As was appropriate for this anniversary year, on the 10th May Gordon Hodson gave an excellent 'Powerpoint' presentation on the History of the Hawk. Involved from the very beginning as Head of Preliminary Design P.1182 in the Project Office and retiring as Project Director Hawk USA & T-45 Goshawk - via Assistant Chief Designer Hawk and Project Manager Hawk USA - there is no-one who knows the story better.
In his introduction Gordon said, "Hawk is a British success. It is the product of a dedicated team experienced in design, development, manufacturing, flight test, ground test, contract negotiation, equipment purchasing, marketing and public relations." It was surely the strength of Kingston that all these skills could be found under one roof.
In the 1950s RAF student pilots progressed from Harvard to Meteor T.7/Vampire T.11/Canadair T-33; in the 1960s from Jet Provost T.3/4 and 5 to Gnat T.1/Hunter T.7. The next advanced trainer was to be the Jaguar T.2. This was the background to the conception of the Hawk.
"How did it start at Kingston?" is the often asked question; Gordon told us. In February 1968 Gordon, who had joined HSA at Kingston following the Folland merger, was looking after the Gnat. After a meeting with MoD(PE) on Gnat accidents some of the participants retired to the 'Dive' pub where Gordon, Tony Herring (Kingston's MoD PE Resident Technical Officer), Wg.Cdr Alex Wickham (Central Flying School), Sqn.Ldr Dick Orme (MoD PE) and Charlie Baker (Gnat Design) discussed future trainer aircraft.
Gordon reported the conversation to Bob Marsh, Chief Designer Kingston, whose interest was aroused, and visits to the Central Flying School at Little Rissington and HQ Flying Training Command were organised for Bob, Gordon, Jack Simmonds from the Design Office and Gnat test pilots Dick Whittington and Mike Oliver. The outcome was a study led by Ron Williams who prepared a brochure for a Jet Provost replacement entitled SP117. RAF policy changed at this time to retaining the JP5, abandoning the two-seat Jaguar advanced trainer as too expensive and replacing the Gnat and Hunter with a new aircraft.
Under the guidance of Chief Engineer Ralph Hooper, Future Projects and Airframe Engineering launched project P.1182. They studied 20 configurations with 12 turbofan and turbojet engines, embracing single and twin engines, swept and straight high and low wings, and tandem and side-by-side seating. The final configuration, the HS.1182AJ, was powered by a non-reheated version of the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour used in the Jaguar, had tandem seats, a low swept wing and was capable of carrying weapons.
A front fuselage mock-up was built and mounted on a truck for tests at Dunsfold to confirm that the instructor in the raised rear seat could see the touch-down point in the 7 deg nose-up landing attitude. Wind tunnel test showed that instability at altitude was cured by lowering the intakes from their position high behind the cockpit onto the wing.
The airframe design and choice of equipment emphasised ease of servicing and reliability, and performance guarantees were offered. In competition with Warton's BAC P.59 the HS.1182 won a fixed price contract for 176 aircraft in March 1972. In the event all 11 performance guarantees were achieved or exceeded and very significant reliability and maintainability bonus payments were earned. The first aircraft, XX154, was flown by Duncan Simpson on 21st August 1974, soon joined in the flight development programme by XX156, XX157 and XX158. 154 is still flying at the Empire Test Pilots School and the other three are at RAF Valley and Leeming.
Testing highlights described by Gordon included: directional snaking cured by Fred's Rear End (proposed by Chief Flight Development Engineer, Fred Sutton), structural tests at Kingston, escape system tests at Boscombe Down, cold weather trials in Canada, hot weather trials in Malta and smoke system development for the Red Arrows. First deliveries to RAF Valley were in November 1976, and they are still there, but now finished in high-visibility glossy black in place of the original red, white and grey. Also used for weapon training, 88 Hawks were converted to the War Role standard carrying two Sidewinders and were to defend the UK in conjunction with radar equipped Tornado F3s.
Gordon then went on to describe the export 50 and 60 Series Hawks with their five weapon stations, the advanced 100 Srs two-seaters with wing-tip Sidewinders, the digital cockpit LIFT (Lead-In Fighter-Trainer) Hawks, the NFTC (NATO Flying Training Canada) Hawks and the 200 Srs single-seaters.
The biggest coup for the Hawk was its selection by the United States Navy, an epic programme led by Gordon over many years. The competition was for the VTXTS (fixed wing, experimental, training system) for the US Navy Undergraduate Jet Flight Training System to provide a carrier-capable aircraft to replace the T-2 Buckeye and the TA-4J Skyhawk and to provide the academics, simulators and integrated logistic support.
Partnered with McDonnell-Douglas at Long Beach, California, the contract was won in November 1981 against stiff competition from the Alpha Jet, the Aer-Macchi MB339, an upgraded Buckeye and new designs from Douglas, Grumman/Beech, Northrop/Vought, General Dynamics and Rockwell.
Design, wind tunnel testing and flight development were carried out at Kingston, Weybridge and Dunsfold. The design and build of a new front fuselage and cockpit and final assembly were Douglas responsibilities but the rest of the airframe was UK designed and built. The first T-45A Goshawk, 162787, flew at Long Beach in April 1988.
Five significant deficiencies were identified by the Navy: a longitudinal control instability at high Mach numbers, engine performance (low thrust at high ambient temperatures, idle rpm too low for approach, acceleration time too slow for wave-off case), excessive pitch change on extending the new side mounted speed brakes, low lateral/directional stability, and stall performance. All were remedied : the longitudinal control run had revised gearing and was re-balanced and damped; the Adour 871 was substituted for the derated 861; the speed-brake was interconnected with the tailplane; a taller fin, a ventral strake, aileron-rudder interconnect and a low speed yaw damper were fitted; slats which extended with flaps down were added, the full-span flap vane was restored and the wing tip shape was changed.
By September 2003 the T-45 fleet had flown 500,000 hours. The Goshawks are now operating from two Naval Air Stations: Kingsville, Texas with 73 aircraft and Meridian, Mississippi with 83. The Navy requires 234; and 70% of the workshare is in the UK! Later Goshawks are to the T-45C standard which introduces a 'digital' cockpit with HUD and MFDs which will be retrofitted to all T-45As.
Bringing the talk to a close Gordon received a well earned round of applause and then answered