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Postwar Military Aircraft: 7
Attacker, Swift
and Scimitar

The name of Supermarine is universally

associated with the Spitfire, an aircraft which
helped to defeat the Luftwaffe during the
Battle of Britain; the company's fundamental
role in the development of Britain's military jet
arrcraft is less well known. Although now over-
shadowed by the success of the Hawker
Hunter and of the BAC Lightning, the Super-
marine Attacker, Swift and Scimitar were
amongst the most influential of Britain's post-
war military aircraft.
The Attacker, first flown in 1946, was the
first jet fighter to be standardised on for
squadron service with the Fleet Air Arm' The
Attacker was followed by the Swift. The first of
this type of jet interceptor flew in 1951 and
was introduced to squadron service in Febru-
ary 1954; it thus gained the distinction of being
the first swept-wing jet fighter to enter service
with the Royal Air Force, beating the Hawker
Hunter by several months. The teething prob-
lems apparent with the Swift, however,
ensured that it was the Hunter that was to go
on to great success. Further success was to
come to the Supermarine company with the
Scimitar. Again destined for the Fleet Air Arm,
the Scimitar holds the distinction of being the
first swept-wing single-seat jet fighter in ser-
vice wiih the FM as well as being the first FAA
aircraft to be equipped to carry atomic
ln the latest of the popular 'Postwar Military
Aircraft' series, Philip Bidles narrates the often
dramatic history of these influential, but now
unfairly ignored, aircraft. Forty years after the
event the book will enable the aviation his-
torian to appreciate better the importance of
Supermarine's role in the development of
Britain's military jet aircraft.

For*-orrl 5
lntrcduction 6

frRm l. Vickers Supermarine

2. AttackerDevelopment
3. Attacker in Service


affip 4. Swept Wing Development - The Type 510
to the 545

5. RAF Service With the Swift 50
First published 1992
6. Twin-Engine Developments 68
rsBN 0 71 10 2034 5
7. The Scimitar 75
All rights reserved. No part of this
book may be reproduced or
8. Flying the Supermarine Jets -
transmitted in any form or by any Test Flying Impressions by David Morgan 97
means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, 9. Future Projects t03
recording or by any information
storage and retrieval system,
without permission from the
Publisher in writing. Appendices
O lan Allan Ltd 1992 I. Attacker Specifications, Production and Service
Published by lan Allan Ltd, II. Swift Specifications. Production and Service
Shepperton, Surrey; and printed
by lan Allan Printing Ltd at their III. Scimitar Specifications, Production and Service
works at Coombelands in
Runnymede, England IV. Surviving Supemarine Jet Fighters

Line drawings by
M. A. lTonyl Burns.

Front cover:
A trio of FAA Supermarine
Attackers in tormation,

Rear cover top:

Swift FRS XD953:Fof ilo 79
Squadron, RAF Germany. MoD

Rear cover bottom:

