|Hawker Fury K5674, painted in 43 Squadron Colours|
|First flight||25 March 1931|
|Retired||1949 Iranian Air Force|
|Primary users||Royal Air Force|
The Hawker Fury was a British biplane fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force in the 1930s. It was a fast, agile aircraft, and the first interceptor in RAF service capable of speed higher than 200 mph. It was the fighter counterpart to the Hawker Hart light bomber.
Design and development
The Hawker Fury was a development of the earlier Hawker F.20/27 prototype fighter, replacing the radial engine of the F.20/27 with the new Rolls-Royce F.XI V-12 engine (later known as the Rolls-Royce Kestrel), which was also used by Hawker's new light bomber, the Hawker Hart. The new fighter prototype, known as the Hawker Hornet, first flew at Brooklands, Surrey, in March 1929. The Hornet was a single-engined biplane, with single bay wings, initially powered by a 420 hp (313 kW) Rolls-Royce F.XIC engine enclosed by a smooth, streamlined cowling but was quickly re-engined with a 480 hp (358 kW) Kestrel IS. The prototype was evaluated against the similarly powered Fairey Firefly II, being preferred because of its better handling and its all metal structure, compared with the mainly wooden construction of the Firefly.
The Hornet was purchased by the Air Ministry at the start of 1930 and was subject to more tests, with a small initial production order for 21 aircraft (to be called Hawker Fury – as the Air Ministry wanted fighter names that "reflected ferocity") placed during 1930. The Fury I made its maiden flight at Brooklands, with chief test pilot George Bulman at the controls, on 25 March 1931.
The Fury was the first operational RAF fighter aircraft to be able to exceed 200 mph (322 km/h) in level flight. It had highly sensitive controls which gave it superb aerobatic performance. It was designed partly for the fast interception of bombers and to that end it had a climb rate of almost 2,400 ft/min (730 m/min, powered by a 525 hp/391 kW Kestrel engine).
An experimental prototype, the High Speed Fury, was built to test design features for Hawker's planned competitor for the F.7/30 fighter competition (the Hawker P.V.3) as well as for more general development. While the P.V.3 was unsuccessful owing to the use of the unreliable evaporatively cooled Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine, many of the improvements tested on the High Speed Fury were incorporated in an improved Fury II, with a cleaned up airframe and reduced drag, powered by a 690 hp (515 kW) Mk4 Kestrel engine, which gave improved speed and rate of climb.
Sidney Camm designed a monoplane version of the Fury in 1933. It was not developed until Rolls-Royce produced what became their famous Merlin engine. The design was then revised according to Air Ministry specification F5/34 to become the prototype Hawker Hurricane.
The Fury I entered squadron service with the RAF in May 1931, re-equipping No. 43 Squadron. Owing to finance cuts in the Great Depression, only relatively small numbers of Fury Is were ordered, the type equipping No. 1 and 25 squadrons. At the same time, the slower Bristol Bulldog equipped ten fighter squadrons. The Fury II entered service in 1936–1937, increasing total number of squadrons to six. Furies remained with RAF Fighter Command until January 1939, replaced primarily with Gloster Gladiators and other types, such as Hawker Hurricane. After their front line service ended, they continued in use as trainers.
The Fury was exported to several customers, being supplied with a variety of engines, including Kestrels, Hispano Suiza and Lorraine Petrel vee-type engines, Armstrong Siddeley Panther, Pratt & Whitney Hornet and Bristol Mercury radials.
Three Furies were ordered by Spain in 1935, it being intended to produce another 50 under licence. The Spanish variant had a cantilever undercarriage design with Dowty internally sprung wheels, similar to that used on the Gladiator and was powered by a 612 hp (457 kW) Hispano Suiza 12Xbr engine, reaching a speed of 234 mph (377 km/h). The three Furies were delivered without armament on 11 July 1936, just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. They were taken into service by the Spanish Republican Air Force, being fitted with machine guns salvaged from crashed aircraft. One Fury made a forced landing behind enemy lines due to a lack of fuel and was repaired by the Nationalists, although it was not used operationally, while the Republicans used one of the Furies in the defence of Madrid until wrecked in a crash in November 1936.
Although withdrawn from RAF squadrons, the Fury was still used by some foreign air forces in the early 1940s; Yugoslav Furies saw action against Axis forces in the German invasion of 1941. On 6 April 1941, a squadron of Furies took off against the invading German Messerschmitt Bf 109Es and Messerschmitt Bf 110s. In the resulting air battle 10 Furies were destroyed, almost the entire squadron. The commanding officer of the 36 LG was Major Franjo Džal, who watched from the ground as his men were slaughtered in their obsolete biplanes. In an unequal battle against superior adversaries, five aircraft were destroyed while taking off and eight pilots killed. Two more Furies and Bücker Bü 131 were destroyed on the ground. Of the attacking German aircraft, five Bf 109s and two Bf 110s failed to return, though most were non-combat losses, at least one was lost when rammed by a Fury. The other squadron of Yugoslav Furies active at the time of the invasion strafed enemy tanks and ground forces, some being lost to ground fire and one being destroyed in a dogfight with a Fiat CR.42. The rest of the Yugoslav Furies were destroyed when they became unserviceable or at the time of Armistice on 15 April. Ex-RAF Furies were also used by the South African Air Force against the Italian forces in East Africa in 1941 and despite their obsolescence, destroyed two Caproni bombers as well as strafing many airfields, destroying fighters and bombers on the ground.
