On 21st August 1974 Duncan Simpson flew the first Hawker Siddeley Hawk, XX154, from Dunsfold Aerodrome ….In 1968-69 Gordon Hodson sought the views of the RAF and Ministry of Defence on what they needed to replace the inadequate Jet Provost and the troublesome Gnat trainers. He wrote a paper on his findings which led to the first preliminary design by project designer Ron Williams. Further exhaustive studies by the Future Projects Office under John Allen, guided by chief engineer Ralph Hooper and Gordon Hodson, on what was now called the P.1182, resulted in a submission against Air Staff Requirement 397 in competition with the British Aircraft Corporation Warton’s P.59. Hawker Siddeley Kingston won the innovative fixed price contract for 176 aircraft which also included performance guarantees, introduced by Hooper, and maintainability and reliability incentive clauses, another new feature. Seen by some as a risky undertaking, in the event they resulted in huge savings for the RAF over the lifetime of the aircraft and very substantial payments to HSA.
No test instrumentation had been fitted to save time so that the Hawk would be ready to fly at the Farnborough SBAC Show. This appearance was important because the Hawk's main rival for export sales, the Franco-German Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet, would otherwise have had the stage to itself. For the flight trials Andy Jones was appointed Hawk project pilot assisted by Jim Hawkins and your editor managed the flight development technical department effort.Powered by the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour, the performance of the Hawk exceeded the RAF’s training requirement. This was a deliberate policy by Hooper and his team to allow development into a ground attack fighter to enhance the export sales potential. This multi-role capability was instrumental in achieving to date over 1,000 sales to 19 countries, outselling many-times-over the competing Alpha Jet. Within the number are 223 T-45 Goshawks sold to the United States Navy, against intense international competition, as their standard advanced carrier-capable trainer. Gordon Hodson directed the effort to develop this variant with McDonnel-Douglas, and to gain and implement the important contract.
BAe also decided that Kingston could not cope with two successful programmes (Harrier and Hawk) so in 1989, after the Mk66 Swiss aircraft, Hawk design and manufacture were transferred to Brough, with final assembly and flight testing at Warton, where the advanced lead-in fighter trainer versions were developed. Keeping the Hawk up to date continues there today and a plum contract target is the new advanced trainer for the United States Air Force whose Northrop T-38s are rapidly running out of airframe life.Note: Harry Fraser-Mitchell’s outstanding Royal Aeronautical Society paper ‘The Hawk Story’ can be found on-line at: - http://aerosociety.com/Assets/Docs/Publications/The Journal of Aeronautical History/2013-01_HawkStory-Fraser-Mitchell.PDF