Scimitar F1, XD264t154N ot
8o3 Squadron, aboard HMS
RAF Museum/Cyril Peach

Previous page:
Swift FR5 on a production test
flight. M. J. F. Bowyer
This book is about three jet fighters of the fifties; a pikrts were prepared to put up with because of its out-
decade unique in the history of aeronautical develop- standing perfbrmance and manoeuvrability. They also
nent when the rate of change was faster than it had liked the cockpit systems and thc enginecrs liked the
:rer bccn bclbre or hrs been since. ease of maintcnance. However, it must be said, that all
In the 1950s the SBAC Show at Farnborough rvas thcsc f'eatures benefited lrom not having to cornply
;o ilflllurl event and was opened to the public fbr the with British technical lcquiremcnts.
:rr:t time. They were rewarded every year with a dis- Politics began to play an increasingly important part
riav of new typcs of aircrali and engines in 'flying tcst in the developmcnt of aircraft during the fifiics. Dur-
:eds'. Until the Royal Ail Force Aerobatic Team was ing the sixties thc Govcrnment of the day succecded in
:r'iormed there was no service participation; the Indus- cancelling the most significant military project every
:r had quite enough to make a great show and it was undertakcn in Britain. the TSR2. in order to release
.ll British. funds for the Party programme. This book is not about
This was the time when the latest prototypes took politics - it would be much thicker if it was - but let
:,rn in air races, when records 1br absolute speed and me mcntion two points which link the beginning and
.riitude wele established, also closed circuit and inter the end of thc story and, perhaps, show us what might
::ir records. In the early filties the potential seemed have becn.
-:rlimited but if the decade started with a roar it ended In the first chapter we read about the Spitfire:
.,":th a rvhimper alter the Government White Paper on 'Mitchell's aim was to produce the most compact and
J:tence \n 1957 ploclaimed thc end of development cleanest design around the Rolls-Royce engine and a
: '\lanned Fighter Aircraft'. pilot, rvhile retaining the armament of the eight
-\11 this was around 40 years ago and, as anyone machine guns'.
.,. no has tried to preserve records will tell you. the pas- And in the final chapter, about the submission to
.i_{e of tinle and the passing of people involved makes GOR 339 (which becarne TSR2): 'The Supermaline
::: task difficult and often thankless, which is surpris- Design team tavoured the lower weight, single
r: in view of the great interest therc is in historical as engined project. Their reasoning was that powerplant
..:ll as contemporary aviation. So books like this one unrcliability was more likely to be caused by ancillar-
-:.- important because they prescrvc the records as ies rather than the basic engine and by providing
..:il as making it easier to study them. duplication of the engine systems a great deal could be
Philip Birtles has assembled a substantial quantity saved in terms of cost of dcveloping and operating the
: Jctail and has presented it vcry clearly. You will aircraft'.
::rl u 9r'ett deal about these three aircraft and the It was the brilliant submission of the Supermarine
::,i:ot\pes from which they were developed. You will team which got Vickcrs chosen to partner English
- -,. read about the aircraft which might have fbllowed Electric in the development of TSR2. The customer
::'::r had lhcse projects not been cancelled. Perhaps decided to have two cngines. The last ol the line
.. .r riill reflect on what it meant to the futurc of the which can be traced back through the aircraft
.---r.i11 und the flying services. dcscribed in this book to the Spitfire and the Schneider
Thc' fighter vcrsion of the Swifi was also cancellcd Trophy winners can be seen at Duxford where it has
-:: hranded a failure. This was more a matter of polit- been beautifully restored by the Imperial War
:.. crpediency than technical fact because even the Museum. When you look at it remember that had it
i a great advance on what was in servicc. lt was not been cancelled 25 years ago, Tornado pilots of
-: r-\cnts of the day liom which the Swift suff-ered. It today could be flying an aircraft their fathers had
:. ioo late fbr the Kolean War and it was the first of flown; and they would find it had all the capability of
- r:nd to reach the service; everybody was lcarning. what they fly now, and then some.
l.-.r' rtandard of the fighter pilots wanted was manifest
- :hc North American F-86, the Sabre. This was
-:r'r'd thc Spitfirc of the early fifties and like the David Morgan December l99I
!:.:iire had some unusual handling qualitics which Buckfastleigh
The story of the Supermarine jet fighters appeared to
be a much neglected subject as far as recording their
history and development was concerned. This may
have been due to the poor performance of the early
Swifts, which was more than made up lor by the later
marks. During the research and development of these
aircraft, a considerable pioneering spirit became
apparent, pushing forward the unknown boundaries of
transonic flight research within a low budget and
achieving eventually a high degree of success in terms
of reliability and performance. It was unfortunate that
larger numbers were not required to make the pro-
grammes more profi table.
In compiling this book I should like to thank David
Morgan fbr his firsthand knowledge of the test flying
and much of the significant design activity. For photo-
graphic selections, I would like to thank Michael
Bowyer, John Rawlings, Mike Gradidge, Maurice
Marsh, Tom Crossett and Alan Fisher for searching
through their photo collections to give a broad cover-
age of pleviously unpublished pictures. Also, I would
like to thank Andrew Renwick of the RAF Museum,
David Richardson ol the FAA Museum and Brian
Wexham of Vickers Plc for assistance in obtainino
some of the ofTicial photographs from their archives.
Finally, I should like to thank Tyler Parris and my
wife, Martha, for their major contributions in putting
my handwritten script into the word processor.

Philip J. Birtles
Stevenage, May" l99I

No 8OO lBl Squadron Scimitar Fl, XD32{:ll6lE, is
pictured flying from Lossiemouth in August 1965.
J. D. R. Rawlings


Vickers Supermarine
Undoubtedly best known fbr the fine World War 2 production was assisted by the purchase of an existing
Spitfire, Supermarine had a long pioneering history set of wings, and attaching them to a braced mortice
from the earliest days of aviation, right through to the and tenon-jointed fuselage which could be made by
jet age with all the challenges of breaking the sound any competent cabinet maker, to give rapid produc-
barrier. tion. This aircraft flew successfully on 12 August
It was in October 1913 that Noel Pemberton 1914, but was not ordered into production.
Billing registered the name Supermarine as his tele- Towards the end of 1916 the organisation was
graphic address, the aim being to build a flying boat. named The Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd, with
His start in aviation was in 1904 when he built a man- Hubert Scott-Paine as the managing director. Also in
lifting glider and he gained his Royal Aero Club Cer- 1916, Reginald Mitchell joined the company, later ro
tificate as a qualified pilot in 1912. become the designer of the Schneider Trophy winners
His first design was the Supermarine PB I flying and the immortal Spitfire. The major duties during
boat with a single tractor engine mounted between World War I were aircraft repair and experimental
biplane wings on a cigar shaped hull. Despite the work for the Admiralty, and the design of single-seat
advanced concept of the design, it failed to fly. pusher propeller scout aircraft. Supermarine's most
The company was lormally registered on 27 June successful aircraft of World War I was the N 1B Baby,
1914 with its factory next to the Woolston Ferry on
the River Itchen at Southampton.
At the outbreak o1' World War 1. Pemberton Below:
Billing decided to produce a single-seat fighter which The advanced-looking Pembedon Billing PBI flying
was designed and built in the incredibly short time of boat exhibited at the 1914 Olympia Aero Show.
nine days, officially known as the PB9. The speed of Unfortunately it failed to tly! yickers

I /


Below: Bottom:
The rather unattractiye PB3IE ilight Hawk, 1388, Pemberton Billing's mo6t successful aircraft of World
designed to detend Britain against the Zeppelins. WarI was the illb Baby 1159. RAF Museum
RAF Museum

& d' F'

a pusher flying-boat, but the war ended before it was
able to enter service.
In the difficult years of economic hardship follow-
ing the postwar slump in aviation in 1919, Superma-
rine produced a new three-passenger commercial fly-
ing boat known as the Channel Type, which was sold
in South and Central America, Norway, Japan and
The company then began to evolve its expertise in
four diflerent areas of aircrafi development. These
were basic single-engined amphibians; larget' passen-
ger-carrying flying-boats; Schneider Trophy mono-
plane racing seaplanes; and finally single-seat, single-
engined fighters culminating in the Spitfire.
Designs of the general purpose single-engined
amphibians started with the Seagull ol the 1920s and
finished with thc advanced variable incidence wing
Seagull air/sea rescue aircraft of 1948. The classic fly-
ing boats started with the twin-engined Southampton
of 1925 and ended with the Stranraer of 1936. The
Schneider Trophy experience commenced as early as

