Hawker Hart II (J9941)

Hawker Hart II (J9941)  [@ RAF Hendon]

The most widely used RAF light bomber of the 1930s.  The prototype flew in June 1928 and deliveries of the first production aircraft began in January 1930, the recipient being No 33 Squadron.  A trainer version of the Hart was also produced, as was the Hart C general-purpose aircraft, the Hart Special and the Hart India, both of which were tropicalized versions.  Eight Harts were exported to Estonia and four to Sweden, which built a further 24 Harts under licence, these being powered by Pegasus radial engines.  Faster than any contemporary RAF fighter, the Hart performed exceptionally well in the harsh climate of India’s North-West Frontier.

Rolls Royce Kestrel VI

Over four hundred Harts were built for the Royal Air Force and seven home-based regular bomber squadrons were equipped as well as eleven auxiliary and reserve units.  With such an exceptional basic design Sydney Camm (designer of the Hurricane) and the Hawker team were able to develop later versions.  The Audax, Demon, Hardy, Hind and the Hector all show clearly how important the Hart influence was on a whole era of British aircraft design.  A number of these later types saw limited operational use in the Second World War.  A large number Hawker Harts were still on RAF strength in September 1939, continuing to serve until declared obsolete in 1943, they were mainly used in the training role and for communications.

One of four Harts built as a demonstration aircraft and the thirteenth off the production line, J9941 was issued with a Certificate of Airworthiness on the 8th January 1931.  During the period 1931 to 1936 J9941 was used as a test bed for most of the Rolls Royce Kestrel series of engines.  From 1936 J9941 served as a photographic platform for Hawkers and from 1939 as a company "hack" ferrying test pilots between Hawker factories at Langley and Brooklands and RAF maintenance units.  Withdrawn from “active” service during 1946, J9941 continued to be used in flying displays in the following decades.  Following a flying accident in September 1956 J9941 was restored in 1959 in the military marking of J9933, the first production Hart.  Repainted in October 1963 as J9941 of 57 Squadron, J9941 continued to be used in flying displays.  During 1972, and still in an airworthy condition, J9941 was loaned to the RAF Museum at Hendon by Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd.