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The Sea Hawk has always been one of my favourite aircraft.
These models are all based on the ancient Airfix kit, with decals from various sources, and range from one of my first model builds, circa 1973, up to the present day. Scroll down for more details of each model.
The Sea Hawk was a truly elegant aircraft; although a joy to fly, reliable and effective, its military capabilities were never in the first division as it was underpowered, underarmed and aerodynamically unsophisticated.
Nevertheless, as Hawker's first jet aircraft, it exhibited all of focused purpose and attention to detail that typified Hawker's products, entering RN service in 1953 as a replacement for the Sea Fury and the Attacker. An agile aircraft, more than capable of holding its own in close quarters combat, it would continue in widespread RN service until replaced by the Scimitar in the 1960s, whereupon it transitioned to a supporting role with the Fleet Requirements Unit at Hurn until the late 1970s. Amazingly, it continued in a key front line role with the Indian Navy, including combat in two major Indo-Pakistan wars, until finally replaced by the Sea Harrier in the early 1980s.
The initial 35 aircraft were built by Hawker themselves, with construction of the subsequent aircraft contracted out to Armstrong Whitworth in Coventry, allowing Hawker to concentrate their own efforts on Hunter production. Ironically, although the Sea Hawk saw plenty of ground attack combat, its only use in anger as a fleet defence fighter was a series of tense interceptions and mock dogfights with USN F4J Furys, intent on disrupting the Anglo-French Suez operation.
Hawk F.1, 898 Sqn
Airfix, with outer pylons removedand Modeldecal transfers
The F.1 Sea Hawk was a pure fighter, armed only with quadruple Hispano 20mm cannon. Although nimble, pilots found the controls heavy, so it was quickly superseded by the F.2, with powered ailerons.
Hawk FB.3, 738 Sqn "The Red Devils"
Airfix with pylons removed and own decals
The FB.3 introduced a strengthened wing allowing the carriage of various ground attack weapons. 738 Sqn provided a spectacular five ship red-painted display team for the 1957 Farnborough Air Show, whose speciality was taxying out in front of the crowd with wings folded, to display their large underwing Royal Navy titles, then performing the precise formation flying in which the Sea Hawk excelled.
Hawk FB.4, 802 Sqn,
Airfix with outer pylons removed and own decals
The FB.4 further increased the Sea Hawk's ability by adding an additional set of pylons and the ability to carry ground attack rockets. It formed the core of the RN's Suez fighter-bomber force. Most FB.3s were also converted into FB.5s with similar capabilities.
Hawk FGA.6, 804 Sqn
Airfix OOB with kit decals
The final Sea Hawk variant was the FGA.6, with 8 underwing hard points, which entered RN service in 1956.
Hawk FGA.6, Fleet Requirements Unit
Airfix, with own decals.
As the RN's Sea Hawks were withdrawn from service in the late 1950s, they found new life with the Fleet Requirements Unit, operating out of Bournemouth's Hurn Airport on contract to Airwork Services Ltd and painted in an attractive gloss black scheme with a Harley Light fitted in one drop tank. The Sea Hawks remained with FRU until 1970, when they were replaced by Hawker Hunters.
Hawk FGA.6, 806 Sqn HMS ALBION, 1960 /
Airfix, with scratch modifications and decals Out the box.
The RNHF's magnificent Seahawk is the only remaining airworthy example of this elegant aircraft, and has recently returned to the sky after extensive repair work. This was the final operational colour scheme, with low demarcation line, white undersides and dark grey tail.
....and finally, here are some pictures of the real thing:
RN Historic Flight at Yeovilton
Royal Scottish Museum's one at East Fortune -
p.s. same Squadron, same side number as the Airfix kit, but different aircraft !