Boeing F-15 Eagle

Aircraft Profile
F-15C 84-0021 from the 36th TFW 53 TFS at
Bitburg, Germany, seen at Fairford in 1991.
(photo, Anthony Noble)

Development

On 23rd December 1969 McDonnell Douglas was named winner of the “FX” contest to build a new air superiority fighter. There was no “XF-15” as the aircraft was ordered straight “off the drawing board”. The most unusual part of the Eagle development was the use of 3/8th scale glider models which were launched from a NASA NB-52B at Dryden Flight Research Centre. During the flight test programme record attempts were carried out at Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota, these records included times to heights varying from 3,000 meters to 30,000 meters.

The first F-15A was rolled out on 26th June 1972, and its maiden flight was the following month on 27th July 1972. The first two-seater version flew on 7th July 1973. The first of 729 production F-15s flew on 25th November 1974, one in seven being a two-seater. Operational capability was reached in July 1975. By 1986 the USAF had nine F-15 squadrons in mainland USA, four in Europe, and three in the Pacific. The F-15A and B have been sold to Israel under the “Peace Fox” programme, the first of 51 aircraft being delivered in 1976. The JASDF (Japanese Air Self Defense Force) took delivery of 88 F-15Js beginning in July 1980 under the “Peace Eagle” programme. Another customer for the F-15 was Saudi Arabia, they took delivery of 62 F-15Cs and Ds between 1982 and 1984 plus two extras for reserves.

The F-15B is the two-seat training version of the F-15A, appart from the second seat and some minor internal changes the A and B versions have the same performance characteristics.

On 26th February 1979 the first F-15C flew, and deliveries began in mid 1980. The F-15C is externally identical to the ‘A’ model when not carrying the FAST (Fuel And Sensor Tactical) packs. These packs are now referred to as Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFT). Internally the F-15C has additional wing leading edge tanks and additional tanks in the central fuselage, the extra weight of fuel raised the gross weight of the F-15C to over 68,000lb, so items such as breaks, tyres and wheels had to be strengthened. The AN/APG-63 radar was equipped with Programmable Signal Processor (PSP), this high speed computer controls the radar modes through its software, this allows switching between different modes. Some F-15Cs can carry up to 18 cluster bombs or 6 Mk.82 bombs and can release them at supersonic speeds.

The F-15 Multi-Stage Improvement Programme (MSIP) is a joint programme carried out by McDonnell Douglas and the USAF’s Warner Robins Logistics Centre in Georgia. Upgrades were incorporated into the production line and then retrofitted to earlier production aircraft. MSIP II is to upgrade the F-15C/D models, the main part of which is to fit APG-70 radar and the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile.

The F-15E Strike Eagle was a privately funded feasability study to adapt the basic F-15 to the air-to-ground role. The first modified demonstrator aircraft flew on 8th July 1980. It was equipped with a modified APG-63 radar that used synthetic aperture radar techniques and the back seat was fitted out for a weapons System Officer (WSO).

F-15C 80-0022 from the 36 TFW 22 TFS at Bitburg, Germany, seen at Alconbury in 1991. F-15C 80-0038 from the 57th FIS at Keflavik, Iceland, seen at Boscombe Down in 1992.
(All photos Anthony Noble)

Variants

Requirement Specification: FX
Manufacturers Designation: ?

Development History:
F-15A Initial single-seat version for USAF and Israel with F100-PW-100 engines and APG-63 radar. Note: Initial development aircraft designated F-15A not YF-15
F-15A/B MSIP Minor update to USAF aircraft fleet during the 1980s
TF-15A Initial designation for F-15B
F-15B First two-seater trainer version. Fully mission capable but without the F-15As AN/ALQ-135 ECM equipment
F-15A/B MSIP Upgrade to near F-15C/D standard for USAF aircraft during the 1990s, with APG-70 radar, new avionics and digital computers replacing the original analog computers
F-15C Improved single-seater for USAF with increased internal fuel, updated APG-63 radar and provision for CFTs (Conformal Fuel Tanks) along the sides of the intakes. Initial aircraft had F100-PW-100 engines, but most were delivered with F100-PW-220 standard engines.
F-15D Two-seat version of F-15C
F-15C/D MSIP Avionics upgrade for USAF aircraft with new APG-70 radar, cockpit displays, EW systems and digital computers.
F-15DJ Two-seat version of F-15D for Japan
TF-15A ‘Strike Eagle’ Second development TF-15A modified during 1982 for dedicated air-ground operations to potentially replace the F-111. Company funded demonstrator.
F-15E Production two-seater with dedicated all-weather ground attack capability. Features strengthened airframe, redesigned cockpit, improved avionics and (in later production and retrofit) uprated F100-PW-229 engines. Note: ‘Strike Eagle’ name not officially adopted by the USAF.
F-15I “Baz” (Eagle) Export version of F-15E for Israel with significant Israeli avionics fit
F-15J Single-seater for Japan based on F-15C with some local avionics
F-15S Export version of F-15E for Saudi Arabia with downgraded avionics and no provision for CFTs.
F-15F Proposed single-seat fighter version of F-15E for Saudi Arabia
F-15H Proposed export version of F-15E for Saudi Arabia with reduced sensor fit
F-15XP Initial generic designation for F-15F/H export versions of F-15E for Saudi Arabia
NF-15B “Agile Eagle” F-15B used for manoeuvre control research
F-15N “Sea Eagle” Proposed version for US Navy
F-15XX Proposed lightweight development of F-15C with improved avionics and systems, as a low cost alternative to the F-22 for the USAF. Abandoned in 1992.
RF-15 “Peak Eagle” Proposed dedicated reconnaissance version
F-15C “Wild Weasel” Proposed defence suppression version
F-15/PDF Planned conversion of F-15Cs to defence suppression role as Precision Direction Finder aircraft. Proposed for aircraft replaced by the F-22.
SMTD Eagle First F-15B development aircraft modified by NASA for flight control research. Fitted with canards and 2D thrust vectoring exhaust nozzels.

History

Key Dates:
1965    1965 USAF requests feasability studies for a new air superiority fighter, designated “FX”
September 1968    Feasability studies and Request for Proposals issued.
23rd December 1969    McDonnell Douglas named winner of the “FX” contest.
26th June 1972    Roll out of the first single-seater F-15A.
27th July 1972    F-15A maiden flight by company test pilot Irving Burrows.
7th July 1973    Maiden flight of first two-seater F-15B.
24th November 1974    First production F-15A flew.
July 1975    Operational capability declared.
9 January 1976    Delivery of first F-15A to USAF.
End of 1976    The first USAF wing fully equipped.
April 1977    F-15 first deployed in Western Europe by USAFE.
26th February 1979    Maiden flight of first F-15C.
27 June 1979    First combat kills with the Israeli AF.
September 1979    First delivery of F-15C to USAF.
24th February 1984    Production go-ahead for F-15E.
December 1984    Flight testing of F-15C MSIP-II commences.
11th December 1986    Maiden flight of F-15E prototype.
7th September 1988    First flight of SMTD research demonstrator.
1988    First F-15E delivered to the USAF.

Operators

Military Operators

U.S. Air Force (F-15A/B 7 wings & 6 ANG sqns, F-15C/D 9 wings, F-15E 5 wings)
Japanese Air Self Defence Force (7 Sqns. with 223 F-15J/F-15DJ)
Israeli Air Force (1 Sqn of F-15A/B, 1 Sqn F-15C/D, 1 Sqn F-15I)
Royal Saudi Air Force (4 Sqns. with F-15C/D, 1+ sqn F-15S)

Government Agencies

NASA F-15B, SMTD

Civilian Operators

None  

Specifications

Boeing F-15A Eagle
Crew: One (Two in F-15B)
Dimensions: Length 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m); Height 18 ft 5½ in (5.63 m); Wing Span 42 ft 9.75 in (13.05 m); Wing Area 608.00 sq ft (56.48 sq m)
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 turbofans each rated at 14,760 lb st (65.26 kN) dry and 23,830 lb st (106.0 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 28,600 lb (12,973 kg); Normal Take-off 41,500 lb (18,884 kg) on an interception mission with four AIM-7 Sparrows or 54,400 lb (24,675 kg) with three 600-US gal (2271 litre) drop tanks; Maximum Take-off 56,000 lb (25,401 kg)
Armament: M61A1 Vulcan rotary cannon in the starboard wing leading edge lip, outboard of the air intake. The gun is fed from a 940 round drum located in the central fuselage. Four AIM-9M Sidewinders carried on the sides of the wing pylons, two on each side. (This arrangement allows a drop tank or bombs to be carried at the same time). Four AIM-7M Sparrow semi-active radar homing missiles carried on attachment points on the lower outer edges of the air intake boxes, two each side – or four AIM-120 AMRAAM on MSIP aircraft. The AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) is a “fire and forget” weapon with an inertial guidance unit that can be updated from the aircraft if required. Although not normally used as a bomber the F-15 has a secondary air-to-ground capability. Up to 16,000 lb of bombs, fuel tanks and missiles can be carried. The F-15 can carry 18 500 lb bombs, six on each wing pylon and six on the fuselage centreline.
Performance: Maximum level speed 1,433 kts (1,650 mph, 2655 kph) ‘clean’ at 36,000 ft (10975 m); Economical cruising speed 495 kts (570 mph, 917 kph) at optimum altitude; Maximum rate of climb at sea level 50,000+ ft/min (15240 m/min); Service ceiling 60,000 ft (18,290 m); Absolute ceiling 100,000 ft (30,480 m); Ferry range with drop tanks 2,500 nm (2,878 mls, 4,631 km)
Boeing F-15C Eagle
As for F-15A except for the following:-
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 turbofans each rated at 14,670 lb st (65.26 kN) dry and 23,830 lb st (106.0 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 28,600 lb (12,973 kg); Normal Take-off 44,630 lb (20,244 kg) on an interception mission with four AIM-7 Sparrows or 58,700 lb (26,521 kg) with three 610-US gal (2309 litre) drop tanks; Maximum Take-off 68,000 lb (30,844 kg)
Performance: Ferry range with drop tanks 2,500 nm (2,879 mls, 4,633 km) without CFTs, or 3,100 nm (3,570 mls, 5745 km) with CFTs; Combat radius on an interception mission 1,061 nm (1,222 mls, 1967 km)
Boeing F-15E Eagle
As for F-15C except for the following:-
Crew: Two
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofans each rated at 17,800 lb st (79.18 kN) dry and 29,100 lb st (129.45 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Empty Equipped 31,700 lb (14,379 kg); Maximum Take-off 81,000 lb (36,741 kg)
Armament: M61A1 Vulcan rotary cannon in the starboard wing leading edge lip, outboard of the air intake. The gun is fed from a 512 round drum located in the central fuselage. Four AIM-9M Sidewinders carried on the sides of the wing pylons, two on each side. (This arrangement allows a drop tank or bombs to be carried at the same time). Up to 24,250 lb (11,000 kg) of bombs, fuel tanks and missiles can be carried on two wing pylons, underfuselage pylons and 12 bomb racks mounted directly on the CFTs. AIM-7 and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles can also be carried, as on the F-15C.

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: George Graff
Programme Manager: Don Malvern
Design Office: McDonnell Douglas Corporation, St Louis, Missouri

Manufacture

McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation (MCAir)
(Box 516, St Louis, MO 63166, USA. Later Boeing Military Aircraft)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
F-15A 355 St Louis, MO 1972-1979
F-15B 57 St Louis, MO 1972-1979
F-15C 118 St Louis, MO 1979-1985
F-15D 31 St Louis, MO 1979-1985
F-15J 2 St Louis, MO 1979-1980
F-15DJ 12 St Louis, MO 1979-1981
F-15E 209 St Louis, MO 1985-1991
F-15I 26 St Louis, MO 1996-1998
F-15S 72 St Louis, MO 1996-1998
F-15E 10 St Louis, MO 1998-2002
Total: 894    
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd
(5-1, Marunouchi 2-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
F-15J 173* Tokyo 1981-1997
Total: 173    

* First 8 a/c assembled from St Louis components. Subsequently, Mitsubishi responsible for forward and centre fuselage, Kawasaki making wings and tails.

Total Produced: 1067 a/c

Production List:

F-15 Eagle – Scramble Special
by Jurgen van Toor
Published by Dutch Aviation Society, 2003 ISBN: ?
* A5 size paperback containing history, operators and an extensive production list.

More Information

Books

‘F-15 Eagle and Strike Eagle – Combat Legends 6’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Steve Davies
Published by Airlife Publishing Ltd, 1 Oct 2002 ISBN: 1840373776
* Concise overview of the F-15 with good illustrations

‘F-15 Eagle in Color’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Peter R Foster
Published by Plymouth Press Ltd, 1 Apr 1998 ISBN: 1882663225
* All-colour pictorial history of the F-15.

‘McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle – Super Heavy-Weight Fighter’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Robert S Hopkins
Published by Midland Publishing, May 1998 ISBN: 1857800818
* Aerofax series. Excellent development history and service use

‘F-15 Eagle Walkaround’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Lou Drendel
Published by Squadron/Signal Publications, Nov 2001 ISBN: 0897474333
* Detailed close-up photos of the F-15

‘USAF F-15 Eagles – Units, Colors & Markings’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Don R Logan
Published by Schiffer Publishing, 9 Apr 2000 ISBN: 0764310607
* Very detailed coverage of USAF F-15 operators

‘McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Peter E Davies & Anthony M Thornborough
Published by Crowood Press, 1 Aug 2001 ISBN: 1861263430
* Includes development history, service career and combat use

‘F-15 Eagle in Action – Aircraft Number 183’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Al Adcock
Published by Squadron/Signal Publications, 200? ISBN: 0897474457
* Up-to-date heavily illustrated history of the F-15

‘F-15C/E Eagle Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom – Osprey Combat Aircraft 47’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Steve Davies
Published by Osprey Publishing, 2004 ISBN: 1-84176-802-2
* Very well illustrated look at F-15 operations over Iraq

‘McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle – Warbird Tech Vol 9’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Dennis R Jenkins
Published by Speciality Press, May 1997 ISBN: 0933424728
* Detailed look at the F-15 using excerpts from official technical manuals

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 9’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 87402 3174
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the F-15 Eagle.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 21’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 87402 3603
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the F-15E ‘Strike Eagle’.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 33’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1990 ISBN: 1 86184 015 2
* Includes ‘Variant Briefing’ feature on the F-15 Eagle.

‘International Air Power Review, Volume 7’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by AIRtime Publishing Ltd, April 2003 ISBN: 1 880588 48 X
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the latest developments and combat actions of the F-15 Eagle.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

Milavia – F-15 Eagle
(History, specifications, photo gallery, links, books)

F-15 Eagle
(Boeing Military Aircraft official website – backgrond, specs, news, photos)

Boeing F-15 Eagle
(Airliners.net: Four pages of excellent photos)

McDD F-15 Eagle
(Serial number info and photos)

Boeing F-15 Eagle Image Gallery
(1 page of photos)

F-15 Eagle
(Good profile covering history, variants, specs etc)

F-15 Eagle
(Concise profile of the F-15)

F-15E Strike Eagle.com
(Very detailed coverage of the USAF F-15E)

How an F-15 works
(How Stuff Works – simple explanations of F-15 design features)

The F-15 Eagle: A Chronology
(Timeline 1965-2002 of key events in F-15 history)

F-15 Eagle
(History, variants, exports, specs, photos, links)

Boeing F-15 Eagle
(Official F-15A & F-15E Flight Manuals on CD-ROM)

Eagle Power
(Information, operators, patches, links, CD-ROM)

F-15 Eagle’s first flight 30 years past
(Edwards AFB feature)

Air Force Technology – F-15E Strike Eagle
(Technical details for F-15E weapons and equipment)

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
(Airliners.net: 46 pages of excellent F-15 photos)

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
(Comprehensive profile updated to 2003)

USAF Museum – McDonnell Douglas F-15 ‘Streak Eagle’
(Brief notes plus photo gallery)

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
(Detailed profile covering all versions of the F-15)

USAF Museum – McDonnell Douglas F-15A ‘Eagle’
(Brief notes on production and exports plus photo gallery)

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
(Colour profile drawings for five USAF F-15s)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
‘F-15C/D Eagle – Lock-On No.4’
by Francois Verlinden
Published by Verlinden Productions Inc, June 1989 ISBN: 9 0709 321 21
* Features close-up colour photographs of external and inernal details plus scale drawings.

‘F-15 Eagle in Detail and Scale – Detail And Scale Vol.14’
by Bert Kinzey
Published by Aero Publishers Inc, 1984 ISBN: ?
* B+W photographs of external and inernal details plus several pages of scale drawings for all variants.

Videos:

‘Modern Military Aircraft: F-15 Eagle’ [Order this DVD from Amazon UK]
* DVD which takes you into the cockpit of the F-15

‘Great Planes: McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle’
* DVD documentary on the history of the F-15

Grumman F-14 Tomcat

Aircraft Profile
F-14B AA/103 of VF-103 launches from the waist
catapult of USS George Washington in 2002.
(photo, US Navy)

Development

Triggered by the failure of the F-111B to meet Navy requirements, the VFX project was announced. On the 15th January 1969, Grumman was announced as competition winner for a new carrier-based fighter for the U.S. Navy. Emphasis had been placed on producing a comparatively small, light weight, high performance aircraft with a significant advance over the then current F-4 Phantom II. The primary mission was three fold; The first was as a fighter / Escort to clear contested air space of enemy fighters and protecting the strike force. The second mission was to defend the carrier task force with Combat Air Patrols (CAP) and interception operations. The third role was secondary attack on tactical ground targets.

The person responsible for the F-14 project was Admiral Tom Conolly, Deputy Chief, Naval Operations for Air. The aircraft was dubbed “Tom’s Cat” long before it was officially named “Tomcat”. (Naming their aircraft after ‘cats’ is a long held Grumman tradition of course).

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin engined, variable sweep wing, two-place strike fighter. The aircraft has visual and all-weather attack capability. It can deliver both Phoenix and Sparrow missiles; it has an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon and Sidewinder missiles for air-to-air combat. The F-14 also has the LANTIRN m Targeting system that allows a variety of laser-guided bombs to be delivered for precision air-to-ground strikes. Tomcats equipped with Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) are the U.S. Navy’s only manned tactical reconnaissance aircraft.

The first operational ‘Tomcat’ squadrons with the U.S. Navy were VF-1 and VF-2. VF-2 flew the first operational sorties from the U.S.S. Enterprise in March 1974.

Although the F-14 had an excellent airframe and equipment the ‘A’ version had problems with the TF30 engines. These were hard to maintain, and lacked the power needed to maneuver the aircraft properly. They were also prone to severe failure where compressor blades would break off and damage the rest of the engine. Modifications were made and steel cages were fitted to prevent broken blades from destroying the entire engine. The modifications were only a temporary solution and, in 1984, the General Electric F110-GE-400 engines were selected to replace the TF series engines.

The F-14D, delivered in 1990, was a major upgrade with the F110 engines, new APG-71 radar system, Airborne Self-Protection Jammer (ASPJ). Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) and Infrared Search and Track (IRST).

F-14D ‘1’ of VX-9 heads back to NAS Key West
in 2002. (photo, US Navy)
F-14B AA/103 of VF-103 flies over the Croatian coastline in 2002. (photo, US Navy)

Variants

Requirement Specification: ?
Manufacturers Designation: Model G-303

Development History:
F-14A Twelve development aircaft with Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-412 Engines.
F-14A Initial production variant with Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-412 Engines. (TF30-P-414A engines later retrofitted).
F-14B One development aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney F401-PW-P400 engines, 1973-74.
F-14B Super Tomcat The above development aircraft fitted with General Electric F101DFE engines.
F-14A+ Interim designation for F110-GE-400 powered F-14B production version.
F-14B Upgraded production version with F110-GE-400 engines and new electronics and radios.
F-14C Same as F-14B but with ground attack capability added. This type was abandoned in favor of buying more A-6 Intruders.
F-14D Two F-14A development aircraft fitted with F110-GE-400 engines and prototype digital avionics.
F-14D Production version with digital avionics using the dual AKY-14 standard airborne computer which connects all avionics digitally.
F/A-14D Proposal to install AN/ALE-50 towed decoy and terrain following avionics.
F-14T & F-14X Two versions proposed during the 1970’s to reduce costs. The proposal was scrapped on a suggestion from Israel that the USN should have the best aircraft possible.
F-14 Quick Strike This programme was cut due to the success of the ‘Super Hornet’.
Tomcat 21 and Attack Tomcat 21 Externally these would have the surface areas increased to accommodate more fuel and a “no wind carrier take off” capability.
F-14A NF/113 of VF-154 just after launch in
2002. (photo, US Navy)
F-14A NF/106 of VF-154 catapults from the USS
Kitty Hawk in 2003. (photo, US Navy)

History

Key Dates:
15th January 1969    Grumman selected as design winner for a new carrier-based fighter for the U.S. Navy.
21 December 1970    Maiden flight of first aircraft.
June 1972    Development carrier trials started.
October 1972    Initial deliveries to the US Navy.
March 1974    VF-2 flew the first operational sorties from USS Enterprise.
1973-1974    Original F-14B flight test programme with F401-PW-400 engines.
July / September 1981    Flight test programme with General Electric F110-GE-400 engines.
1987    New F-14D version ordered.
9 February 1990    Maiden flight of first new-build F-14D.
November 1990    First F-14D delivered.
March 1993    Last F-14A upgraded to F-14D delivered.
1995    Upgrade to new digital avionics and improvements to strengthen multi-role mission.
F-14D NE/105 of VF-2 lands on the USS
Constellation in 2003. (photo, US Navy)
F-14B AC/105 of VF-32 takes off from the
USS Harry S Truman (photo, US Navy)

Operators

Military Operators

U.S. Navy (183 aircraft left of 712 built). Active squadrons include:
VF-2, VF-11, VF-14, VF-31, VF-32, VF-41, VF-101, VF-103, VF-143, VF-154, VF-201, VF-211.
Iran (IRIAF) (79 aircraft out of 80 ordered before the Islamic revolution).

