Hawker Tornado

The Hawker Tornado was one of a series of British aircraft of the Second World War that failed because of the choice of engine, in this case the Rolls Royce Vulture, which also doomed the Avro Manchester.

Somewhat ironically the Vulture had been adopted by Hawker in case the Napier Sabre engine, their preferred choice for a new fighter, failed to live up to expectations. The new aircraft were being designed in response to Air Ministry Specification F.18/37, which called for a successor to the Hawker Hurricane. Hawker put forward two closely related aircraft – the Type “R” powered by the Rolls Royce Vulture and the Type “N” powered by the Napier Sabre.

The two aircraft were otherwise very similar. The Sabre engine was indeed delayed, and so the Type R was the first to fly, on 6 October 1939. The new aircraft was a low wing all-metal monoplane. Fuel tanks were contained in the wing, as was a large gun bay, originally expected to carry six .303in machine guns in each wing.

The Tornado prototype was judged to be a success, and both it and the Sabre powered Typhoon were selected for production. However, only five Tornados were actually built – four prototypes and one production aircraft. Development work had slowed down during the Battle of Britain, when every project that might delay production of current aircraft types was curtailed. The sole production aircraft did not take to the air until August 1941. By that point the Vulture program had clearly failed, and so production of the Tornado was cancelled in favour of the Napier powered Typhoon.

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Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War War 2, Chris Thomas. This book tells the tale of the troubled Hawker Typhoon, concentrating on its use as a fighter rather than its more successful career as a ground attack aircraft, and its transformation into the excellent Tempest, one of the best fighters of the later years of the Second World War [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 April 2007), Hawker Tornado, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_tornado.html

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