Rolls Royce Thrust Measuring Rig (Flying Bedstead) (XJ314)Rolls Royce Thrust Measuring Rig (Flying Bedstead) (XJ314)

Rolls Royce Thrust Measuring Rig (Flying Bedstead) (XJ314)  [@ London Science Museum]

Made of tubular steel and powered by two opposed Nene 101 engines the Flying Bedstead was purely a test rig.   With 92% of the available thrust directed downwards and the remainder being directed forwards and backwards, the first rig, later designated XJ314, first flew in the tethered hovering mode on the 9th July 1953 and in the free flight mode on the 3rd August 1954.   By December 1954 XJ314 having completed 224 tethered and 16 free flights was transferred to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Bedford for additional trials.  Following an accident on the 16th September 1957 when the artificial stability control failed while hovering XJ314 struck the ground inverted but fortunately the pilot escaped.  Written off, XJ314 was rebuilt for display at the Science Museum.  A second rig, XK426, flew on the 12th November 1956 but crashed on the 27th November 1957 on a tethered hovering flight killing the pilot.

XJ314 was first flown in the tethered hovering position on the 9th July 1953 and in the free flight mode on the 3rd August 1954.

Short SC.1 (XG900)Short SC.1 (XG900)

Short SC.1 (XG900)  [@ London Science Museum]

In 1952 the Air Ministry issued specification ER.143D for a conventional aircraft which would be capable of vertical and horizontal flight.  In 1954 Short Bros was awarded a contract for the manufacture of two prototypes, XG900 and 905.  Powered by five RB.108 engines of which four supplied the lift.   XG900 was completed and shipped to Boscombe Down for initial trials on the 2nd April 1957 with only the propulsion engine fitted while XG905 was fully fitted by the September when the lift engines were run.  The first tethered hovering flight was on the 23rd May 1958 with the first free flight taking place on the 25th October.  Unfortunately XG905 crashed killing the pilot but after a rebuild joined XG900 at the RAE.  Although vector thrust technology had overtaken the dual engine approach the two aircraft remained on trials tasks until retired in 1971.

XG900 was first flown on the 2nd April 1957 and retired to the Science Museum in June 1971.

The Harrier traces its lineage back to 1957 when Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Limited launched the concept of the P.1127 V/STOL aircraft.  Prior to the P.1127 project Hawker Aviation had been working on a replacement for the Hawker Hunter, the Hawker P.1121, however the P.1121 was cancelled shortly after the 1957 Defence Review.  The P.1127 design began in 1957 and was designed around the Bristol BE.53 vectored thrust engine, the forerunner of the Rolls Royce Pegasus.  In this revolutionary turbofan, air from the fan and the low- pressure compressor is divided is diverted to the front pair of vectoring nozzles, while remaining engine thrust is directed through the rear pair of rotating nozzles.  By 1960 the Ministry of Supply had issued ER.204D for the funding of two prototypes.  Hawker Siddeley had also undertaken considerable development work on a supersonic version of the P.1121, the P.1154, for use with both the RAF and Royal Navy. 

A BS100 engine for the P.1154  

The P.1154 would replace the Hawker Hunters of the RAF and the de Havilland Sea Vixens of the Fleet Air Arm Following a Government Defence Review in 1964 the P.1154 project was also cancelled leaving the Royal Navy to acquire the McDonnell Douglas Phantom II and the future BAC TSR.2 for the RAF.  The photograph above shows a  BS100 engine that was been developed for the P.1154.  Derived from the British Siddeley Pegasus engine, the BS100 was first test run in 1964 and uses after-burning to raise the thrust to 35,000lbs.  Designed and built in Bristol the BS100 was never developed beyond the prototype stage and only a few were built.  In the photograph the engine is mounted upside down.  This was done during the test programme to simplify support requirements for the engine.

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (XP831)Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (XP831)

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (XP831)  [@ London Science Museum]

The first prototype P.1127, XP831, was delivered in July 1960 powered by a Pegasus 1 engine.  Testing began straight away and by the end of the year the aircraft had achieved both vertical take-off and horizontal flight.  The first tethered flight took place at Dunsfold Aerodrome on the 21st October 1960 and free flight hover was achieved on the 19th November.  The first conventional take-off was on the 13th March 1961 and transition from vertical to horizontal flight was achieved in the following September.  A second prototype, XP836, made its first take off conventionally on the 7th July 1961 also powered by the Pegasus 1 engine.  The test program also explored the possibility of use upon aircraft carriers with XP831 performing the first carrier vertical landing on HMS Ark Royal in 1963.  Four more prototypes (XP972 (first flown on 5th April 1962) - Pegasus 2 engine, XP976 (first flown on 12th July 1962) - Pegasus 3 engine, XP980 (first flown on 24th February 1963)– Pegasus 3 engine, XP984 (first flown on 13th February 1964) were ordered.  Apart from improvements in the Pegasus power-plant the first four prototypes were quite similar.  However, the fifth, XP980, introduced the taller fin and tail-plane anhedral (as seen later seen on the Harrier).  While the last P.1127, XP984, introduced the swept wing and the Pegasus 4 engine to became the prototype Kestrel FGA.1 The first three P.1127s crashed, XP831 during the Paris Air Show on 16th June 1963 but was fully repaired and resumed development flying and the second and third prototypes crashed during development.  XP836 crashed near RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, on 14th December 1961 and XP972 crashed near RAF Tangmere, West Sussex, on 30th October 1962 and both were scrapped following the crashes.  Fortunately all the pilots involved survived.  XP976 was scrapped in 1982 and XP984 crashed landed on 19th March 1965 at Thorney Island, West Sussex.  XP984 was then rebuilt but crashed again on 31st October 1975 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Bedford, Bedfordshire, during development work for the Harrier.  It is presently at the  Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey.