-r lait;
Tha Air Yacilt, G.AAgtr, vJas Supcilmarine's first rnuiti.
:ngincal F:ono[:!rnc, cr{jcrcd a5 a lju]luFy trrnapGri t]y
':irc I'lori A, E, Cuinilcs3. [)/\i'i\,;Lt,::t]ri,

Sreguln Vs for ihc nf"\Ai: r,v.rc .in.!iXar !c thc ciasslc
,'l:lrus usc.! Lv;clcly for a!r/:lca rcscue and
'rcorintjssancc duircs lry lhc l:]A[r. l:/\i:i.:tt :Jrii
. ::tii l::it:
:irc ultiinxato Surpcrmarinc fiyinJ bcat r?es t['io Scsglui!
.a,S A 1 adua.rcc.l f, do.'{ r'econ nalslance a n:ph ltrian. Only
:ro protchTpes trcro cornplctc.l and t)AX47 toJJS th.l
: lcond, W'lliar.

lcsigncci by [t, .J. Fdiicl']cl!, ilic Scrltinermpioll v,ras tlro

',rst of tlre larEci scrics cf Sii]rcrmarino flying baats,
Southamip"{oei !, S'fl043, hcC a La'c3{.len hull amcl r.Jas
:curcreci lry a pa!r* o'f F{a$r!3r Llori engirbes, l)t\F lLi\:::rtni

Southannpton lV, S{948, became the prototype Scapa,

3c\ver€d by a pair of Rclls-$loyce Ksstrel enginss, and
r;as of a!l-rretal €onstfi,lction. l/i./(ei"s


';* .jd

5:lr''s:::.. I ;:@

,-t* ._.. .r..wr.]]t:. .. e{ry.-r,-



Above: marine S5s, one of them winning the trophy that year
The Stranraer was Supermarine's last twin-engined at an average spccd of 28 l.65mph.
flying boat. Vickers Latc in 1928. Vickers (Aviation) Ltd acquired the
Supermarine Aviation Works, bccolning Vickers
Supermarine Ltd. In 1929 Rolls-Royce dcveloped the
l9l9 when the Sea Lion I single-engined pusher new 'R' engine which achieved l,900hp; Mitchell
biplane flying boat was entcred. but the monoplane incorporated it into the S-5 development known as the
racing seaplanes did not participate in the cornpetition 56. In 1929 the 56 beat the Italian entry in the Schnei-
until after 1925. This series of major intcrnational der contest at a speed of 328.63mph.
competitions was fbught over primarily by Britain. the If Britain rvon the I 93 I Schneider Trophy race, the
USA and Italy as well as a numbcr ol othcr nations. trophy would be theirs to kecp outright. However, the
Britain eventually became the outright winner in 193 I government unaccountably withdrew its supporl.
with the Supermarine 568 by winning over three con- Supermarine was unablc to provide the finance but, at
sccutive years. thc clcventh hour, Lady Houston stepped into the
The designer of these high perfbrmance singlc- arena and offered the considerable sum of f100.000 to
engined scaplanes was Reginald Mitchell, building up cover the costs of building a new aircraft and entcring
expericnce tiom which he eventually created the Spit
fire. In the early years, Supermarine had sponsorcd its
own cntry in the Schneider Trophy, but in 1927 the Below:
British Covernment supportcd thc cvent by ordering Amongst a number of single-engined amphibians, the
seven special high-speed racing seaplanes fbr the Sea Lion lll, l{170, was flown in the 1923 Schneider
RAF's High Speed Flight. Three of these were Super- Trophy race at Cowes. RAF Museum

Supermarine 55, N22O, uras the second of three
Schneider Trophy racers sponsored by the Air
Ministry for the 1927 event, powered by a Napier Lion
engine. lt was flown by Flt Lt S. N. Webster to tirst
place at an average speed of 281.65mph. yickers

., British team. With only six rnonths to go. the Super-

::rlrine 568 powered by an improved Rolls-Royce
;neinc devcloping 2.300hp fbr a short pcriod. was
.upplied. In the event the Italians, who were the main
:hallcnsc, wcrc unable to participate. allowing Britain
:,, fly the course solo at an avcrage specd of
-:10.08rnph to retain the Trophy fbl all time. Later the
S68 achieved a new world speed record of407.5mph.
During this period, flying boat development had
- jntinued, including thc adoption by the RAF of the

=-= -*5;Y1t;F
' - F*A+-- .T;-tr
For the I 929 Schneider Trophy race Supermarine
produced the 56, similar to the 55, but of all-metal
:€nstruction. lt was also powered by the new Rolls-
Royce R engine. N247 al Woolston was the first of
two ordered by the Air Minlstry. This aircraft was
tlown to victory against the ltalians by Flg Off H. R. D,
Waghorn at a speed of 328.63mph. yickers

T}te ultimate Supermarine Schneider Trophy design

was the 568, 51595, sponsored by Lady Houston,
virich was flown to victory in 1931 by Flt Lt J. il.
Boothman, winning the Trophy outright for Britain.
. :. i,fuseum

