Air Weapons

Fighter (1954)



Hunter F.6 (RAF)
Hunter FGA.9

The Hawker Hunter was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable Cold War designs, becoming the standard RAF day fighter throughout the 1950s and also serving with over 20 different countries throughout a career that spanned over half a century. Designed by Hawker's legendary Sydney Camm the Hunter was built around the then new Rolls-Royce Avon engine. The Hunter was an attractive aircraft featuring swept wings, horizontal stabilizers placed low on the fin, and intakes mounted on the wing roots. Like most other RAF aircraft of its day, the Hunter was lacking in fuel capacity and came with a host of other aerodynamic as well as problems with the Avon engines which suffered from surges when firing the guns. Gun shell casings also caused fuselage damage in early versions. Fortunately, engine problems were eventually solved and drop tanks were added to improve its meager 36-minute sortie endurance after which it became arguably the finest day fighter of the mid-1950s. Following the introduction of superior supersonic interceptors like the Lightning, the Hunter was turned into a highly effective fighter-bomber and served in this capacity into the 1970s. In combat, the Hunter was used only briefly by the RAF during the Yemen crisis. However, it was operated extensively by its many foreign users seeing combat during the Six-Day War, the Indo-Pakistani wars, and a host of smaller wars in Africa. Perhaps the greatest testament to its longevity was the fact that Hunters from Switzerland and Singapore continued to serve as far as the mid-1990s with modern missiles such as Mavericks and Sidewinders. License production also took place in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The prototype P.1067 first flew on 20 July 1951 using Avon engines with the third unit switching to the surge-free Sapphire. Nevertheless, the first production Hunter F.1 reverted to the Avon with the similar F.2 using the alternative powerplant. Both were given a number of improvements in the F.4 (Avon) and F.5 (Sapphire) most importantly the ability to carry drop tanks to increase range, as well as a prominent undernose blister to collect spent ammunition. The next series of Hunters featured more powerful engines and various aerodynamic improvements including dogtooth leading edges, beginning with the F.6 which equipped 19 RAF squadrons at its peak. With the introduction of more advanced fighters, the Hunter saw a new life as a ground attack aircraft, this was the FGR.9 (F.6 conversions) with an increased payload. Recon versions included the FR.10 (also F.6 conversions) for the RAF and PR.11 for the Royal Navy. Trainers included the GA.11 single-seat weapons trainers for the Royal Navy (based on the F.4), and the two-seat T.7 (RAF) and T.8 (RN). Export versions were given different designations too numerous to list while license production took place in Belgium (Fairey/Aviolanda), and the Netherlands (Fokker).

Preceded by:

Meteor (1944)

Succeeded by:

Lightning (1959)


DesignHunter F.4Hunter F.6Hunter FGA.9
Length13.97 m13.97 m13.97 m
Height4.013 m4.013 m4.013 m
Wing Span10.26 m10.26 m10.26 m
Wing Arean/an/an/a
Empty5,689 kg6,406 kg6,532 kg
Maximum7,757 kg11,158 kg11,158 kg
Wing Loading245.6 kg/m²353.3 kg/m²353.3 kg/m²
SpeedMach 1.0Mach 1.0Mach 1.0
Ceiling14,783 m15,240 m15,240 m
Range2,655 km716-3,058 km2,906 km
Engine1 x Avon Mk. 113/115
3,402 kgf
1 x Avon Mk. 203
4,536 kgf
1 x Avon Mk. 207
4,559 kgf
Guns4 x 30-mm
ADEN Mk. 4 (150)
4 x 30-mm
ADEN Mk. 4 (150)
4 x 30-mm
ADEN Mk. 4 (150)
Payload907 kg907 kg3,357 kg
AS Weapons--Matra 155