North East Aircraft Museum      

The North East Aircraft Museum's exhibit E-419 (G-9-441) is a F.51 which is a version of the F.4., which was exported to Denmark. In all, 36 were delivered to 724 Squadron at Skrydstrup for use in a low-level intercept role. The squadron was finally disbanded in 1974.

Hawker Hunter of the North East Aircraft Museum, ex-Danish Air Force



The Hunter was the main RAF front-line day fighter during the 1950s. It was also delivered to 23 nations.

Designed by Sidney Camm, the designer of the war-time Hurricane, the Hunter incorporated the swept wing design and replaced the obsolescent Meteor and Vampire in RAF service. Camm, with great foresight, had originally refused to consider the swept-back wing because it was German.

The stages which eventually led to the Hunter are as follows :

  • P1040 developed from Sea Fury. This was a straight-wing aircraft, which developed into the Sea Hawk. .

  • P1052 which had a swept-wing but unswept tailplane. Flew 19 October 1948. Later fitted with sweptback tail. Two were built, the second being converted later to a P1081.

  • P1081 with an Avon engine, new back fuselage, all swept lift surface and with a single jet pipe (instead of two on the side). It was itended to permit installation of re-heat. It crashed.

  • P1067 (which eventually became the Hunter) The Hunter prototype, it first flew in 20 July 1951 from Boscombe Down, piloted by Neville Duke, the Chief Test Pilot for Hawker Aircraft.

The first prototype (WB188), designated of type Mark 1 flew with Rolls-Royce Avons, as did the second prototype WB195.

The Mark 2, the third prototype WB202, flew with Armstrong-Whitworth Sapphires engines.

Its first confirmed supersonic flight was on 24 June 1952 (it had been breaking the barrier before then but its flight instruments were too unreliable to actually confirm this), and its first public demonstration of supersonic flight occured on 10 July 1952 at Melsbroek, Belgium.

Its first public demonstration in Britain was at Farnborough in 1952, where the new concepts of supersonic flight were greatly marred by the death of John Derry while flying a De Havilland aircraft, causing the death of several spectators, as well.

The first production aircraft flew in May 1953 and the type was introduced into the RAF in August 1954. However the F1 did not become fully operational with the RAF straight away because the engines had a tendency to surge when firing its guns. This feature was apparently absent from the Sapphire-powered aircraft - but nevertheless the problem with the Avon was solved and this engine powered the vast majority of Hunters.

Initial problems with the early marks lead to the introduction into service, in 1955, of the Mark 4 (with Avons) and the Mark 5 (with Sapphires). Originally the Mark 4 supplied 21 squadrons and the Mark 5 supplied 7 squadrons.

In 1956 the Mark 6 was introduced and this and all further Hunters flew with Avon engines.

In 1960, it changed from being a fighter to being a ground attack aircraft, taking over the role played up till then by the Venom. Significant numbers were converted to FGA9 standard.

Its last major use was as a trainer with No 1 Tactical Weapons Unit, RAF Brawdy. After this was ended, TMK75 Integrated Flight Instrumentation System RAF Honington (used as Bucaneer trainers)

A fully supersonic version, the P1083, had been planned, but this was cancelled on 13 July 1953.

World Records


Two world air speed records, were both set on 7th September over Rustington Sea Front.

Record 1 - set on 7th September 1946, by Group Captain Teddy Donaldson, flying a Gloster Meteor.

Record 2 - set on 7th September 1953, by Squadron Leader Neville Duke, flying Hawker Hunter WB188, at a speed of 1170.9 km/hr.

This record was broken by Commander Mike Lithgow flying Supermarine Swift WK198, which is now on display in the North East Aircraft Museum.

To celebrate, on 7th September 1996, Neville Duke returned to Rustington to unveil a plaque, marking the event. He was joined by a Gloster Meteor and a Hawker Hunter, which flew over Rustington Sea Front. The event made the national ITN news that day.

Hawker Hunter




The F.5 was also the first Hunter variant to see active service when, during the Suez campaign, they were used against ground targets in Egypt. This was the first use of a British swept-wing aircraft in combat (some sources claim it was lucky it did not come face to face with a Mig).

Six Day War

Hunters of Iraq/Lebanon/Jordan took part. After hearing of Israel' s attack on Eygpt, Jordan appears to have entered the war by launching Hunter strikes against Israel. In the end, most of Jordan's aircraft were destroyed, and all of Lebanon's. Apparently, Lebanon did not play an active role after one of their Hunters was shot down by a Mirage near to the border.

