Hawker Sea Fury(WG655)

Andy Jordan

Chessington, United Kingdom

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This shot was taken at IWM Duxford..The Hawker Sea Fury was a British fighter aircraft developed for the Royal Navy by Hawker during the Second World War. The last propeller-driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy, it was also one of the fastest production single piston-engined aircraft ever built.

The Hawker Fury was an evolutionary successor to the successful Hawker Typhoon and Tempest fighters and fighter-bombers of World War II. The Fury was designed in 1942 by Sydney Camm, the famous Hawker designer, to meet the Royal Air Force’s requirement for a lightweight Tempest Mk.II replacement. Developed as the “Tempest Light Fighter”, it used modified Tempest semi-elliptical outer wing panels, bolted and riveted together on the fuselage centerline. The fuselage itself was similar to the Tempest, but fully monocoque with a higher cockpit for better visibility.2 The Air Ministry was sufficiently impressed by the design to write Specification F.2/43 around the concept.3

Six prototypes were ordered; two were to be powered by Rolls-Royce Griffon engines, two with Centaurus XXIIs, one with a Centaurus XII and one as a test structure. The first Fury to fly, on 1 September 1944, was NX798 with a Centaurus XII with rigid engine mounts, powering a Rotol four-blade propeller. Second on 27 November 1944 was LA610, which had a Griffon 85 and Rotol six-blade contra-rotating propeller. By now development of the Fury and Sea Fury was closely interlinked so that the next prototype to fly was a Sea Fury, SR661, described under “Naval Conversion.” NX802 (25 July 1945) was the last Fury prototype, powered by a Centaurus XV. With the ending of the Second World War in Europe, the RAF Fury contract was cancelled and development centred on the Sea Fury. LA610 was eventually fitted with a Napier Sabre VII, which was capable of developing 3,400-4,000 hp (2,535-2,983 kW). As a result it became the fastest piston engined Hawker aircraft, reaching a speed of around 485 mph (780 km/h).4
[edit] Naval version

In 1943, the design was modified to meet a Royal Navy request (N.7/43) for a carrier-based fighter. Boulton-Paul Aircraft were to make the conversion while Hawker continued work on the Air Force design. The first Sea Fury prototype, SR661, first flew at Langley, Berkshire, on 21 February 1945, powered by a Centaurus XII engine. This prototype had a “stinger”-type tailhook for arrested carrier landings, but lacked folding wings for storage.3 SR666, the second prototype, which flew on 12 October 1945, was powered by a Centaurus XV turning a new, five-bladed Rotol propeller and was built with folding wings. Specification N.7/43 was modified to N.22/43, now representing an order for 200 aircraft. Of these, 100 were to be built at Boulton-Paul.

Both prototypes were undergoing carrier landing trials when the Japanese surrendered in 1945, ending development of the land-based Fury; work on the navalized Sea Fury continued. The original order to specification N.22/43 was reduced to 100 aircraft, and the Boulton-Paul agreement was cancelled. At the same time construction of what was intended to be a Boulton-Paul built Sea Fury prototype, VB857 was transferred to the Hawker factory at Kingston. This aircraft, built to the same standard as SR666, first flew on 31 January 1946. The first production model, the Sea Fury F Mk X (Fighter, Mk 10), flew in September 1946. Problems arose with damaged tailhooks during carrier landings; after modifications, the aircraft were approved for carrier landings in spring 1947.

The Sea Fury F 50 export variant proved popular, being purchased by Australia, Germany, Iraq, Egypt, Burma, Pakistan and Cuba. The Royal Netherlands Navy bought 24 aircraft and then acquired a licence for production of 24 more F 50s at Fokker Aircraft.5

The final production figures for all marks reached around 860 aircraft.5
[edit] Operational history
A Sea Fury FB.11 launches from HMS Glory in 1951

The Royal Navy’s earlier Supermarine Seafire had never been completely suitable for carrier use, having a poor view for landing and a narrow-track undercarriage that made landings and takeoffs “tricky”. Consequently, the Sea Fury F X (later F 10) replaced it on most carriers.6 Sea Furies were issued to Nos. 736, 738, 759 and 778 Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm.

The F 10 was followed by the Sea Fury FB 11 fighter-bomber variant, which eventually reached a production total of 650 aircraft. The Sea Fury remained the Fleet Air Arm’s primary fighter-bomber until 1953 and the introduction of the Hawker Sea Hawk and Supermarine Attacker.

A total of 74 Sea Furies FB 11 (and one FB 10) served with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) between 1948 and 1956. All flew from the aircraft carrier HMCS Magnificent in 871 squadron.

The last flights of the Canadian Sea Furies were made by Lieutenant Commander Derek Prout, who ferried WG565 to Calgary, Alberta to serve as an instructional airframe at the local Provincial Institute of Technology, and F/O Lynn Garrison who flew WG565 on 1 April 1958.

