SEA FURY VX281 (G-RNHF)

Sea Fury T.20 G-RNHF (VX281) was the second of 60 Sea Fury T.20 aircraft built as weapon trainers for the Fleet Air Arm. Delivered to the Royal Navy in 1950 she served with 736 and 738 Naval Air Squadrons at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose before being sold to the West German Government in 1963. Painted in the markings of an F10 single-seat aircraft of 799 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in 1949, VX281 was acquired by the charity from the United States in 2007 and rebuilt at North Weald.

In 2014 the aircraft suffered engine failure during a display manoeuvre at RNAS Culdrose Air Day.  She returned to flight following the charity’s successful £200,000 appeal to buy a new Centaurus 18 engine.

Until 2018 she was loaned to the Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) under a Memorandum of Understanding between the charity and Navy Command.  With the demise of the RNHF in March 2019, she is now operated directly by Navy Wings. A masterpiece of power and performance, the T.20 generates interest and excitement at air shows around the country.

HISTORY

The Sea Fury T.20 is a twin-seat weapon trainer variant of the Sea Fury.

In late 1946 and as part of a deal with the Iraqi government for the supply of 30 non-navalised ‘Baghdad Furies’, a two-seat trainer version had been conceived. The prototype (known as the IDT1 – Iraq Dual Trainer 1) incorporated separate windscreens and canopies over tandem cockpits. The latter arrangement was found prone to collapse at high speeds however and after the Royal Navy had also shown interest in a two-seater, a revised more effective canopy was introduced with a perspex tunnel inter-linking the two cockpits.

Sixty Sea Fury T.20 aircraft were built as weapons trainers for the Fleet Air Arm. Quite apart from the obvious addition of the rear cockpit fitted with duplicated controls, the T.20 differed from its F.10 and FB.11 brethren in a number of ways: not being intended for carrier operations the arrester hook was deleted, as was the retractable tailwheel unit – presumably the removal of the associated hydraulic jacks and piping going some way to help redress the centre of gravity issue caused by adding the second cockpit.

Training for carrier landings were carried out at Culdrose and often at nearby Predannack in what were termed Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landings (ADDLs) prior to aircrew getting to try the real thing. Mounted between the front and rear cockpits a tripod periscope arrangement developed by Hawker enabled the instructor in the rear cockpit to see what the student in the front seat was viewing through his gyro gunsight.

Two of the Hispano Mk.5 20mm canon were deleted from the centre mainplanes in order to provide additional space to house equipment displaced from the fuselage by the addition of the rear cockpit.

OPERATING SPECIFICATION

460

Top Speed

680

Range

34,300

Ceiling

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

CREW – 2

FLIGHT SPECS

Speed – 460 mph (741 km/h or 400 kts)
Range – 680 mi. (1.095 km or 591 NM)
Ceiling –  34.300 ft (10.455 m)
Climb Rate – 4,320 ft/min (21.9 m/s)

PRODUCTION

Production Range – 1945-1955

DIMENSIONS

Length – 34 ft 8 in (10.57 m)
Wingspan – 38 ft 5 in (11.70 m)
Wing Area – 280 ft² (26.0 m²)
Height – 15 ft 11 in (4.84 m)

ENGINE

Bristol Centaurus 18, radial supercharged, delivering 2,480 hp

ARMAMENT (front line variant)

4 × 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V autocannon
12 × 3 in (76.2 mm) rockets
2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs