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Thread: The Hawker P.1121.

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up The Hawker P.1121.

    I have posted this in the historic aviation forum as well, as I appreciate that there is not that much cross traffic between 'us' and 'them'. Also this kind of falls in the gap between modern and historical (well I think anyway)

    A few years back I aquired an article from the september 11th 1959 issue of 'The Aeroplane and Aeronautics' magazine about the P.1121. I never got a chance to read it and put it to one side eventually stumbling on it recently.

    It is a very detailed article, however there is one paticular thing that stands out. The article appears to infer that the aircraft was originally intended as a fighter and provides good evidence to suggest this. Firstly the article points out that the prototype was to be single seat and powered by a Gyron engine(apparently this was the most suitable for a high altitude fighter but not optimum for a low level strike fighter).

    Some of the more informed among you are probably wondering why this is so interesting to me, but the reason is that before I read this article the only reference I had come across was for the 2 seat version for the TSR-2 requirement.

    It seems that Hawker created 3 very different variants from the one basic design.

    1) A single seat air superiority and light strike fighter.

    2) A steal winged high altitude interceptor capable of Mach-3 and above.

    3) A two seat long range strike fighter (all ordnance carried externally).

    A further note on the engines, Hawker apparently regarded the de Havilland Gyron as the best engine for high altitude flight, whilst the Rolls Royce conway represented the best option for a low level strike aircraft (due to its low fuel consumption) and the Bristol Olympus was considered the best compromise for a dual role aircraft.

    I have always had a fascination with his aircraft as I believe that it would have given the British aviation industry a real ability to compete on the global combat aircraft market against the likes of the Mirage 3/5/50 series and the F-4 phantom, possibly into the 1970s, there might have even still been some flying today.

    All comments, questions or additional information and pictures very welcome, thanks for reading.

    Ps, I am guessing that this will interest the Brits here the most?

    PPs. I should also point out that this is not an entirely what if flight of fancy, the first prototype was under construction when the project was cancelled. A real shame, I think it would have made a nice follow on to the lightning.
    Last edited by sealordlawrence; 30th March 2007 at 19:30.

  2. #2
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    As luck would have it, I'm writing a long article/short monography on the P.1121 for publication later this year.

    The P.1121 has its origins in Hawker's P.1103 proposal to F155/T (OR 329), as a dedicated high altitude interceptor. Hawker's proposal wasn't popular, as it was more realistic (and hence lower performing) than some of the others. However, Camm was encouraged by some to redesign the P.1103 for the strike role, which became P.1116. P.1121 was seen by Hawker as potentially a dual purpose machine, a bit like a US "Phantom". Unfortunately, the UK was obsessed with hugely ambitious projects to intercept Mach 3 bombers at 80,000ft (OR 329), and strike over huge distances (GOR 339), and Hawker were unofficially encouraged to spend their own funds on P.1121 as a "fallback" just in case budgets for the other projects were cut.

    In retrospect with official backing P.1121 could have been a great Hunter followon, and a rival to the Mirage III, Phantom II and MiG-21.
    Available now: my book Hawker P.1103 and P.1121: Camm's Last Fighter Projects from Blue Envoy Press

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerospacetech View Post
    As luck would have it, I'm writing a long article/short monography on the P.1121 for publication later this year.

    The P.1121 has its origins in Hawker's P.1103 proposal to F155/T (OR 329), as a dedicated high altitude interceptor. Hawker's proposal wasn't popular, as it was more realistic (and hence lower performing) than some of the others. However, Camm was encouraged by some to redesign the P.1103 for the strike role, which became P.1116. P.1121 was seen by Hawker as potentially a dual purpose machine, a bit like a US "Phantom". Unfortunately, the UK was obsessed with hugely ambitious projects to intercept Mach 3 bombers at 80,000ft (OR 329), and strike over huge distances (GOR 339), and Hawker were unofficially encouraged to spend their own funds on P.1121 as a "fallback" just in case budgets for the other projects were cut.

    In retrospect with official backing P.1121 could have been a great Hunter followon, and a rival to the Mirage III, Phantom II and MiG-21.
    All correct as far as the article I have goes. I would love to read your article when you finish it, best of luck with it!!!

    It is actually pretty depressing to read about the British aviation industry post world war 2. Its the story of missed oportunities and unforfilled genius. In my opinion the Brits were realy up there in terms of design capability with the Americans upto the 1960's.