The roots of the Spitfire began in 1934 with a fairly Top:
basic single-seat aircraft to an unimaginative Specifi- The Supermarine F7l3O lype 224 prototype, K289O,
whach was completely redesigned by Mitchell to
cation F.7/30. Powered by a steam-cooled Goshawk become the Spitfire, RAF Museum
engine, top speed was only 228mph, additional drag
being generated by the fixed faired undercarriage. Above:
Supermarine therefore set out to design its own private Spitfire prototype, K5O54, at Eastleigh, the first of
venture fighter which - combined with the availability over 22,OOO Spitfires running to 33 different versions.
RAF Museum
of the Rolls-Royce PV12 engine expected to develop
1,000hp, and the new Air Ministry Specification
F.5/34 calling for an eight-gun fighter - resulted in the died of cancer the fbllowing year at the age of 42. The
world-beating Spitfire. Mitchell's aim was to produce responsibility as chief designer was taken over by Joe
the most compact and cleanest design around the Smith, who led the Supermarine design team through-
Rolls-Royce engine and a pilot, while retaining an out World War 2 and into the jet age with a whole
armament of eight machine guns in the wings. The range of Spitfire developments. The Spitfire was the
wing was a totally new elliptical planform with a thin only combat aircraft to be in production from the
section giving a fast, deadly, but docile combat air- beginning to the end of World War 2, although its pro-
craft. The main disadvantage of this classic wing was gressive development led to many changes, giving the
the difficulty of production. aircraft only a superlicial resemblance to its prewar
Construction of the prototype proceeded rapidly at origins. One of the major changes was the substitution
Eastleigh Airport near Southampton, and the aircraft is of the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine for the Merlin at
reported to have made its first flight in the hands of about halfway through its operational life. The cockpit
Mutt Summers on 5 March 1936. Having conceived canopy was also changed to the bubble type to
this remarkable aircraft, its creator, Reginald Mitchell improve all-round visibility.

: aave:
Early Spitfire developments in the Hursley Park
erperimental hangar. Yickers

The splendid Hursley Park design and administrative
cifices used by Supermarine after enemy action had
iriven them from Woolston. Vickers

j: : .',:
Spitfire Mk VBs in production at Castle Bromwich.
'.i ll ia;dal$

rii.r1]iiffi$l :#'
i.,,l l:il:l:l:l!

t* -f
is \
r: rla i .ia .s
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rnsffifrfr '&';J,


The Spitfire entered servicc with No l9 Squadron
at Duxfbrd in 1938 and in 1939 production was build-
ing up not only at the home factory, but also at a new
shadow tactory at Castle Bromwich near Birrningham.
Spitfire Is and IIs played a major part in the Battle of
Britain alongside the numerically sr.rperior Hawker
Humicanes. The experience of trying to destroy the
armour protected German aircraft, r'esulted in lour of
the Spitfirc machinc guns bcing replaced by a pair ol
the more destructive 20nrm cannons.
The Superrnarine Woolston Works rvere bombed in
September 1940 resulting in thc dcsign team and head-
quarters stafl moving to Hursley Park. a country house
ncar Winchester, where they remaincd into the jet agc.
Production rvas also widely dispersed. rcaching over
60 sites by 19.14.
fishter. unarrred Spitfircs
As r.vell as being a day
rverc used fbr photo reconnaissance. Sonte had the
wingtips clipped f or bettel lorv-lcvcl perfbrrnrncc.
rl'hilc othcrs had thcrr extended and a prcssulc cabin
was addcd fbr high altitr.rdc interccptions. Follorving
the cxpcricncc ol the Blttle of Britain. the Spitfirc
Mk V rvas procluced. but onc ol' the nrost succcssful
versions \\,as the Mk IX porvclcd by lt two-stase
sLrpcrchalgcd !lcrlin (rI cngine. This gar,c a top speed
of .just ovcr'-100nrph. Thc Spitlirc Mk XII was thc I'irst
to be pou,crcci by the 2.t)t)0hp Glilfirn cngine. but
othcr variants still appcarccl rvith the \,lerlin cnsine.
Thc llkXIX rvas thc major Gril'1bn-no.,r,eled photo
reconnaissAncc Spitlire. three ol rvhich urc presencri
in i'l1ing conr-iition rvith ihe Battle ol Britain Mcntolial
Flight.-fhc \{k 11.22 and 24 \\'erc the ultirnatc vcr-
sions ol'thc Spitlirc. porvered by thc ?.050hp Gritfbn
cnginc. lcaturirr-u lar-slcr. stl'ongel rvings and in sonte
cascs contl'a-r'otating airscrcrvs. 'fhc Seafire was
clcr,clopc-d firr thc Flcct Air Alm. but thc closely
placecl relativell' flagilc undcrcart'iage was not ideal
for clcck opcmtiorls.
Fxrn 1936 to 194-5 the Spitfire's top spccd had
increrscrl fionr 35Onrph to 450rnph. blinging thc air-
cralt close to the comprcssibility problcrns ol' tran-
sonic f'light associatcd rvith the jet a-ee pionccrs. A
total ol 20.351 Spitfircs wcrc built. in addition to
2.40E Sealires lbr the Fleet Air Arrn.
Supcrrnarine was now on the threshold of thc .jct
age. u'ith all the challenges and unknoi.l'ns rvhich that
rvas to brinu.

