On the 9th November Michael Pryce, whose
uncle, JB Smith, worked in the Buying Office until 1970, came to the
Hawker Centre to talk about Kingston's Projected Harrier Successors. He
was slightly concerned at addressing an audience of
'knowledgable' Kingston people, but he needn't have been. His
background ensured that he brought a new outlook to this topic. Michael
took a BA in History at Manchester followed by an MSc in the history of
technology at Imperial College and is now at the University of Sussex
doing a PhD on the role of project design in procurement, studying in
particular the contrasting methods of Kingston and Warton. BAES Chief
Executive Mike Turner had been most helpful in letting him 'inside' the
It was clear,
Michael said, that Kingston worked as a team and that this was the key
to their success. Also, Warton's greater project-related resources drew
them towards the time and man-hours intensive analytical approach where
optimum components are devised and then assembled in various
combinations to achieve the 'best' configuration, whereas Kingston
preferred to study fewer complete configurations based on experience.
A 'project' has several phases including: initial study producing a
g.a., weights, performance estimates etc; a brochure for feedback, to
sell the ideas and to raise funding; model testing; preliminary design
leading to mock-up; and prototype build. Each stage takes perhaps ten
times the effort of its predecessor. Michael said he would concentrate
on the more serious VSTOL/STOVL projects.
The P.1127 single engine concept was a 'right first time' for Kingston.
The more complex P.1126, chronologically a later design that had
multiple swing-out lift engines, and the P.1137 with lift engines and a
thrust diverter, were typical of other configurations discarded at the
initial project phase. It was never Kingston's philosophy to search for
the 'optimum' design, as Germany had done with the complicated VFW VAK
191B, but to try to pick a winning configuration at an early stage.
Just as the P.1127 was shown to be practical the RAF had supersonic
ambitions so the P.1150 was drawn with plenum chamber burning (PCB),
which Bristol had devised for Fokker-Republic, on its anhedral nozzle
Pegasus. The P.1155 with added lift jets was discarded. The P.1127s
were now flying and all that experience was pouring into the Project
Office as the P.1154 evolved with the BS.100 PCB engine and was entered
in the NATO NBMR3 international design competition.
In 1962 the P.1154 was declared the 'technical winner' but for
political and economic reasons Dassault's Mirage IIIV was said to be of
'equal merit', and because national funding was required the
competition collapsed. The UK P.1154 saga is well known in that RN and
RAF requirements were essentially incompatible and the Navy's
determination to keep big carriers, and Roll-Royce's confusing twin
Spey offer, led to the demise of the P.1154 RN. However, much serious
engineering was done on the P.1154 RAF which had hinged intake lips,
and dams and strakes to control hot gas reingestion (HGR), as well as
advanced avionics. The wing was a 'peaky section' design refined from
that used on the Kestrel. Some 750,000 technical man hours were
expended at Kingston and a workforce of 1,500 at Kingston, Brough and
Hamble were involved in building 3 (of 8) prototypes, which were 33%
complete, on cancellation in February 1965. At Bristol Siddeley, and
Rolls-Royce who had sub-contract work, 3200 men had built 5 BS.100s.
The Harrier, of course, was ordered for the RAF instead and became a
great success and so influenced subsequent projects and led to work
with McDonnell-Douglas in the USA.
Meanwhile other V/STOL aircraft had been or were under study. To meet
the German VAK191 specification the subsonic P.1163/HS.1170 with a
smaller PCB engine was proposed but the UK Government withdrew in 1963.
The P.1175 had a two-nozzle Pegasus and a R-R/Allison lift engine; the
P.1176 was a Harrier with an uprated Pegasus marketed in the USA . The
P.1179 was aimed at the Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) requirement.
Earlier designs had been Harrier derived but P.1179 was a 'clean sheet
sheet of paper' approach with Brough yielding a series of projects,
both conventional and V/STOL. Nevertheless the four nozzle vectored
thrust P.1179L was seen as the best solution; eventually, of course,
Tornado was selected.
In 1971 AST.396 for a RAF Harrier/Jaguar replacement was issued, and
the USN was looking for a V/STOL fighter for Admiral Zumwalt's 'Sea
Control Ship' concept. The P.1184-7 was the provisional winner of
AST.396, an advanced, four (anhedral) nozzle Pegasus powered, tricycle
undercarriage aircraft with a sharply swept, moderately high aspect
ratio wing. Unfortunately, AST.396 was abandoned in 1974 for economic
reasons. The HS.1185 and the derived AV-16S6 was a supersonic proposal
for the USN, one of a number of Advanced Harriers studied with McDonnel
Douglas under the AV-16 banner, some others being sub-sonic. It was
powered by a PCB Pegasus 15 with anhedral front nozzles and with the
rear nozzles close together under the fuselage. The AV-16 programme was
discontinued for cost reasons.