  4. #4
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    You know, this thread has been up and running for at least 5 mins and, by now, had it been about the TSR2 or P1154, it would have been filled to overflowing with frothing, right wing rants about villainous Labour governments and explicit accusations of Directives Straight From The Kremlin.

    Bring on the P1121 or Blue Streak - suddenly the room goes awkwardly quiet.
    Now can anyone suggest the teensiest of reasons for this, one wonders...?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolanta Nowak View Post
    You know, this thread has been up and running for at least 5 mins and, by now, had it been about the TSR2 or P1154, it would have been filled to overflowing with frothing, right wing rants about villainous Labour governments and explicit accusations of Directives Straight From The Kremlin.

    Bring on the P1121 or Blue Streak - suddenly the room goes awkwardly quiet.
    Now can anyone suggest the teensiest of reasons for this, one wonders...?
    Well I assume that you are pointing towards some ideological reason, but this paticular bird just never seems to get the attention of its more famous would have been stablemates. In that sense it is kind of like the Supermarine Type-545, the super-sonic swift. (if anyone has any information or pictures on that I would be very grateful). Of course the is also the V/STOL transport that got cancelled at the same time as TSR-2 and P.1154, that has just dissapeared into the shadows.
    Last edited by sealordlawrence; 30th March 2007 at 20:17.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sealordlawrence View Post
    Well I assume that you are pointing towards some ideological reason, but this paticular bird just never seems to get the attention of its more famous would have been stablemates. In that sense it is kind of like the Supermarine Type-545, (if anyone has any information or pictures on that I would be very grateful).
    Oh indeed I'm 'pointing towards some ideological reason' - the petty detail that Blue Streak and your bird were both killed off by a Tory Government, a small but significant fact which sits rather uneasily with many 'aviation enthusiasts' more than somewhat skewed viewing of history.

    I apologise to you for the digression. Just couldn't help it! I'm not too well up on the subject - any good links you can give me? This is an era which I remember quite a bit and, being a woman, I object to your having posted it in the historic aviation forum!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolanta Nowak View Post
    Oh indeed I'm 'pointing towards some ideological reason' - the petty detail that Blue Streak and your bird were both killed off by a Tory Government, a small but significant fact which sits rather uneasily with many 'aviation enthusiasts' more than somewhat skewed viewing of history.

    I apologise to you for the digression. Just couldn't help it! I'm not too well up on the subject - any good links you can give me? This is an era which I remember quite a bit and, being a woman, I object to your having posted it in the historic aviation forum!!!
    Sorry I wasnt trying to have a go. I despise all politicians with an equal unbridalled unfettered hatred. Personally I blame the entire ideological make-up of the UK at the time, the entire nation was to blame for its slow demise. But thats just me, and I wont argue it with anyone.

  8. #8
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    If you think about it, the most successful 1960s fighters weren't the OR 329 studies, the XF-108, or the CF-105, but the Mirage III, MiG-21, and F-4. Each of these designs were the product of evolution, not revolution, and none of them had the pure speed, height or hugely complex weapons systems of those cancelled fighters. They were first and foremost practical, utilitarian designs.
    Available now: my book Hawker P.1103 and P.1121: Camm's Last Fighter Projects from Blue Envoy Press

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    Quote Originally Posted by aerospacetech View Post
    If you think about it, the most successful 1960s fighters weren't the OR 329 studies, the XF-108, or the CF-105, but the Mirage III, MiG-21, and F-4. Each of these designs were the product of evolution, not revolution, and none of them had the pure speed, height or hugely complex weapons systems of those cancelled fighters. They were first and foremost practical, utilitarian designs.
    I couldnt agree with that more, I mean how many mach-3 V/STOL uber fighters or bombers actually made it in to service?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerospacetech View Post
    If you think about it, the most successful 1960s fighters weren't the OR 329 studies, the XF-108, or the CF-105, but the Mirage III, MiG-21, and F-4. Each of these designs were the product of evolution, not revolution, and none of them had the pure speed, height or hugely complex weapons systems of those cancelled fighters. They were first and foremost practical, utilitarian designs.
    Not sure what we are to accept as 'successful'. Numbers produced, is that it?
    Does that necessarily mean that these particular machines were actually any better than the 'what ifs' and the 'if onlys' could have been, had they seen the light of day?

    The problem is: we'll never know.

    For sure, to take issue with you, some 'revolutionary' birds did see service - F104, Lightning, F-111 etc - and performed reasonably well.

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