- Hawker Hornet
- Single-seat fighter prototype. Powered by a Rolls Royce F.XIA and later by a 480 hp (358 kW) F.XIS. Only one was built. This aircraft was slightly smaller and lighter than the Fury and considered by Hawker as a separate type.
- Fury Mk I
- Single-seat fighter version, powered by a 525 hp (391 kW) Rolls Royce Kestrel IIs piston engine.
- Fury Series 1A
- Single-seat fighter for Yugoslavia, similar to Fury Mk I and powered by Kestrel IIS piston engine. Six built by Hawker. One was delivered fitted with a 500 hp (373 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12 NB engine, with poorer performance, and was re-fitted with a Kestrel, while a second was later used for trials with a 720 hp (537 kW) Lorraine Petrel HFrs engine.
- Intermediate Fury
- Test and trials aircraft, used as a prototype; one built, British civil registration G-ABSE.
- High Speed Fury
- Private venture. Single-seat high-speed trials and test aircraft, used as a prototype, which was developed into the Fury Mk II; one built.
- Fury Mk II
- Single-seat fighter version, powered by a 640 hp (477 kW) Rolls Royce Kestrel VI piston engine. First flight 3 December 1936. Total 112 built.
- Yugoslav Fury
- Revised single-seat fighter for Yugoslavia, powered by 745 horsepower (556 kW) Kestrel XVI piston engine, and fitted with low drag radiator and Dowty cantilever undercarriage with internally sprung wheels. Provision for an additional two machine guns under wing. Ten made by Hawker delivered 1936–37, with a further 40 licence built in Yugoslavia by Ikarus (24) and Zmaj (16).
- Persian Fury
- Single-seat fighter for Persia (now Iran). 16 aircraft powered by a Pratt & Whitney Hornet S2B1g radial piston engine, driving a three-bladed propeller, ordered in January 1933. A further six aircraft powered by a 550 hp (410 kW) Bristol Mercury VISP radial piston engine, fitted with a two-bladed propeller, ordered in May 1934, with several Hornet powered Furys re-engined.
- Norwegian Fury
- One trial aircraft, fitted with a 530 hp (395 kW) Armstrong-Siddeley Panther IIIA radial piston engine; one built for Norway.
- Portuguese Fury
- Modified version of the Fury Mk.I, three aircraft fitted with a Roll-Royce Kestrel II piston engine; three built for Portugal.
- Spanish Fury
- Improved version of the Fury Mk.I, three aircraft fitted with a 700-hp Hispano-Suiza 12Xbrs engine; three built for Spain.
This aircraft was delivered to the RAF in 1935 and allocated to No. 43 Squadron, where it was flown until 1939 by Flying Officer Frederick Rosier, later to be Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Rosier. In 1940, it was sent to South Africa where it was flown by 13 Squadron (later 43 Squadron) of the South African Air Force. It was written-off after making a forced landing, due to running out of fuel.
It was returned to the United Kingdom in 2003 and restored to flying condition, with the civil registration G-CBZP. It made its first post-restoration flight in July 2012.
A Hawker Fury Mk.I, serial number K1928, is being restored at Little Gransden Airfield by the Cambridge Bomber and Fighter Society. The aircraft was part of the first production batch of 21 aircraft built in the 1930s and was flown by No. 43 Squadron.
- Norwegian Army Air Service operated one aircraft only.
- Spanish Air Force (3 Furies made it to Spain, 1 was operated by the Aviación Nacional/Spanish Republican Air Force)
- Royal Air Force
- Royal Yugoslav Air Force imported 13 Furies, and built 40 under licence at the Zmaj (16) and Ikarus (24) factories. At the opening of the April 1941 Invasion of Yugoslavia, 25 Furies were operational:
- 35th Fighter group – Kosančić/Leskovac
- 109 Fighter squadron – 6 Furies
- 110 Fighter squadron – 5 Furies
- 36th Fighter group – Režanovačka Kosa
- 111 Fighter squadron – 7 Furies
- 112 Fighter squadron – 7 Furies
Specifications (Hawker Fury Mk II)
Data from The British Fighter since 1912
- Crew: One
- Length: 26 ft 9 in (8.15 m)
- Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
- Height: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)
- Wing area: 250 ft² (23.2 m²)
- Empty weight: 2,734 lb (1,240 kg)
- Loaded weight: 3,609 lb (1,637 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Kestrel IV V12 engine, 640 hp (477 kW)
- Maximum speed: 223 mph at 16,500 ft (360 km/h at 5,030 m)
- Range: 270 mi (435 km)
- Service ceiling: 29,500 ft (8,990 m)
- Rate of climb: 2,600 ft/min (13.2 m/s)
- Wing loading: 14.4 lb/ft² (21.5 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.177 hp/lb (0.291kW/kg)
- Guns: 2 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers Mk IV machine guns with 600 rpg
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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- Media related to Hawker Fury at Wikimedia Commons