SEA HAWK FGA.6 WV908

Sea Hawk FGA.6 WV908 was built at the Armstrong Whitworth factory at  Baginton, Coventry, in 1954 as an FGA.4 variant and assembled at the company’s Bitteswell airfield before being delivered to the Royal Navy in 1955. She served initially with 807 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and then 898 NAS embarked in HMS Ark Royal and HMS Bulwark and ashore at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Brawdy.

After conversion to FGA.6 standard at Fleetlands in 1958 she flew with 806 NAS until 1960 when she was reassigned to a training role with 738 Squadron at RNAS Lossiemouth. In 1962 the aircraft was sent for storage at the Royal Naval Aircraft Yard Belfast before being loaned to the RAF Apprentices School at RAF Halton in 1971 for use as a systems trainer. She was then acquired by RNAS Culdrose, which bears the name HMS Seahawk as a ‘ground runner’, used to train carrier deck personnel.  At this juncture a team of volunteers restored her to flying display condition with her taking to the skies in 1978 before transferring to RNAS Yeovilton to join the Royal Navy Historic Flight in 1982.

In 1989 she underwent a complete refurbishment at British Aerospace’s Dunsfold works which was completed in 1996. She is now resplendent in the markings she wore when serving with 806 NAS on front line service in HMS Albion.

She is currently in dehumidified storage at RAF Shawbury awaiting development and funding of a Return to Flight programme.

HISTORY

The Sea Hawk entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1953. It was the direct successor to the Sea Fury but represented a quantum leap forward in capability, taking Naval aviation into the Jet Age and capably proving the offensive edge of carrier aviation during the Suez conflict of 1956.

The transition from the piston engine, tail dragging Sea Fury to the Sea Hawk, a fighter jet with tricycle undercarriage, was a brave and logical development for British Carrier Aviation. In many ways, it could be likened to the dramatic changes from sail to steam, or from wood to steel. Like most early generation jets (and this was Hawker’s first example) the Sea Hawk had development challenges but these were overcome and it became a capable carrier based fighter ground attack aircraft, progressing from the original type F.1 to the final FGA.6 version. The Sea Hawk retained her straight wings unlike some of her American counterparts and upgrades between the variants included strengthening of hardpoints to carry ordnance, vast improvements to the aircraft controls and airframe robustness and finally, a more powerful Rolls Royce Nene 103 engine in the FGA.6.

In comparison to the Sea Fury, the Sea Hawk was much faster, had a ceiling some 10,000’ higher and double the thrust to weight ratio so it could achieve combat altitude in half the time. The Sea Hawk was one of the forerunners of modern day carrier based jet aircraft and the technologies that catapult and arrest today’s latest generation aircraft share common ancestry from the period.

The Sea Hawks in Fleet Air Arm service began being phased out from first line service in 1958, the year in which the Supermarine Scimitar and de Havilland Sea Vixen entered service, both of which types would eventually replace the Sea Hawk. The last front line Sea Hawk squadron, No. 806, disbanded at RNAS Brawdy on 15 December 1960, ending a very brief operational career for the Sea Hawk. Despite this, Sea Hawks saw an extensive career in the Indian Navy until retirement in 1983.

OPERATING SPECIFICATION

600

Top Speed

480

Range

44,500

Ceiling

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

CREW – 1

FLIGHT SPECS

Maximum Speed – 600 mph (970 km/h or 520 kn/h)
Range – 480 miles (770 km or 420 nmi)
Ceiling – 44,500 ft (13,600 m)
Climb Rate – 5,700 ft/min (29 m/s)

DIMENSIONS

Length – 39 ft 8 in (12.09 m)
Wingspan – 39 ft 0 in (11.89 m)
Wing Area – 278 sq feet (25.83 m²)
Height – 8 ft 8 in (3.76 m)
Empty weight – 9,278 lb (4,208 kg)
Gross weight – 13,220 lb (5,996 kg)
Max takeoff weight – 16,150 lb (7,326 kg)

ENGINE

1 x 1 × Rolls-Royce Nene 103 centrifugal-flow turbojet engine, 5,200 lbf (23 kN) thrust

ARMAMENT

Guns – 4 × 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk.V cannon with 200 rpg
Hardpoints – 6 underwing with provisions to carry combinations of:

  • Rockets – 20 × RP-3 “60 lb” (27 kg) unguided rockets or 16 × 5 in (127 mm) unguided rockets
  • Bombs – 4 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs
  • Other – or 2 × 90 imp gal (108 US gal; 409 l) drop-tank