Government Agencies

None

Civilian Operators

None
F-14B AA/103 of VF-103 from the USS John F
Kennedy over Iraq in 2004. (photo, US Navy)
F-14Bs 110 & 112 of VF-103 over the
Mediterranean in 2002. (photo, US Navy)

Specifications

Grumman F-14A Tomcat
Crew: Pilot and Radar Intercept Officer (RIO).
Dimensions: Length 62 ft 8 in (19.10 m); Height 16ft 0 in (4.88 m); Wing Span unswept 64 ft 1.5 in (19.54 m), swept 38 ft 2.5 in (11.65 m); Wing Area 565 sq ft (52.49 sq m)
Engines: (F-41A) Two Pratt & Whitney TF-30P-414A turbofans of 20,900 lb. (9,405 kg) st. each; (F-14B & D) Two General Electric F110-GR-400 turbofans of 27,000 lb. (12,150 kg) st each
Weights: Empty Equipped 40,104 lb (18,191 kg); Normal Take-off ‘clean’ 58,715 lb (26,632 kg); Maximum Take-off 74,349 lb (33,724 kg)
Armament: Up to 14,500 lb (6577 kg) including AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, air-to-ground precision ordnance and one M61A1/A2 Vulcan cannon.
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ 1,342 kts (1,544 mph, 2485 kph) at high altitude, 792 kts (912 mph, 1468 kph) at low altitude; Cruising speed 400-550 kts (460-633 mph, 741-1019 kph); Maximum rate of climb at sea level 30,000+ ft/min (9145+ m/min); Service ceiling 50,000+ ft (15,240+ m); Combat Air Patrol radius 665 nm (766 miles, 1,233 km); Ferry range with external fuel tanks 1,735 nm (2,000 mls, 3,220 km)
F-14B AG/205 of VF-11 makes a high speed
pass at NAS Oceana in 2004. (photo, US Navy)
F-14D AD/161 of VF-101 climbs away at
NAS Oceana in 2004. (photo, US Navy)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Not known
Design Office: Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Bethpage, New York (originally)

Manufacture

Grumman Corporation
(1111 Stewart Avenue, Bethpage, NY 11714, USA. Later Northrop Grumman)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
F-14A 556 Bethpage, NY 1969-198?
F-14A for Iran 80 Bethpage, NY 197?-197?
F-14B (prodn.) 38 Bethpage, NY 1987-198?
F-14B (F-14A+) 32 rebuilds Bethpage, NY 198?-198?
F-14D proto. 2 conv. Bethpage, NY 1987-1988
F-14D (new) 37 Bethpage, NY 1989-1991
F-14D (conv) 18 rebuilds Bethpage, NY 1991-March 1993
Total: 711    

Total Produced: 711 a/c

Production List

Grumman F-14 Tomcat

F-14B AB/105 of VF-102 over the USS
George Washington in 1997. (photo, US Navy)
F-14D AD/160 of VF-101 painted in retro
1970’s-era markings in 2005. (photo, US Navy)

More Information

Books

‘Jane’s At The Controls: How To Fly And Fight In The F-14 Tomcat’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David L Rockwell
Published by Collins, 7 June 1999 ISBN: 0 0047 2254 X
* Puts the reader in the pilot’s seat of an F-14.

‘Grumman F-14 Tomcat – Leading US Navy Fleet Fighter’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Dennis R Jenkins
Published by Aerofax, 19 June 1997 ISBN: 1 8578 0063 X
* Detailed development and service history.

‘F-14 Tomcat’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tony Holmes
Published by Osprey, 25 April 1991 ISBN: 1 85532 1262
* Collection of 120 colour photos of the F-14 in action.

‘Grumman F-14 Tomcat: Shipborne Superfighter’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Jon Lake
Published by AIRtime Publishing, May 1998 ISBN: 1 8805 8813 7
* Ultra detailed coverage, in the style of World Air Power Journal.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 7’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Oct 1991 ISBN: 1 8740 2313 1
* Includes 58 page ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the F-14 Tomcat.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 19’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Nov 1994 ISBN: 1 8740 2347 6
* Includes Part 1 of ‘Variant Briefing’ feature on the F-14 Tomcat.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 20’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Jan 1995 ISBN: 1 8740 2349 2
* Includes Part 2 of ‘Variant Briefing’ feature on the F-14 Tomcat.

‘International Air Power Review, Volume 3’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by AIRtime Publishing, 2001 ISBN: 1 880588 36 6
* Includes 34 page ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the F-14 Tomcat.

‘F-14 Tomcat Walkaround’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Lou Drendel
Published by Squadron/Signal, April 1995 ISBN: 0 8974 7337 X
* Close-up photos of F-14 external and internal details.

‘Tomcat Alley’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David F Brown
Published by Schiffer, 1998 ISBN: 0 7643 0477 1
* Photographic roll-call of all F-14s built, in many different markings.

‘Tomcat!’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Paul T Gillcrist
Published by Schiffer Publishing, Nov 1994 ISBN: 0 8874 0664 5
* Anecdotal history of the F-14 by former US Navy fighter pilot.

‘Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat – Osprey Combat Aircraft 49’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop
Published by Osprey, 23 Sept 2004 ISBN: 1841767875
* Looks at the F-14’s Iranian combat history and includes first hand accounts from the pilots themselves.

‘F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom – Osprey Combat Aircraft 52’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tony Holmes
Published by Osprey, 10 April 2005 (NYP) ISBN: 1841768030
* Looks at the F-14s air-to-ground missions during OIF, including first hand accounts.

Magazines

Links

F-14 Tomcat
(Detailed profile by GlobalSecurity.org – variants, systems, specs etc)

F-14 Tomcat Pictures
(7 US Navy F-14 photos)

F-14 Tomcat
(Description, spec, photo gallery)

AXLs Plane Gallery
(77 photos of F-14s)

Global Aircraft – F-14 Tomcat
(Spec, achievements, features, background, photos)

F-14 Tomcat
(US Navy Fact File: short description and spec)

F-14 Tomcat
(Description, variants, upgrades, spec, photos, links)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(Info, armament, videos, photos, links)

The F-14 Tomcat Mainpage
(Large photos, tech data, photo galley, links, background history)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(Weapons, history, events, sqns, variants, links, photos)

Tomcat Alley
(F-14 Tomcat variants, losses, sqns, pics, kits, links)

Home of M.A.T.S.
(F-14 history, specs, serials, walkaround, sqns, photos, books, memorabilia)

F-14 Tomcat
(Air Force Technology: description of the technology in the F-14 + some photos)

The F-14 Tomcat Association
(F-14 history, squadrons, stories, gallery, museum aircraft etc)

F-14 Tomcat
(Northrop Grumman official info & photo gallery)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(Aerospaceweb.org: description, specs, variants, sources)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(Index page for detailed profile of the F-14)

F-14 Tomcat Photo Collection
(Photos from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center of F-14 flight testing)

Naval Aircraft: F-14 Tomcat
(2 pages of F-14 photos)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(Colour profile, spec, 3-view, a few photos)

F-14 Tomcat
(Lots of good close-up and detail photos of F-14s)

Grumman F-14A Tomcat
(Details of F-14s displayed in US aviation museums)

Tomcat Gallery
(22 US Navy photos)

F-14 Tomcat with USN
(ACIG Database: 4-part collection of F-14 colour profile drawings)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(VF-11 info, Tomcat info & pics including colour profile drawings)

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(Good profile of the F-14: history, variants, service use etc)

JetPhotos.com
(12 pages of F-14 photos)

Grumman F-14 Tomcat
(One page of F-14 photos)

F-14 Tomcat
(Four superb F-14 photos)

Last of the Grumman Cats: The F-14 Tomcat
(Six colour profile drawings of F-14 markings from the 1970s)

Tomcatter’s Association
(VF-31 information including F-14 photos)

DefenseLINK
(List of F-14 photos on official DoD public relations website)

Aircraft Photo Gallery – F-14
(Spec and some good US Navy photos)

Tomcat Tales
(Illustrated short feature on an aspect of the development of the F-14 Tomcat)

Airliners.Net
(16 pages of excellent F-14 photos)

Terrific Tomcat Photo Page
(Lots of photos of US Tomcats – arranged by unit/operator – but lots of broken links also)

Webshots
(Good collection of F-14 photos)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
‘The F-14A & B Tomcat In Detail & Scale (Su-22 Killer) – Detail & Scale 9’
by Bert Kinzey
Published by Aero Publishers Inc, USA, 1983 ISBN: 0 85368 5118
* Close-up photos, scale drawings and modelling information.

Videos:

‘Great Planes Series V.7 – F-14 Tomcat’
* No further information.

‘F-14 Tomcat – Mig Killer’
* No further information.

‘Sea Wings – The Tomcat’ [Order this video from Amazon UK]
DD Video, 20 May 1996, Catalogue Number: DD1223
* 50 minute documentary on the US Navy F-14.

‘F-14 Tomcat – One of a Kind’
* No further information.

‘Modern Military Aircraft – F-14 Tomcat’ [Order this DVD from Amazon UK]
Artsmagic Ltd, 21 July 2003, Catalogue Number: –
* 60 minute documentary on the F-14.

‘F-14 Tomcat – Any Time Baby’
* No further information.

AgustaWestland AW101

Aircraft Profile
CH-149 Cormorant ‘901’
(photo, Agusta)

Development

Despite it’s somewhat protracted development programme, the EH 101 has emerged as one of the world’s most capable medium-sized helicopters. Export orders are mounting steadily and a campaign to sell the helicopter to the US Armed Forces is now underway. The recognised virtues of the EH 101 have their origins in a project called the WG.34.

In the spring of 1977 the MoD (Navy) issued Naval Staff Requirement 6646 for a new ASW helicopter, to replace the Westland Sea King in service with the Royal Navy. By late 1977 Westland Helicopters had started work on a design studies, to meet this requirement. The outcome was a project designated WG.34 which, in September 1978, was selected by the MoD for further development.

Meanwhile, in Italy the Italian Navy and Agusta were having similar discussions over a requirement to replace the Agusta-built Sea Kings then in service. The Marina Militari Italiana wanted a primarily shore-based helicopter which could detect submarines in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean.

Work on the WG.34 was halted while a series of inter-company discussions took place over the possibility of a joint venture meeting both countries requirements. The talks were successful and in November 1979 the British and Italian government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formalising the joint venture. The two companies formed a joint company, called European Helicopter Industries (EHI), to manage the project in June 1980. The project definition phase was launched in June 1981. As the design evolved, it became clear that there was a significant market for a medium-sized commercial helicopter and also a military tactical transport helicopter. Only relatively small changes in the airframe of the basic naval helicopter would be required to produce variants to satisfy these markets.

On 7 March 1984 the official contract for the full-scale development of the Naval variant was signed. The civil transport and utility transport variants were launched simultaneously as private ventures. A total of ten pre-production examples were planned, including one non-flying airframe for ground testing.

Manufacture of the first components began during March 1985 at Yeovil and at Cascina Costa near Milan. The first prototype, PP1 (ZF641), was rolled out at Yeovil on 7 April 1987. After exhaustive ground testing, the first flight was achieved on 9 October 1987. This was quickly followed by the second pre-production example, PP2, flying at Cascina Costa on 26 November 1987.

The first four pre-production aircraft, PP1-PP4, were used for basic development in the flight test programme; PP5 and PP6 were used for development of the RN and MMI naval variants respectively; PP7, the utility variant, was used to develop the rear loading ramp and its associated systems and PP8 and PP9 flew trials for the civil and utility variants respectively. During flight testing the main-rotor pylon fairing was reshaped, and a main-rotor with anhedral tips fitted. The stubby symmetrical tailplane was also replaced by a high aspect-ratio asymmetric tailplane mounted on the starboard side of the base of the fin. Further aerodynamic refinements included rotor blade root fairings and a horizontal plate mounted on the upper port side of the rear fuselage to deflect rotor down wash.

Export prospects soon materialised. In August 1987 the Canadian government confirmed it’s selection of the EH 101 to replace the 35 ship-borne Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King ASW helicopters being flown by the CAF. In April 1988 EHI was awarded a contract to define an EH 101 to meet the specification of the New Shipborne Aircraft (NSA) programme. A consortium of Canadian companies was formed to assemble and equip the helicopters, led by IMP Group Ltd. The designation CH-148 Petrel was assigned. A subsequent order for 15 utility versions to replace the CH-113A Labrador in the SAR role under the designation CH-149 Chimo was also placed.

In April 1990 it was decided that all production EH 101s for the Royal Navy would have Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM.332-1 turboshaft engines, and aircraft PP4 was later modified to conduct flight testing of this powerplant. In September 1991 a partnership of Westland and IBM Federal Systems (acting as prime contractor overseeing systems integration) was awarded a contract for 50 production versions (later reduced to 44) of the naval variant, designated Merlin HM. Mk1 by the MoD.

During 1993 the Canadian opposition Liberal party chose to make political capital out of the EH 101 procurement programme, and following a change of government in late 1993 cancelled the contract. The cancellation fees paid to EHI were higher than if the contract had gone ahead, resulting in considerable political embarrassment.

In November 1994 civil certification was achieved for the 30 seat transport and rear-ramp utility variants. Assembly of the Merlin began in early 1995 and the first example flew on 6 December 1995. The Royal Navy received it’s first fully operational Merlin HM.1 on 27 May 1997, for trials at Boscombe Down.

The CAF still needed a replacement for the CH-113A Labrador, and so in January 1998 the Canadian government placed a new order for 15 examples of the revised AW320 Cormorant version for the SAR role. This was a minimum change SAR version based on the Series 500 Civil utility variant with a rear cargo ramp. The ‘AW320’ designation was presumably politically inspired to avoid any reference to ‘EH 101’ in the announcement. (Some sources use the designation ‘AW520’).

The first commercial example, a Series 510 for the Tokyo Police was handed over in 1998. The first of 22 examples for the Royal Air Force was rolled out on 25 November 1999. Designated Merlin HC.3 and sharing the RTM.322 engines of the Royal Navy examples, the first was delivered in December 2001. In January 2001 the Italian Navy received it’s first production EH 101.

The airframe of the EH 101 is mostly conventional aluminium alloy construction with some composite materials in the rear fuselage and tail section. Overall dimensions are less than those of a Sea King, to allow operation from existing frigates and hangars. The three engines are mounted on the cabin roof in ‘arrow head’ formation. The 9 pre-production examples were fitted with General Electric CT7-2A engines of 1289 kW (1729 shp) maximum, while British military examples have RTM.322 engines of 1724 kW (2312 shp) and all others are fitted with Italian-assembled T700-GE-T6A engines of 1278 kW (1714 shp). The single five-bladed main rotor is entirely of composite construction, apart from an abrasion resistant leading edge, and uses elastomeric bearings. The blades utilise an advanced aerofoil section and high-speed BERP-derived paddle tips which significantly increase efficiency. There is a four-bladed tail rotor on the port side of the tail rotor pylon. The swept fin pylon is incided to the left, and has a high aspect ratio tailplane located at the base on the starboard side. The naval version has powered main rotor blade folding and tail rotor pylon folding. The retractable tricylce landing gear features a twin-wheel nose gear, and single-wheel main gears which retract backwards into the sponsons. All versions can fly in severe icing and incorporate triple hydraulic systems, three independent alternators and a gas turbine APU. The avionics include a digital flight control system, two MIL-STD-1553B digital databuses (ARINC 429 in civil variants), a glass cockpit with colour Multi-Function Displays and a comprehensive navigation suite for all-weather navigation and automatic flight. Italian navy versions feature the APS-784 radar and a HELRAS sonar system. Royal Navy Merlins include GEC Ferranti Blue Kestrel 360º search radar, GEC Avionics AQS-903 acoustic processing and display systems, Racal Orange Reaper ESM and Ferranti/Thomson-CSF dipping sonar.

The proven capabilities of the airframe and it’s highly advanced systems has made the EH 101 a fierce competitor in the export market. During 2001 the EH 101 won orders from Portugal and Denmark for the SAR variant and in early 2003 an order from the JMSDF for 14 examples in the mine clearance role. In Canada the prolonged search for a Sea King replacement continues after the 1993 political debacle. The EH 101 has again been submitted for consideration, but there are claims that the requirement has been rewritten to make it much harder for the EH 101 to win. It is likely that any order will be not be placed until after Jean Chrétian has retired from political life in late 2003, in an attempt to salve his worthless reputation. In the meantime, three of the 42 year-old Sea Kings have crashed. One of the competitors in the Canadian competition is the Sikorsky S-92. Despite being touted as a rival to the EH 101, the S-92 is only about two-thirds the size and is much closer in dimensions to the European NH.90 helicopter.

At the start of 2001 Agusta merged with GKN Westland to form AgustaWestland, thus eliminating the need for EHI as a joint venture company. In October 2001 AgustaWestland signed a joint marketing agreement with Lockheed Martin for the promotion of the EH 101 (dubbed the US 101) in the USA. The potential for US Military sales is considerable, with new medium-sized helicopters needed by the USAF, US Coast Guard, US Navy and Marine Corps. The latter force undertakes the enormously prestigious role of transporting the US President by helicopter. Although impeccably maintained, the VH-3Ds used by HMX-1 in this role are in need of replacement. Potential candidates include the NH-90, which is politically handicapped by it’s French and German ‘old Europe’ background; the S-92 again, which has lost every military competition it has entered (except for a distinctly dubious Irish Air Corps deal which was quickly cancelled), and the EH 101, which can offer three-engined safety, a full height cabin and the world’s most effective active vibration damping system. Furthermore, Lockheed Martin is not used to coming second in a US military aircraft competitions.

Whatever the outcome of this particular competition, the EH 101/US 101, is well placed to continue winning further orders wherever there is a need for a world-class medium-sized helicopter.

EH 101 Heliliner prototype PP8 G-OIOI. A view of Merlin prototype PP5, clearly
showing the early symmetrical tailplane.
(photos, GKN Westland)

Variants

Requirement Specification: NSR 6646 (Merlin HM.1), ASR440 (Merlin HC.3)
Manufacturers Designation: EH 101

Development History:
WG.34 Original Westland designation for projected Sea King replacement helicopter.
EHI 01 Allegedy the original intended designation for EHI’s first project, but a printing mistake resulted in EH 101.
EH 101 prototypes Initial development batch of 9 helicopters – numbered PP1 to PP9. PP4, 5 & 6 were naval versions. GE CT7-2A engines.
EH 101 Series 100 Generic designation for Naval variant. Underfuselage radar, ESM, retractable rescue hoist, sonobouy dispensers, external weapons hard points, 2 cabin windows each side.
EH 101 Series 110 ASW/ASuW version for Italian Navy. T700-GE-T6A engines.
EH 101 Series 111 ASW version for Royal Navy. Designated Merlin HM Mk.1. RTM.322 engines, dipping sonar.
EH 101 Series 112 AEW (‘HEW’) version for Italian Navy. Eliradar APS-784 radar in much larger under fuselage radome. T700-GE-T6A engines.
EH 101 Series 200 Generic designation for naval utility version without rear ramp.
EH 101 SAR variant 4 crew & 28 seats or 4 litters and 4 seats. Rescue hoist, rear ramp, 4 closely spaced cabin windows each side.
EH 101 Series 300 Heliliner Generic designation for civil passenger transport version. 5 cabin windows each side. CT7-6 engines. 30 seats.
EH 101 Series 310 Civil passenger version offered to the offshore oil industry.
EH 101 Series 400 Generic designation for military utility version. Rear loading ramp and slimmer tail boom, large sliding door, 4 (2+1+1)cabin windows each side.
EH 101 Series 410 Utility (‘UTY’) version for Italian Navy for amphibious operations. Rear ramp and blade folding. T700-GE-T6A engines.
EH 101 Series 411 Utility version for RAF. Designated Merlin HC Mk.3. RTM.322 engines, revised cockpit layout, flight refuelling probe, FLIR, RWR & IR jammer.
EH 101 Series 413 MMI batch 2 – ASH.
EH 101 Series 41? Planned Combat-SAR version for Italian Navy. T700-GE-T6A engines.
EH 101 Series ??? Minesweeping version for JMSDF based on military utility model. Rear loading ramp. RTM322 Mk.250 engines.
EH 101 Series 500 Utility Civil utility transport version. 5 (2+2+1) cabin windows, CT7-6 engines.
EH 101 Series 510 Version for Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
EH 101 Series 511 CH-149 Cormorant.
EH 101 Series 512 Multi-role SAR/tactical transport version for Denmark. RTM322 Mk.250 engines.
EH 101 Series 514 SAR version for Portugal. RTM322 Mk.250 engines.
EH 101 Series 515 Combat SAR version for Portugal. RTM322 Mk.250 engines.
EH 101 Series 516 Fishery protection version for Portugal. RTM322 Mk.250 engines.
Merlin HAS Mk.1 Original planned designation for HM Mk.1, circa 1996.
Merlin HM Mk.1 Royal Navy designation for EH.101 Srs 111, emphasising it’s multi-role ability.
Merlin HM Mk.2 Designation reserved for anticipated upgrade of existing HM Mk.1 helicopters, circa 2005. Updated avionics, uprated engines and transmission
Merlin HC Mk.3 RAF designation for EH.101 Srs 411.
AW 520 Manufacturers designation for CH-149 Cormorant. ‘AW 320’ is also used.
CH-148 Petrel Initial shipborne ASW version for Canada. CT7-6A1 engines. 35 ordered but cancelled 1993.
CH-149 Chimo Utility SAR version for Canada. CT7-6A1 engines. 15 ordered but cancelled 1993.
CH-149 Comorant CAF designation for EH 101 Srs 500 variant. Reduced cost naval/SAR variant based on civil Srs 500 with rear ramp and dipping sonar. T700-GE-T6A1 engines.
US 101 Marketing designation for USA.
EH 101 Compound lift projected version with stub wings above the cabin, flight refuelling probe, for long-endurance AEW mission for RN.
Rollout of the first production Merlin HC.3
for the RAF (photo, ?)
One EH 101 srs 510 serves with the Tokyo
Metropolitan Police (photo, GKN Westland)