The first prototype P.1127 to be built, XP831 was first flown in the tethered hovering mode on the 21st October 1960 and in the free flight mode on the 19th November 1960.  XP831 flew for the last time on 10th October 1972.  First placed on display at RAF Hendon on the 13th November 1972 and later moved to the Science Museum.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (RAF) (XP980)Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (RAF) (XP980)Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (RAF) (XP980)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (XP980)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

Based upon the P.1127/Kestrel XP984 prototype nine Pegasus 5 engined evaluation aircraft were ordered as the Kestrel FGA.1 with the first, XS688 flying on the 7th March 1964.  The Kestrel was evaluated by pilots of the RAF, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and the federal German Luftwaffe.  A special Tripartite Evaluation Squadron (TES) within the Central Fighter Establishment was formed on the 15th October 1964 at RAF West Raynham, Norfolk.  XS688 was delivered to TES on 25th June 1964, XS689 (first flown 28th May 1964) on 15th July 1964, XS690 (first flown 5th August 1964) on 17th September 1964, XS691 (first flown 5th September 1964) on 11th November 1964, XS692 (first flown 7th November 1964) on 8th January 1965, XS693 (first flown 25th November 1964) on 29th January 1965, XS694 (first flown 30th January 1965) on 30th March 1965, XS695 (first flown 19th February 1965) on 26th March 1965 and XS696 (first flown 5th March 1965) on 26th March 1965.  The evaluation was completed on the 30th November 1965 and during the testing one Kestrel (XS696) was lost.  XS696 was written off on 1st April 1965 when it caught fire and crashed on take-off from RAF West Raynham.  Classified as a Cat.5c, XS696 was Struck off Charge on the same day and scrapped after components recovery.  The crash happened on the tenth flight, just nine days later.  XS696 had been allocated USAF Serial 64-18270.  The Tripartite Squadron was disbanded on 30th November 1965 and the Kestrels were returned to Hawker Siddeley at Dunsfold for inspection and overhaul.  Later Kestrel XS693 was transferred to Blackburn for modification to take the up-rated Pegasus 6 (Mk 101) engine.  Unfortunately, XS693 suffered an crash on 21st September 1967 during a flight from Filton to Boscombe Down.  The engine surged and was badly damaged when the pilot failed to close the HP cock quickly enough.  Unable to relight the engine, the pilot was forced to eject at 200 feet at High Post near Stonehenge, Wiltshire, when he realised he had insufficient height to reach the airfield at Boscombe Down.  Written off on the same day as the accident, XS693 was finally Struck off Charge as a Cat.5c on 12th December 1969.  XS693 had been allocated USAF Serial 64-18267 but the serial had not been taken up.

The fifth prototype P1127, XP980, was built at Kingston-upon-Thames and first flown on the 24th February 1963.  After flight trials with the A&AEE and pilotless crash barrier trials at RAE Bedford, XP980 was used from August 1975 at Royal Aircraft Establishment Bedford for Sea Harrier restraining hook trials.  On the 9th October 1980 XP980 was transferred to the School of Aircraft Handling at RNAS Culdrose as A2700 for dummy deck training.  Repainted in 1981 to look like a Sea Harrier XP980 was moved to the Fleet Air Arm Museum on the 9th March 1989 for display.

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS695)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS695)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS695)

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS695)  [@ RAF Cosford]