The classic Spitfire: Mk ll P735O was restored for the
film Batt e of Britain and is now a part of the RAFrs
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. P. J. Birtles

Later versions of the Spitfire had the Merlin engine
replaced by the more powerful Rolla-Royce Griffon.
PRXIX PSA53 now seryes with the Battle of Britain
Memorlal FIight, P. J. Biftles

Two-seat Spitfire Mk Vlll' G-AlDl{r was named after R.
J. Mitchel! and attended an air day at South Marston
in June 1967. P. J. Biftles

The Seafare XV powered by a Griffon engine was a
navalised veFion of the Spittire FXll for operations
with the Fleet Air Arm. Yickers

Attacker Development
Supermarine had taken the development of piston- thickness was at about 427a of the chord with an
:nsined aircraft to the extreme with the ultimate Spit- aileron reversal speed of 850mph being aimed for. The
:ire developments, known as the Spiteful lor the RAF familiar Spitfire wing shape was abandoned for a
.rnd the Seatang for the Fleet Air Arm. The major straight tapered leading and trailing edge design to
jerclopment with these aircraft was to design a lami- ease production, with conventional two-spar construc-
:ar flow wing f'eaturing a whole new aerodynamic tion. Wing area was reduced by 38.5sq ft to 210, and
rrollle with the greatest thickness located further aft of the weight was 2001b lighter than the wing on the Spit-
:re section than the conventional wings then in use. fire Mk 21. A gain in speed of some 55mph was esti-
However, it was found in practice that the smooth- mated.
:css of the skin was critical, and that minute irregular- The Spiteful was notable fbr the high level of wind
::ies. surface roughness or even dead f'lies stuck to the tunnel testing made by the RAE and NPL, much of
..rrtace, could destroy much of the improvement in this work concentrated on the wing perfbrmance. Tests
:rag characteristics. up to Mach 0.82 included diff-erent wing setting and
Supcrmarine wrote its own Specilication 470 to the evolution of perfectly smooth wing surface, even
:.rrer the design of the laminar flow wing, allocating to the extent of considering a complete composite
Tlpc No 37 l, which was eventually adopted to cover wing well ahead of its time. complete Spiteful aircratt. The object of the speci- Flighr rrials of rhe Spiteful highlighted a number of
:l;ation was threefold: to produce a wing design to unsatisfactory features, such as aileron snatching,
:risc as much as possible the critical speed at which wing drop just prior to the stall and a pronounced f'lick
:re increase of drag became serious due to a phe- at the stall under high gravity loadings, or'g'. It soon
rrrrr€rlor known as compressibility, on reaching the became apparent that the Spiteful did not offer any
-:--cd of sound; to obtain a higher rate of roll than any significant advantages over the later Spitfires. but the
:risting fighter; and to improve perfbrmance by new wing development appeared promising. The batch
::Cucing the profile drag.
Extensive assistance was received fiom the
\rtional Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the develop-
::ent of the most suitablc wing section, which was to
The naval version of the Spiteful was the Seafang
.-hieve laminar'flow as tar back on the wing as poss- featuring a new fuselage and fitted with a laminar
:rle. where interference from slipstream or projection flow wing, later to be used on the Attacker.
:.jch as gun barrels would be avoided. The maximum RAF Museum

''':,;....1!i l.',]a d., 1l


of 17 Spitefuls completed were therelore allocated to developing over 4,0001b static thrust, and it was thrs
the improvement of the laminar flow wing in prepara- engine which Supermarine was asked to consider in its
tion for its use in a jerpropelled application. In these submission for 8.10144, making use of its laminar
trials a level speed of 494mph was achieved, but the flow wing experience. However, Joe Smith, Superma-
boosted Rolls-Royce Griffon engine suffered from the rine Chief Designer, preferred a srnaller engine and
extreme treatment. the turbojet was reduced in size to develop an antici-
With the Spiteful failing to gain a service entry, pated 3,0001b thrust, re-designated the RB4l and
Supermarine then looked at a naval development eventually became the Nene as palt of the family of
known as the Seafang. This aircraft featured the same Rolls-Royce jet engines named after British rivers.
basic wing, but with folding tips to allow storage The Supermarine design submitted f'eatured a new
aboard ship. This combination handled very well in fuselage containing the Nene engine, a forward-
deck trials and simulated landings at the test airfield of mounted pressurised cockpit, and the Type 371 lami-
Chilbolton and RNAS Ford. Two Seafang prototypes nar flow wings with additional fuel tanks replacing
were built, and l0 production aircraft out of an order radiators. Fuel capacity was increased to 395gal and
for 150, before cancellation of the programme. the four 20mm wing-mounted cannon armament was
However, despite their cancellation, these two retained. Supermarine allocated Type No 392 to what
types contributed a considerable amount to transonic was eventually to become the Attacker.
research leading neatly into the jet age. Initial flight trials of the RB4l engine were disap-
A week before the lirst flight of the prototype pointing, but with minor modification the engine
Spiteful on 30 June 1944, Supermarine started the exceeded its original estimates, achieving 4,5001b
drawing for a jet propelled aircraft to the official spec- thrust.
ification 8.10144, the initial outline design being sub- Following studies by the Ministry of Aircraft Pro-
mitted to the Ministry of Aircraft Production as Super- duction, it was realised that any problems with the
marine Specificalion 477 only a week later. laminar flow wings would be solved with the Spiteful
With official approval, Rolls-Royce had started the protoiypes. Supermarine was advised that three proto-
design of a large jet engine in March 1944 with twice types of the new jet aircraft would be required, and the
the thrust of existing turbojets available, including the order was placed on 5 August for three 'Jet machines
Derwent engines for the Gloster Meteor. The new of the Spiteful type', allocated identities TS409, 413'
engine, designated the RB40, was to be capable of 416. The second and third aircraft were to have provi-

