-28s. No such raids took place, and the two squadrons returned home without having fired their guns in anger.
One of the F.Mark 5s was used to test the 10,000lb Sapphire ASSa.7 engine, in case of problems with the Rolls-Royce Avon 203 engine that was to be used in the F.Mark 6. At this stage the Sapphire 7 disappointed, suffering from lubrication problems that slowly reduced its rated power. The climb rate was also not as good as expected, and after the problems with the large Avon engine were solved no more work was conducted on new Sapphire powered Hunters. Instead Armstrong Whitworth converted to production of the F.Mark 6.
Engine: Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Mark 101 turbojet
Power: 8,000lb thrust
Wing span: 33ft 8in
Length: 45ft 10.5in
Height: 13ft 2in
Loaded Clean Weight: 17,100lb
Max Speed: Mach 0.94 at 36,000ft; 700mph at sea level
Climb Rate: 8.2 minutes to 45,000ft
Service Ceiling: 50,000ft
Fuel: 388 gallons internally, 200 gallons in drop tanks
Armament: Four 30mm Aden guns in nose
Bomb-load: 2,000lb on under-wing pylons