XS695 is the only surviving Hawker-Siddeley Kestrel in the UK and was built as an FGA.1 by Hawker Siddeley at Dunsfold during May 1964 for the evaluation of the jump jet concept.  First flown on the 17th February 1965 XS695 entered RAF service on the 30th March 1965 with the Anglo-American-German Tri-partite Kestrel Evaluation Squadron at RAF West Raynham, Norfolk.  After the completion of the trails XS695 was returned to Hawker Siddeley at Dunsfold from the end of November 1965 for inspection and overhaul.  XS695 was then loaned to the Ministry of Aviation from the 11th January 1966 until the 30th September 1967.  During this period XS695 transferred first to the Blind Landing Experimental Unit (BLEU) based at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Bedford, on the 16th February 1966 and visits to the Aeroplane and Armaments Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down on the 30th March 1966 and 12th May 1966.  In addition, XS695 attended air displays at Hanover, Germany, and Farnborough, Hants.  Following a Cat 4R accident at Boscombe Down XS695 was sold on the 15th December 1967 to the Ministry of Technology, Boscombe Down, for solar radiation trials.  Struck off Charge on the 22nd January 1969 XS695 was sent to the A&AEE scrap dump at Boscombe Down during August 1971.  During May 1974 the airframe was loaned to the Royal Navy Engineering College based at Manadon, (Plymouth), Devon.  During the subsequent period XS695 was rebuilt for the Royal Air Force Museum as an apprentice training exercise.  On the 11th April 1978 XS695 was loaned to the School of Aircraft Handling, HMS Sea Hawk, Culdrose, Cornwall and used to replicate a Sea Harrier for aircraft handling and flight deck procedures on the mock-up carrier deck at the base.  Following a nose wheel collapse on the 26th April 1991 XS695 was return to the RAF Museum.  On the 11th May 1993 XS695 was sent to Lee-on-Solent Naval Air Station, Hants, for repair.  Following temporary storage at a number of RAF bases, XS695 was eventually moved to RAF Cosford on 19th November 2001 for storage.  Eventually following full anti-corrosion treatment, restoration, fitting of a Pegasus 5 engine and repaint XS695 was finally placed on display 24th January 2014.  XS695 had been allocated USAF Serial 64-18269 but the serial had not been taken up.

The remaining six Kestrels  (XS688, XS689, XS690, XS691, XS692, XS694), made up of those allocated to the US and Germany, were transferred to the USA for evaluation by the Army, Air Force, and Navy as the XV-6A Kestrel.  Four of the Kestrels were transferred to the USAF for additional evaluation at the Edwards Air Force Base, California, and the other two (XS689, XS694) were assigned to NASA.  In 1969 the US Marine Corps (USMC) received approval to buy the first of 102 Pegasus 10 (Mk 102) powered aircraft with the designation AV-8A.  The only US Kestrel to have been scrapped was XS691, it is reported to have been scrapped at Edwards Air Force Base during 1970 after the trials.  XS691 was given the serial 64-18265 and delivered to the USAF as a XV-6A on 19th February 1966.  XS694 was damaged beyond repair on 27th August 1967 following a crash landing at the NASA Wallops Island facility, Virginia.  Used for spares by NASA, the incomplete remains of XS694 are in storage and waiting restoration in the UK at the Wings Museum, Sussex.  XS694 was delivered to the USAF on the 19th February 1966 with serial 64-18268.  Initially assigned to the Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, XS694 was reassigned on 23rd July 1966 to the NASA Langley Research Centre as NASA 520.

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS688) (64-18262)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS688) (64-18262)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS688) (64-18262)

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (XS688) (64-18262)   [@ Wright Patterson Museum, Ohio]

Built by Hawker Siddeley at Dunsfold as a Kestrel FGA.1 and flew for the first time on 7th March 1964.  XS688 was assigned to the Tripartite Squadron on 25th June 1964 until its disbandment in November 1965.  Given the US serial 64-18262, XS689 was delivered to Edwards Air Force Base, California, on 19th February 1966 as a XV-6A.  XS688 was the first aircraft to be airlifted in a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy when it was transported to the Museum from Edwards Air Force Base in 1970.  [The photographs of XS688 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS689)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS689)

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS689) (64-18263)  [@ Virginia Air and Space Centre, Hampton, Virginia]

Built by Hawker Siddeley at Dunsfold as a Kestrel FGA.1 and flew for the first time on 28th May 1964.  XS689 was assigned to the Tripartite Squadron on 15th July 1964 until its disbandment in November 1965.  Given the US serial 64-18263, XS689 was delivered to the USAF on 19th February 1966 as a XV-6A and assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with serial number NASA 521 in February 1967.  During 1968 XS689 was transferred to the NASA Langley Research Centre, Hampton, Virginia, and was as a research aircraft until 31st July 1974 when its civilian flying licence was cancelled.  XS689 then entered museum life with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC during 1976 and later with the Virginia Air and Space Centre from August 1995.  The fuselage of XS689 is that of XS689 but the wings are from XS694 (US serial 64-18268/NASA 520).  [The photographs of XS689 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS690)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS690)

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS690) (64-18264)  [@ Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona]

Built by Hawker Siddeley as a Kestrel FGA.1 XS690 flew for the first time at Dunsfold on 5th August 1964.  Assigned to the Tripartite Squadron on 17th September 1964 until its disbandment on 30th November 1965, XS690 was given the USAF serial number 64-18264 and delivered to the USAF on 19th February 1966 as a XV-6A.  In the photograph XS690 is displayed in the markings of the Kestrel Evaluation Squadron based at RAF West Raynham, Norfolk.  [The photographs of XS690 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS692)Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS692)

Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 / XV-6A (XS692) (64-18266)  [@ Air Power Park, Hampton, Virginia]