The first navalised Attacker, TS4l3, is pictured here
on HMS lltustrious for deck trials in October 1947.
Fleet Air Arm (FAA) Museum

sion fbr naval opcralions. After ollicial inspection of

the partly completed mock-up, the first drali specifica-
I rs
tion E. l0/44 was issued, rnatching csscntially the
Supermarine Type 477.
,' Despitc thc carly loss of the first Spitclirl prototype
v and some problems with low speed characteristics, the
Ministry supported the continuation ol'the programmc
and Treasury approval was obtained fbr a prc-produc-
tion batch of 24 aircrafi. Six of thcsc aircraft werc to
the original E.l0l44 specification and the remaining
l8 were to a new E. l/.1-5 naval requiremcnt, the con-
tract being issued on 2l Novcmber 1945.
Due to the handling diftlculties rvith the Spiteful.
t)rst flight of the E.l0/44 was delayed. and so in

l{avalised Attacker prototype, TS413, is seen on final
approach to HMS lllustrious during deck trials in
October 1947. RAF Museum

The first prototype Attacker, TS4O9, probably at High
Post before transfer to the more suitable airfield at
Chilbolton. FAA Museum


t\ tl


February 1946 the Admiralty asked for work on the at the first postwar SBAC Display at Radlett in
naval version to be suspended, ordering l8 Sea Vam- September 1946. h was the sccond prototype, TS4l3
pire F20s instead. The contract for the 24 pre-produc- completed to naval specification E.l/45 with folding
tion aircraft was shelved for the time being, but work wingtips, that acquired the type name Attacker F1. It
on the three prototypes was permitted to continue. was first flown on 17 June 1947 by Mike Lithgow and
The aileron development caused major delays, with different from the first prototype in a number of
flight trials of the Spiteful revealing that the slotted details. The fin size was reduced, but the tailplane was
aileron with geared balance tabs become too heavy at increased in size; the flaps were modified and lift
speeds of more than 400mph. It was therefore decided spoilers were fitted above the wing; balanced aileron
to reserve the second aircraft for development and tabs replaced spring tabs; the air intakes were modi-
investigation of the handling characteristics. This fied; extra fuel tanks were fitted aft; the main under-
work at that time was on the threshold of knowledge carriage legs were modified to absorb the increased
of the approach to the speed of sound. deck-landing loads and the pilot's safety was
Flight trials with the Attacker commenced at improved by the addition of a Martin-Baker ejection
Boscombe Down on 21 July with the maiden flight by seat.
Jeffrey Quill, Supermarine's Chief Test Pilot. Not The directional 'snaking' experienced when flying
only was the aircraft new, but it was the first to be the first prototype was even more apparent from the
powered by the new Nene engine, and the first proto- first flight of the second prototype. occurring at all
type to be flight-tested from Boscombe Down. Initial speeds. The problem was corrected before the second
flights were powered by Nene No 13 limited to flight by fitting beading from the top of the rudder, to
12,000rpm giving 4,3001b thrust. Later, however, a the bottom of the tab. The aircraft safely achieved a
No 28 engine was fitted, raising the rpm to 12,440 speed of 375kts at 20,000ft, equivalent to Mach 0.823,
delivering a thrust of 5,0001b, a power level which and development then concentrated on the operation
became standard for all production Nenes. This and effect on handling of the lift spoilers.
increased power provided for TS409 raised the maxi- A series of some 30 airfield dummy deck landings
mum speed from 542 to 580mph. At 15,000ft the (ADDLs) were flown in preparation for deck landing
speed was raised from 552 to 568mph. trials on HMS lllustriors, commencing on 28 October
Following its initial flight trials at the A&AEE 1947. These trials were shared by Mike Lithgow, Lr
Boscombe Down, the prototype E.10144 was displayed Cdr E. M. (Winkle) Brown of the RAE and Lt S. Orr

rf the A&AEE. Mike Lithgow's flight-test report con- under Specification 527 suggested the fitting of the
-idered that the average pilot should have no difficulty 6,0001b-thrust Rolls-Royce Avon or Tay engines.
.r landing the Attacker, providing the correct pro- Other developments included the fining of a 270gal
:edures were followed. The major problem encoun- ventral fuel tank on TS413, but this prototype crashed
::rcd was the shearing of the arrester hook from the killing the A&AEE pilot, Lt T. J. A. King-Joyce RN,
\'-frame to which it was attached, during the prelimi- in June 1948.
:.rr) trials. but this was corrected before the deck trials With the loss of TS4l3, TS409 was brought up to
:-:emselves. Further trouble was experienced with the Naval standard to undertake trials for the Attacker as a
:,.'ok anangement during the trials causing a two- Royal Naval fighter. In September 1948, the Admi-
.,.cck break while further modifications were made. ralty placed a production order for 60 Attacker Mk 1s,
- was considered unusual for a jet aircraft
ie tailwheel the plan being to deliver the complete batch by the end
-rd. although it was not an outstanding aircraft, it per- of March 195 l. To facilitate early deliveries to allow
.rmed reasonably well in service as the Navy's first the Fleet Air Arm to gain operational jet experience as
rrrational jet fighter. Lt Orr lound a tendency for the soon as possible, the need was to produce a stock air-
:.f.raft to float on approach, but the aerodynamic craft with the minimum of changes. TS409 com-
-:oilers proved to be etlicient enough. menced its naval development programme on 5 March
A second series of sea trials were observed by 1949 and within six weeks had made 22 general
-::lcers of the US Navy, one of whom commented on handling flights, with particular attention to elevator
.:.e landing gear configuration. It was suggested that and trim angles with various combinations of flap and
:.-.: tail-down approach gave a good aerodynamic spoiler settings.
::.rking effect. The tail down attitude was an advan-
::e for the catapult launch where high wing incidence
.. r\ required.
.\ proposal to use the prototype Attackers as engine
':.t-beds was considered. In place of the 4,5001b-
The origanal Attacker prototype was later fitted with a
::.:ust Nene engine, the Attacker Mk 2 was proposed dorsal fin to avoid fin stall, and was present for the
-- TS.+09, powered by a 5,0001b-thrust de Havilland King's Cup Air Race at Hatfield in 1951 in FAA
l:ost II as Specification 510. Further developments colours. M. J. F. Bowyer

