The Hawker Sea Hawk is a British single-seat jet day fighter formerly of the Fleet Air Arm, the air branch of the Royal Navy, built by Hawker Aircraft and its sister company, Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft.
Although its design originated from earlier Hawker piston-engine fighters, the Sea Hawk became the company’s first jet aircraft.
The F 1 was armed with four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V cannons.
It was powered by a 5,000 lbf (22 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Nene 101 centrifugal flow turbojet engine.
The Nene engine was viewed as underpowered; in 1950, the government had cancelled development of the Rolls-Royce Tay, an afterburner-equipped development of the Nene, leaving no more powerful engines to equip the Sea Hawk.
More minor developments of the Nene engine were developed and were adopted on the aircraft, providing for some increase in power.
The F 1 had a maximum speed of 599 mph (964 km/h) at sea level and a range of 800 mi (1,287 km) on internal fuel.
A more refined fighter variant was the F 2, which introduced power-boosted aileron controls as well as other modifications, including to its structure.
The next variant of the Sea Hawk was developed into a fighter-bomber, the FB 3, and differed only slightly from its predecessors; its structure being strengthened to allow it to carry a wider array of equipment and weaponry on its four hardpoints, these included rockets, bombs, napalm, mines, reconnaissance cameras, external drop tanks and fixtures for rocket-assisted take-off gear (RATOG).
Unlike its rival, the Supermarine Attacker, which had been the first jet aircraft to enter service with the FAA, the Sea Hawk had a tricycle undercarriage rather than a tailwheel, making it easier to land on carriers, it was also Hawker’s first aircraft to incorporate a nose-wheel undercarriage.
The Sea Hawk had adopted a fairly conventional design, being built with straight wings while a number of other contemporary aircraft, such as the F-86 Sabre, had adopted swept wings.
The Sea Hawk was a reliable and elegant aeroplane, though its cautious design meant it would only be attractive on the export market and be in production for only a short period before being superseded by more advanced aircraft.
Prototype first flown at Boscombe Down on 2 September 1947, later converted to a P.1072
Navalized prototype to specification N.7/46 first flown at Farnborough 3 September 1948.
Second Naval prototype first flown at Farnborough 17 October 1949.
Sea Hawk F1
Production fighters powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene Mk 101 engine, 95 built
Sea Hawk F2
Production fighter with powered ailerons; 40 built by Armstrong Whitworth.
Sea Hawk FB 3
Fighter-bomber variant with stronger wing for external stores, 116 built.
Sea Hawk FGA 4
Fighter/Ground attack variant, 97 built.
Sea Hawk FB 5
FB3 fitted with the Nene Mk 103, 50 conversions.
Sea Hawk FGA 6
FGA4 with the Nene Mk 103, total of 101
Sea Hawk Mk 50
Export variant based on the FGA 6 for the Royal Netherland Navy, 22 built.
Sea Hawk Mk 100
Export variant for the West German Navy, similar to FGA 6 but fitted with taller fin and rudder; 32 built
Sea Hawk Mk 101
All-weather export variant for the West German Navy, as Mk 100 but fitted with a search radar in an under-wing pod, 32 built.