XS692 was built by Hawker Siddeley as a Kestrel FGA.1 and flew for the first time at Dunsfold on 7th November 1964.  Serving with the Tripartite Squadron from 8th January 1965 until the Squadron’s disbandment, XS692 was delivered the USAF as a XV-6A with serial 64-18266 on 8th January 1966.  After trials XS692 was assigned to NASA Langley as spares support and eventually replaced XS694/NASA 520 after its crash.  Substantial parts from XS694 were used to make XS692 airworthy again for NASA’s research.  During this period NASA Langley also operated XS689/NASA 521 for research.  [The photographs of XS692 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Following the cancellation of the P.1154, the RAF began looking at a simple upgrade of the Kestrel and issued Requirement ASR 384 for a V/STOL ground attack jet known as the P.1127 (RAF)This variant was closely based on the Kestrel and became world's first operational V/STOL ground attack and reconnaissance fighter.  Six evaluation aircraft were built with the first (XV276) flying from Dunsfold on the 31st August 1966.  The aircraft went to the manufacturer and Boscombe Down for intensive trials, development and weapons work.  Orders for 60 production aircraft were formally received by Hawker Siddeley Aviation in early 1967 and were given the designation Harrier GR.1

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (RAF) (XV277)Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (RAF) (XV277)

Hawker Siddeley P.1127 (RAF) (XV277)  [@ RAF East Fortune]

The first production GR.1 variant (61 built) first flew on the 28th December 1967 and entered RAF service with the Harrier Conversion Team at RAF Wittering, Lincolnshire, on the 18th April 1969 and was followed into RAF service by the GR.1A with both variants being used in the close support role (CAS).  1 Squadron, who were now based at RAF Wittering, Lincolnshire, became the world’s first operational V/STOL squadron in 1970.  Whereas the Kestrel embodied about 50% of the structure of the P.1127, the Harrier was in many respects a new aircraft re-engineered around the more powerful Pegasus 6 engine.  The aircraft were built at either Kingston upon Thames, southwest London, or at Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey.  The GR.1 was powered by the Pegasus 6 (Mk 101) engine while the GR.1A (17 built plus 41 GR.1s upgraded) was powered by the Pegasus 10 (Mk 102) version and entered service in 1971.  The GR.1 was fitted with four under-wing and one fuselage pylons to accommodate a total of 5,000 lbs of bombs or rockets together with a pair of Aden 30 mm cannon that could be carried in detachable under-fuselage pods.

XV277 was the second evaluation P.1127 (RAF) aircraft to be built by Hawker and was first flown on the 9th November 1966.  Later transferred to the Fleet Air Arm at RNAS Yeovilton on the 30th November 1988 as A2600.  Sold on to the private market, XV277 arrived at RAF East Fortune during April 2000.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (RAF) (XV278)Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (RAF) (XV278)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier P.1127 (RAF) (XV278)   [@ Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr, Berlin]

XV278 was the third evaluation P.1127 (RAF) aircraft to be built by Hawker and was first flown on the 13th December 1966.

A prototype T.2  two-seat tandem trainer variant, XW174, flew for the first time on the 24th April 1969 powered by the Pegasus 6 (Mk 101) engine and the type (16 built) was issued to 233 OCU as well as squadrons.  With nose and tail extensions and an extended under-fuselage strake and variant was later retro-fitted with taller fins.  The T.2A variant (11 T.2 conversions) had a Pegasus 10 (Mk 102) power-plant fitted and like the T.2 was fully combat capable.  Originally powered by the Pegasus 10 (Mk 102) engine the T.52 was an export variant of the T.2.  Only one of this variant was built and was used as a company demonstrator.  First flown on the 15th September 1971 the power-plant was upgraded to a Pegasus 103 engine following an accident.

In 1969 Hawker Siddeley and McDonnell Douglas formed a partnership to enable the building of the Harrier in the USA for the American military.  However, it was decided it would be cheaper to have the aircraft built in the UK on the existing production lines.  Between 1971 and 1976 the United States Marine Corps (USMC) received 102 AV-8As and 8 two-seater TAV-8A trainers.  In general, the AV-8A variant was similar to the GR.1 but was powered, in the main, by the more powerful Pegasus 11 (Mk 103) engine.  Due to the possibility of corrosion by sea air all of the magnesium components were replaced and the variant was fitted American radios and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system and the Stencel SEU-3A ejection seat instead of the Martin-Baker type.  Unlike the GR.1 this variant was factory fitted with self-defence AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile system.  The AV-8S Matador was an export version of the AV-8A variant that was built for the Arma Aérea de la Armada (Spanish Navy designation VA-1 Matador).  Similarly the TAV-8S Matador (VAE-1 Matador) was the export version of the TAV-8A for the Spanish Navy.  All were later sold by the Spanish to the Royal Thai Navy.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV748)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV748)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV748)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV748)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV748)  [@ RAF Elvington]

Following on in RAF service was the GR.3 variant powered by the Pegasus 11 (Mk 103) [photograph - below] engine and entered service in 1974.  A number of upgrades were included such as the Ferranti LRMTS target seeker and marker in a revised nose and a passive warning radar receiver on the fin and tail boom.  Forty new aircraft were built but 62 of the GR.1 and GR.1A fleet were upgraded to this standard during major services and were used in the close support role. 