Flight testing of the prototype continued in the this may have been the cause of the loss of TS4l3 as
evaluation of airbrake installation, the lack of which well as production aircrafr WA47i, killing Superma-
had been previously criticised. and to give naval pilots rine test pilot Peter Robarts. The cure was found to be
ADDL training in preparation fbr actual landings on fitting of a dorsal fin which also improved directional
HMS lllustriou.r. The airbrakes were fbund necessary control, and became a t'eature of the production air_
due to lack of deceleration of the streamlined jet air- craft.
craft without the advantage of propeller braking on the The third prororype. TS4l6, joined the develop-
approach to land. ment programme with its maiden flight on 24 January
Another problem encountered was the rudder lock- 1950. and was the tirst to be fined with a pressure
ing over under certain sideslip conditions, particularly cabin. This prototype f'eatured a number of refine-
when the central fuel tank was fitted. It was thought ments as a result of earlier experience, examples being

:!l!i :i..i!r!i!]Js/

:- :ired air intakes and the setting back of the wings Above:
-- --d 13in. However, such was the rush to put the First production Attacker Fl, WA469, without the
- :.-'ker into service, the Mk ls were completed to additional dorsal fin, pictured during flight-testing at
.': :;rlier confi guration. Chilbolton. Ylckers
: iiLs also becoming apparent that the jet cnginc
: alloq, aircrafi to achieve much higher speeds quent occasion when -570rnph was again achicved,
.i.r\ possible with propellcr aircralt. At the begin- only 20mph below the top speed in level flight.
'i 19,+8. jets started breaking thc various speed Thc next month Mikc Lithgow flew the Attacker
-:!. the Me tcors achicving the absolute speed prototype to Paris at the invitation of the Frcnch Air
-:. putting it out of reach of the Attacker. The Force and Navy. He had the unique opportunity to l1y
': also achieved 542mph in the l00km closed- along the Champs-Elysces in Paris at as low an alti-
: record. but when Mike Litheow reached around tude as he wished, something that would never be
'- -.:h in a practicc. Superrnarine was cncouragcd to allowed now. Alicr flying ovcr the Arc de Triomphe at
.- : :hc record. The selected course ncar the Super- 600mph, thc return to Huln near Bournemouth was
-*- r test airfield at Chilbolton was otficially sur- made in under 25 minutes.
: :: .ri 100.136km, and on 26 Fcbruarv 1948 thc In July 1950 the prototype TS409 was flown b1,
.- -: \\a: raised to -564.88 lmph, despite poor visibil- Mikc Lithgow to Sherburn-in-Elmet to takc part in the
-. :hc' day of the attempt. Bcttcr visibility could SBAC Challenge Cup at the National Air Races. The
'.- - .r-!-n a bettcr resull, as u,as shown on a subsc- 570mph over thc l00km co'.rrse was achieved on this
occasion. winning thc tlophy for Mikc Lithgow. Even
better speeds were anticipated at the samc cvent at
Hatlield in June l9-5 l. but bad weather caused the
ri. tnird production Attacker Fi, later to serve with cvcnt to be cancelled.
FrE Squadron, was shown at the 195O SBAC Various dcsign excrciscs werc looked at with the
a-nborough Air Show. M. J. F. Bowyer Attacker including a two-seat version, the fitting o1'
floats similal to the Spitlire installation and jet detlec-
lcacker FB2, WK338, at the SBAG display at tion rvas considered as a means of reducing landing
:rnborough in 1952 with rocket proiectiles under spccd. RATOG tests wcrc tricd to reduce take-ofT run
tG rings, and rocket-assisted take-off above and with eight rockets mounted in pairs above and below
-rq the wing roots. J. M. G. Gradidge each rvrn-e.