History

Key Dates:
early 1977    Naval Staff Requirement 6646 issued by Royal Navy
late 1977    Initial design studies for a WG.34 initiated
Autumn 1978    MoD(RN) select WG.34 to replace Sea King
1979    Westland & Agusta begin negotiations on common helicopter programme
November 1979    Westland & Agusta agree on joint development effort
June 1980    European Helicopter Industries Ltd consortium formed to manage programme now designated EH 101
May 1981    Basic configuration established
25 January 1984    Full programme go-ahead announced. Formal approval for construction of 9 development protoypes
7 March 1984    Development contract signed
7 April 1987    Rollout of first prototype at Yeovil
9 Oct 1987    First flight of first prototype PP1 (ZF641) at Yeovil. Non-specific test vehicle. Later refitted wth T700 engines.
26 Nov 1987    First flight of first Italian assembled aircraft (PP2). Non-specific test vehicle. Used for deck trials aboard Italian Navy ships. (Coded 02)
30 Sept 1988    First flight of civil Heliliner version PP3 (G-EHIL, ZH647)
26 Apr 1989    PP6 first flight – Italian naval ASW version (I-RAIA, MM-X605)
15 June 1989    First flight of first pre-series aircraft (PP4). First British naval trials example (ZF644). Later fitted with RTM.322 engines
24 Oct 1989    First flight PP5 (ZF649). RN Merlin prototype.
18 Dec 1989    First flight PP7 (I-HIOI). Italian military utility version with loading ramp.
24 April 1990    First flight of PP8 Westland civil Heliliner (G-OIOI, ZJ116).
July 1990    Deck operating trials by PP2 on ‘N Grecale’ and ‘Maestrale’ ships.
Nov 1990-1992    PP5 deck trials aboard HMS Norfolk & HMS Iron Duke
16 Jan 1991    First flight of Italian civil utility version PP9 (I-LIOI).
9 Oct 1991    Royal Navy orders the Merlin HM.1
mid Oct 1991    PP6 undertakes trials aboard ‘Giuseppe Garibaldi’ and ‘Andrea Doria’
21 Jan 1993    Italian PP2 lost in accident due to rotor brake malfunction. Flight testing suspended.
24 June 1993    Flight testing resumed
July 1993    First flight of PP4 with RTM322 engines
4 Nov 1993    Canada cancels it’s original EH 101 purchase
24 Nov 1994    Civil version certificated by UK/Italy, with FAA approval the next day
9 March 1995    RAF orders Merlin HC.3
7 April 1995    PP4 written off in a crash after tail rotor control-rod failure
10 Oct 1995    Italian Navy requirement for 16 EH 101 announced
6 Dec 1995    First flight of a production Merlin HM.1 (ZH821). Used for pre-service trials.
14 Jan 1997    Maiden flight of first Merlin HM.1 with full mission avionics (ZH822).
27 May 1997    First fully operational Merlin HM.1 handed over to RN
28 May 1997    First production civil variant rolled out at Agusta (Srs 510)
17 June 1997    First flight of Srs 510 for Tokyo Police
Aug 1997    Formal signing of order for 16 Italian Navy EH 101s
Sept 1997    Second civil EH101 first flight (I-AWGB, I-AGWH)
6 Jan 1998    Canada announces selection of AW 520 Cormorant to replace CH-113A Labrador.
Sept 1998    First delivery – civil Mk 510 to Tokyo Police (JA01MP)
17 Nov 1998    First Merlin HM.1 transferred to the Royal Navy
1 Dec 1998    700M Sqn officially formed, IFTU
24 Dec 1998    Maiden flight of first production Merlin HC.3
March 1999    Entered service with RN Intensive Flying Trials Unit (700M Sqn)
4 Oct 1999    Maiden flight of first Italian Navy production example (coded 2-01). Official ‘first flight’ for the Press on 6 Dec 1999.
25 Nov 1999    First Merlin HC.3 for RAF rolled out at Yeovil (ZJ117)
7 March 2000    First flight of first CH-149 Cormorant
2 June 2000    824 Sqn RN commissioned with Merlin HM.1
27 Oct 2000    Crash of a Merlin HM.1 due to rotor brake malfunction leads to temporary grounding of all UK Merlins. Rescinded 19 December.
6 Dec 2000    First flight of a production Italian Navy example
11 Dec 2000    First Merlin HC.3 delivered to 28 Sqn RAF
1 Jan 2001    AgustaWestland formed.
Jan 2001    First production delivery to Italian navy (not Dec 2000)
13 Aug 2001    Denmark selects EH 101 to replace Sea King in RDanAF service – 14 Sept?
29 Sept 2001    First two AW320 delivered to CAF at Vergiate
31 Oct 2001    AgustaWestland and Lockhed Martin announce joint development of US 101 variant for US military market
30 Nov 2001    Portugal selects EH 101 to replace SA330 Puma in SAR role – 3 Dec?
7 Dec 2001    RDanAF signs contract for 14 EH 101.
15 July 2002    CH-149 officially enters operational service with 442 Sqn CAF
19 Nov 2002    Last of the 22 Merlin HC.3s delivered to RAF
5 Dec 2002    Completion of deliveries to RN
3 June 2003    Lockheed Martin selected to produce Merlin Capability Sustainment Plus (CSP) looking at long-term capability enhancement of RN Merlins.
5 June 2003    Japan formally announces selection of the EH 101 to replace MH-53EJ & S-61A.
CH-149 Cormorant coded 902 Good view of the rear loading ramp on a CH-149
(photos, The Rotorhead)

Operators

Military Operators

UK – Royal Navy (2 Sqns + 1 IFTU unit – 2 more Sqns planned)
UK – Royal Air Force (1 Sqn)
Italy – Navy (1 Sqn + Trials Unit – 1 additional Sqn planned)
Canada – CAF (3 Sqns + 1 Rescue Unit)
Portugal – Navy (12 on order)
Denmark – Royal Danish Air Force (14 on order)
Japan – JMSDF (14 on order)

Government Agencies

UK – DERA (late QinetiQ) (1 test unit – peak strength 3 x HM.1 / 3 x HC.3)

Civilian Operators

Japan – Tokyo Police (1 Srs 510)
First Italian Navy EH 101 ‘2-01’ soon after it’s
first flight on 6 October 1999
Italian Navy EH 101 serial MM81480
coded ‘2-01’
(photos, Agusta)

Specifications

AgustaWestland Merlin HM.1
Crew: Four
Dimensions: Length overall, rotors turning 74 ft 10 in (22.81 m); Length with main rotor and tail pylon folded 52 ft 6 in (16.00 m); Fuselage length 64 ft 1 in (19.53 m); Height overall, rotors turning 21 ft 10 in (6.65 m); Height, with main rotor and tail pylon folded 17 ft 1 in (5.21 m); Main Rotor Diameter 61 ft 0 in (18.59 m); Main Rotor Disc Area 2,922.60 sq ft (271.5 sq m)
Engines: Three Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM.322-01 turboshafts each rated at 2,312 shp (1724 kW) maximum contingency and 2,100 shp (1566 kW) intermediate contingency
Weights: Empty 23,149 lb (10,500 kg); Maximum Take-off 32,188 lb (14,600 kg)
Performance: Never exceed speed 167 kts (192 mph, 309 kph); Average cruising speed 160 kts (184 mph, 296 kph); Economical cruising speed 140 kts (161 mph, 259 kph); Service ceiling 15,000 ft (4575 m); Ferry range with auxiliary fuel 1,000 nm (1,152 mls, 1,853 km); Endurance 5 hours on station with maximum weapon load
Armament: Two hard points, one on each side of the fuselage for a total of 960 kg (2,116 lb) of disposable stores. Four Marconi Sting Ray torpedoes, two sonobuoy dispensers. Options for Exocet, Harpoon, Sea Eagle and Marte Mk 2 missiles – but not fitted on UK examples
AgustaWestland EH 101 series 110 (Italian Navy)
Crew: Four
Engines: Three General Electric T700-GE-T6A turboshafts each rated at 1714 shp (1278 kW) maximum continous power
Weights: Maximum Take-off 31,368 lb (14,288 kg)
Armament: Two hard points, one on each side of the fuselage for a total of 960 kg (2,116 lb) of disposable stores. Four Mk.46 torpedoes, or MU-90 or MS-500 bombs or two Marte Mk 2/A missiles
The Merlin HC.3 serves with 28 Sqn RAF
(photo, Agusta)
Merlin HC.3 clearly showing the downwash deflector plate on the rear fuselage (photo, ?)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: ?
Prime Airframe Contractor: EH Industries Ltd, Pyramid House, Solatron Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7QL, England. (Later AgustaWestland).
(*50:50 Workshare split – Westland: Front fuselage, and rotor blades; Agusta: Rear fuselage, rotor head, hydraulic system)
Design Office: Agusta and Westland, as per workshare split.

Manufacture

AgustaWestland UK
(Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 2YB, UK. Initially Westland Helicopters Ltd)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
prototype PP1 1 Yeovil 1986-April 1987
prototype PP3 1 Yeovil 1987-Sept 1988
prototype PP4 1 Yeovil 1988-June 1989
prototype PP5 1 Yeovil 1988-Oct 1989
prototype PP8 1 Yeovil 1989-Apr 1990
Merlin HM.1 44 Yeovil 1994-Nov 2002
Merlin HC.3 22 Yeovil 1999-Nov 2002
EH 101 srs 512 14 Yeovil Feb 2003-2005
Total: 85    
AgustaWestland Italy
(Vergiate, Italy. Initially Agusta SpA.)*
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
prototype PP2 1 Vergiate 1986-Nov 1987
prototype PP6 1 Vergiate 1987-Apr 1989
prototype PP7 1 Vergiate 1988-Dec 1989
prototype PP9 1 Vergiate 1989-Jan 1991
EH 101 srs 510 1+1 Vergiate 1996-May 1997
CH-149 Cormorant 15 Vergiate 1999-2003
EH 101 srs 110 8 Vergiate 1998-2003
EH 101 srs 112 4 Vergiate 2003-2004
EH 101 srs 410 4+4 Vergiate 2003-2004
EH 101 srs 413 4 Vergiate 2004-2005
EH 101 srs 514/515/516 12 Vergiate Jan 2003-2005
Total: 57    

* Major sub-assemblies built at Cascina Costa, near Milan.

Kawasaki
(Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Nogoya, Aichi, Japan)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
EH 101 Srs ? 14 Nogoya 2003-2008+
Total: 14    

Total Produced: 156 a/c (All variants)

Production List

To be added.

Prototype PP5 ZF649 on HMS Iron Duke Production Merlin HM.1 before delivery
(photos, Crown Copyright)

More Information

Books

‘Westland Aircraft since 1915’
by Derek N James
Published by Putnam, 1995 ISBN: 0 85177 847 X
* Include a chapter on the early history of the EH 101.

‘Flight International World Aircraft & Systems Directory, Third Edition’
by Micheal J H Taylor
Published by Reed Business Information, 2002 ISBN: 0 617 01289-X
* Includes detailed EH 101 specification.

Magazines

Air Forces Monthly November 1992 – article ‘Rapid Reaction Helo’
Air Forces Monthly July 1995 – article ‘Commando EH101’
Air Forces Monthly April 1999 – article ‘Merlin – the spell begins’
Air International April 1998 – article ‘The multi role EH 101’
Air International June 2000 – article ‘EH 101 Heliliner’
Air International May 2003 – article ‘EH 101 in service’
Flight International – various issues

Links

The EH101
* Official EH 101 info and photos.
Team US101
* Information and photos from the US marketing campaign.
AgustaWestland EH101
* Aerospace Technology page for the EH 101.
EH101 Merlin photos
* Walkaround photos of Italian Navy example.
Aviation Net Photogallery 6
* Some good photos of Italian EH 101s.
EH101
* Detail photos of the Tokyo Police EH 101.
EH 101 in Greenland
* Spectacular photos of a CH-149 operating over Greenland.
EH.101 Walk Around
* Detail photos of CH-149 + list of EH 101 variant designations.
CH-149 (EH-101) Cormorant
*Flugzeugforum Galeri – 24 photos of CH-149.
AgustaWestland EH101
* History, news, photos, links etc.
Westland Agusta CH-149 Cormorant
* Details of CAF operated variant.
EH 101 Picture Gallery
* Lots of official Westland EH 101 photos.

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Videos:

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Boeing/BAE Systems T-45 Goshawk

Aircraft Profile
Formation of four T-45s from TW-1, NAS Meridian.
(photo, Boeing)

Development

The T-45 is a rare example of the US Armed Forces adopting in large numbers an aircraft of non-US origin. This must be considered a very positive endorsement for the Hawk jet trainer, from which it was originally derived. However, during it’s protracted development the T-45 has evolved into a training aircraft with virtues which are significantly different from those of the Hawk.

In the late 1970s the US Navy began formulating the requirements for a new training aircraft to replace the faithful but ageing T-2C Buckeye intermediate trainer and TA-4J Skyhawk advanced trainer. The new aircraft would form part of a fully integrated training system for undergraduate jet pilots – including aircraft, simulators, training aids and logistics support to be furnished by a single contractor. The programme was called VTX-TS, meaning Heavier than air, Training aircraft Experimental – Training System.

In January 1978 British Aerospace and the Douglas Aircraft (DAC) division of McDonnell-Douglas Corporation (MDC) agreed a teaming arrangement to compete for VTS-TS. McDonnell-Douglas and British Aerospace were already co-operating very successfully on the Harrier II, and so MDC was a natural US partner for the new programme. In late 1978 BAe and Dassault-Dornier were awarded contracts to study the required engineering changes for Hawk and Alpha Jet carrier operations respectively. Early in the evaluation the Hawk demonstrator, ZA101/G-HAWK, had paid a 31 day visit to the USA, during which it flew a total of 85 evaluation sorties.

On 18 November 1981 the proposed naval Hawk variant was declared the winner and assigned the designation T-45. The Hawk chosen on the basis of its flying quantities, design maturity and low fuel consumption. Mcdonnell-Douglas Corporation (MDC) was designated the prime contractor, with BAe responsible for the airframe, Rolls-Royce for the engine and Sperry for the simulators. Following completion of detailed engineering design, full-scale development was launched in mid-1984, for the production and flight testing of four pre-production aircraft. To speed up introduction into service, it was initially planned to buy 54 non-carrier capable minimum change T-45B versions, before moving on to the more extensively modified T-45A. After review it was decided that producing all aircraft as T-45A models would give better overall value for money, at the cost of a short programme delay. The T-2 and TA-4J trainers remaining in service received life extension programmes to bridge the gap.

Changes from the standard export Hawk Mk 60 comprised a deeper profile forward fuselage to accommodate a new stronger twin-wheel nose landing gear, with catapult launch bar and improved nosewheel steering; new long-stroke main landing gear stressed to withstand carrier deck landings; main landing gear doors sequenced to close after wheels locked down; twin lateral perforated air brakes on the sides of the rear fuselage, in place of the single ventral air brake; a substantially strengthened airframe and intermediate engine casing; revised US Navy standard cockpit instruments and radios; On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) and Martin Baker Mk 14 NACES ejection seats. SMURFs (Side-Mounted Under Root Fins) – small curved surfaces mounted ahead of and below each tailplane – provided a beneficial aerodynamic tweak which was soon introduced on the Hawk Mk 100 and Mk 200. The resulting aircraft was renamed ‘Goshawk’ to avoid any possible confusion with the US Army Hawk missile.

The first development T-45 aircraft (BuAer. 162787), Ship 1, was rolled out at Long Beach, California, on 16 March 1988, and made it’s maiden flight on 16 April. A second development aircraft (BuAer. 162788) followed in November 1988. These two aircraft have sometimes been erroneously referred to as YT-45s. Flight testing was carried out at Yuma, Arizona and then at NATC Patuxent River, Maryland.

Although the T-45 met the original VTX requirements, detailed operational flight testing and evaluation by NATC identified a number of performance and flying shortcomings which would adversely affect its ability to safely conduct day-to-day training operations. Accordingly a modification programme was put in place to rectify the perceived deficiencies. The F405-RR-400 turbofan originally fitted, (a derated version of the original 5,450 lb st (2472 kg) Adour 861 engine), was replaced by the 5,845 lb st F405-RR-401, based on the Adour 871 used in the Hawk 100 and 200. The -400 engine had been derated to meet Navy demands for fuel economy and longevity, but it was determined that more thrust was needed in the critical high drag carrier approach configuration. Full-span wing leading edge slats were added, (to improve stall characteristics), and the wing-tips squared off, while a 6-inch (0.152 m) extension to the tail fin was added, and an increased span tailplane with squared tips fitted. A single ventral fin was added in front of the arrestor hook hinge fairing. Control harmonisation was also improved, and airbrake/tailplane movement interconnected.

While these modifications were being developed, design responsibility for the T-45 was transferred from Douglas at Long Beach to McDonnell-Douglas at St Louis. Although lack of design capacity at Douglas was cited as the main reason, the political and technical benefits from bringing in experience accrued from development of the F/A-18 naval fighter-bomber undoubtedly influenced the decision. Flight testing of the modifications at NATC from September 1990 showed a marked improvement in handling characteristics, and on 4 December 1991 the first pre-production aircraft conducted a successful series of carrier trials aboard the USS John F Kennedy. At this time the T-45 test fleet consisted of the two original (Long Beach built) Full Scale Development (FSD) aircraft with interim uprated F405-RR-400A (Adour 861) engines, and two (Palmdale built) Pre-Production aircraft (BuAer. 163599 & 163600) with F405-RR-401 (Adour 871) engines.

On 16 December 1991 the first St Louis built T-45A achieved its maiden flight. Built to full production standard, this aircraft was formally handed over to the US Navy on 23 January 1992. Introduction of the type into service at NAS Kingsville, Tx, with VT-21, commenced soon afterwards. As required under the contract, this process involved delivery of simulators and training facilities to Kingsville, conversion of the flying instructors to the new aircraft and the new curriculum, and putting in place the contractorised maintenance organisation to support the aircraft. Undergraduate training on the new type commenced in early 1994, and on 11 February 1994 the first student pilot flew in the T-45. The first class to earn it’s wings on the T-45 graduated in October 1994.

Further development of the T-45 has continued. One production aircraft (BuAer. 163635) was fitted with an experimental digital ‘glass’ cockpit known as Cockpit 21. Many of the normal dials on the instrument panel were replaced by two monochrome Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) in each cockpit to better represent the type of cockpit now seen in modern front-line aircraft. Additional avionics include a MIL-STD-1553B databus, Rockwell Collins GPS and a Litton ring laser gyro INS. Flight trials commenced on 19 March 1994, and were sufficiently successful that the change was adopted on the production line from the 73rd aircraft (BuAer. 165081). Aircraft with Cockpit 21 are designated T-45C, and it is anticipated that all production T-45As will also be retrofitted to this standard and redesignated T-45C. A proposal to modestly increase fuel capacity, through the use of fuel tanks in the air intakes was dropped. However, US Navy dissatisfaction with some aspects of the F405 engine led in 1996 to one T-45A being fitted with an AlliedSignal F124 engine for flight testing. The F124 engine was offered to some potential T-45 export customers, particularly Australia, but not taken up. The US Navy’s engine concerns were eventually tackled by an F405 engine modification programme put in place by Rolls-Royce.

T-45s now in service are based at NAS Kingsville, Texas and NAS Meridian, Mississippi. The aircraft are permanently based ashore and flown out to the training carrier for deck landings. Since the transition to the T-45, the training task has been accomplished with 25% fewer flying hours, using 42% fewer aircraft and 46% fewer personnel. With the current T-45 training demand, the U.S. Navy has been averaging more than 60 hours per month per airframe – one of the highest utilisation rates in the world.

A solo student in T-45C 165083 Steam rises as a T-45 waits for the catapult
(All photos Boeing)

Variants

Requirement Specification: VTX-TS
Manufacturers Designation:

Development History:
VTX-TS Initial US Navy requirement designation.
T-45A Pre-production development aircraft for flight testing. Initially without wing leading edge slats.
T-45A Initial production version. Fully carrier capable. Full-span wing leading edge slats. Later upgraded to T-45C standard.
T-45A One aircraft temporarily fitted with AlliedSignal F124 engine for flight testing.
T-45A One aircraft with digital cockpit as ‘Cockpit 21’ demonstrator.
T-45(AN) Version offered to the French Navy in 1991. Cockpit 21 plus additional advanced avionics. Not built.
T-45B Planned non-carrier capable version. Minimum change version of Hawk Mk.60 for early service entry. Production of 54 planned, with first fight expected February 1987. First two aircraft to be wholly built in the UK. Requirement cancelled and not built, although offered to potential export customers.
T-45C Improved production version of T-45A, featuring ‘Cockpit 21’ with digital ‘glass’ cockpit with 2 colour MFDs.
T-45C 165492 with centreline baggage pod (photo, Pierre Gauthier) The graceful wing and tailplane curves of the Hawk have been lost in the T-45 redesign
(photo, Boeing)

History

Key Dates:
1975    US Naval Air Development Center (NADC) studies replacement of T-2C and TA-4J by single VTX aircraft.
May 1977    BAe presentation to US Navy on Hawk aircraft.
December 1979    Request for quotations for VTX-TS proposals issued.
January 1980    MDC and BAe agree to team for VTX-TS.
June 1981    Hawk demonstrator (ZA101/G-HAWK) tours the USA.
19 November 1981    Hawk wins VTX-TS competition. T-45 designation assigned.
1982    Proposal to split production into ‘minimum change’ T-45B followed by carrier capable T-45A.
late 1983    T-45B variant cancelled.
October 1984    Full Scale Development contract for T-45A launched.
February 1986    Construction of two pre-production ‘prototypes’ begun.
May 1986    Engineering Development contract signed by MDC.
26 January 1988    Initial production contract for 12 T-45A aircraft agreed.
16 March 1988    Roll out of first pre-production T-45A (162787) at Long Beach.
16 April 1988    First flight of T-45A (162787).
2 November 1988    First flight of second pre-production aircraft (162788).
November 1988    First US Navy evaluation flights.
1989    US Navy outlines ‘big 5’ deficiencies found in flight testing.
October 1989    Initial planned first delivery for T-45A. Not achieved.
19 December 1989    Design Authority moved from DAC, Long Beach, to McDonnell Douglas, St Louis.
September 1990    Start of flight testing of production standard slatted wing.
4 December 1991    First carrier landing and catapult launch trials conducted on USS John F Kennedy.
16 December 1991    Maiden flight of first (St Louis assembled) full production standard T-45.
23 January 1992    First production aircraft handed over to the US Navy at St Louis.
1992    First T-45A delivered to NAS Kingsville, TX (to VT-21).
11 February 1994    First flight by a US Navy student pilot in a T-45.
19 March 1994    First flight of ‘Cockpit 21’ demonstrator.
5 October 1994    First class of pilots trained on the T-45 graduate.
17 January 1995    Authorisation of full-rate production for T-45.
7 October 1996    Flight testing of T-45A fitted with AlliedSignal F124 engine commences.
31 October 1997    First T-45C presented at St Louis (73rd production aircraft).
15 December 1997    T-45C introduced into US Navy service (at NAS Meridan, MS).
July 1998    Start of student training with T-45C (with VT-23).
2002    Start of programme upgrading T-45A to T-45C standard.
2007    Planned completion of T-45A upgrades to T-45C.

Operators

Military Operators

USA – Navy (234 T-45A/C planned)

Government Agencies

None  

Civilian Operators

None  
A pair of T-45Cs wait for catapult launch ‘Ship One’ undergoing initial carrier trials on
the USS John F Kennedy
(All photos Boeing)

Specifications

Boeing/BAE SYSTEMS T-4A Goshawk
Crew: Two (student – front, instructor – rear)
Dimensions: Length 39 ft 3.125 in (11.97 m) including probe; Height 14 ft 0 in (4.27 m); Wing Span 30 ft 9.75 in (9.39 m); Wing Area 176.9 sq ft (16.69 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca F405-RR-401 non-afterburning turbofan rated at 5,845 lb st (26.0 kN)
Weights: Empty Equipped 9,399 lb (4,263 kg); Maximum Take-off 12,750 lb (5,783 kg)
Armament: One hard point under each wing for carriage of practice bombs, rocket pods or drop tanks with 156 US gal (591 lit) of fuel each, plus one under-fuselage centre-line pylon for use in weapons training role.
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ 538 kt (625 mph, 997 kph) at 8000 ft (2440 m); Maximum rate of climb at sea level 6,982 ft/min (2128 m/min); Service ceiling 42,250 ft (12,875 m); Ferry range with internal fuel 1,000 nm (1,152 mls, 1,854 km); Endurance 3 hrs 10 mins

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Gordon Hodson (initially)
Design Authority: Boeing Military Aircraft, St Louis, MO.