First flown in April 1969 XV748 was originally built as a GR.1 and served at RAF Wittering with the Conversion Unit and later 1 Squadron.  Converted to GR.3 standard by 1976 XV748 was used as a test aircraft with the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford.  The museum acquired the aircraft from Cranfield University on the 21st September 2000.

Pegasus 11 (Mk 103)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV804)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV804)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 (XV804)  [@ Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona]

XV804 was first flown on 13th November 1970 and delivered to the 233 Operational Conversion Unit based at RAF Wittering on 29th January 1971 as a GR.1.  Later converted to GR.3 standard, XV804 unfortunately had to make an emergency landing at RAF Spitalgate, Lincolnshire, on 25th October 1977 which resulted in XV804 being Struck off Charge following the Cat.5 incident.  Given the serial number 9280M XV804 began a long career as a grounded instructional airframe.  First at the Nuclear Biological & Chemical (NBC) Defence Centre at Winterbourne Gunner, Wiltshire and latter at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Training centre at RAF North Luffenham, Leicestershire, for use in weapons loading and unloading training.  Sold to Everett Aero, Spughton, Suffolk, on 6th March 2013 and then sold to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tuscon, Arizona, during July 2014 after restoration.  In the photograph XV804 is in the livery of 4 Squadron who operated the Harrier when based at RAF Gütersloh, Germany, from 1977 until April 1999.  [The photographs of XV804 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Similarly the T.2 was upgraded along the same lines as designated the T.4 variant (11 built + 14 T.2 or T.2A conversions) but reverted to the original lower fin of the early T.2 and was fully combat capable.  By deleting the laser nose, hence saving weight, the T.4A variant (1 built + 4 T.4 conversions) achieved a much greater range.  The last GR.3 was delivered in December 1986.  During the Falklands War in 1982 10 RAF GR.3s of 1 Squadron operated from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.  Although not designed for navel service the aircraft were modified against corrosion and a new deck-based inertial guidance aid was devised to allow the RAF Harrier to land on a carrier as easily as the Royal Navy Sea Harrier.  In addition transponders were fitted to guide the aircraft back to the carrier during night-time operations as well as flare and chaff dispensers.  The main role of the GR.3 was to provide close air support to the ground forces and was also used in ground-attack missions against the main airfield and runway at Stanley.  By modifying the outboard weapons pylons to take air-to-air Sidewinder missiles the RAF GR.3 was also used to support the Sea Harrier in fleet air defence and combat air patrols against Argentine fighters.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ133) 

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ133)  [@ RAF Duxford]

A Falklands veteran, XZ133 was first flown on the 4th May 1976 and delivered to 233 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Wittering on the 9th July 1976.  Allocated to 1 Squadron on the 29th March 1982, XZ133 was deployed to the British Fleet during the Falklands War.  Flown from RAF Wittering to RAF St Mawgan, Cornwall, on 28th May 1982 and then directly to Wideawake, Ascension, on 29th May 1982.  On the 1st June 1982 XZ133 together with XV778 were flown directly from Wideawake directly to HWS Hermes with the support of 4 Handley Page Victor tankers.  For both “ferry flights” XZ133 was fitted with an In Flight Refuelling (IFR) probe, 2 x 100 gal tanks on the outer pylons and 2 x 330 gal ferry tanks on the inboard pylons.  The 330-gal ferry tanks were jettisoned prior to landing on Hermes but the 100-gal tanks being retained.  Operating from HMS Hermes and the temporary forward airstrip at Port San Carlos XZ133 flew at least nine ground attack sorties against Argentine forces between 2nd and 14th June 1982.  Following the surrender XZ133 transfer to RAF Stanley on 4th July 1982 but unfortunately suffered Cat 4 damage on 28th July when a portable hangar collapsed during a storm.  Airlifted by Chinook XZ133 returned to the UK aboard HMS Invincible and off loaded at by Chinook to RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, on 16th September 1982.  Transported by road to RAF Wittering between 11th and 13th October 1982 for repair XZ133 went on to serve with 3 and 4 Squadrons at RAF Gütersloh, Germany, and 1 Squadron at RAF Wittering before entering RAF Duxford museum during 1993.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8AHawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8A

Hawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8A (159233)  [@ Imperial War Museum - Manchester]

The Harrier used 1950s technology in the airframe design and construction and in systems.  So by the 1970s, despite systems updates, this was restricting the further development of the aircraft's potential.  As a result of pressure from the USMC for a more capable aircraft the McDonnell Douglas was contracted in 1978 to develop the Harrier II.  In the meantime the RAF required a more capable aircraft and BAe designed a variant with a larger wing to specification ASR409.  By 1981 an agreement was reached for a common type to become the Pegasus 11-21 (Mk 105) powered AV-8B/GR.5.  A prototype AV-8B Harrier II first flew in November 1978 and was followed by the first development aircraft in November 1981 with production deliveries to the USMC beginning in 1983.  Spain became the first international operator by signing an order for 12 AV-8Bs in March 1983 and was designated the VA-2 Matador II by the Spanish Navy.