India - Pakistan (September 1965)

Pakistan had only 90 F-86F Sabres and India had 118 Hawker Hunters. By virtue of these being the most numerous aircraft from both sides, most of the aerial engagements in that war happened between them. The Hunter was newer than the Sabre, with a superior top speed, climbing rate, better built-in armament (two 30 mm Aden cannons versus six 12,7 mm machineguns), but the Sabres had better maneuverability at low altitude, and few of them carried IR missiles AIM-9B/D Sidewinders. Even more important: some of the Pakistani pilots were trained in Britain, flying Hunters, so they knew their opponents' aircraft very well. The leading ace of the war Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam, shot down nine aircraft, all of them Hunters.

Denmark operated a small number of T.53s as well as F.51s from 1955 until 1974

Aerobatic Display Teams


The first aerobatic team using Hunter aircraft appeared in 1955 when No 54 Squadron flew a formation of four aircraft. The following year the Squadron team adopted the name The Black Knights and all the pilots wore black flying suits. No 111 Squadron (Treblers or Treble-One) provided the official RAF team in 1956, and for the first time the aircraft bore a special colour scheme, an all-black finish. After a performance in France, they were applauded as Les Fleches Noires and thereafter were known at home and throughout the continent as The Black Arrows. They became the first team to fly a five Hunter formation and their polished performances included a formation landing.

By the 1957 Farnborough Display the Black Arrows Team had been increased to nine aircraft. Something of a sensation was caused by a formation loop and roll by nine aircraft - this had not been seen since the inter-war years. New manoeuvres and formations were added each year. In 1958 came the bomb burst, in which the aircraft break formation at the top of a loop, trailing smoke, and pull out in different directions. Perhaps the most noteworthy performance by the Black Arrows was the celebrated loop and barrel roll of 22 Hunters during the 1958 Farnborough Display week. This is the greatest number of aircraft ever looped in formation, and is still a world record today.



  • F1 Avons. Suffered engine surges. Into 43 Sqn, August 1954. Endurance was only 36 mins.

  • F2 Sapphires. First flew in October 1953. Into the RAF at the end of 1954 with 257 and 263 squadrons. Pure interceptor, no underwing stores.

  • F3 The modified WB188. First flew 7 July 1953 and fitted with afterburner for the successful attempt on the World Speed Record. This record was later broken by Commander Mike Lithgow flying Supermarine Swift WK198, which is now on display in the North East Aircraft Museum.

  • F4 Flew in October 1954. It had improved Avons, increased fuel capacity and four pylons for fuel or bombs / rockets. It had an all-flying tail.

  • F5 Flew in October 1954. It has Sapphires, but otherwise similar to F4.

  • F6 More powerful Avon 200 series. Leading edge sawtooth. First flew on 23 January 1954. Delivered to the RAF from October 1956 to October 1957, supplying 19 squadrons.

  • T7 Side-by-side trainer. First flew June 1955.

  • T8 Trainer for the British Navy

  • T66 Trainer

  • FGA9 Ground attack version, based on the F6. Introduced in 1959. From 1960 until 1965, 128 were introduced into the RAF.

  • FR10 Reconnaissance - 32 built

  • GA11 For the British Navy, based on the F4

  • T70 Trainer



Other countries : Sweden, Denmark, India (until early 1980s), Switzerland (until 1995) and built under license in the Netherlands (Fokker) and Belgium (Fairey/Aviolanda), Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq (being used, among other things, to drop poison gas on Kurdish civilians), Jordan, Oman, Kenya, Zimbabawe, Chile, Peru.

It was exported until 1975. It was found that type conversion could be easily carried out, even between one-seat/two-seat versions, and vice-versa.

By 2000, only Zimbabwe and Lebanon had Hunters in the front line.

You may like to add to the detail about the Hunter that it was also used by the Somali Airforce in the 1980's. A small number of aircraft (9?) were obtained from Oman, I believe and Zimbabwean pilots were contracted to train Somali Airforce personnel on the type. I was in Mogadishu from 1982 to 1988 and remember watching displays of aerobatics by Hunters and MIGs - never together though. It was rumoured that the ex Rhodesian Airforce types refused to be airborne when the MIGS were in the sky. Regards

Ted Watt



Other Hunter Sites on the Internet

Hawker Hunter, Switzerland