Manufacture

Boeing Military Aircraft
(St Louis, MO, USA)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
T-45A pre-prodn. 2* DAC, Long Beach, CA Feb 1986-Nov 1988
T-45A 2 DAC, Palmdale, CA Jan 1998-Nov 1990
T-45A 72 St Louis, MO 1990-1997
T-45C 158** St Louis, MO 1997-2007
Total: 236    

* plus one fatigue test airframe and one for drop testing.
** planned production, at 12 aircraft per year.
Subcontractors: Wings (BAE SYSTEMS, Brough), Centre & Aft Fuselage (BAE SYSTEMS, Samlesbury), Fin & Tailplane (BAE SYSTEMS, Samlesbury?), Windscreen and Canopy (Hamble Aerostructures).

Total Produced: 234 a/c (required production) + 2 pre-prodn = 236 total

Production List

To be added.

T-45C 165081 in full landing configuration T-45A 163606 from NAS Kingsville
(All photos Boeing)

More Information

Books

‘British Aerospace Hawk’
by Roy Braybrook
Published by Osprey Publishing, 1984 ISBN: 0 85045 580 4
* Includes a section on the early stages of T-45 development.

‘Hawk Comes of Age’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Peter R March
Published by RAF Benevolent Fund Enterprises, 1995 ISBN: 1 899808 00 0
* Includes two chapters on the T-45. Good photos.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 22’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, Autumn 1995 ISBN: 1 874023 62 X
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ feature on the Hawk, including the T-45.

‘Hawker Aircraft Since 1920’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Francis K Mason
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1991 ISBN: 0 85177 839 9
* Includes a section on the early days of the T-45 programme.

‘Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by David Donald and Jon Lake
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 95 6
* Includes detailed entry on the T-45.

Magazines

to be added.

Links

T-45 Training System
(Boeing’s T-45 website)

T-45 Goshawk Walk around
(Close-up photos of the T-45)

Naval Technology – T-45A Goshawk
(Description of T-45)

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English Electric Lightning

Aircraft Profile
BAe chase aircraft F. Mk 6 XP693 in 56 Sqn
colours at Wattisham in 1992.
(photo, Joop de Groot)

Development

The only all-British supersonic aircraft to enter production, and the last all-British single-seat fighter, the English Electric Lightning defended United Kingdom air space for more than twenty-five years. It’s astounding performance and docile handling wowed airshow audiences and won the hearts of all the pilots that flew it. Almost cancelled at one point, it suffered from chronic underdevelopment throughout much of it’s career and this adversely affected it’s export potential.

Following the cancellation of the Miles M.52 supersonic programme in 1946 and the record breaking flight by the Bell X-1 in October 1947, design studies for a manned supersonic research aircraft began at English Electric in July 1948 under Chief Designer W.E.W. Petter (designer of the Westland Whirlwind fighter of World War 2 and of the Canberra bomber). On 12 May 1949 English Electric was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Supply to proceed with detail design work on it’s proposal, designated P.1 (Project 1) by the company.

The P.1 configuration featured a highly swept-back untapered wing and a long parallel-sided fuselage. The two engines were housed inside the fuselage in a staggered arrangement, one above the other. The lower engine sat beneath the centre wing box structure, while the upper engine was positioned behind the wing. This arrangement conferred high thrust for low drag and small frontal area. A disadvantage was that most of the fuselage volume was taken up with intake ducting and jet pipes, leaving little room for fuel. As a result, the wing was designed as a complete integral tank, without any separate bag tanks. Wind tunnel testing confirmed that the design held a lot of promise.

Controversy over the low-set tailplane position, and concern over the possible adverse handling characteristics of the swept wing led to the construction of the Short SB.5 (WG768), a research aircraft designed to explore the low-speed handling characteristics of the Lightning configuration. During it’s eighteen month test programme it generally confirmed the accuracy of English Electric’s predictions.

Two P.1s (WG760 and WG763) were ordered on 1 April 1950, with a third airframe constructed for static testing. The design team now turned its attention to a supersonic fighter derivative of the P.1. Back in September 1949 the Ministry had circulated a draft specification, F.23/49, based on this idea, and it was formally issued in April 1950. (Specification ER103 is associated with the P.1 in some sources, but that document was for the Fairey Delta 2). The fighter variant required a redesigned fuselage, with the cockpit raised to provide a better all-round view for the pilot. A long spine fairing from the redesigned canopy to the base of the fin provided additional equipment space. The Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire engines used in the P.1 were replaced by more powerful Rolls-Royce Avons, which promised speeds above Mach 2 with reheat. A suitable air intake was required to manage the shock waves which appear at such high speeds. The answer was to mount a central conical ‘bullet’ in a circular air intake. The central cone was also used to mount the Ferranti AIRPASS radar scanner. While it was expected that air-to-air missiles would eventually be the main armament of interceptor fighters, their reliability was not yet high enough to guarantee a kill, and so guns and air-to-air unguided rockets were recommended as effective alternatives. The new fighter therefore had provision for all three types of armament.

In 1952 the original two research aircraft were redesignated P.1A and the fighter version designated P.1B. A contract for three P.1B prototypes was agreed in August 1953. To speed-up development, a pre-production batch of 20 aircraft was ordered in February the following year.

On 4 August 1954, the first P.1A prototype (WG760) made it’s maiden flight at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. The new aircraft handled extremely well, and exceeded Mach 1.0 in level flight on 11 August 1954. The second P.1A prototype (WG763) joined the flight test programme on 18 July 1955. This aircraft featured two Aden guns in the upper nose and a bulged ventral fairing to accommodate an additional fuel tank. WG760 was then fitted with a simple afterburner (reheat) and resumed flight testing on 31 January 1956. It eventually reached a top speed of Mach 1.53.

Th first P.1B (XA847) fighter version took to the air from Warton on 4 April 1957, and went supersonic on the same flight. On the same day Defence Minister Duncan Sandys announced that all fighters then in development for the RAF would be cancelled and replaced by anti-aircraft missiles – except for the English Electric P.1 which had advanced too far to cancel. Mach 2 was first reached by XA847 on 25 November 1958. The first of 20 pre-production aircraft (XG307) made it’s maiden flight on 3 April 1958. The large number of test aircraft allowed development to progress rapidly and without major problems. In August 1958 it was announced that the name ‘Lightning’ had been chose for the type, and this was officially conferred in October.
XM134 was the first full production Lightning F. Mk 1, making its first flight on 29 October 1959. Controller (Aircraft) release, certifying the aircraft fit for service, was achieved in December of that year, with a handful of aircraft going to the AFDS (Air Fighting Development Squadron) of the Central Fighter Establishment. No.74 at Coltishall received it’s first Lightning F. Mk 1s on 29 June 1960. The slightly improved F. Mk 1A version served with Nos.51 and 111 Sqns.

The Lightning F. Mk 2 introduced improvements such as a steerable nose wheel, liquid oxygen breathing system and better avonics. In addition, the Avon 210 engines were fitted with a fully variable reheat system. Deliveries to Nos. 19 and 92 Squadrons in Germany commenced on 17 December 1962. These aircraft were later upgraded to F.2A standard, as outlined below. More advanced changes came with the F. Mk 3, which introduced a new larger square-topped fin, Red Top collision-course missiles, improved radar and uprated Avon 301 engines. These modifications were first trialled on P.1B Development aircraft XG310, before being introduced onto production aircraft. The first true F. Mk 3 (XP693) took to the air on 16 June 1962 and deliveries to the RAF followed in April 1964, equipping 23, 29, 56, 74 and 111 Sqns.

Designation-wise, the next variant was the T. Mk 4. Work had started on a two-seat trainer version of the P.1B in October 1953. A widened forward fuselage allowed side-by-side seating while retaining full operational capability. Based on the F. Mk 2 airframe, two T. Mk 4 prototypes were produced, the first (XL628) flying on 6 May 1959. While twenty production examples were produced, design work started on a trainer version of the F. Mk 3 airframe. Designated T. Mk 5, twenty-two combat capable machines were built, plus two conversions of T. Mk 4s.

The last version of the Lightning for RAF service was the F. Mk 6. Initially designated F. Mk 3A, this variant embodied a whole series of improvements aimed at improving operational effectiveness. The outboard wing leading edge was kinked and cambered to increase wing area and the wing structure was strengthened to take underwing pylons, although these were never actually fitted to RAF aircraft. A new fuel system with a longer and deeper ventral tank of double the previous volume was installed. The front portion of the tank could house two 30 mm Aden cannon or more fuel. The prototype F. Mk 6 (XM697), a converted F. Mk 3, first flew on 17 April 1964. The first production Mk 6 flew on 16 June 1965, and entered RAF service in December 1965. The first 13 aircraft were F. Mk 3 aircraft converted on the production line to F. Mk 6(Interim) standard before the full version reached production. These early aircraft were later upgraded to full F. Mk 6 standard. The F. Mk 6 served with Nos.5, 11, 23 and 74 Sqns. In a parallel upgrade, 30 F. Mk 2s were upgraded to near F. Mk 6 standard during 1966-70 under the designation F. Mk 2A. The only external difference with the Mk 6 was the retention of the gun muzzle outlets in the nose.

The highly specialised air-defence role of the Lightning had somewhat limited it’s export potential, but the advent of the F. Mk 6 offered the possibility that a multi-role version could be developed – combining fighter, attack and reconnaissance missions in one airframe. The modifications proved straightforward and a marketing campaign was launched. In December 1965 it was announced that Saudi Arabia was to place an order for forty Lightnings. The aircraft were to be 34 single-seaters, based on the F. Mk 3 but with features from the F. Mk 6, designated F. Mk 53 and six 2-seaters based on the T. Mk 5 and designated T. Mk 55. To facilitate pilot training, two T. Mk 4s and four F. Mk 2s were supplied in 1966 under the designations T. Mk 54 and F. Mk 52 respectively.

In December 1966 a second export order was achieved, for fourteen aircraft for Kuwait. This order was to comprise 12 single-seat F. Mk 53K and two T. Mk 55K aircraft of very similar standard to the Saudi aircraft. The prototype F. Mk 53 first flew on 1 November 1966 (53-666) and was followed two days later by the T. Mk 55 prototype (55-710). Deliveries to Saudi Arabia started on 1 July 1968, when two F. Mk 53s flew from Warton to Jeddah. Deliveries to Kuwait began on 18 December 1968. Deliveries to Saudi and Kuwait were completed in September 1969 and December 1969 respectively. Despite an intensive sales campaign, no further orders were forthcoming. The last Lighting built was serial 53-700, an attrition replacement for Saudi Arabia which made its first flight on 29 June 1972.

From 1974 RAF Lightning squadrons began to re-equip with the Phantom FGR.2, and by the Spring of 1977 only No.5 and 11 Squadrons at Binbrook remained. Kuwait retired it’s aircraft in 1977. Saudi Arabia’s 1985 order for Tornados included the trade-in of it’s 22 surviving Lightnings. These aircraft were flown back to Warton in January 1986 and placed in storage. Although available for sale, no customers were found for them. In July 1988 the RAF finally withdrew the Lightning from service, and Binbrook was closed shortly afterwards. A few aircraft remained operational with British Aerospace (BAe) at Warton as chase and radar target aircraft for the Tornado programme until December 1992.

The surviving Lightnings were sold-off to museums and private individuals. Enthusiasts in the growing ‘warbird’ movement of the 1990s attempted to get a civilian-owned Lightning flying again, but the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) refused permission. In the military service the Lightning had a reputation for catching fire, and this is likely to be the main reason for the the refusal. The legal liabilities following an accident in a civil-owned example over the relatively densely populated British Isles would be quite considerable. Since a redesign of the Lightning was not feasible without the cooperation of BAe, UK-based aircraft are limited to fast taxi runs – the Lightning Preservation Group at Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire still operates two aircraft in this manner. Meanwhile enthusiasts looked overseas for a more benign environment. At Cape Town, in South Africa, the Thunder City organisation was set up to operate ex-military fast jets for pleasure flights and other contracts. The fleet includes three Lightnings. In Mississippi, USA, the Anglo-American Lightning Organisation is also in the process of refurbishing a T. Mk 5 to flying condition. The Lighting still flies, albeit far from home.

By designing a twin-engined aircraft with the fuel volume of a single engined aircraft, English Electric produced a relatively light and extremely powerful fighter, but with the inevitable consequence of a lack of range. Subsequent versions began to tackle this problem with an increasingly bulged ventral tank, but fuel usage was always a worry for Lightning pilots. At the same time, penny-pinching development funding meant that it took until the Mk 6 before a wing stressed to carry weapons pylons and external fuel tanks was fitted. The Lightning was never fitted with a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), or adapted to carry Sidewinder missiles, and in it’s final years was forced to rely on it’s gun armament to supplement it’s ancient Red Top missiles. The mechanical complexity of the Lightning was of a entirely different order to that of it’s predecessors and gave the RAF a major maintenance challenge upon it’s introduction into service. On the other hand, pilots converting to the Lightning found it to be a delight to fly – fast, agile and responsive.

Fifty years after it’s first flight, audiences at three different locations around the world can still enjoy the unique combination of speed and control that made the Lightning in it’s heyday a deadly threat to enemy aircraft.

T. Mk 5 XS420 seen at RIAT 2003 in 226
OCU colours. (photo, John Hayles)

Variants

Requirement Specification: F.23/49
Manufacturers Designation: P.1B (Lightning F.1 & F.1A), P.11 (Lightning T.4), P.25 (Lightning F.2), P.26 (Lightning F.3 & F.6), P.27 (Lightning T.5)

Development History:
P.1 Initial designation for supersonic research aircraft.
P.1A Retrospective designation for supersonic research aircraft. Two flying prototypes. Armstrong Siddeley AS Sa.5 engines. Elliptical pitot nose intake.
P.1B Redesign of P.1 for fighter role. Three flying prototypes. New fuselage, circular intake with shock cone housing radar scanner, no ventral tank, Rolls-Royce Avon 200 engines, modified wing, short fin, two Aden cannon.
P.1B Lightning Pre-production version of P.1B. Avon 201 engines, ventral fuel tank introduced, taller round-tip fin introduced 1958.
Lightning F. Mk 1 Initial production version. Avon 201 engines. Aden cannon and Firesteak missiles.
Lightning F. Mk 1A F. Mk 1 with provision for in-flight refuelling and improved radio equipment.
Lightning F. Mk 2 Improved production version with all-weather navigation avionics, fully variable afterburner, steerable nosewheel, liquid oxygen breathing system. Avon 210 engines. Some structural improvements. Aden cannon and Firestreak missiles.
Lightning F. Mk 2A F. Mk 2 conversion to F. Mk 6 standard with updated avionics, increased ventral tank fuel capacity for longer range.
Lightning F. Mk 2B Provisional designation for multi-role export version of F. Mk 2.
Lightning F. Mk 3 Improved avionics. Aden cannon deleted. Red Top missiles. Avon 301 engines. Small ventral fuel tank. Larger fin with square tip. Overwing fuel tank capability.
Lightning F. Mk 3A Initial designation for F. Mk 6
Lightning F. Mk 3B Provisional designation for multi-role export version of F. Mk 3.
Lightning T. Mk 4 Side-by-side dual trainer version of F. Mk 2. Avon 201 engines.
Lightning T. Mk 5 Side-by-side dual trainer version of F. Mk 3. Avon 301 engines.
Lightning T. Mk 5A Provisional designation for multi-role export version of T. Mk 5.
Lightning F. Mk 6 Improved F. Mk 3 with kinked and cambered outer wing, inset ailerons, larger ventral fuel tank/weapons pack, provision for arrestor hook, provision for overwing fuel tanks. Avon 301 engines. Red Top missiles.
Lightning F. Mk 52 Ex-RAF F. Mk 2 conversions for export to Saudi Arabia.
Lightning F. Mk 53 New-build export version of F. Mk 6 with additional ground attack capability. Avon 302C engines. Two over and two under wing pylons. Provision for ventral cannon pack with 2 x 30 mm Aden. Firestreak/Red Top missiles.
Lightning F. Mk 53K Minor change version of F. Mk 53 for Kuwait.
Lightning T. Mk 54 Ex-RAF T. Mk 4 conversions for export.
Lightning T. Mk 55 Ex-RAF T. Mk 5 conversions and new-build for export. Avon 301 engines.
Lightning T. Mk 55K Minor change version of T. Mk 55 for Kuwait.
P.3 Projected development of P.1 with side intakes, March 1951.
P.5 Projected development of P.1 with one Rolls-Royce Avon RA.12 with reheat, March 1952.
P.6 Projected development of Lightning to meet ER.134T, April-August 1953.
P.8 Projected development of Lightning – tandem 2-seat high altitude fighter to meet F.155T. Area-ruled fuselage, air-to-air missiles on wingtips. September 1955
P.15 Projected photo-reconnaissance version of Lightning, Feb 1956 .
P.18 Projected low-altitude bomber version of Lightning, Oct-Nov 1956.
P.19 Projected interceptor variant of Lightning.
P.23 Projected development of Lightning.
P.33 Projected 2-seat strike-fighter version for Australia.
P.34 Projected single-seat ground-attack version for RAF.
VG Lightning Projected version of Lightning T.5 with variable-geometry wing, enlarged ventral pack and folding fin for carrier-borne naval interceptor role, autumn 1963-April 1964.
F. Mk 6 XS899 of 11 Sqn seen during the
1988 Tactical Fighter Meet at Waddington.
F. Mk 6 XS921 of 74 Sqn during exercise
“Berstu Padu” in 1970.
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)

History

Key Dates:
July 1948    First proposals developed by English Electric for a supersonic research aircraft
3 August 1948    English Electric awarded contract for a detailed design study
1 November 1948    Initial design submitted to Ministry of Supply and studies continued
12 May 1949    Contract received to proceed with design work on project designated P.1
September 1949    Draft specification F.23/49 for a supersonic fighter circulated
February 1950    W.E. Petter replaced by F.W. Page as Chief Engineer
1 April 1950    Contract for construction of 3 P.1 airframes (2 flying + 1 static test) to specification F.23/49
June 1952    Research aircraft redesignated P.1A and dedicated fighter derivative designated P.1B
5 August 1953    Contract for 3 P.1B aircraft placed
October 1953    Work starts on design study for two-seat trainer version of P.1B
26 February 1954    Twenty ‘P.1B Lightning’ development aircraft ordered
4 August 1954    First P.1A maiden flight (WG760)
11 August 1954    P.1A exceeds Mach 1.0 in level flight
18 July 1955    Second P.1A first flight (WG763)
15 May 1956    Contract to build 2 trainer prototypes, designated T.4
November 1956    Order placed for 50 production F. Mk 1 aircraft
4 April 1957    First P.1B first flight (XA847)
4 April 1957    Defence White Paper declares manned fighters obsolete
5 September 1957    Second P.1B first flight (XA853)
3 January 1958    Third P.1B first flight (XA856)
3 April 1958    First flight of a ‘P.1B Lightning’ development aircraft (XG307)
August 1958    Announcement of the name Lightning for the P.1B
25 November 1958    XA847 exceeds Mach 2 in level flight for the first time
6 May 1959    T.4 prototype maiden flight (XL628)
29 October 1959    Maiden flight of first F. Mk 1 production aircraft (XM134)
December 1959    Air Fighting Development Squadron (AFDS) begins operational trials
12 January 1960    British Aircraft Corporation formed
29 June 1960    First deliveries to 74 Sqn at Coltishall
11 July 1961    First F Mk.2 maiden flight (XN723)
November 1961    XG310 flies as F.3 prototype
29 March 1962    T.5 prototype maiden flight (XM967)
16 June 1962    First F Mk.3 maiden flight (XP693)
April 1964    First deliveries of F. Mk 3 to RAF
17 April 1964    F.6 prototype maiden flight (XP697)
16 June 1965    First production F.6 maiden flight (?)
December 1965    First F.6 deliveries to RAF squadrons
21 December 1965    Saudi Arabia announces selection of Lightning for RSAF
1 November 1966    Maiden flight of F. Mk 53 (53-667)
3 November 1966    Maiden flight of T. Mk 55 (55-710)
18 December 1966    Export contract signed with Kuwait
December 1967    First deliveries to RSAF
December 1969    End of series production
June 1972    Last Lightning built (Saudi attrition one-off)
1977    Kuwait withdraws Lightning from service
January 1986    Saudi Arabia retires Lightning from service
30 July 1988    Lightning withdrawn from RAF service
December 1992    BAe retires Lightning test & chase aircraft
2001    Thunder City begins Lightning flights.
F. Mk 6 XS927 on 74 Sqn’s flight line at
RAF Tengah, Singapore, in 1970.
F. Mk 53K G-AXEE at the Paris Air Show in
June 69, later Kuwait AF K418.
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)

Operators

Military Operators

Kuwait – Air Force (12 F.53 + 2 T.55)
Saudi Arabia – Air Force (5 F.52 + 35 F.53 + 2 T.54 + 6 T.55)
UK – Royal Air Force (F.1, F.1A, F.2, F.2A, F.3, T.4, T.5, F.6, F.6A)

Government Agencies

UK – Empire Test Pilot’s School (ETPS) (1 x T. Mk 4, 1 x T. Mk 5 used for pilot training)
UK – A&AEE Boscombe Down (Several used for test duties)

Civilian Operators

British Aerospace (5 x F. Mk 6 used as Tornado chase aircraft)
Lightning Preservation Group (2 x F. Mk 6 – fast taxi runs only)
Anglo-American Lightning Organisation (1 x T. Mk 5)
Thunder City (2 x T. Mk 5, 1 x F. Mk 6)
Two F. Mk 3s of 74 Sqn scramble from
Leuchars in 1966.
Short SB.5 WG768 at Finningley in 1966.
(both photos, Keith McKenzie)

Specifications

English Electric P.1A
Role: Single-seat research aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 56 ft 8 in (17.27 m); Height 17 ft 3 in (5.26 m); Wing Span 34 ft 10 in (10.62 m); Wing Area 458.5 sq ft (42.59 sq m)
Engine(s): Two Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Sa.5 turbojets each of 8,100 lb (3674 kg) st – later fitted Sa.5R engines with reheat giving 5,500 lb (2,495 kg) st dry or 10,300 lb (4672 kg) st with reheat.
Weights: Empty 21,000 lb (9,525 kg); Maximum loaded 28,000 lb (12,700 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 1.53 (1000 mph, 1609 kph) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m); Typical Endurance 50 mins.
Armament: None (Two 30 mm Aden cannon in upper nose on second aircraft).
English Electric Lightning F. Mk 1A
Role: Single-seat all-weather interceptor fighter
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 55 ft 3 in (16.84 m) over probe; Height 19 ft 7 in (5.97 m); Wing Span 34 ft 10 in (10.61 m); Wing Area 458.5 sq ft (42.59 sq m)*
Engine(s): Two Rolls-Royce Avon 210 (R.A.24R) turbojets each of 11,250 lb (5103 kg) st or 14,430 lb (6545 kg) st with reheat.
Weights: Empty 25,737 lb (11,674 kg); Maximum loaded 39,000 lb (17,690 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 2.1 (1390 mph, 2237 kph) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m); Initial climb 50,000 ft/min (15240 m/min); Service ceiling 60,000 ft (18,920 m); Range 895 mls (1440 km).
Armament: Two 30 mm Aden cannon in upper nose, plus interchangable weapons packs for two de Havilland Firestreak air-to-air missiles on forward fuselage sides, or two retractable boxes each containing 22 spin-stabilised 2-in (51 mm) rockets, or two 30 mm Aden cannon.