Constructed as an AV-8A by Hawker Siddeley, 159233 was delivered to the United States Marine Corps on 5th April 1974 and entered service with the Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA-513) based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, on 31st December 1974.  On 11th July 1984 159233 was allocated to Marine Attack Squadron 231 (VMA-231) based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.  When Struck off Charge 159233 was presented to the Fleet Air Museum at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, and flown to the UK inside an RAF Hercules on 6th June 1987.  In the photographs 159233 is displayed at the Imperial War Museum North.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8A/AV-8C  (159241)Hawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8A/AV-8C  (159241)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier AV-8A/AV-8C  (159241)  [@ Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona]

Constructed by Hawker Siddeley, 159241 was delivered to the United States Marine Corps as an AV-8A and later upgraded to the AV-8C standard.  The upgrade was done to lengthen the service life of the AV-8A variant by including a more powerful engine and improving the electronics and aerodynamics.  The AV-8C standard did not include the larger wing, longer fuselage, raised cockpit or radar nose that distinguishes the Harrier AV-8B variant from the AV-8A.  [The photographs of 159241 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Hawker Siddeley Harrier TAV-8A  (159382)Hawker Siddeley Harrier TAV-8A  (159382)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier TAV-8A  (159382)  [@ Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona]

One of only eight two-seat Harriers that were built by Hawker Siddeley for the US Marines during 1975 and 1976.  159382 served with the Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 (VMAT-203) Squadron at Cherry Point, North Carolina, until retirement during October 1987.  The airframe was saved from being scrapped and entered the Museum during July 2012 and underwent restoration and refurbishment before going on display.  [The photographs of 159382 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ997)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ997)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ997)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ997)  [@ RAF Hendon]

Powered by the Pegasus 11-21 (Mk 105) engine the GR.5 (43 built) had a new composite wing of much larger area and a revised forward fuselage and cockpit for improved visibility as well as significantly improved avionics.  The wing had large slotted flaps linked with nozzle deflection at short take-off unstick to improve control precision and increase lift.   Leading-edge root extensions (LERX) were fitted to enhance the aircraft's air combat agility by improving the turn rate, while longitudinal fences (LIDS, or Lift Improvement) incorporated beneath the fuselage and on the gun pods to capture ground-reflected jets in vertical take-off and landing, gave a much greater ground cushion and reduce hot gas recirculation.  With eight under-wing hard-points and one under the fuselage this variant could carry 9,200 lbs of armaments plus two 25 mm cannon.  The prototype, ZD318, first flew on the 30th April 1985 and the variant entered service in July 1987.   1 Squadron based at RAF Wittering became operational from the 23rd November 1988.  Due to problems with production of the GR.5 the variant was seen only as an interim before the introduction of the GR.7.  The GR.5A variant (19 built) was similar to the GR.5 but with the GR.7 standard fitments and was immediately placed into storage for full conversion later; the first being ZD432. 

A Falklands veteran, XZ997 was first flown on the 21st January 1982 and entered RAF service with 4 Squadron at RAF Gütersloh, Germany, on the 12th February 1982.  Transferred to 1 Squadron at RAF Wittering, Lincolnshire, on the 12th February 1982 and prepared for Falklands War service.  On the 4th May XZ997 was flown from RAF St.Mawgan, Cornwall, to Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island - a tip 4,600 miles in 9 ¼ hours which was achieved with the use of additional fuel tanks (2 x 100 gal tanks on the outer pylons and 2 x 330 gal tanks on the inboard pylons) and Handley Page Victor refuelling tankers.  Transferred on the 6th May to the “Atlantic Conveyer” for transportation to the Falklands but fortunately was transferred on the 18th May to HMS Hermes.  From the 21st May (initial British landings at San Carlos Water) until the 14th June (Argentine forces surrender) XZ997 was involved in daily sortie operations with 1 Squadron flying from HMS Hermes.  XZ997 had returned to RAF Wittering by the 6th October and was then transferred back to 4 Squadron at RAF Gütersloh on the 21st February 1984.  However, XZ997 returned to the Falklands on the 14th June 1984 to provide air defence with 1453 Flight.  Upon completion of the new airport at Mount Pleasant on the 12th May 1985 1453 Flight was disbanded and so XZ997 returned to the UK.  XZ997 continued in RAF service with 233 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Wittering, 1 Squadron also at RAF Wittering before returning to 4 Squadron at RAF Gütersloh on the 6th December 1988.  The last flight was on the 21st August 1990 when XZ997 flew to RAF St. Athan, Glamorganshire, for storage before finally entering the museum on the 4th December 1991.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ968)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ968)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (XZ968)  [@ Muckleburgh Collection]

Basically the GR.7 variant (53 built including the GR.5A conversions and 30 converted GR.5s) was similar to the GR.5 including the armament and power plant but had night attack capability.  This resulted in a slight change in the nose profile to accommodate forward-looking infrared imaging system (FLIR) in a fairing above the nose and two smaller bulges below the nose to house the forward Zeus ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) antennae.  The GR.7A variant was a GR.7 upgrade but with the more powerful Pegasus 11-61 (Mk 107) engine fitted. 

