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Newsletter 20
Spring 2008
Updated on 22May2008
Contents
Editorial
AIAA Honours Dunsfold
Annual General Meeting
Book Review
Doctorate for John Farley
Dunsfold and Brookland Events
Eggheads
First Hunter
Flying Hawker Aircraft
Future of Naval Aviation
Hawk News
John Dale
Joint Strike Fighter News
Members
Museum for Dunsfold
Program
Remembering the P.1083
Sea Harrier News
V/Stol Award for Ralph Hooper

Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved Hawker Association
 
    John Arthur recalls some time in the Drawing Office working on what could perhaps have been Britain's first supersonic fighter...
    I joined Hawkers in August 1943 as a Pupil Apprentice and took early retirement in August 1988 as Head of Stress (Harrier). During those 45 years there were, of course, many highlights and projects, not all of which came to fruition. I would like to recall one such project of the early 1950s.
    There were several 'supersonic' jet fighters flying at that time: the Supermarine Swift, the US North American F-86 Sabre, the Soviet MiG-15, and of course, our own P.1067 Hunter, for example. These aircraft, however, had one big shortcoming; they were only supersonic in a shallow dive. They were not 'Mach One' fighters in level flight.
Remembering The P.1083

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    In 1950 it had been decided that Hawkers, on a PV (private venture - company funded in today's parlance) basis, should do something about this state of affairs.
In 1952-53 I was a designer-draughtsman in the Production Drawing Office in which a small team was formed, led by Bob Copland of model aircraft fame and later Chief Design Engineer, to scheme and produce drawings for a new 'thin wing' Hunter known as the P.1083. We were young and enthusiastic, spurred on by the goal of helping Hawkers to produce the World's first truly supersonic jet fighter.
    The wing design incorporated 50 degrees of leading edge sweepback and a mean thickness:chord ratio of 7.5% compared with the P.1067 Hunter's 45 degrees and 8.5%. The leading edge portion of the new wing, forward of the front spar, made provision for internal fuel bags, an innovation not fitted to early Hunters. The increased sweepback meant that, during a high speed pull-out, a very much greater loading was applied to the rear spar/undercarriage girder than on the standard machine. I remember designing this component, assisted by a 'tame' stress-man, which required massive high tensile steel forgings for the booms. These forgings were produced and machined complete with integral wing attachment eyes. The completed spars were assembled in the wing build jig.
    There were of course other tricky design problems, one of which was 'shoehorning' the main undercarriage into the very shallow wheel bays. However, solving such conundrums was our stock in trade and by and large I believe we were making good progress.
    But then one morning we came into the office in which gloom pervaded. Bang! The project was stopped and scrapped. The precise reason for this I was not party to but it was rumoured that the firm was not prepared to put up the quarter of a million pounds needed to finish the project. And so a big opportunity was missed and the accolade for the first supersonic fighter went to the North American F-100 Super Sabre.
    As a footnote I would say that the work on the P.1083 project was not completely wasted as the aforementioned wing fuel tank design was quickly modified and applied to later Marks of Hunter thus ensuring adequate range for successful future developments. What did Bob's team do next? I seem to remember we worked on the P.1101 two-seater Hunter which was produced as the TMk7; the one with the old 'Morris Minor' windscreen. But that is another story.
    Editor's Note. The full and complex story of the P.1083, its engines and armament, all of which contributed to its delay and demise, can be found in "British Secret Projects, Jet Fighters Since 1950" by Tony Buttler, Midland Publishing, 2000. To summarise: initial discussions with the Director of Operational Requirements (DOR) took place in May 1950, Ministry go-ahead was given in December 1951, Specification F.119D was issued in April 1952 and wing build commenced in October. In June 1953 the DOR advised Hawker that the P.1083 was no  longer required and the official cancellation was received on 13th July.
     Serial number WN740 had been allocated to the prototype. After the cancellation Hawkers was authorised to use the front and centre fuselages and the tail unit in the P.1099, prototype of the FMk6 Hunter. The F-100 Super Sabre flew in May 1953 but the Mk6 Hunter and its variants sold in large numbers, world-wide. The more highly swept P.1083 would probably not have been so adaptable and as tolerant.