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Newsletter 13
Summer 2006
Updated on 25May2006
Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Contents Hawker Association

Contents
Editorial
Aviation Heritage Project
Camm Bust for RAF Club
Correction
Crescent Wing More
Crescent Wing Even More
Harrier News
Hawk - First Delivery
Hawk News
Joe Turner
Members
People News
Programme
RAF Harrier Story
Sopwith Catalogue
Test Flying the Hunter
Ties
Tripartite Squadron
Walter John Biggs
Wartime Project Office
 
David Lockspeiser wrote the following foreword to the programme for the Hunter 50th anniversary air show...
 
My introduction to the Hunter was at Dunsfold after I left a Meteor squadron in the RAF to join Hawker Aircraft Ltd. Neville Duke, whose name is synonymous with the Hunter, was Chief Test Pilot on the new aircraft. Like most jobs, test flying is largely routine and uneventful but, like anything else in life, it does have its moments. Production testing is designed to establish safety of operation and uniformity of performance. It was necessary to carry out development flying on all aspects of the aircraft and its systems and to determine the boundaries and limits of weapons carriage and release. The job also included some very different but still related duties including demonstrations at air shows and to customer air forces, conversion training, delivery and liaison. So over the years I have known and made friends with people from the sixteen countries that have flown the Hunter.
 

Test Flying the Hunter

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The Hunter production test schedule, flown clean, could be completed in two 45 to 50 minute flights if the weather was kind and nothing required rectification or adjustment. Usually it would take three or four flights to complete. The schedule called for two engine measurement climbs, one at a fixed partial throttle setting and one at full throttle. Checks for surge during slam acceleration, functioning of the top temperature controller and inverted flight were included. The stall was investigated and all two-seaters were spun, twice in each direction, to ensure the aircraft would recover with at least a quarter of out-spin aileron. As the Russians had done with the MiG 15, we painted a white blob on the instrument panel to indicate the stick-central position required for recovery.
 
Inevitably the pilot develops a greater affection for the individual aircraft he is most familiar with and I can think of three. XE588, a Mk 6, was used for most of the single-seater demonstrations in Switzerland and the associated armament development work at the A&AEE. So impressed were the Swiss with the Hunter's ability to turn in narrow mountain valleys, even when at maximum weight, that when we turned up at the airfield at Meiringen one morning we found that they had painted the Swiss mountaineers' badge on the side. During the demonstrations the Swiss also wanted to see the safe release of napalm bombs. This was to be carried out over Lake Payerne, but napalm could not be used because it would endanger the fish, so the authorities came up with a liquid that had the same specific gravity as napalm. To my chagrin I have to relate that two drop tanks, each containing 100 gallons of Liqueur Poire William, were dropped in the lake!
 
G-APUX, our two-seater demonstrator, was used at home and abroad for demonstrations at airshows, taking potential customers, politicians and service officers of all ranks (including Luftwaffe Generals Milch and Galland) for flights, and converting customer pilots. I particularly recall an incident in G-APUX during the week of the Hanover airshow following a photographic sortie. I returned rather low on fuel and so made a straight-in approach and to my displeasure, when I lowered the undercarriage, the port leg remained up. From our Service Department reports I was aware that this had happened to an RAF Mk 9. The pilot had opted to jettison the 230 gallon tanks and make a wheels-up landing. However, the shock to the airframe caused by firing the ejector release units (ERUs) brought the leg down. G-APUX, unfortunately, was not fitted with ERUs so I could only induce shock to the airframe by banging the starboard wheel hard onto the runway. Fortunately this had the desired effect. On landing there were only 12 gallons of fuel remaining in the tanks; the following day I received a relayed reprimand from our director at Kingston; such is life!
 
People sometimes ask which of the many  variants I enjoyed flying the most, and the answer is the Mk 6 because it combined the power of the larger 200 Series Avon with the centre of gravity moved further aft. The Mk 11 with the smaller engine was also delightful as it was much lighter, not having any guns, and had the same centre of gravity as the Mk 6. With the heaviest fixed gun armament of any aircraft, except the wartime Me 262, its genuine multi-role capability, excellent handling characteristics and unmatched elegance made the Hunter an immense pleasure to fly; and a source of great pride. I am indeed very grateful to have worked with those involved in the many aspects of the Hunter's design, development and production.