XZ968 first flew on the 31st October 1980 and enter RAF service on the 10th December 1980.  Later used as a ground instructional airframe at RAF Marham, Norfolk, XZ968 was delivered by RAF Chinook to the museum 1st February 1995.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5A/GR.7/GR.9 (XD461)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5A/GR.7/GR.9 (XD461)  [@ Imperial War Museum - London]

The Pegasus 11-61 (Mk 107) powered GR.9 was the designation for the mid-life upgrade of the GR.7 but now with a terrain referenced navigation system and provision for the AIM-120 (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM).  ZD402 was the first GR.9 to be flown in 1989.  While the GR.9A variant was the avionics and weapons upgrade of the GR.7A.

ZD461 was built at Kingston-upon-Thames and first flew at Dunsfold, Surrey, on the 10th October 1989 as one of twenty-one GR.5A airframes.  Delivered to 1 Squadron RAF on the 16th November 1989, ZD461 was upgraded to a GR.7 standard during March 1992 and then to GR.9 standard in October 2008.  ZD461 later flew with the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Wittering and with the Royal Navy Naval Strike Wing (NSW) based at RAF Cottesmore which was the Naval component of Joint Force Harrier.  ZD461 saw active service in Afghanistan with the Joint Harrier Task Force in 2006 as a part of "Operation Herrick"  and flew at least 40 combat missions.  Unfortunately, ZD461 suffered a CAT 3 (repairable) damage in January 2010 when a fire started after taxiing onto the ramp at Nellis AFB, Nevada, USA, during exercise "Red Flag 2010-2".  Freighted back to the UK ZD461 arrived at RAF Cottesmore on the 19th March 2010.  Due to budgetary cuts and the demise of the Harrier fleet ZD461 was struck off charge on the 15th December 2010 and declared a Cat.5 i.e. damaged beyond economical repair.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5 (ZD353)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5 (ZD353)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5 (ZD353)  [@ Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona]

Built by British Aerospace ZD353 was first flown on 21st October 1988 and entered RAF service as a GR.5 on 11th November 1988 with 1 Squadron based at RAF Wittering", Cambridgeshire, the "home of the Harrier".  During 1990 ZD353 was transferred to 233 Operational Conversion Unit which also based at RAF Wittering.  On 29th July 1991 ZD353 was seriously damaged by an in-flight fire due to an electrical fault.  The pilot managed to return to RAF Wittering and make an emergency landing.  ZD353 was transferred to British Aerospace at Brough, Yorkshire, pending a decision on a rebuild.  Until the end of production, BAE Harrier jump jets were built at Brough.  Due to this and other incidents concerning electrical faults on Harrier GR5/7s the entire fleet were grounded on 30th July until 16th September 1991.  Unfortunately, ZD353 was deemed to be damaged beyond economical repair and so the remains were used as a ground instructional airframe at RAF Brough.  During 2012 the remains were sold as scrap following retirement of the Harrier force from RAF service and later the remains were restored by Everett Aero and sold to Pima Air & Space Museum for static display.  [The photographs of XD353 are by the kind permission of Don Koshute]

 Following on from the T.4 was the Pegasus 11-21 (Mk 105) powered T.10 tandem trainer (13 built).  Built to accompany the GR.7 this variant, unlike its American counterpart the TAV-8B, was fully combat capable.  The prototype, ZH563, first flew on the 7th April 1994.  Under the designation T.12 nine T.10 airframes were upgraded to act as trainers for the GR.9 but the variant retained the original less powerful Pegasus 11-21 (Mk 105) engine.  T.8 was the designation for two RAF T.4 trainers that were transferred to the Royal Navy when the T.10 became available.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.5 Trainer  [@ Midland Air Museum]

The second generation Harrier IIs saw action in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.   In 2006 the Sea Harrier was retired from Fleet Air Arm service and the RAF Harrier fleet were tasked with the missions that it used to share with those aircraft.  The former Sea Harrier squadron 800 NAS reformed with ex-RAF Harrier GR7/9s in April 2006 and was later-joined by the re-formed 801 NAS in 2007.  These squadrons were later expanded to become the Naval Strike Wing.  On the 31st March 2010 20 Squadron RAF, the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), was disbanded while 4 Squadron was also disbanded and reformed as 4 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Wittering. 