* NOT 380.1 sq ft (35.31 sq m) quoted in some sources.

English Electric Lightning F. Mk 6
Role: Single-seat all-weather interceptor fighter
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 55 ft 3 in (16.84 m) including probe; Height 19 ft 7 in (5.97 m); Wing Span 34 ft 10 in (10.61 m); Wing Area 474.5 sq ft (44.08 sq m)
Engine(s): Two Rolls-Royce Avon 301 turbojets each of 12,690 lb (5756 kg) st or 16,360 lb (7420 kg) st with reheat.
Weights: Empty 28,040 lb (12,719 kg); Maximum loaded 41,700 lb (18,915 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 2.27 (1500 mph, 2415 kph) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m); Maximum Cruising speed 595 mph, (957 kph) at 36,000-39,000 ft (11,000-12,000 m); Initial climb 50,000 ft/min (15240 m/min); Time to 40,000 ft (12,200 m) 2 min 30 sec; Service ceiling 60,000+ ft (18,300+ m); Range (with ventral tank) 800 miles (1287 km).

Armament: Interchangeable packs for two Hawker Siddeley Red Top or de Havilland Firestreak air-to-air missiles, or two retractable boxes each containing 22 spin-stabilised 2-in (51 mm) rockets. Twin 30 mm Aden cannon in optional ventral pack with 120 rpg.
F. Mk 6 XS904 seen at Boscombe Down in 1992 F. Mk 6 XS899 seen at Upper Heyford in 1986
(both photos, Anthony Noble)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: W.E.W Petter (F.W. Page from February 1950)
Chief Designer: A.E. Ellison
Design Office: English Electric Aviation Ltd, Warton, Lancashire.

Manufacture

English Electric Aviation Ltd (From 1963? BAC – British Aircraft Corporation Ltd)
(Warton, Lancashire, UK)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
P.1/P.1A prototypes 2* Samlesbury Apr 1950-July 1955
P.1B prototypes 3 Strand Road, Preston Aug 1953-Jan 1958
‘P.1B Lightning’ 20 Samlesbury Feb 1954-Sept 1959
Lightning F. Mk 1 19* Samlesbury Nov 1956- 1959
Lightning F.1A 28$ Samlesbury 1959-July 1961
Lightning F. Mk 2 44 Samlesbury Dec 1959-Sept 1963
Lightning F. Mk 2A (30 F.2 conv) Warton 1966-Sept 1970
Lightning F. Mk 3 47+16 = 63 Samlesbury June 1960-early 1965
Lightning T. Mk 4 2 Samlesbury May 1956-Sept 1959
Lightning T. Mk 4 20 Samlesbury July 1958-May 1962
Lightning T. Mk 5 (2 T.4 conv) Filton early 1962-Dec 1962
Lightning T. Mk 5 20 Samlesbury Aug 1962-Feb 1966
Lightning T. Mk 5 2 Samlesbury early 1966-Dec 1966
Lightning F.3A
/F. Mk 6(Interim)
16** Samlesbury early 1965-late 1965
Lightning F. Mk 6 13+33 = 46
(+2 F.3 conv)
Samlesbury late 1965-June 1967
Lightning F. Mk 52 (4 F.2 conv) Warton Apr 1966-July 1966
Lightning F. Mk 52 (1 F.2 conv) Warton May 1967
Lightning F. Mk 53 33 (+1 F.3 conv) Samlesbury May 1966-Dec 1968
Lightning F. Mk 53 1 Samlesbury early 1972-Sept 1972
Lightning T. Mk 54 (2 T.4 conv) Warton March 1966-June 1966
Lightning T. Mk 55 6 (+1 T.5 conv) Samlesbury May 1966-July 1969
Lightning F. Mk 53K 12 Samlesbury Dec 1966-Sept 1969
Lightning T. Mk 55K 2 Samlesbury Dec 1966-Sept 1969

Total Produced: 339 a/c (All variants)

* Plus one static test airframe. $ Plus two aircraft not assembled – stored for spares.
** Updated to full F. Mk 6 standard 1967-1969 at Warton.

Production List

See The Crowood Aviation Series title listed below.

More Information

Books

‘Lightning Force: RAF Units 1960-1988 – A Photographic Appreciation of the English Electric Lightning’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Fred Martin
Published by Dalrymple and Verdun Publishing, June 2005 ISBN: 1905414005
* Pictorial coverage of all the RAF squadrons that operated the Lightning.

‘Lightning Strikes: English Electric’s Supersonic Fighter in Action’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Martin W Bowman
Published by The Crowood Press, May 2001 ISBN: 1840372362
* Superb collection of action photos, with informative captions and amusing anecdotes.

‘English Electric Lightning: Vol.1 Birth of a Legend ‘
by Stewart Scott
Published by GMS Enterprises, Sept 2000 ISBN: 1870384784
* Very detailed comprehensive history of the formative years of the Lightning.

‘Lightning From The Cockpit: Flying the Supersonic Legend’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Peter Caygill
Published by Leo Cooper Ltd, 30 July 2004 ISBN: 1844150828
* Sixteen personal accounts of what it was like to fly the Lightning.

‘The English Electric Lightning: A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeller’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Richard J Caruana
Published by SAM Publications, 1 Jan 2003 ISBN: 0953346579
* Well illustrated guide for modellers with fold-out scale plans and close-up details.

‘The Last of the Lightnings’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Ian Black
Published by Patrick Stephens Limited, Oct 1996 ISBN: 1852605413
* Recalls the operations of 5 and XI Squadrons from Binbrook, with excellent colour photos.

‘English Electric Lightning (Crowood Aviation Series)’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Martin W Bowman
Published by The Crowood Press, 29 April 2005 ISBN: 1861267371
* A celebration of the British fighter, with appendices listing units, production totals and individual aircraft histories.

‘English Electric/BAC Lightning’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Bruce Barrymore Halpenny
Published by Osprey Publications Ltd, Nov 1984 ISBN: 0850455626
* Very well written history of the Lightning, published before it’s retirement.

‘The English Electric Lightning (Images of Aviation series)’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Martin W Bowman
Published by Tempus Publishing Ltd, Aug 1999 ISBN: 0752417061
* Collection of b+w Lightning photos.

‘Lightning: The Operational History’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Kev Darling
Published by Airlife Publishing, July 1995 ISBN: 185310521X
* Development and service use of the Lightning by RAF, RSAF and KAF.

‘English Electric Lightning: Warbird Tech 28’
by Kev Darling
Published by Speciality Press, Jan 2001 ISBN: 1 58007 028 0
* Development history with b+w reprints from Lightning technical manuals.

‘English Electric Aircraft Since 1908’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by A J Jackson
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990 ISBN: 0 85177 834 8
* Detailed company history with a chapter on the Lightning.

‘Wings Of Fame Volume 7’
Published by Aerospace Publishing, 1997 ISBN: 1 874023 97 2 (pb)/1 874023 98 0 (hb)
* Includes well written 66-page feature on the Lightning.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

Aviation Picture Hangar – English Electric (BAC) Lightning
* Collection of photos of Lightnings, sqn use & colour profiles, 3-views & specifications for main variants

Lightning Preservation Group
* Bruntingthorpe-based group which operates two Lightnings for fast taxi runs

Lightning
* The Lightning Association – history, photos, units, aircraft histories etc

Thunder & Lightnings Lightning page
* Lightning history, complete survivors list and a lot of nice photos

Warbird Alley
* Brief history, Spec, photos, links

Airliners.net
* 14 pages of excellent Lightning photos

English Electric Lightning (1960-1988)
* Development, specification, photos, further reading

Wikipedia
* History, variants, operators, comparison, links

Wings Palette
* 57 colour profile drawings of Lightnings

Paul Nann
* Long page of good Lightning photos from the 1980s and of preserved examples

The English Electric (BAC) Lightning
* Well written comprehensive profile of the Lightning

British Aircraft Directory
* Production summary, specification, list of preserved Lightnings in the UK

Anglo-American Lightning Organisation
* Restoration to flight status of Lightning T.5 in Mississippi, USA

Thundercity – The English Electric Lightning
* Book your flight in a Cape Town-based Lightning + photos & video clips

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
See the SAM Publications title listed above.

Videos:

To be added.

Fairey Flycatcher

Aircraft Profile
Replica Flycatcher ‘S1287’ G-BEYB seen
in May 1992. (photo, Anthony Noble)

Development

To trace the lineage of the Fairey Flycatcher, one has to go back to the Sopwith Sea Scout (later named Tabloid) which won the Schneider Trophy race for England in 1914. The Tabloid was developed into the Sopwith Baby, a rotary-engined biplane of the 1914-1918 war. The Fairey Aviation Co., built a slightly modified version of this aircraft, adding their new patent camber-changing trailing edge flaps, redesigned floats and a square cut fin and rudder. This became known as the Fairey Hamble Baby, of which 48 examples were built. With lessons learned from the Hamble Baby, the Fairey Pintail was designed. This was a fighter-reconnaissance seaplane/amphibian in which the wheeled undercarriage was mounted on a swinging arm and housed within the under surface of the wooden floats. This was the first post-war aircraft to built by Fairey.

Specification 6/22 was issued in 1922 for a deck landing single seat fighter to replace the ageing Nieuport Nightjar. The specification called for an aircraft which could operate as a landplane, seaplane or amphibian. Both Fairey and Parnall developed an aircraft to the specification, named the Flycatcher and the Plover. Small production batches of both were ordered, but in-service experience showed the Flycatcher to be superior, and the Fairey design won all subsequent production contracts.

The Flycatcher had an all-metal tubular steel structure for the front and central portion of the fuselage. The rear part of the fuselage being wood with fabric covering – as were the wings and tail. The rather ungainly and highly sprung undercarriage was interchangeable with floats. The wings had a prominent forward stagger, were single bay and braced by ‘N’ struts. Both the upper and lower planes incorporated the Patent Camber Gear which originated from the Hamble Baby. The first floatplanes and amphibians had wooden floats, but these were found to be unsuitable and Fairey-built metal floats were fitted to later aircraft. The undercarriage originated from the Fairey IIID, where the radius rods ran from the lower ends of the oleo legs to the inverted apex of a “V” strut arrangement. Hydraulic brakes were also fitted to later versions.

Armament consisted of 2 Vickers guns, mounted one on each side of the fuselage, firing through the propeller arc. Four 20 lb bombs could be carried under the lower wings.

The prototype (N163) made it’s first flight from Hamble on 28th November 1922 piloted by Vincent Nicholl. This was powered by a Jaguar II engine, which was replaced by a Jaguar IV in 1923, and then exhibited at the RAF display of that year. The second prototype (N164) was tested as a floatplane by Nicholl at Hamble on 5th May 1923, while the third prototype, an amphibian, (N165) was flown in mid 1923. Two development and production batches, of 9 aircraft total, were built between 1922 and 1923. A total of 192 production Flycatchers were produced between 1922 and 1930, the last being S1418.

The Flycatcher was stable in all axes, had a slow landing speed with excellent shock absorbing qualities and a good view for the pilot. Take off to unstick distance was 363 ft with no flaps, and 190 ft with 8 degrees of flap. Minimum speed with flaps down was only 47 mph. Initial deck landing trials were conducted on HMS Argus in February 1923 and the behaviour of the aircraft was deemed to be exemplary.

The Flycatcher had the responsiveness of the Sopwith Camel and the docility of the Sopwith Pup – a rare combination in one aircraft. The Flycatcher was the Fleet Air Arm’s only fighter until the advent of the Hawker Nimrod in 1932, and it served on all Royal Navy aircraft carriers. Originally these aircraft carriers had fore and aft arrester wires, running along the deck, but these were dispensed with in 1926 and Flycatchers routinely landed using only their brakes to stop the landing run. A Flycatcher was the first aircraft to be tested with transverse arrester wires, using an arrestor hook, in 1930. The Flycatcher was the last aircraft to be able to operate slip flights from the forward hangar below the main deck, being the last Royal Navy carrier aircraft to be able to take-off without the aid of a catapult. Flycatchers were capable of being flown from platforms on the turrets of warships, and were used in this way until about 1932.

Flycatchers were operated by all the Fleet Air Arm fighter Flights: 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406, 407 and 408; thus serving with the Home Fleet, the Mediterranean Fleet and on the China Station.

Another view of ‘S1287’ as it appeared in 1992.
(photo, Paul Chandler)

Variants

Requirement Specification: Spec. 6/22
Manufacturers Designation:

Development History:
First Prototype Jaguar II engine. Carrier-deck landing landplane. Arrestor claws on landing gear spreader bar. Later with Bristol Jupiter engine. (N163).
Second Prototype Floatplane version with twin floats. Jaguar II engine. (N164).
Third Prototype Amphibian version with floats incorporating recessed wheels. Bristol Jupiter engine. (N165).
Flycatcher Mk I Production version, with Jaguar III or Jaguar IV engine. Later fitted with hydraulic wheel brakes.
Flycatcher Mk II One-off prototype to N.21/26 for Flycatcher replacement. All-new airframe based on Firefly I. (N216).
Late production example S1286.
(photo, Roy Tassel Collection)
N9678 seaplane taking-off.
(photo, Roy Tassel Collection)

History

Key Dates:
early 1922    Specification 6/22 issued by Air Ministry
28 Nov 1922    First flight of first prototype
February 1923    Deck landing trials on HMS Argus
5 May 1923    First flight of second prototype on floats
June 1923    First flight of third prototype (amphibian)
late 1923    First production aircraft delivered to No.402 Flight
19 February 1924    First flight of first production amphibian (N9678)
April 1924    Fleet Air Arm officially named
1925    Catapult trails for seaplane version (N9913)
26 November 1929    First night landing on a carrier by a fleet fighter
20 June 1930    Last Flycatcher Mk.I delivered
June 1934    Last two Flycatchers withdrawn from service with No.406 Flight
June 1935    Flycatcher officially declared obsolete

Operators

Military Operators

Argentina – Navy (1 Flycatcher Mk.I)
UK – Fleet Air Arm (9 Ship/Shore-based Flights)

Government Agencies

None

Civilian Operators

None

N9928 served with No.403 Flight on HMS Hermes
(photo, Charles E. Brown)

Specifications

Fairey Flycatcher Mk.I (landplane)
Role: Single-seat fighter
Crew: One
Dimensions: Length 23 ft 0 in (7.01 m); Height 12 ft 0 in (3.66 m); Wing Span 29 ft 0 in (8.84 m); Wing Area 288.0 sq ft (26.76 sq m)
Engine(s): One air-cooled, 14 cylinder radial, Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar III or IV of 400 hp (298 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 2038 lb (924 kg); Loaded 3,028 lb (1,372 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 116 Knots (133.5 mph, 215 kph) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m); Initial climb 1,090 ft/min (358 m/min); Service ceiling 19,000 ft (5,791 m); Range 311 miles (500 km) at 110 mph (182 kph) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m)
Armament: Two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine-guns in fuselage sides below the cockpit. Four 20 lb (9 kg) bombs could be carried under the lower wings.
Fairey Flycatcher Mk.I (amphibian)
As above except:
Dimensions: Length 29 ft 0 in (8.84 m); Height 13 ft 4 in (4.06 m)
Weights: Empty Equipped 2,571 lb (1,167 kg); Loaded 3,531 lb (1,602 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 113 Knots (126 mph, 209 kph) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m); Service ceiling 14,000 ft (4,267 m)
Fairey Flycatcher Mk.II (landplane)
Role: Single-seat fighter
Crew: One
Dimensions: Length 24 ft 9 in (7.55 m); Height 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m); Wing Span 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
Engine(s): One air-cooled, 9 cylinder radial, Bristol Mercury IIA of 480 hp (358 kW).
Weights: Loaded 3,266 lb (1,481 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 153 mph (247 kph)
Armament: Two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers Mk.II machine-guns in the fuselage top decking. Four 20 lb (9 kg) bombs could be carried under the lower wings.

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: F. Duncanson
Design Office: Fairey Aviation Company Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex.

Manufacture

Fairey Aviation Co Ltd
(Hayes, Middlesex, UK.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Prototypes 3 Hamble mid 1922-mid 1923
Flycatcher Mk.I 192 Hayes late 1922-late 1930
Flycatcher Mk.II 1 Hayes 1926
Total: 196    

Total Produced: 195 Flycatcher Mk.I + 1 Flycatcher Mk.II

Production List

For the British aircraft see the Fleet Air Arm Aircraft book below.

This view shows the Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN
fitted to ‘S1287’ in place of the original Jaguar IV
engine. (photo, Malcolm Clarke)

More Information

Books

‘British Naval Aircraft Since 1912’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Owen Thetford
Published by Putnam, 1982 ISBN: 0 370 30021 1
* Includes a chapter on the Flycatcher.

‘Fairey Aircraft Since 1915’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by H A Taylor
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1988 ISBN: 0851778259
* Detailed company history with a chapter on the Flycatcher.

‘The Fairey Flycatcher: Profile No.56’
by Owen Thetford
Published by Profile Publications Ltd, 1965 ISBN: n/a
* Concise well illustrated history of the Flycatcher.

‘British Flight Testing: Martlesham Heath 1920-1939’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tim Mason
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1993 ISBN: 0 85177 857 7
* Includes a summary of the aircraft flight testing for Spec. 6/22.

‘Fleet Air Arm Aircraft, Units and Ships 1920 to 1939’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Ray Sturtivant and Dick Cronin
Published by Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1998 ISBN: 0851302718
* Includes individual Flycatcher histories and the Flights that used it.

Magazines

Aeromodeller March 1946
Air International May 1978
Planes No.8 Summer 1983
Air Enthusiast No.37
Aeroplane Monthly June 1998

Links

Fairey Flycatcher
(Short profile)

wikipedia: Fairey Flycatcher
(Very short profile)

Fairey Flycatcher
(Summary of key data)

Fairey Flycatcher
(Kit review with good summary history)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
See Planes No.8 listed above.

Roy Tassell has a nice 1/36 scale drawing of the Flycatcher Mk.I

Videos:

To be added.

SAAB JAS 39 Gripen

Aircraft Profile
JAS 39A 50/G from F10 Wing
(photo, Gripen International)

Development

Since World War 2, the quality of Swedish engineering has become world renowned. Nowhere is this quality more evident than in the successive generations of thoroughbred fighters produced by Saab which began in 1948 with the J 29 ‘Tunnan’ and continues today with the JAS 39 Gripen. The Gripen now competes in the export market against the best combat aircraft from Europe, the USA and Russia and has proved to be a very attractive solution for many air forces.

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen came into being at one of the lowest points in the modern history of Swedish aerospace development. Between 1976 and 1979 Saab, (the only military aircraft manufacturer in Sweden), was working on the design of a projected subsonic light attack and trainer aircraft with the company designation B3LA. Intended to replace the Sk 60, the B3LA was similar in concept to the Italian AMX aircraft, but in February 1979 the programme was suddenly cancelled by the newly elected Swedish government as too expensive. At a stroke, this left Saab without any work other than a Viggen update programme.

Throughout the remaining months of 1979 the Swedish Air Force carried out a thorough re-examination its future equipment requirements, and concluded that the only affordable option was the development of a single combat aircraft which combined the roles of Jakt (fighter), Attack (attack) and Spaning (reconnaissance) in one airframe, the JAS Project. The new aircraft could replace both the Draken and Viggen using a swing-role capability which would allow it to be configured for a specific mission at the flick of a switch. It was anticipated that forthcoming advances in avionics would allow a small single-engined high-performance aircraft to fulfill all these roles successfully.

In March 1980 the Government endorsed the Air Force’s plan, but insisted that foreign manufacturers be allowed to bid for the contract. In response the Swedish aircraft industry formed a special group, the JAS Industry Group comprising Saab-Scania, Volvo-Flygmotor, Ericsson Radio Systems and FFV to manage the Swedish industry bid. A formal request for proposals was issued in early 1981, and the JAS Industry Group (IG JAS) response – centred around a design called the Saab 2110 – was submitted on 1 June the same year. After evaluating rival bids, FMV (Forsvarets Materialverk – Swedish Defence Material Agency) concluded that the Swedish proposal fully met it’s requirements. On 30 June 1982 a fixed-price contract as signed between the FMV and IG JAS for 5 prototypes and 30 initial production Batch 1 aircraft to be designated JAS 39A. In September 1982 the name Gripen (Griffin) was selected for the aircraft.

The design evolved by Saab for the JAS 39 Gripen incorporates many advanced features. The Gripen is a single-seat (or two-seat), single-engined, fly-by-wire, delta-winged aircraft with a close-coupled all-flying canard. It is designed to operate from Sweden’s network of BAS 90 dispersed roadstrip airfields with the minimum of support. To minimise weight, almost thirty per cent of the structure is carbon-fibre composite. The engine chosen is the proven General Electric F404-400, similar to that used on the F/A-18, fed by fixed rectangular side intakes. It is assembled by Volvo Flygmotor under the designation RM12. The engine is fitted with a new Volvo/GE designed afterburner to give the Gripen all-altitude supersonic performance. Unlike the Viggen there is no thrust reverser, as short-field landing performance is achieved by rotating the canard through almost 90 degrees to aid aerodynamic braking. The triplex digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system controls the aircraft through two canards, the leading edge flaps and four elevon control surfaces. Saab claims the Gripen is the first inherently unstable canard fighter to enter production.

Ericsson was tasked with developing a new small multi-mode radar for the Gripen, the PS-05, while FFV developed the nav/attack systems. The cockpit originally featured three Ericsson EP-17 monochrome multi-function displays, and a wide-angle holographic Head-Up Display. HOTAS controls allow many cockpit functions to be selected without the pilot’s hands leaving the control stick or throttle. The Martin Baker S10LS zero-zero ejection seat provided is a break with the previous tradition of using Saab-designed seats.

Saab unveiled a mock-up of the final Gripen design in early 1986. Development of the Flight Control System (FCS) proved problematic and caused delays in finalising the assembly of the first aircraft. Finally, on 26 April 1987, JAS 39-1 was rolled out at Linköping. The first flight was achieved on 9 December 1988, but a major setback occurred not long afterwards. Following the sixth flight of JAS 39-1 on 2 February 1989, the aircraft veered off the runway and cartwheeled – fortunately the pilot was unhurt. The cause was found to be flaws in the pitch control routine of the FCS software. Calspan in the USA used a modified T-33 to prove the required software corrections. After 15 months delay, the second prototype JAS 39-2 flew on 4 May 1990 with the new FCS software. Three more prototypes followed, the fifth and last flying on 23 October 1991. Flight testing showed drag to be 10% lower than predicted, and airfield performance was better than specified. In June 1992 the follow-on contract for Batch 2 aircraft was approved.