Following their retirement, approximately 46 Sea Furies were stored in a wooden Second World War hangar in Canada. Some had less than four hours total time – little more than factory test flights. As they were about to be sold to Lynn Garrison, and his associates, by Crown Assets Disposal Corporation, a fire destroyed the hangar and its contents. The aircraft were being offered to Ramfis Trujillo, son of the Dominican president, who was studying at America’s Leavenworth Army School.[citation needed]
[edit] Korean War

The FB.11 served throughout the Korean War as a ground-attack aircraft, flying from the Royal Navy light fleet carriers HMS Glory, HMS Ocean, HMS Theseus, and the Australian carrier HMAS Sydney.7 On 8 August 1952, FAA pilot Lieutenant Peter “Hoagy” Carmichael RN downed a MiG-15 jet fighter in air-to-air combat, making the Sea Fury one of the few prop-driven fighter aircraft to shoot down a jet-powered fighter. [N 1]Indeed, some sources claim a second MiG was downed,8 although most accounts do not mention this; either way, this is often cited as the only successful engagement by a British pilot in a British aircraft in the entire Korean War.3 The engagement occurred when his mixed flight of Sea Furies and Fireflies was engaged by eight MiG-15s, during which one Firefly was badly damaged while the Sea Furies were able to escape unharmed. A similar encounter the next day led to the Sea Fury fighters using their superior manoeuvrability to escape another MiG-15 “bounce” although one Sea Fury had to limp home to Ocean. To enable the Sea Furies to be recognised by friendly forces the aircraft were painted with markings similar to those used during D-Day.
[edit] Later service with the Royal Navy
Sea Fury T 20 two-seat trainer of No. 1831 Squadron RNVR at RNAS Stretton, Cheshire, in 1951

The Sea Fury FB 11 entered service with the fighter squadrons of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) in August 1951. The RNVR units also operated the Sea Fury T.20 two-seat trainer version from late 1950 to give reserve pilots experience on the type before relinquishing their Supermarine Seafire aircraft.

RNVR units which were equipped with the Sea Fury were No. 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835 and 1836 squadrons. No. 1832, based at RAF Benson was the last RNVR squadron to relinquish the type in August 1955 for the jet-powered Supermarine Attacker.
[edit] Cuba
A Sea Fury F 50 preserved at the Museo Giron, Cuba

Cuban Sea Furies saw action during the Bay of Pigs Invasion where they were principally responsible for destroying the bulk of the invaders’ US provided B-26 light bomber squadron thereby completely depriving the invaders of any possibility of air cover once President Kennedy decided not to involve US aircraft from US carriers standing by offshore.[citation needed]
[edit] Variants
Critical Mass, a modified Sea Fury air racer

Sea Fury F 10
Single-seat fighter version for the Royal Navy.
Sea Fury FB 11
Single-seat fighter-bomber for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Canadian Navy.
Sea Fury T 20
Two-seat training version for the Royal Navy.
Sea Fury F 50
Single-seat fighter version for the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Sea Fury FB 51
Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Sea Fury FB 60
Single-seat fighter-bomber version for the Pakistan Air Force.
Sea Fury T 61
Two-seat training version for the Pakistan Air Force.
Fury I
Single-seat land-based fighter version for the Iraqi Air Force. Unofficially known as the Baghdad Fury, 55 built.
Fury Trainer
Two-seat training version for the Iraqi Air Force, five built.

[edit] Operators
Main article: List of Hawker Sea Fury operators
Canadian Sea Furies
Pakistan Air Force Sea Fury T.61

  • Australia
  • Burma
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Germany
  • Iraq
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Pakistan
  • United Kingdom

Because production continued until well after the end of the Second World War and aircraft remained in Royal Navy service until 1955, dozens of airframes have survived in varying levels of condition. A number of Sea Furies were overhauled by Hawker Aircraft at their factory at Blackpool during 1959 and supplied to civil companies in Germany, equipped with target-towing gear for Luftwaffe contract flying. Some of these aircraft survive today, owned and operated by warbird enthusiasts.

Around a dozen heavily modified Sea Furies are raced regularly at the Reno Air Races as of 2009[update]. Most of these replace the original sleeve-valve Centaurus radial, because rotational speed and tuning potential are limited in contrast to more conventional engines such as the Rolls Royce Merlin.[citation needed] Most racing Sea Furies use the Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major or the Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone radial engine.

WJ232], the aircraft ‘Hogey’ Carmichael flew during the 9 August 1952 action which resulted in him being credited with the destruction of a MiG-15 jet fighter,9 remains in operation in Australia in its original Royal Navy markings, with civil registration VH-SHF.10

Many additional airframes remain as static displays in museums worldwide. One of these ex- RCN WG565 is on display in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was ferried to Alberta for instructional use in the Alberta Provincial Institute of Technology by Lieutenant Commander Derek Prout. On the April 1st 1958, Flying Officer Lynn Garrison, of the 403 City of Calgary Squadron, RCAF, made the final Canadian military flight for this aircraft model.
[edit] Specifications (FB 11)
Orthographically projected diagram of the Sea Fury FB 11.

Data from The Flightline11

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 34 ft 8 in (10.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 38 ft 4¾ in (11.7 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 1 in (4.9 m)
  • Wing area: 280 ft² (26 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,240 lb (4,190 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 12,500 lb (5,670 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Bristol Centaurus XVIIC 18-cylinder twin-row radial engine, 2,480 hp (1,850 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 460 mph (740 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,500 m)
  • Cruise speed: 390 mph (625 km/h)
  • Range: 700 mi (1,127 km) with internal fuel; 1,040 mi (1,675 km) with two drop tanks
  • Service ceiling: 35,800 ft (10,900 m)
  • Rate of climb: 30,000 ft (9,200 m) in 10.8 minutes
  • Wing loading: 44.6 lb/ft² (161.2 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.198 hp/lb (441 W/kg)


  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk V cannon
  • Rockets: 12× 3 in (76.2 mm) rockets or
  • Bombs: 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs
    See also

Related development

  • Hawker Typhoon
  • Hawker Tempest

Fuji HS10 tripod mounted

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