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.7/GR.9  (XG477)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.7/GR.9  (XG477)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.7/GR.9  (XG477)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.7/GR.9  (XG477)  [@ RAF Cosford]

Built by BAe at Dunsfold and powered by a Pegasus 105 turbofan as a GR.7.  Fitted with both BAe and McDonnell Douglas components ZG477 entered RAF service on 5th November 1990 with 4 Squadron based at RAF Gutersloh, Germany.  Prior to being transferred to 3 Squadron based RAF Laarbruch, Germany, ZG477 received Phase 4 Modifications at RAF St Athan during August 1992.  During 1993/94 ZG477 was reassigned to "Operation Warden" with 4 Squadron and was based at Incirlik, Turkey.  Three Harrier Squadrons, 1, 3, 4, were rotated on a regular basis until 1995 to police the Northern Exclusion (No-fly) Zone in Iraq.  From 1995 until 1998 ZG477 was based mainly with 3 Squadron at RAF Laarbruch, however, ZG477 was involved with GBU-24 Paveway III trials at Boscombe Down during the autumn of 1996.  During 1999 ZG477 on detachment with 1 Squadron at Gioia Del Colle, Italy, for "Operation Allied Force", which was the NATO military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War.  In 2000 ZG477 moved with 1 Squadron to become a part of newly established Joint Force Harrier based at RAF Cottesmore, Leicestershire.  Between 2001/03 ZG477 served again with 3 Squadron at RAF Cottesmore and participated in "Operation Telic" – the codename of the UK military operations in Iraq which started with the Invasion of Iraq on 19th March 2003.  During the Autumn of 2003 ZG477 was converted from to GR.7A standard and then from 29th Jan 2004 converted to GR.9A standard.  Between September 2005 and December 2007 ZG477 was based either at Boscombe Down, BAe Warton or RAF Cottesmore.  In the December 2007 ZG477 was allocated to the Naval Strike Wing (NSW) and served with them until February 2008.  Equipped with Harrier GR.7s and GR.9s NSW was based at RAF Cottesmore and was the Naval component of Joint Force Harrier.  Formed on the 9th March 2007 from elements of 800 NAS and 801 NAS, NSW reverted to 800 NAS on 1st April 2010 flying the Harrier GR.9s and GR.9As.  From July 2008 ZG477 served with 4 Squadron in Afghanistan as a part of "Operation Herrick" until being replaced by the Tornado GR.4s of 12 Squadron during July 2009.  Following servicing ZG477 was reallocated to 1 Squadron and became one of the four last Harriers to fly from a Royal Navy carrier, HMS Ark Royal, on the 24th November 2010.  The final flight of ZG477 was on the 15th December 2010.  Following serviceable storage at RAF Cottesmore ZG477 was transported by road to the RAF Cosford on 19th December 2011 and placed on display on 30th January 2012.

All RAF GR.7s were retired by July 2010.  On the other hand, the GR.9 was expected to stay on in service until at least 2018.  However, to the dismay of many, the British government announced the dreadful decision on the 19th October 2010 that the remaining GR.9s would retire by April 2011.  Harrier GR.9s made the last ever flight from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, on 24th November 2010 and in December the GR.9s made their last operational flights. At the end of November 2011, the British government announced the sale of the final 72 Harriers to the USMC for use as spare parts. 

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.9 (ZG501)Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.9 (ZG501)

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.9 (ZG501)   [@ RAF Waddington]

Following the agreement with McDonnell Douglas in 1982 four AV-8B full scale development aircraft were and were, in turn, followed by 162 production aircraft between 1983 and 1989.  The TAV-8B was a two-seat trainer variant with 23 being built between 1986 and 1992.  As well as for the USMC the AV-8B Harrier II+ was built for the Spanish Navy and Italian Navy.  Similar to the Night Attack variant but with the addition of APG-65 radar 72 were converted from existing AV-8Bs together with 43 newly builds from 1993 to 1997.  In total 12 EAV-8B Matador IIs were built between 1987 and 1988 and were followed by 19 EAV-8B Matador II+ aircraft (including 11 EAV-8B conversions) between 1995 and 1997 for the Spanish Navy.  For the Italian Navy two TAV-8B Harrier II+ two-seat trainers were built between 1990 and 1991 and these were followed by an order for sixteen AV-8B Harrier II+ aircraft.  The last 13 aircraft were assembled in Italy by Alenia Aeronautica from kits delivered from the USA.

ZG501 was first flown 13th December 1990 and entered RAF service on the 20th December 1990.  Withdrawn from use at RAF Cottesmore on the 15th December 2010.

The Royal Air Force will eventually replace the Harrier GR.9s with the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II which is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant.  This will give the RAF a multi-role all weather, day and night capability fighter. 617 Squadron will be the first operational Royal Air Force Squadron to receive the F-35B.  The photograph below shows a full sized model of a F-35A, which is the is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant.

Lockheed Martin F-35A - a full scale model

Lockheed Martin F-35A  [@ RAF Hendon]