Canadian Warplanes 6: Hawker Hunter

Hawker Hunter

The Hawker Hunter is a transonic British jet-powered fighter aircraft that was developed for the RAF during the late 1940s and early1950s. It was designed to take advantage of the newly developed Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engine and the swept wing, and was the first jet-powered aircraft produced by Hawker to be procured by the RAF. On 7 Sep 1953, the modified first prototype broke the world air speed record for aircraft, achieving a speed of727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h; 632.29 kn).

The single-seat Hunter was introduced to service in 1954 as a manoeuvrable day interceptor aircraft, quickly succeeding first-generation jet fighters in RAF service such as the Gloster Meteor and the de Havilland Venom. The all-weather/night fighter role was filled by the Gloster Javelin. Successively improved variants of the type were produced, adopting increasingly more capable engine models and expanding its fuel capacity amongst other modifications being implemented. Hunters were also used by two RAF display teams: the "Black Arrows", who on one occasion looped a record-breaking 22 Hunters in formation, and later the "Blue Diamonds", who flew 16 aircraft. The Hunter was also widely exported, serving with a total of 21 overseas air forces. Two-seat variants remained in use for training and secondary roles with the RAF and the Royal Navy until the early 1990s.

The Hunter saw combat service in a range of conflicts with several operators, including the Suez Crisis, the Aden Emergency, the Sino-Indian War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Rhodesian Bush War, the Second Congo War, the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. Overall, 1,972 Hunters were manufactured by Hawker Aircraft and its successor, Hawker Siddeley, as well as being produced under licence overseas.

International Test Pilots School.[1]  Three Hawker Hunter aircraft operate from the London International Airport, London, Ontario, Canada. Lortie Aviation of Canada (formerly known as Northern Lights Combat Air Support) is based in Quebec City and owns 21 Hawker Hunters (mainly ex-Swiss F.58 variants) that are leased out for military training duties. In August 2021, Lortie was successful as the only bidder to purchase five jets and the spare parts from the Lebanese Air Force, for a price expected to be around US$1m. They were believed to have not been operational since 2010.

[1] The International Test Pilots School Canada (ITPS Canada) located in London, Ontario, is one of the eight test pilot schools recognized globally by the international Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Society of Flight Test Engineers. The school trains test pilots and flight test engineers. It is the first civilian test pilot school in Canada. ITPS Canada is registered as an Authorized Training Organization by the European Aviation Safety Agency.[6] It shares some facilities with and neighbours the Jet Aircraft Museum at London International Airport. (ITPS)

(Author Photo)

Hawker Hunter F. Mk. 6 (Serial No. J-4029).  This aircraft was donated by the government of Switzerland and has been in the collection since 1995. The museum’s example flew with the official aerobatics team of the Swiss Air Force ‘Patrouille Suisse’ from 1959 to 1994.  It is painted in the team’s official colours, and "30 Jahre Patrouille Suisse".

If you found this valuable, consider supporting the author.