The four prototypes were joined by the first production Gripen (39-101) on 4 March 1993, upon its maiden flight. The second production aircraft was delivered to the FMV for service testing on 8 June 1993. However, the Gripen’s problems were not over, and on 18 August 1993, 39-102 crashed during an air display over Stockholm after the pilot had lost control and ejected. A further revision of the FCS software was required, and this caused flight testing to be suspended until 29 December 1993 when the necessary software updates were available.

One JAS 39A aircraft from Batch 1 was converted on the production line to be the prototype for the JAS 39B two-seat operational trainer version. Featuring a 65.5 cm (28.8 in) fuselage stretch, the rear cockpit is the same as the front, except for the absence of a HUD. This aircraft was first rolled out on 29 September 1995 at Linköping, and made it’s maiden flight on 29 April 1996. Deliveries of JAS 39A aircraft to service unit began on 9 June 1996 with the first aircraft being formally handed over to 2 Divisionen (the 2nd squadron) of F7 wing at Såtenäs. After a comprehensive work-up the unit became officially operational on 1 November 1997. On 1 January 1999, F7’s other Division became the second operational Gripen unit. The next wing to convert was F10 wing at Ängelholm, but after a change of plans F10’s aircraft were transferred to F17 wing at Ronneby and F10 was disbanded. The next unit to convert was F21 wing at Luleå and this will be followed by F4 wing at Östersund in 2005, giving a total of 8 squadrons.

In any BVR (Beyond Visual Range) combat, the Gripen has a key advantage with it’s TIDLS (Tactical Information Data Link System). Supplied by Celcius AB, TIDLS allows each aircraft in a Gripen formation to constantly share sensor and radar data with the others via a secure jam-proof digital radio network. An air-to-ground connection also allows mission data to be updated in real time or downloaded to a ground station. Such a capability considerably enhances the situational awareness of each pilot and thus improves his or her chances of winning the fight.

On 12 June 1995, at the Paris Airshow, Saab and British Aerospace (now BAE SYSTEMS) announced a joint venture to develop and market the Gripen on the export market. This agreement was formalised in November 1995 with the establishment of a joint venture company. In 2001 the joint venture was registered in Sweden as Gripen International. The task of modifying a design produced solely to satisfy Swedish requirements into a product which was attractive to the export market resulted in a derivative referred to as the Export Baseline Standard. Much of the design work was carried out at BAe’s Brough factory in East Yorkshire. Aircraft equipped to the Export Baseline Standard (EBS) are semi-officially designated JAS 39C (or JAS 39D for the two-seater). Since the EBS equipment standard is significantly superior to the JAS 39A/B version, the Swedish Air Force was keen to acquire this version. Accordingly, the last 20 aircraft of Batch 2 and all aircraft of Batch 3 will be to the EBS.

JAS 39C/D aircraft incorporate a number of systems and equipment improvements to improve effectiveness and inter-operability. These include a retractable inflight-refuelling probe on the port air intake, full colour English-language cockpit displays in Imperial units, new central computers, night-vision compatible cockpit lighting, a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) pod, a reconnaissance pod, a more powerful air conditioning system, an OBOGS (On-Board Oxygen Generation System) and strengthened wings with NATO-standard stores pylons. The first examples will be delivered to F7 wing in mid 2004.

An early success of the joint venture occurred when a contract was signed by South Africa on 3 December 1999 for 9 two-seat and 19 single-seat Gripen based on the JAS 39C/D configuration. Deliveries are scheduled from August 2006 to 2012, to replace the SAAF’s Cheetah Cs. A further success was achieved when Hungary announced on 10 September 2001 its intention to lease 14 Gripens from Sweden. Initial discussions focused on the JAS 39A/B variant, but on 3 February 2003 this was formally changed to the JAS 39C/D version, with deliveries commencing in early 2006. The lease will last for ten years, after which Hungary intends to purchase the aircraft.

The Czech Republic selected the Gripen as it’s future fighter on 10 December 2001, but a formal contract had to be delayed after extensive flood damage throughout the country in mid Agust 2002 forced a short-term change in priorities. On 12 December 2003 the Czechs announced an intention to sign a contract for 14 JAS 39C/D Gripens in a lease deal similar to the Hungarian contract. When the first aircraft is delivered in May 2005, the Czech Republic will become the first NATO operator of the Gripen.

Gripen came a close second to the F-16 in Poland, but was unable to overcome a specially tailored financial package and heavy political pressure from the US government. A hotly tipped sale to Austria was missed when the Austrian government decided to maximise the economic benefits of using the same fighter aircraft as neighbouring Germany – the Eurofighter Typhoon. Despite these setbacks, the prospects for future exports still looks extremely good. Several countries require a replacement for ageing MiG-21, Mirage or F-5 aircraft and the Gripen is ideal for this role.

If the B3LA had not been cancelled in 1979, the Swedish Air Force would now be operating a foreign (probably US) fighter and a handful of B3LAs instead of the Gripen. After a troubled development programme the JAS 39 Gripen has matured into a formidable combat aircraft. It is an affordable, lightweight, multi-role fighter which incorporates the latest in datalink network technology, to ensure that it operates with maximum effectiveness in the air. On the ground it requires far fewer technicians to service and support it than contemporary aircraft and this ensures that operating costs are minimised. Far more than a ‘Swedish F-16’, the Gripen has the makings of a classic fighter.

Two JAS 39As from F10 wing Gripen formation over Visby Gotland
(All photos Gripen International)

Variants

Requirement Specification: JAS
Manufacturers Designation: n/a

Development History:
Saab 2110 Project to meet JAS requirement.
JAS 39 Batch of 5 prototype development aircraft.
JAS 39A Batch 1 Initial production single-seater version. Mark 1 avionics fit: Hughes HUD, monochrome cockpit displays, D80 computer, PP1/PP2 displays processors, three MIL STD 1553B databuses, Microturbo TGA15-090 APU
JAS 39A Batch 2 Follow-on batch of single-seat fighters. Mark 2 avionics fit: Kaiser HUD, D80E computer, PP12 display processors, Microturbo TGA15-328 APU
JAS 39A+ Batch 2 Upgraded single-seat fighter with PS-5/A radar and MACS D96 computer, monochrome cockpit displays
JAS 39B Two-seat operational trainer version of JAS 39A. Internal cannon deleted, fuselage lengthened by 2 ft 2 in (0.655 m), larger cckpit canopy, ventral air intake for air conditoning system. Prototype was a JAS 39A Batch 1 aircraft converted on the producton line.
JAS 39B Batch 2 Initial production version of two-seat operational trainer.
JAS 39C Batch 2 Export Baseline Standard single-seat fighters for Swedish AF. Mark 3 avionics: colour cockpit displays, Sundstrand APU
JAS 39C Batch 3 Follow-on Export Baseline Standard single-seat fighters for Swedish AF. Mark 4 avionics: much larger LCD colour cockpit displays, five MIL STD 1553B databuses, RM12UP engine with FADEC.
JAS 39D Batch 3 Follow-on batch of two-seat operational trainers.
JAS 39C/D SAAF Export Baseline Standard aircraft with substantial South African avionics and equipment for delivery to the SAAF.
JAS 39E/F Designation reserved for proposed upgraded version with an AESA electronically scanned radar.
JAS 39G/H Designation reserved for further upgraded version at some point in the future.
JAS 39X Generic designation for export version.

History

Key Dates:
mid 1980    Definition phase initiated.
3 June 1981    JAS 39 design presented to the FMV.
30 June 1982    Development contract with IG JAS signed for 5 development aircraft and 30 Batch 1 aircraft.
26 April 1987    First prototype (JAS 39-1) rolled out.
9 December 1988    Maiden flight of first prototype.
2 February 1989    First prototype lost in landing accident.
4 May 1990    Second prototype makes maiden flight.
23 October 1991    Fifth and last prototype makes maiden flight.
26 June 1992    Batch 2 production contract signed for 110 aircraft, including JAS 39B version.
10 September 1992    Maiden flight of first production aircraft (JAS 39.101).
8 June 1993    First JAS 39 delivered to FMV (JAS 39.102).
8 August 1993    Gripen (JAS 39.102) crashes during flying display in Stockholm due to FCS software problem.
29 December 1993    Flight testing resumed with JAS 39-2.
November 1994    First JAS 39A delivered to Swedish AF.
September 1995    Roll out of first JAS 39B Gripen 2-seater
November 1995    Saab-BAE SYSTEMS joint venture established.
29 April 1996    First test flight of two-seater Gripen.
9 June 1996    First Gripen officially handed over to Swedish AF (F7 Wing)
22 November 1996    First production 2-seater maiden flight
13 December 1996    Batch 3 order placed.
June 1997    Export Baseline Standard defined.
1997    First JAS 39B delivered to Swedish AF.
March 1998    First test firing of AIM-120 AMRAAM from Gripen.
1998    BAe buys 35% stake in Saab.
18 November 1998    SAAF announces intention to order Gripen.
3 December 1999    First export order for Gripen signed with South Africa.
2001    ‘Gripen International’ marketing company established.
6 Sept 2002    1st Batch 2 JAS 39C delivered to FMV.
2003    Batch 3 deliveries begin.
May 2005    First deliveries to Czech Republic.
early 2006    First deliveries to Hungary.
August 2006    First deliveries to South Africa.
2012    Last delivery to South Africa.
First production JAS 39C from Batch 2 First production JAS 39A with Mk.82 bombs
(All photos Gripen International)

Operators

Military Operators

Czech Republic – Air Force (12 JAS 39C, 2 JAS 39D on order)
Hungary – Air Force (12 JAS 39C, 2 JAS 39D on order)
South Africa – Air Force (19 JAS 39C, 9 JAS 39D on order)
Sweden – Air Force (8 Sqns. with 160 JAS 39A/B/C/D)

Government Agencies

Sweden – FMV several JAS 39A/B/C for development testing

Civilian Operators

None  

Specifications

Saab JAS 39A Gripen
Crew: One [JAS 39B: Two]
Dimensions: Length 46 ft 3 in (14.10 m) excl. pitot tube [JAS 39B: 48 ft 6 in (14.8 m)]; Height 14 ft 9 in (4.50 m); Wing Span 27 ft 7 in (8.40 m); Wing Area 322.92 sq ft (30.00 sq m)
Engines: One Volvo Flygmotor RM12 turbofan (General Electric F404-GE-400) rated at 12,140 lb st (54.00 kN) dry and 18,100 lb st (80.51 kN) with afterburning
Weights: Operating Empty 14,770 lb (6,700 kg) [JAS 39B: 15,430 lb (7,000 kg)]; Normal Take-off about 17,639-18,739 lb (8,000-8,500 kg); Maximum Take-off 28,000 lb (12,700 kg)
Armament: 27-mm Mauser BK27 cannon semi-recessed under centre fuselage next to port air intake with 120 rounds, wingtip launch rails for Rb 74 (AIM-9L) Sidewinder or similar missiles, four underwing hardpoints and one under-fuselage centre-line pylon for a maximum of 14,330 lb (6500 kg).
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ Mach 2.0 at high altitude, Mach 1.15 at low level; Maximum rate of climb at sea level classified; Time to 33,000 ft (10,000 m) 2 mins; Service ceiling classified; Ferry range 1,619 nm (1,864 mls, 3,000 km) with drop tanks, Combat radius for interception 486 nm (559 mls, 900 km) at high altitude with typical stores load and external fuel, for air-to-surface 648 nm (746 mls, 1200 km) in hi-lo-hi mission with with typical stores load and external fuel, or 405 nm (466 mls, 750 km) all low altitude with typical stores load and external fuel.
Saab JAS 39C Gripen
Weights: Operating Empty 14,990 lb (6,800 kg) [JAS 39D: 15,650 lb (7,100 kg)]; Maximum Take-off 30,865 lb (14,000 kg)
The second production JAS 39B Gripen formation over Cape Town
(All photos Gripen International)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Not known
Design Office: Saab Aerospace, Linköping, Sweden

Manufacture

Batch summary:

Prototypes   5 aircraft
Batch 1  30 aircraft
Batch 2 110 aircraft
Batch 3  64 aircraft
SAAF  28 aircraft
Saab Aerospace
(Saab Aerospace, S-581 88, Linköping, Sweden.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
JAS 39 protos. 5 Linköping 1986-Oct 1991
JAS 39A Batch 1 30* Linköping 1992-1996
JAS 39B proto. (1) Linköping 1994-Sept 1995
JAS 39A Batch 2 61 Linköping 1996-2001
JAS 39A+ Batch 2 14 Linköping 2001-2002
JAS 39C Batch 2 20 Linköping 2002-2003
JAS 39B Batch 2 14 Linköping 1996-2003
JAS 39C Batch 3 50 Linköping 2003-2007
JAS 39D Batch 3 14 Linköping 2003-2007
JAS 39C SAAF 19 Linköping 2003-2012
JAS 39D SAAF 9 Linköping Oct 2003-2012
Total: 237    

* Last aircraft converted to JAS 39B prototype on the production line.
Total Produced: 237 a/c

Production List

‘European Air Forces Directory 2003/04’
by Ian Carroll
Published by Mach III, 2003 ISBN: 1 898129 79 7
* Includes JAS 39 production list.

View showing the small strake behind the canard,
first added during Batch 1 production
Gripen with AMRAAM and Sidewinder armament
(All photos Gripen International)

More Information

Books

‘SAAB Gripen: Sweden’s 21st Century Multi-Role Aircraft (Aerofax series)’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Gerard Keijsper
Published by Midland Publishing, Sept 2003 ISBN: 1 85780 1377
* Comprehensive 176 page monograph dedicated to the Gripen.

‘Saab Gripen, the Nordic Myth’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Hugh Harkins, Siobhan McCann (ed.)
Published by Centurion Publishing, 24 July 2000 ISBN: 1 9036 30002
* No information available on the contents of this title.

‘JAS 39 Gripen: Rikets Flyplankop’
by Gunnar Lundqvist & Bo Widfeldt
Published by ?, 2004 ISBN: ? ? 89250
* Well illustrated Swedish text development and technical history.

‘Saab Aircraft since 1937’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Hans G Andersson
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1989 ISBN: 0 85177 831 3
* History of Saab aircraft, including a chapter on the Gripen.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 20’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, spring 1995 ISBN: 1 874023 49 2
* Includes 20 page feature on Gripen development up to late 1994.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 24’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, spring 1996 ISBN: 1 87402 3662
* Includes 2 page feature on the JAS 39B.

‘World Air Power Journal, Volume 42’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Published by Aerospace Publishing Ltd, autumn 2000 ISBN: 1 86184 051 9
* Includes ‘Focus Aircraft’ 44-page feature on the Gripen.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

Gripen.com
(Official Gripen International website – news, pics etc)

JAS 39 Gripen
(Gripen overview, technical data and photos)

Saab JAS 39 Gripen
(Photographic walk-around of a JAS 39B)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.

Gloster Gladiator

Aircraft Profile
Gladiator Mk I K6132, from the first batch of
23 aircraft. (photo, 1000aircraftphotos.com)

Development

The Gloster Gladiator was the RAF’s last biplane fighter. It appeared at a time when monoplanes were already eclipsing biplanes and yet achieved wartime fame in the hands of skilled pilots, fighting some of the most dramatic battles of the early war years.

Air Ministry specification F.7/30 was formally issued to industry in late 1931. It called for a day and night interceptor with a maximum speed in excess of 250 mph (402 km/h), and a four-gun armament. A preference for the use of the Rolls-Royce Goshawk steam-cooled V-12 engine was expressed. The call for a maximum speed some 40 mph faster than the latest RAF fighter (the Hawker Fury), but with double it’s armament, was clearly intended to steer fighter designers away from the traditional engine and armament formula that had been on offer since the Great War. With orders hard to come by, seven designs were offered for consideration. Maiden flights of the contenders took place between February and September 1934. Unfortunately, every Goshawk-engined type suffered severe cooling problems and the selection competition had to be delayed until mid-1935.

During this time, the Chief Designer of Gloster Aircraft Company, H.P. Folland was pre-occupied with developing the S.S.19 fighter to meet Air Ministry requirements, and so did not immediately participate in the F.7/30 competition. However, in September 1933 the S.S.19 was selected for production for the RAF as the Gloster Gauntlet. Folland’s team therefore began to examine possible further refinements to the Gauntlet design. The new features included an uprated Mercury engine, a single bay wing with landing flaps on the upper and lower wings, a single-leg cantilever landing gear and Lewis machine guns mounted in the lower wings. In May 1934 Gloster Aircraft was brought by Hawker Aircraft Limited, and this introduced substantial financial capital and aircraft structures know-how into the company. Calculations showed that the proposed Gauntlet derivative would have a performance very close to the F.7/30 requirement. Accordingly, the company authorised the construction of a private venture prototype – designated the S.S.37 – using a Gauntlet fuselage. The maiden flight took place on 12 September 1934.

The Air Ministry was by now aware of the poor performance of the various F.7/30 contenders. It also saw the urgent need to find a stopgap fighter head of the forthcoming Hurricane and Spitfire projects then being designed. Company testing of the S.S.37 showed that it had realised the expected performance gains of the design, and so when the type was offered to the Air Ministry it aroused considerable interest. On 3 April 1935 the S.S.37 was transferred to RAF ownership with the serial K5200, and official flight testing at Martlesham Heath commenced immediately. In parallel, Glosters proposed that a production version would feature Hawker-syle construction with a redesigned tail unit, Mercury X engine and an enclosed cockpit. In June the private venture Gloster fighter was declared the winner of F.7/30, and a new specification, F.14/35, was rapidly written to cover the production version. On 1 July 1935 the allocation of the name Gladiator was officially announced and an initial contract for 23 aircraft placed. In September 1935 a second order for 180 aircraft was agreed.

The first production Gladiator Mk I flew in January 1937, and No. 72 Squadron at Tangmere took delivery of it’s first aircraft on 23rd February 1937. The last Mk I for the RAF was delivered at the end of 1937. Mk I aircraft were delivered with the Watts two-bladed wooden propeller. Production continued to satisfy a number of export customers. The first export contract being agreed with Latvia on 27 May 1937.

In-service experience with RAF squadrons had meanwhile highlighted the unsuitability of the Mercury IX/Watts propeller combination. In its place Glosters offered the Mercury VIII and three-bladed Fairey Reed metal propeller. The new version was called the Gladiator Mk II, and an initial order was placed in early 1938. By March 1938 sufficient metal propellers were available to launch a programme to retrofit all the Gladiator Mk Is with this propeller. From 1938 existing Gladiator units began to re-equip with the Spitfire or Hurricane. Units converting from the Gladiator experienced a much lower accident rate than other fighter squadrons.

At the end of 1937 the Royal Navy had begun to show interest in a shipboard version of the Gladiator II as a replacement for the Hawker Nimrod. As a stopgap measure, 38 RAF Gladiators were transferred to the Admiralty and designated Sea Gladiator (Interim). Although they carried hooks, they were not intended for operational use aboard carriers. A further 60 full-standard Sea Gladiators were also obtained. These differed from the RAFs Gladiator IIs in being equipped with catapult spools, arrestor hook and dinghy stowage (between the landing gear legs). Sea Gladiators first embarked in HMS Courageous with 801 Squadron in March 1939.

When World War 2 started in September 1939, only four home-based fighter squadrons (Nos.603, 605, 607 and 615) were still equipped with Gladiators – although 141, 151 and 263 Squadrons were subsequently reformed with Gladiators as temporary equipment. 607 and 615 Squadrons formed part of the Air Component of the BEF, sent to France in November 1939. These two units were just beginning to re-equip with Hurricanes when the Germans attacked on 10 May 1940. The Gladiators suffered heavy losses to the Luftwaffe’s modern aircraft and had to be withdrawn to southern England to complete the conversion to Hurricanes.

In April 1940, No. 263 Squadron was sent to Norway to assist British forces against a German invasion. Operations from the frozen Lake Lesjaskag ended when Luftwaffe bombers destroyed the aircraft on the ground. Replacement Gladiators accompanied the Squadron when it deployed to Narvik in the far north. They fought continuously until 7 June, claiming 26 confirmed victories, before the survivors landed on HMS Glorious for the voyage home. The carrier was subsequently attacked by the German battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and sunk.

Only 247 Squadron at Roborough officially flew Gladiators during the Battle of Britain, although a number of other units had them on second-line strength. 247 Sqn flew many patrols but never saw any combat during the Battle.

When Italy entered the war in June 1940, Gladiators were serving with No.33 and 80 Sqns in Egypt, and with No.94 Sqn in Aden. The Gladiator proved a fairly even match for the Fiat CR.42 and was successful in helping repel the Italian invasion of Egypt and defeat Italian forces in East Africa.

In Malta the Royal Navy had stored a number of Sea Gladiators in crates to re-supply carrier squadrons as required. In May 1940 four Sea Gladiators were assembled by the RAF and test flown. For 10 days (11 to 21 June) the Sea Gladiators represented the Island’s sole air defence, before some Hurricanes were impressed into service. The Italians staged only three air raids on the island during this period. Due to a shortage of ammunition, the Sea Gladiators were used to break up the bomber formations, rather than pick off individual targets. Some months later, a Maltese newspaper published a report on the Sea Gladiators which ensured that the names Faith, Hope and Charity (never actually applied to the aircraft) entered aviation mythology.

The Gladiators of Nos. 80 and 112 Squadrons participated in the Greek campaign, achieving good results against the Regia Aeronautica but were outclassed once the Luftwaffe joined the battle. In 1941 Gladiators from No.94 Sqn participated in the ‘Battle of Habbaniyah’ against Iraqi rebels besieging the RAF training base.

Gladiators continued to serve in the Western Desert throughout 1941, but finally disappeared from front line service in January 1942. In second-line duties the type continued to fly with No.521 (Meteorological) Squadron and numerous Meteorological Flights until Janaury 1945.

The first export aircraft to see combat were those of the Chinese Government, which had acquired 36 Gladiator Mk Is for use against the invading Japanese. Despite numerous accidents by inexperienced pilots, the survivors flew with some success in the defence of Siuchow during 1938.

In Swedish service the Gladiator I was designated J 8, and the Gladiator II designated J 8A. Some of these served with Flygflottilj 19, the volunteer unit which served alongside the Finnish Air Force in the Winter War of 1939-40. The Swedish unit was in action for 62 days, destroying 6 Russian bombers and 6 fighters for the loss of 3 Gladiators – one due to an accident. The Gladiator IIs sold to Finland itself served principally with HLeLv 26, and while it’s handling qualities were praised, the lack of armour protection and self-sealing fuel tanks did not make it popular.

Many RAF Gladiators were supplied to Allied air forces, including Greece, South Africa and Egypt. The Royal Egyptian Air Force aircraft remained airworthy until shortly after the end of the war, while Portugal retained it’s Gladiators for advanced pilot training until 1953 before scrapping them. The sole surviving airworthy Gladiator is now maintained and preserved by the Shuttleworth Trust at Old Warden, Bedfordshire.