The RAF had been impressed by the F-16 and consequently, in 1977,
issued AST.403 for air combat and ground attack. Kingston's response
was the P.1205 with a reclining seat, a chin intake, carbon fibre
composites (CFC), fly-by-wire (FBW) and a PCB Pegasus with anhedral
nozzles, mounted low to minimise rear fuselage structural damage from
the hot and noisy exhaust stream The latter feature led to
insurmountable pitch control problems in the transition. Other
configurations were studied but the P.1205 was abandoned in 1979.
Another solution to the rear fuselage damage problem was the tail-less
twin boom P.1212 where the three-nozzle engine was carried in a short
fuselage pod and exhausted in the gap between the booms which carried
twin fins. Pitch control was by elevons on the wings outboard of the
booms but adequate control power could not be achieved. Other variants
were briefly studied, including layouts with canards but these
generated a down force (lift loss) during the transition. The P.1214
was a forward-swept wing derivative that achieved some publicity but
was not seen as realistic.
The solution to the P.1212 control problems was to lengthen the booms
and add tailplanes outboard, to give the P.1216, studied in various
forms from 1980 to 1988. Stiff CFC wings were used with leading
edge root extensions (LERX), a translating chin intake, interchangeable
weapon modules on the booms, identical slab fins and tailplanes, and
FBW including nozzles independantly vectorable during the transition.
As well as PV Company funded work aimed at the RAF, the RN and the
world market, the P.1216 was studied against the RAF's AST.410 of 1982
for air combat and ground attack and, in 1985, against the RN's
NST.6464 with wing fold and extra boom fuel for combat air patrol
(CAP). A mock-up was viewed by Margaret Thatcher in 1982 and strong
service interest was maintained until 1983 when the prospect of a
European Fighter Aircraft (EFA) pushed ASTOVL into the future. The RN
were seriously interested but lacked funding. Much design, rig test and
wind tunnel work was done over the years including a 'hot jets' rig
still in use at Warton solving Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) HGR problems.
(HGR still is not amenable to computational fluid dynamics evaluation
techniques). Full scale PCB testing at Shoeburuness, using a modified
Harrier airframe, proved the value of nozzle toe-in and other HGR
In 1986 a US/UK Memorandum of Understanding was signed where four
ASTOVL concepts would be studied: vectored thrust (VT), remote
augmented lift system, ejector augmentor, and tandem fan (TF), all to
be designed to match a common evaluation model (CEM). Kingston
concentrated on VT designs having already examined and rejected the
other three, which were therefore left to Warton, except for
CEM-related work on their P.115 TF. The official VT project was the
P.1230 developed with Brough and Warton, a conventional four nozzle
airframe using P.1216 technologies, but in parallel Kingston developed
the P.1216-50 to the CEM requirements. Within BAe this was recognised
as the 'best' solution but was not revealed to the US. The last project
to be drawn at Kingston before closure of the Future Projects Office in
1988 was the P.1246, a Harrier derivative with PCB.
The Harrier still provides the basis for current ASTOVL work with
vectored thrust being the preferred solution, Kingston experience is
supporting the JSF effort and Warton use the P.1216 test data. Michael
observed that the Kingston-Warton culture difference is still there,
albeit based at Farnborough!
During question time Ralph Hooper recalled that in 1961 the P.1150 was
kept under cover whilst the P.1127 to OR.345 with an 18,000 lb thrust
Pegasus was being considered by the RAF. The Air Staff cancelled OR.345
because they needed supersonics to counter the MiG-21s being sold by
Russia around the world so there appeared to be no future for the
P.1127. The case for the P.1154 was seen as hopeless when the
Government insisted that it be a bi-service aircraft like the F-111.
The P.1154 was forced on the RN who withdrew. After the RAF aircraft
was cancelled the resulting Harrier was very like the OR.345 P.1127.
Duncan Simpson observed that the USMC were delighted with their AV-8As
when the RAF were saying they needed no more Harriers but turned out to
The vote of thanks was given by Chris Farara and Michael received an
appreciative round of applause from the large audience. Note that an
expanded version of Michael's talk can be found at