Gloster’s private venture development of the already highly-refined Gauntlet brought the biplane fighter concept to the peak of technical perfection. In many air arms it smoothed the transition to advanced monoplane fighters, and in confronting aircraft of its own era it performed well, but when called upon to engage modern combat aircraft its obsolescent design was cruelly exposed. The skill and determination of its pilots however, has allowed the Gladiator to acquire a wartime reputation which might otherwise have been tainted with tragedy.

Shuttleworth’s L8032 – as it appeared during
the 1970s. (photo, Keith McKenzie)

Variants

Requirement Specification: F.7/30 (S.S.37), F.14/35 (Mk I), F.36/37 (Mk II)
Manufacturers Designation:

Development History:
S.S.37 First prototype with Mercury IV (later Mercury VIS) engine. Updated Gauntlet with single bay wings, 4 guns, wing flaps, cantilever landing gear. Spatted tailwheel.
Gladiator Mk I Initial production version, with Mercury IXS engine. New fuselage structure, enclosed cockpit, long chord engine cowling, revised undercarriage. 2-blade propeller, later retrofitted with 3-blade propeller.
Gladiator Mk II Upgraded Mk I with Mercury VIIIA or VIIIAS engine, desert filter, auto mixture control, electric starter from internal battery. 3-blade propeller.
Sea Gladiator (Interim) Conversion of production Gladiator Mk II with arrestor hook, naval instruments and radio. 38 aircraft.
Sea Gladiator Production carrier-borne fighter version, based on Mk II. Arrestor hook, catapult points, belly fairing for dinghy, naval instruments and radio, increased fuel capacity. Provision for machine gun in each upper wing.
J 8 Swedish designation for Mk I with UK-built Mercury IXS engine.
J 8A Swedish designation for Mk II with Swedish-built Nohab Mercury VIIIS.3 engine.
The Shuttleworth Gladiator at Mildenhall
Air Fete ’90. (photo, Paul Clouting)
Gladiator Mk. I K6131 before delivery
(photo, Jacques Trempe, 1000aircraftphotos.com)

History

Key Dates:
1 Oct 1931    Specification F.7/30 issued by Air Ministry
1933    Design of Gauntlet development started
Spring 1934    Construction of S.S.37 started
12 Sept 1934    Maiden flight of S.S.37 first prototype
3 April 1935    S.S.37 transferred to RAF ownership
June 1935    Specification F.14/35 issued for production version of S.S.37
1 July 1935    Gladiator name officially announced
July 1935    First production order for 23 aircraft
Sept 1935    Second production order for 180 aircraft
Jan 1937    First flight of first production Mk I
22 Feb 1937    First production delivery to 72 Sqn RAF
27 May 1937    First export order placed by Latvia
late 1937    Specification F.36/37 issued for Gladiator Mk II
end 1937    Last Mk I delivered to RAF
early 1938    Initial order for 50 Gladiator Mk IIs placed by Air Ministry
March 1938    Retrofit of 3-bladed propeller in progress
March 1938    Admiralty order for 38 Sea Gladiator (Interim)
June 1938    Combined order for 300 Gladiator II & Sea Gladiator
Dec 1938    First Sea Gladiator (Interim) delivered to FAA
Feb 1939    Last Sea Gladiator II delivered
March 1939    Sea trials for Sea Gladiator on HMS Courageous
30 August 1939    Final Gladiator delivery to the RAF
1 May 1941    Sea Gladiator withdrawn from frontline service
January 1942    No.6 Sqn in Egypt withdraws Gladiator from service
1943    Last Sea Gladiator withdrawn from second line service
26 Sept 1941    Last operational sortie by RAF Gladiator
7 Jan 1945    Last RAF weather observation flight made
Feb 1948    Gloster buys last 2 surviving Gladiators from Air Ministry – L8032 & N5903
1953    Portuguese Air Force retires last Gladiator from advanced training duties
7 Nov 1960    ‘K8032’ (L8032) handed over to Shuttleworth Trust
L8032 appeared as ‘N2308’ HP-B for a time
(photo, Dave Key Military Airshows in the UK)

Operators

Military Operators

Australia – RAAF (39 ex-RAF Mk I/II a/c with 3 (RAAF) Sqn)
Belgium – Air Force (22 new build Mk I aircraft)
China – CNAF (36 new build Mk I aircraft)
Egypt – REAF (18 ex-RAF Mk I mod to Mk II standard, 27 ex-RAF Mk II aircraft)
Finland – Air Force (30 ex-RAF Mk II aircraft)
France – Free French AF (6 ex-RAF aircraft with Group de Chasse ‘Alsace’)
Germany – Luftwaffe (15 Mk I captured in Russia)
Greece – Air Force (2 new build Mk I + 25 Mk I & 10 Mk II ex-RAF)
Iraq – RIAF (15 new build Mk I aircraft + 29 Mk I/II ex-RAF aircraft)
Ireland – IAC (4 new build Mk I aircraft)
Latvia – Air Force (26 new build Mk I aircraft)
Lithuania – RAAF (14 new build Mk I aircraft)
Norway – Army Air Force (6 new build Mk I + 6 new build Mk II aircraft)
Portugal – Air Force (15 new build Mk I aircraft + 15 ex-RAF Mk II aircraft)
South Africa – SAAF (1 Mk I + 11 Mk II ex-RAF aircraft)
Sweden – Air Force (37 new build Mk I + 18 new build Mk II aircraft)
UK – Royal Air Force (24 RAF Sqns; 5 RAuxAF Sqns; 12 Met. Flights)
UK – Fleet Air Arm (7 first-line Sqns, 8 second-line Sqns)
USSR – Air Force (captured 5 Mk I ex-Lat/12 Mk I ex-Lith)

Government Agencies

None

Civilian Operators

UK – Shuttleworth Collection (1 airworthy aircraft)

Note: Some new-build export aircraft fitted with customer specified armament.

Specifications

Gloster S.S.37
Role: Single-seat fighter
Crew: One
Dimensions: Length 27 ft 5 in (8.36 m); Height 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m) tail down over propeller arc; Wing Span 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m); Wing Area 323.0 sq ft (30.01 sq m)
Engine(s): One air-cooled, 9 cylinder radial, Bristol Mercury IV of 530 hp (395 kW) – later fitted with Mercury VIS2 of 648 hp (483 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 3,062 lb (1,398 kg); Loaded 4,339 lb (1,967 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 236 mph (380 kph) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m), or 242 mph (390 kph) at 13,800 ft (4,206 m) with Mercury VIS; Time to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 5 min 15 sec; Service ceiling 27,000 ft (8,229 m)
Armament: Two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers Mk.V machine-guns in fuselage sides with 600 rounds per gun; two 0.303 Lewis guns under lower wing with 97 rounds per gun.
Gloster Gladiator Mk I
Role: Single-seat fighter
Crew: One
Dimensions: Length 27 ft 5 in (8.36 m); Height 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m) tail down over propeller arc*; Wing Span 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m); Wing Area 323.0 sq ft (30.01 sq m)
Engine(s): One air cooled, 9 cylinder radial, Bristol Mercury IX of 830 hp (619 kW) driving a Watts 2-bladed propeller of 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) diameter.
Weights: Empty Equipped 3,217 lb (1,458 kg); Loaded 4,594 lb (2,082 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 210 mph (338 kph) at sea level, 253 mph (407 kph) at 14,500 ft (4,420 m); Initial rate of climb 2,300 ft/min (700 m/min); Time to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 4 min 40 sec; Service ceiling 32,800 ft (9,997 m); Range 428 mls (689 km); Endurance 1 hr 54 min.
Armament: First 71 aircraft: Two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers Mk. V machine-guns in fuselage sides, with 600 rounds per gun; one 0.303 Lewis machine gun under each lower wing with 97 rounds per gun. Subsequently: Two .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine-guns in fuselage sides, with 600 rounds per gun; one 0.303 Browning machine gun under each lower wing with 400 rounds per gun.

* The height of 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m) quoted in many sources is the minimum height when the propeller blades and fuselage are horizontal.

Gloster Gladiator Mk II
As above, except for the following:-
Dimensions: Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m) tail down over propeller arc*
Engine(s): One air cooled, 9 cylinder radial, Bristol Mercury VIIIA or VIIIAS of 840 hp (636 kW) with manual boost override driving a Fairey Reed 3-bladed propeller of 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m) diameter.
Weights: Empty Equipped 3,444 lb (1,562 kg); Loaded 4,864 lb (2,206 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 215 mph (346 kph) at sea level, 257 mph (414 kph) at 14,600 ft (4,449 m); Time to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 4 min 30 sec; Service ceiling 33,500 ft (11,570 m); Range 444 mls (714 km); Endurance 2 hrs 6 min.

* The height of 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m) quoted in many sources is the minimum height when the fuselage is horizontal and the propeller has been rotated to have two blades at the top and one vertical blade at the bottom.

Gloster Sea Gladiator
As Mk II above, except for the following:-
Role: Single-seat carrier-borne Fighter
Weights: Empty Equipped 3,554 lb (1,612 kg); Loaded 5,020 lb (2,272 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 210 mph (338 kph) at sea level, 253 mph (407 kph) at 14,600 ft (4,449 m); Cruising speed 212 mph (341 kph); Time to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 4 min 42 sec; Service ceiling 32,300 ft (9,844 m); Range 415 mls (667 km) at 259 mph (416 kph); Endurance 1 hr 58 min.
Armament: As for Mk II, plus provision for two extra 0.303 Browning machine guns in the top wing.
A nice view of the upper surfaces
(photo, Dave Key Military Airshows in the UK)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Harold P Folland
Design Office: Gloster Aircraft Company Ltd, Hucclecote, Gloucester.

Manufacture

Gloster Aircraft Co Ltd
(Hucclecote, Gloucestershire, UK.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
S.S.37 1 Hucclecote early Spring 1934-Sept 1934
Gladiator Mk I 23 Hucclecote late 1936-4 March 1937
Gladiator Mk I 180 Hucclecote Spring 1937-late 1937
Gladiator Mk I 28 Hucclecote late 1937
Gladiator Mk I export 147 Hucclecote May 1937-mid 1938
Sea Gladiator (Interim) 38 Hucclecote March 1938-Dec 1938
Sea Gladiator 60 Hucclecote June 1938-mid Feb 1939*
Gladiator Mk II 252** Hucclecote 1938-30 Aug 1939
J 8A Gladiator (Mk II) 18 Hucclecote 1938
Total: 747    

* some sources state 24 May 1939.
** Includes 31 aircraft for export.

Total Produced: 747 a/c: 1 S.S.37, 378 Mk I, 38 Sea Gladiator (Interim), 60 Sea Gladiator, 270 Mk II.

Production List

To be added.

This view shows the half-pale blue/half-black
underside colours worn by this aircraft
(photo, Allan Barley)

More Information

Books

‘Gloster Gladiator (Mushroom Magazine Special No.6104)’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Alex Crawford
Published by Mushroom Model Publications, Mar 2002 ISBN: 83 916327 0 9
* Complete operational history, covering all the air forces using the Gladiator – from Finland to China. The book includes the true story of the legendary defence of Malta. 160 pages with 64 in colour.

‘Gloster Gladiator Aces (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces – 44)’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Andrew Thomas
Published by Osprey, Feb 2002 ISBN: 1 84176 289X
* Covers all the pilots who became aces on the Gladiator. 90 pages with 10 in colour.

‘Gloster Aircraft Since 1917’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Derek N James
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, June 1987 ISBN: 0 85177 807 0
* Detailed company history with a chapter on the Gladiator.

‘The Gloster Gladiator (Macdonald Aircraft Monographs)’
by Francis K. Mason
Published by Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd, 1964 ISBN: –
* The classic in-depth reference to the Gladiator. 136 pages.

‘The Gloster Gladiator: Profile No.98’
by Francis K. Mason
Published by Profile Publications Ltd, 1966 ISBN: n/a
* Concise well illustrated history of the Gladiator.

‘Gladiator in Action: Aircraft Number 187’
by W A Harrison
Published by Squadron/Signal Publications Ltd, 2003 ISBN: 0-89747-450-3
* Landscape format history of the Gladiator. Well illustrated.

‘Gloster Gladiator (Warpaint Series No.37)’
by Tom Spencer
Published by Hall Park Books Ltd, 2002 ISBN: X 9999 00373
* Concise production and service history of the Gladiator. 52 pages with scale plans.

‘Gloster Gladiator (Monografie Lotnicze No. 24)’
by Bartlomiej Belcarz & Robert Peczkowski
Published by A J Press, Poland, 1996 ISBN: ?
* Polish text history but very well illustrated.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

ADF Aircraft Serial Numbers
(Individual aircraft details for RAAF Gladiators)

Camouflage & Markings of Gloster Gladiator
(Colour profile drawings of the Gladiator in various markings)

F19 in Finland
(Swedish Gladiator unit in the Finnish Winter War)

Gloster Aircraft
(Gladiators tested by the Luftwaffe)

Gloster Gladiator aircraft profile
(Details of Gladiator in Fleet Air Arm service and preserved examples)

Gloster Gladiator Homepage
(Homepage of Alex Crawford – Gladiator book author and researcher)

Gloster Gladiator
(Multi-page profile of the Gladiator, including all known operators)

J8 – Gloster Gladiator
(Good photos of Swedish Gladiators – in service and in a museum)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
Scale Aviation Modeller January 2001 (see also the Warpaint title above).

Roy Tassell has a nice 1/36 scale drawing of the Gladiator.

Videos:

To be added.

Wright Flyer

Aircraft Profile
Orville Wright’s first flight on 17 December 1903
(photo, US National Archives)

Development

When Orville Wright first took the Flyer into the air on the morning of 17 December 1903, his short flight represented the culmination of a rigorous four year step-by-step test and development process undertaken with his brother, Wilbur.

The brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright were small-town businessmen, running the local newspaper and also a successful bicycle manufacturing business in Dayton, Ohio. Having caught the huge bicycling boom of the 1890s, the brothers took a keen interest in all-things mechanical and were also keen followers of developments in automobiles and aeronautics. At this time the leading aviation pioneers were Otto Lilienthal in Germany and Octave Chanute in the USA. When the American publication ‘McClure’s Magazine’ published an illustrated account of Lilienthals achievements in its September 1894 issue, the interest of Wilbur Wright was aroused. He began to follow developments in aeronautics with increasing interest. However, on 9 August 1896 Lilienthal fell to his death when the glider he was flying stalled and abruptly sideslipped into the ground. Spurred into action by published accounts of the death, Wilbur and Orville began to read everything they could find on the subject of flight. They also began a letter correspondence with many of the pioneers of the time, in order to exchange more information.

As a result of the their initial research the Wrights realised that Lilienthal’s accident had resulted from inadequate control of his glider. Lilienthal had steered by shifting his body-mass, as with modern hang-gliders, and they realised that body-shifting couldn’t provide enough leverage to keep an aircraft under control at all times. At the time, it was popularly supposed that once an aircraft was in the air, it would have natural stability like a ship in water, making flat skidding turns while remaining wings level – whereas the bicycle-riding Wrights expected an aircraft to require numerous small control corrections to keep it straight and level. Like a bicycle, they foresaw that it would be necessary to bank into a turn. The solution to the control problem that Wilbur Wright came up with was wing warping. This involved twisting the wing so that it’s angle of incidence on one side was larger than on the other, thus generating unequal lift and hence rolling the aircraft.

In the summer of 1899 the Wrights built a biplane kite to test the concept. The truss-braced biplane layout was borrowed from Octave Chanute’s innovative 1896 glider, maximising wing area for minimum weight. The kite flew successfully and in the following year the brothers set about building a man-carrying kite-glider using the same configuration. After consultation with the US Weather Bureau, a site near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina was selected as having the steadiest and most reliable winds.

Flights testing of the 1900 glider began at Kitty Hawk in October, and proved highly encouraging. The glider featured a forward (canard) horizonal control surface, as the brothers wished to avoid a Lilienthal-style fatal plunge into the ground. Although lacking any vertical control surfaces the glider exhibited excellent pitch control and managed glides of up to 400 feet (123 m). Having completed the tests the glider was abandoned on the sand dunes. In 1901 the Wrights returned to Kitty Hawk with a new glider featuring a redesigned wing. With revised camber, increased wingspan and a wing area almost double that of the 1900 glider’s the new machine was expected to fly much further than it’s predecessors. In fact its performance was much worse.

After this unexpected setback the Wrights went back to basics. After designing and building a wind tunnel to test numerous wing configurations they found that the theoretical lift data published so far by other researchers was actually incorrect. Using their new found empirical knowledge, the Wrights built a new machine, the 1902 glider. The glider featured as wing with an aspect ratio almost twice that of their previous machines. Test flying commenced on 19 September 1902 and quickly proved the increased performance of the new machine. Glides of more than 500 ft (152 m) were achievable. However, the machine had a notable tendency to enter a gentle spiral dive when making turns and to counter this the fixed vertical fin was modified into a movable rudder connected to the wing warping mechanism. Controllability was much improved and the brothers made hundreds of flights, some reaching 622 ft (190 m). After completing fight testing, the Wrights filed a patent to protect their design rights.

Thoughts now turned to a powered version of the glider, but first they needed a a powerful lightweight engine. Automobile engines of the time were much too heavy, and having found that no lightweight engines where available commercially, they set about designing one. The design featured a four-cylinder water-cooled petrol engine, and was hand-made by Charles Taylor, a skilled mechanic and employee of the Wright Brothers. Machining of parts began in December 1902 and testing of the engine commenced in February 1903. At the same time the Wrights worked on developing a practical propeller. After many tests and modifications they evolved a blade shape which proved to be much more efficient than any contemporary design.

The 1903 Wright Flyer was a scaled up version of the 1902 glider. Structurally it consisted of a rigid truss-braced rectangular box section which made up the wing centre section. Attached at each end were the outer wing sections, which were rigidly jointed only at the leading edge (which functioned as the forward spar) to permit wing warping. The ribs were held in position by pockets in the wing covering material and only losely connected to the rear spar. A biplane canard horizontal stabiliser was mounted on rigid booms projecting forward from the wing, while a movable biplane rudder was mounted vertically behind the wing. Support frames between the forward stabiliser and the wing acted as landing skids. The engine as mounted on the wing centre section to the right of the centreline, and drove two contra-rotating propellers via a chain drive. The pilot lay prone on the wing on the opposite side of the centreline to the engine. Although not fully appreciated at the time, the extreme aft position of the centre of gravity of the Flyer gave very little natural stability and made it very tricky to fly.

The Flyer was built during the summer of 1903 and departed by rail for Kitty Hawk in late September. Ground runs of the assembled Flyer proved that the hollow propeller shafts initially fitted were too weak. New stronger shafts were installed on 12 December. On 14 December Wilbur Wright took the Flyer for a short hop of about 60 ft (18.3 m). The flight ended with a heavy landing and the next two days were taken up with repairs to the landing skids.

On the morning of 17 December 1903 the Wrights were ready for another attempt at powered flight. The Flyer was designed to take-off from a little trolley which ran along a 60 ft (18.3 m) long monorail assembled in sections, and a suitable stretch of level ground was selected for the launch site, facing into a steady 21 mph (34 km/h) wind. With Wilbur having flown on the 14th, it was Orville’s turn to attempt a flight. His first flight lasted 12 seconds and reached about 100 feet (30 m). Three more flights followed, with the brothers taking it in turns. The last flight reached 852 ft (260 m) in 59 seconds. The flights were witnessed by members of the Kill Devil Hill Life Saving Station, one of whom took the famous action photograph that ushered in the new age of aviation.

The Flyer had been badly damaged by a gust of wind after the fourth flight of the day, but the brothers had the wreck transported back to Dayton for storage. In 1904 the they built a new aircraft (Flyer II) which retained the same layout but differed in many details from the 1903 prototype. Flight tests from Huffman Prairie, east of Dayton, showed the new version exhibited the same pitch instability as its predecessor. However the brothers were becoming to adept at controlling the machine and they made 80 short flight, including two which exceeded 5 minutes duration. Ballast was added to the canard, which moved the centre of gravity forward and improved controllability. On 20 September they made the first circling flight by an aircraft in history. Further experimentation showed that reducing the anhedral (downward) angle of the wings significantly improved stability.

In 1905 the Wrights built a new Flyer (Flyer III), using the engine and propeller from the 1904 machine. Now regarded as the first ‘practical’ aircraft, it featured zero anhedral wings, upright seating for the pilot and a passenger, and an improved control system in which the rudder was disconnected from the wing warping system so that it could be controlled independently. On 5 October 1905 Wilbur flew 24 miles (38.6 km) in 38 mins and 4 secs, circling the field at least 30 times in front of witnesses.

After the successful flights of 1905 the brothers did not fly again until 1908, as they set about patenting their inventions. Between 1907 and 1910 the Wrights made seven examples of the Model A – a production aeroplane. Four more were licence-built in France.

In August 1908 Wilbur demonstrated a US-built Model A to French audiences at a racecourse near Le Mans. French pioneers who watched the flights were astounded at the controllability and manoeuvrability which the machine clearly exhibited. Between August and December Wilbur made more than 100 flights, including six of more than 1 hours duration. He won numerous endurance and altitude records and prizes. The flight demonstrations set a new benchmark for the Europeans, who were galvanized into improving their designs until they could emulate and then exceed the standards they had witnessed – progress thereafter quickly gathered pace throughout Europe.

Meanwhile in the USA, Orville demonstrated a Model A to the US Army at Fort Myer. From 3 September he made 10 flights, but on 17 September he crashed after the starboard propeller blade broke. His passenger, Lt Thomas Selfridge was fatally injured and Orville suffered a broken hip. Military trials were postponed until the following year, when a replacement aircraft would be available. The 1909 Signal Corps Flyer successfully completed the Army’s acceptance trials and in July became the world’s first military aeroplane accepted into military service.

Despite these undoubted successes, by the start of 1910 competitors at home, such as Glenn Curtiss, and in Europe were pressing ahead with advanced new designs which threatened to progressively render the Wrights designs obsolete. Minor redesigns such as the Wright Model B and Model C failed to capture significant interest and the Wright Company thereafter lost it’s way. Wilbur Wright died of typhoid on 30 May 1912 and in October 1915 Orville sold his interest in the Wright Company and took up a career largely outside of aviation.

While many claims have been put forward as to who made the first powered flight, none – except for the Wright Brothers – has met the three clear criteria by which such an accomplishment must be judged: the flight must be ‘Powered, Sustained and Controlled’. Furthermore, the Wrights succeeded in their attempt through a thorough understanding of the problems involved, combined with well-judged technical solutions and, (as is now increasingly appreciated by the pilots of replica Flyers), a not inconsiderable skill in piloting.

Looking up at the 1903 Flyer. (The metal frame
on the landing skids is not part of the aircraft)
View of the pilot and engine locations
on the 1903 Flyer

Variants

Requirement Specification: not applicable
Manufacturers Designation: see below

Development History:
Kite Experimental 5ft (1.5 m) span kite to test wing warping idea. 1899
Wright Glider No.1 First experimental biplane kite-glider. 17 ft (5.18 m) wingspan. No vertical tail surfaces. 1900
Wright Glider No.2 New canard biplane glider design with 22 ft (6.7 m) span low aspect ratio wings. 1901
Wright Glider No.3 New canard biplane glider design with much higher aspect ratio wings of 32 ft 1 in (9.8 m) span. Single vertical fin. 1902
Wright Flyer Initial powered aircraft design, with 12 hp (9 kW) Wright engine. 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m) wing span. 1903
Wright Flyer II Development of Flyer with modified wing and engine tuned to give 15 hp (11 kW). Not considered successful. 1904
Wright Flyer III First really practical and controllable model, using the propellers and engine from Flyer II. Much longer fuselage and no wing anhedral. 1905
Wright Model A Production version designed as a two seater for pilot training and demonstration flights.
Wright Signal Corps Flyer World’s first military aircraft. Delivered to US Army Signal Corps. 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m) wingspan, 28 hp (20.9 kW) Wright engine. 1910
A good view of the canard elevators This view shows the anhedral (downward
slope) of the wings

History

Key Dates:
1896    Death of Lilienthal triggers serious interest in flight by the Wright brothers
30 May 1899    Wilbur Wright writes to the Smithsonian Institution requesting information on flying machines
July 1899    Wilbur Wright conceives of using wing warping to control aircraft roll
summer 1899    Small biplane kite built to test wing warping theory
mid August 1900    Construction of first man-carrying glider commenced
early October 1900    Flight testing of 1900 glider commences at Kitty Hawk
July 1901    Flight testing of much larger 1901 glider carried out – very poor results
19 September 1902    Start of flight testing of 1902 glider, fitted with much higher aspect ratio wings and fixed vertical tail
December 1902    Construction of Wright-designed petrol engine commenced
summer 1903    Wright Flyer constructed
5 November 1903    Assembly of Flyer at Kitty Hawk finished
12 December 1903    Strengthened propeller shafts installed in Flyer
12 December 1903    Wilbur makes a short hop of 60 ft (80 m) in the Flyer
17 December 1903    Wright Flyer makes four flights, the last covering 852 ft (259.7 m)
May-December 1904    Flight testing of Flyer II at Huffman Prairie
20 September 1904    Flyer II makes first controlled circling flight by an aircraft
5 October 1905    Flyer III made a flight of 38 min 4 sec over a distance of 24 miles (38.6 km)
January 1906    Description of Wright brothers patent published in French aviation magazine – largely ignored
1906-1907    Wrights build three examples of two-seater Model A and several improved engines
July 1907    One Model A shipped to France in anticipation of planned demonstration flights
December 1907    US Army issues specification for a military aeroplane
14 May 1908    World’s first passenger flight made during ‘refresher’ flying practice with Flyer III
8 August 1908    First demonstration flight of Model A in France, by Wilbur
3 September 1908    Orville starts US Army acceptance trials at Fort Myer in Model A ‘Military Flyer’
9 September 1908    Orville sets endurance record of 1 hr 2 min
17 September 1908    First fatal air crash: Passenger Lt Thomas Selfridge is fatally injured in a crash of the Military Flyer flown by Orville. Trials postponed
21 September 1908    Wilbur sets endurance record of 1hr 31 min in Model A in France
18 December 1908    Wilbur sets altitude record of 360 ft (110 m)
31 December 1908    Wilbur sets new endurance record of 2hr 30 min in France
1909    Wrights give further demonstrations in Italy (April), USA (May) and Germany (September-October)
22 November 1909    Wright Company established
July 1909    Signal Corps Flyer accepted by US Army. World’s first military aircraft accepted into service
Orville flying a Model A at Fort Myer in
September 1908 (photo, US National Archives)

Operators

Military Operators

France – Army (2+ Model A)
USA – USASC (1 Model A)

Government Agencies

None

Civilian Operators

France – various (4 Model A)
UK – various (6 Short-Wright Flyer)
USA – Wright Company (Flyer I, Flyer II, Flyer III, Model A)

Specifications

Wright Flyer (1903)
Crew: Pilot
Dimensions: Length 21 ft 1 in (6.43 m); Height 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m); Wing Span 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m); Wing Area 510.0 sq ft (47.38 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder horizontal inline Wright of 12 hp (8.9 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 605 lb (274 kg); Normal Take-off 745 lb (338 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 30 mph (48 kph) at sea level
Wright Flyer II (1904)
Crew: Pilot
Dimensions: Length 21 ft 1 in (6.43 m); Height 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m); Wing Span 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m); Wing Area 510.0 sq ft (47.38 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder horizontal inline Wright of 15 hp (11.2 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 760 lb (345 kg); Normal Take-off 900 lb (408 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 30 mph (48 kph) at sea level
Wright Flyer III (1905)
Crew: Pilot (later plus passenger)
Dimensions: Length 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m); Height 8 ft 0 in (2.44 m); Wing Span 40 ft 6 in (12.34 m); Wing Area 503.0 sq ft (46.73 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder horzontal inline Wright of 20 hp (14.9 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped ? lb (? kg); Normal Take-off (pilot only) 855 lb (388 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 35 mph (56 kph) at sea level
Wright Signal Corps Flyer (1909)
Crew: Pilot and passenger
Dimensions: Length 28 ft 11 in (8.81 m); Height 8 ft 0 in (2.44 m); Wing Span 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m); Wing Area 415.0 sq ft (38.55 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder vertical inline Wright of 28 hp (20.9 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 735 lb (333 kg); Normal Take-off 1,200 lb (544 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 44 mph (71 kph) at sea level

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Orville & Wilbur Wright
Design Office: Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Manufacture

Wright Brothers
(Dayton, Ohio, USA.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
glider 1 1 Dayton, OH August 1900
glider 2 1 Dayton, OH May-June 1901
glider 3 1 Dayton, OH summer 1902
Flyer I 1 Dayton, OH summer 1903
Flyer II 1 Dayton, OH spring 1904
Flyer III 1 Dayton, OH summer 1905
Model A 7 Dayton, OH spring 1907-1911
Total: 10+3    

The following companies were authorised to licence-build the Model A:

Chantiers de France
(Dunkerque, France.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Model A 2? Dunkerque, France 1908-1909
Total: 2?    
Astra, Societé de Constructions Aeronautiques
(Billancourt, Paris, France.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Astra-Wright Type A 2? Billancourt, France 1908-1909
Total: 2?    

Engines were built by Bariquand & Marre of Paris and Léon Bollée of Le Mans.

Flugmaschine Wright GmbH
(Berlin, Germany.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Type A 22+ Berlin, Germany 1909-1910
Total: 22+    

The source of the engines for the German aircraft is not known.

Short Brothers
(Battersea, London & Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Short-Wright Flyer 4 Leysdown, UK March 1909-July 1909
Short-Wright Flyer** 2 Leysdown, UK July 1909-February 1910
Total: 6    

** = modified design. (Short-built examples used French engines).

Total Produced: 39+ a/c (Variants I to Model A) + 3 gliders.

Production List

To be added.

More Information

Books

‘The Wright Brothers Legacy: Orville and Wilbur Wright and Their Aeroplanes’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Walt Burton & Owen Findsen
Published by Harry N Abrams Inc, July 2003 ISBN: 0810942674
* In-depth photographic portrait of the Wright brothers and their aircraft.

‘On Great White Wings: The Wright Brothers and the Race for Flight’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Fred EC Culick, F Culick & Peter Christopher
Published by Hyperion Books, Oct 2001 ISBN: 0786866861
* Well illustrated account of the Wright brothers.

‘Visions of a Flying Machine’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Peter L Jakob
Published by Airlife Publications, Sept 1990 ISBN: 1853101486
* Describes the evolution of the Wright Flyer in detail.

‘The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tom D Crouch
Published by WW Norton, March 1990 ISBN: 0393026604
* Highly respected biography of the two brothers.

‘The Wright Brothers: A Brief Account of Their Work 1899-1911’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Charles H Gibb-Smith & John A Bagley (ed)
Published by The Stationary Office Books, April 1987 ISBN: 0112904416
* Excellent introduction to the Wright Brothers activities.

‘Pioneer Aircraft: Early Aviation before 1914’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Philip Jarrett (ed)
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 2002 ISBN: 0 85177 869 0
* Excellent general history of the early years of flight.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

1905 Wright Flyer III
(Background history of the Flyer III and where to find it)

EAA’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk
(Full details of the centenary celebrations, original photos, building the Flyer reproduction)

AIAA Wright Flyer Project
(Researching, building, and flying a modern representation of the 1903 Wright Flyer)

Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company
(Virtual museum of pioneer aviation, lots of good links and info, souvenir shop)

U.S. Centennial of Flight Home Page
(Images, timeline, essays, links etc.)

The Wright Experience
(Reports on building and testing full scale replicas of Wright aircraft and engines)

Wright Flyer Online
(NASA Quest page archiving the testing of the AIAAs Flyer model, useful links)

Wright Brothers Photographs 1900-1911
(Jpegs of the original glass plate negatives held by the Library of Congress)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.

Avro 707

Aircraft Profile
Avro 707A WD280 over Port Phillip Bay,
near Point Cook, in 1956. (photo, via John Hopton)

Development

In the late 1940s, the high speed characteristics of delta-shaped (i.e. triangular planform) wings were relatively well understood theoretically, but little was known about their behaviour at low speeds, where various aerodynamic factors made analysis very difficult. Before an aircraft could be built which took advantage of the potential high performance a delta-wing offered, there was an obvious need for a research aircraft which could provide scientists and engineers with practical information on the handling characteristics of this untried wing planform. This research aircraft was the Avro 707, the first British aircraft with a delta-wing.

The origins of the Avro 707 are intertwined with those of the Avro Vulcan. In 1947 the Avro design team were busy working on determining the optimum configuration for the Type 698 jet bomber, which eventually became the Vulcan. The layout eventually decided upon was that of a delta-shaped wing, with no tailplane. This configuration had many performance advantages, but had never been flown on a British aircraft before. Discussions between Avro and the procurement authority (the Ministry of Supply) ensued on the best approach to minimise the risks associated with such an untried aerodynamic approach. It was agreed that a number of flying scale models of the delta wing would provide advance information for the Type 698 final design and give confidence in the overall design philosophy. The models proposed comprised two one-third scale aircraft for low speed research, designated Avro Type 707, and two half-scale aircraft for high speed high altitude research, designated Avro Type 710. After some vacillation, the Type 710 design was dropped and replaced by a single one-third scale aircraft under the designation Type 707A.

The first Type 707 aircraft (serial VX784) as a relatively simple design using many components from existing aircraft types and construction proceeded quite rapidly. It featured a rather unusual bifurcated dorsal air intake behind the cockpit for the Rolls-Royce Derwent engine, a clear-view canopy taken from a Gloster Meteor and a sharply tapered nose cone. The short stubby-looking aircraft made its maiden flight on 4 September 1949 at Boscombe Down, and sufficient flight hours were built up to allow a static appearance at the 1949 SBAC show at Farnborough two days later. Tragically, test pilot Eric Esler lost control of the aircraft at low speed on 31st September and fatally crashed near Blackbushe. The probable cause was a sudden control circuit failure causing the air brakes to be locked open and thus provoking a stall.

The loss of the first prototype resulted in work on the second Type 707 aircraft being suspended for a time, but was then restarted with increased urgency. A number of modifications were introduced to save time and simplify the construction. The long pointed nose section intended for the Type 707A was grafted onto the fuselage, resulting in the new aircraft being 12 ft (3.66 m) longer than the original. Other changes included a different degree of wing leading edge sweep, modified elevators and air brakes. A Gloster Meteor cockpit canopy, Avro Athena main undercarriage and a lengthened Hawker P.1052 nose leg were incorporated in the design. Redesignated Type 707B (serial VX790), the maiden flight took place at Boscombe Down on 5 September 1950.

Flight testing of the 707B from Dunsfold soon justified Avro’s faith in the delta wing and its relatively docile handling characteristics. In February 1951, the ‘inverted-w’ bifurcated dorsal air intake had been replaced by more efficient and more elegant single intake with a NACA venturi inlet, and by August 1951 an ejection seat had been installed and a revised cockpit canopy fitted. Primarily designed for flight testing in the 80-350 knots speed range, the aircraft nevertheless quickly ran into problems with canopy turbulence causing starvation of the dorsal engine intake and it was resolved to abandon this feature on the forthcoming Type 707A. The contribution of the Type 707B to the Type 698 programme was rather limited because a good deal of time was spent on modifications which were relevant only to the 707B itself – principally attempts to cure pitch instability. It did however assist in defining the relatively high ground-incidence angle which a delta wing required for take-off. On 21 September 1951 VX790 was damaged in a landing accident and returned to Woodford for repair. Upon returning to Boscombe Down it took up general research duties with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) and Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS), until badly damaged in another landing accident at Farnborough on 25 September 1956 in the hands of an ETPS student. The aircraft was judged to be not worth repairing and subsequently used for spares for the remaining 707A and 707C aircraft. It was dumped at RAE Bedford in 1960.

The third aircraft in the series was the Type 707A (serial WD280), which first flew at Boscombe Down on 14 June 1951, after being transported down from Woodford like the previous aircraft. This aircraft was designed to fly at high subsonic Mach numbers and differed from the 707B in having a scaled-down Type 698 wing, complete with wing root engine intakes, cropped wing tips and hydraulically powered flying control surfaces. The absence of a dorsal air intake allowed an elegant extended dorsal fin to be fitted. For high altitude work the cockpit was partially pressurised. Unfortunately, a lot of flight time was spend in eliminating some of the problems with the new flying control system, and the eventual contribution to the Type 698 programme amounted to very little. In 1954 WD280 was fitted with a modified wing with a kinked leading edge, and after successful testing this later became the Vulcan ‘Phase Two’ wing modification. In 1956 WD280 was assigned to the Australian Aeronautical Research Council (AARC) and shipped on HMAS Melbouurne to Australia, where low speed flight trials were conducted from RAAF Laverton. On 10 February 1967, WD280 was struck off charge and sold to a local resident, who kept it in his back garden. In 1999 the aircraft was brought by the RAAF Museum and moved to Point Cook, where it is now on display.

On 13 November 1951, three additional aircraft were ordered under Issue 2 of Specification E.10/49. These comprised a second Type 707A (serial WZ736) and the first two of four planned side-by-side conversion trainers designated 707C (serialled WZ739 and WZ744). The 707Cs were intend to familiarise pilots with the characteristics of delta-winged aircraft, but the early Vulcans proved easy to fly and WZ739 was later cancelled. The two remaining aircraft were assembled at Avro’s repair and overhaul works at Bracebridge Heath, just south of Lincoln. WZ736 was first flown from nearby RAF Waddington on 20 February 1953 and WZ744 followed on 1 July 1953. Both aircraft were flown to Woodford and remained there for production acceptance testing before being handed over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough and Bedford. Neither aircraft was directly involved in the Vulcan development programme and spent their time involved in general research – WZ736 was involved in auto-throttle development trials until withdrawn in 1964, and WZ744 flew nearly 200 hours in the development of fly-by-wire electrically signalled hydraulic flying controls before being retired in January 1967. The two aircraft now survive in aircraft museums: WZ736 in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, and WZ744 at the RAF Museum, Cosford.

For various reasons, the early Avro 707s took too long to reach the flight test stage, and consequently their direct contribution to the Type 698 Vulcan programme was comparatively small. However, the Avro 707 family of research aircraft gave British aircraft designers early confidence in the general handling characteristics of the delta-wing, which lead to its adoption on other aircraft types (several of which where cancelled in 1957), and some of the systems tested found a direct application on other military aircraft programmes.

Avro 707B VX790 with later NACA dorsal intake
and modified canopy. (photo, BAE SYSTEMS)
Two-seater Avro 707C WZ744 was finished in silver overall. (photo, Keith McKenzie)

Variants

Requirement Specification: E.15/48 (707/707B) and E.10/49 (707A/707C)
Manufacturers Designation: Avro Type 707

Development History:
Avro 707 One aircraft (VX784) with Derwent 5 engine, ‘saddle’ type dorsal engine air intake behind the cockpit. Unpainted finish.
Avro 707A Two aircraft with Derwent 8 engine, modified wing section, wing root engine air intakes, control surfaces extensively modified. First aircraft (WD280) finished in pink initially, then repainted bright red – later silver. Second aircraft (WZ736) finished in orange overall.
Avro 707B One aircraft (VX790) to replace the original Avro 707. Longer more-pointed fuselage, Derwent 5 engine and dorsal engine air intake. Painted bright blue overall.
Avro 707C Side-by-side dual-control trainer version of 707A with widened forward fuselage. Derwent 8 engine, wing root engine intakes. One aircraft (WZ744) completed, finished in silver. One other aircraft (WZ739) cancelled.
Avro 724? Proposed version of Type 707 with six RB.108 lift engines in the fuselage for V/STOL jet research, to specification ER.143. Contract won by the Shorts SC.1.
Avro 710 Proposed high-speed high-altitude (Mach 0.95 and 60,000 ft/18,290 m) delta-wing research aircraft. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon engines. Design abandoned and replaced by Type 707A.

History

Key Dates:
3 November 1948    Requirement Specification E.15/48 formally issued
22 June 1948    2 Type 707 and 2 Type 710 aircraft ordered
September 1948    Type 707 design finalised
6 May 1949    One Avro 707A ordered to specification E.10/49 to replace Type 710
4 September 1949    Avro 707 VX784 maiden flight at Boscombe Down
30 September 1949    Avro 707 VX784 crashes near Blackbushe
6 September 1950    Avro 707B VX790 maiden flight at Boscombe Down
14 June 1951    First Avro 707A WD280 maiden flight
21 September 1951    Avro 707B VX790 damaged in landing accident
13 November 1951    One additional Avro 707A and first 2 of 4 planned Avro 707C ordered to E.10/49 Issue 2
11 January 1952    Order for Avro 707C WZ739 cancelled
May 1952    Avro 707B VX790 returned to Boscombe Down after repair
20 February 1953    Second Avro 707A WZ736 maiden flight
1 July 1953    Avro 707C WZ744 maiden flight
March 1954    Avro 707A WD280 fitted with powered flying controls and wing fences
March 1955    Avro 707A WD280 fitted with new kinked wing leading edge
6 March 1956    Avro 707A WD280 transferred to RAAF ownership and flown to Renfrew for shipment
8 May 1956    Avro 707A WD280 taken on charge by AARC in Australia
25 September 1956    Avro 707B VX790 damaged in landing accident at Farnborough
8 November 1957    Avro 707B VX790 struck off charge, to be reduced to spares
1960    Remains of Avro 707B VX790 dumped at Thurleigh
12 November 1964    Avro 707A WD280 flight testing completed in Australia
19 May 1962    Avro 707A WZ736 struck of charge at Farnborough, after use as spares source at Bedford for WZ744
1 February 1967    Avro 707C WZ744 retired from service and transferred to MoD(Air) for use as museum exhibit
10 February 1967    Avro 707A WD280 struck off charge and sold to private owner
April 1999    Avro 707A WD280 arrives at RAAF Museum
The second Avro 707A, WZ736, received an
orange finish. In front is a Vulcan wind tunnel
model. (photo, Phillip Evans)

Operators

Military Operators

None  

Government Agencies

UK – RAE Farnborough (Type 707B/707A/707C)
Australia – RAAF ARDU (Type 707A)

Civilian Operators

Avro (Type 707/707B/707A for development testing)

Specifications

Avro 707
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 30 ft 6 in (9.29 m); Height ? ft ? in (? m); Wing Span 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m); Wing Area ? sq ft (? sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 8,600 lb (3,901 kg)
Performance: No data published.
Avro 707A
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m); Wing Span 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m); Wing Area 420.0 sq ft (39.02 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet of 3,600 lb (1,633 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
Performance: Limiting Mach number Mach 0.95 in a very shallow dive; Maximum speed 415 knots; Stalling speed “about 85 kts”; Optimum climb speed 270 knots at sea level, reducing by 10 knots every 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Service ceiling and Range not known.
Avro 707B
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m); Wing Span 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m); Wing Area ? sq ft (? sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 0.8 (400 knots); Minimum speed permitted in flight 100 kts; Optimum climb speed 280 knots at sea level, reducing by 25 kts every 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Service ceiling and Range not known.
Avro 707C
Role: Two-seat Trainer and Research Aircraft
Crew: 2
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m); Wing Span 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m); Wing Area 420.0 sq ft (39.02 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet of 3,600 lb (1633 kg) st.
Weights: Empty 7,873 lb (3,571 kgs); Loaded 9,826 lb (4,457 kg)
Performance: No data published.
Avro 707A, WD280, at RAAF Laverton on 16 September 1956. The Vulcan-style airbrakes are seen extended above the wing. (photo, via John Hopton) Another view of WD280, on 3 October 1958, clearly showing the kinked wing leading edge fitted to this aircraft. (photo, via John Hopton)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: S. D. Davies
Design Office: A.V. Roe & Co Ltd, Chadderton, Manchester.

Manufacture

A.V. Roe & Co Ltd (From 1963 Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd)
(Woodford Airfield, Manchester, UK)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Avro 707 1 Woodford June 1948-Sept 1949
Avro 707B 1 Woodford June 1948-Sept 1950
Avro 707A 1 Woodford May 1949-June 1951
Avro 707A 1 Bracebridge Heath, Lincs. Nov 1951-Feb 1953
Avro 707C 1 Bracebridge Heath, Lincs. Nov 1951-July 1953

Total Produced: 5 a/c

Production List

To be added.

More Information

Books

‘Avro Aircraft Since 1908’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by A J Jackson
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990 ISBN: 0 85177 834 8
* Detailed company history with a 4-page chapter on the Type 707 family.

‘British Research And Development Aircraft’
by Ray Sturtivant
Published by Haynes/Foulis, 1990 ISBN: 0 85429 697 2
* Includes 4 pages on the Type 707 family.

‘Combat Aircraft Prototypes Since 1945’
by Robert Jackson
Published by Airlife, 1985 ISBN: 0 906393 46 9
* Includes 3 pages on the Type 707 family.

‘Wings Of Fame Volume 3’
Published by Aerospace Publishing, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 70 0 (pb)/1 874023 76 X (hb)
* Includes some details of Type 707 use, within article on Avro Vulcan.

Magazines

‘FlyPast’ (Key Publishing) September 1999

‘Aeropane Monthly’ (IPC Magazines) February 1994

‘Roundel’ (BARG) July 1989

Links

Avro 707 WZ736
* Set of 12 colour photos of WZ736 in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

Avro 707A, WD280 – Research Aircraft
* Detailed coverage of Avro 707A flight testing in Australia

Avro 707A WD280
* Brief details of WD280 at the RAAF Museum

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.

Thanks to Glyn Owen, Mike Draper, Phil Butler and John Hopton for their help with this page.