The first Attacker, of a total of 181 to be built, landing, the aircraft using all but l0yds of available
WA469, was flown by Mike Lithgow on 5 April 1950, runway. The port tyre burst in the last 100yds, causing
18 months after the placing of the contract, to be fol- the aircraft to swing to the left, but no further damage
lowed soon after by R4000, the first for Pakistan, the was sustained.
sole export customer for the Attacker. Deck landing proving trials continued using
During a test flight on WA409, Les Colquhoun, TS413, and modifications embodied retrospectively on
one of the Supermarine test pilots, qualified for the all aircraft included the new dorsal fin. flat sided ele-
award of the George Medal. The purpose of the flight vators and lighter aileron controls. Structured provi-
on 23 May 1950 was to assess high Mach number sion for a bomb-carying beam had already been buiit
behaviour and the effectiveness of the dive brakes. into the design, making it relatively simple to comply
Two dives were made up to 400kts with the dive with a Navy fighter-bomber requirement by adding the
brakes being operated. In a further dive over the necessary electrical wiring. The 55th production
Supermarine production airfield at South Marston, Attacker, WA529, first flew on 7 January 1952 as the
near Swindon to 430kts, when the airbrakes were first of six FB 1 s.
opened there was a sudden nose-up trim change, fol- The fighter-bomber role was further developed in
lowed by a sharp nose-down trim change. During the the FB2 which was powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene 7
nose-up trim change there was a loud bang and the engine, later designated Nene 102, improvements
starboard wingtip folded up into the vertical position. including an electric stafter, a metal-framed cockpit
The aircraft momentarily dropped its starboard wing, canopy, provision for six rockets in two tiers under
but with application of full port rudder it was possible each wing and other refinements. The first Attacker
to fly more or less straight and level. With speed FB2, WK3l9, flew on 25 April 1952, a total of 84
reduced to 270kts, it was decided to attempt a landing. being produced for the Fleet Air Arm.
With undercarriage down, a wide lefthand circuit was
flown using the rudder, since the folded wingtip
locked the ailerons solid. On the final approach, flaps Below:
were lowered and the speed was reduced to 2l0kts, The export version of the Attacker, G-i5-llO' was
but control became difficult as the speed decayed. The shown at Farnborough in 1951r fitted wath the ventral
airfield boundary was crossed at 200kts, followed by a fuel tank and a range of warloads. J. D. R. Rawlings

Attacker in Servlce

'i nen the Attacker entered service with 800 Squadron short-lived 890 Squadron. HMS Eagle had been serv-
-: R\AS Ford on 22 August l95l it became rhe pre- ing both in home waters and the Mediterranean, but
-:.:er jet squadron of the Fleet Air Arm, the aircraft 800 Squadron finally disbanded at Ford on 1 June
,:':n,q the first jet fighter in frontline service with the 1954, later reforming at Brawdy with Sea Hawks.
i.rral Navy. The aircraft were equipped with Martin-
3,ker ejection seats, provisions for Rocket Assisted
l;ie-off Gear (RATOG) and a bulbous ventral 250gal
r:.rp tank to inclease the endurance of the thirsty early
:: engines. No 800 Squadron was equipped with a
' :al of eight Attacker Fls, the commanding officer
:ring Lt-Cdr George Baldwin, later an outspoken sup-
:.,ner of the fixed wing Fleet Air Arm. On 4 March
.'-il the squadron embarked on HMS Eagle
for a
::ce-rveek training period, and then alternated
:-r!\een For{ and HMS Eagle, apart from a brief
:*riod at Hal Far in Malta in April 1954. In December
.:-il the squadron strength was increased to 12 F1s
r:en they received some of the complement of the

Xo 8OO Squadron, FAA, Attacker Fl, WA492, visiting

Sosth Marston a couple of months after the squadron
vas formed at RilAS Ford. F. G. Swanborough
. int:
Xo 8OO Squadron Attacker FB2, WK341, used RNAS
Ford as its shore base, and went to sea on HMS
Egle. J. D. R. Rawlings

*. *;4i: .:j&



l{o 8oo Squadron, FAAS, Attackers are seen aboard
HMS Eagre as she passes Southsea. FAA Museum

Attacker Fi WA496; 1O1lJ ol 8OO Squadron aboard
HMS Eagrre, FAA Museum

Attacker FB2WK322; 1O2IJ oI 8OO Squadron in
barrier engagement on HMS Eagte, 4 March 1953.
FAA Museum


The second Attacker squadron was 803 at Ford on Top:
ln \ovember l95l led by Lt-Cdr T. D. Handley, also ilo 8O3 Squadron FAA Attacker FB2, WP292, also
- \erve a rotation between Ford and HMS Engle simi- operated off HMS Eagre when not shore-based at
:: to 800 Squadron. Like 800 Squadron, 803 also BilAS Ford. J. D. R. Rawlings
::;eired lour Attacker Fls when 890 Squadron dis- Above:
-:nded. When 800 Squadron disbanded, 803 went on No 89O Squadron, FA.A, Attacker FB2s at RNAS Ford
: rerve abroad the RN carriers Albion and Certaur in 1952. FAAMuseum
:.:lore its disbandment on 4 November 1955.
.{s already mentioned 890 Squadron operated
lllackers, reforming at Ford on 30 January 1952, but
- \\ as not until 22 April that it was commissioned Before the Attacker passed from frontline service it
-:tler the command of Lt-Cdr R. W. Kearsley who was able to participate in Her Majesty the Queen's
::':nained in charge until disbandment on 3 December Review olthe Royal Navy at Spithead in 1953.
-9-52. 11-t" reason for its short service was that the A number of secondline units also operated Attack-
::.rin duty was to act as a pool to provide aircrafi and ers. The first was 787 Squadron, a trials unit formed at
::,ots to the other two squadrons. In October 1952 the West Raynham in January 195L The initial comman-
-:it embarked on HMS Eagle where it disbanded two der was LrCdr B. H. C. Nation, followed by Lt-Cdr
-:.inths later. Campbell, and later Lt-Cdr S. G. On who had partici-

pated in the service trials of the aircrafi. There was a served with 703 Squadron until the final aircraft left in
detachment to St Davids in mid-1952 and the August 1955.
squadron opemted all versions of the Attacker before No ?02 Squadron received Attacker Fls at Cul-
disbanding on l6 January 1956. drose in March 1952 to undertake the conversion of
No 703 Squadron fbrmed with Attacker Fls at piston engine-traineil pilots on to jet fighters. How-
' Ford in July and August alongside 800 Squadron, act- ever, on 26 August 1952 the unit was renumbered 738
ing as trials unit. It was aircraft of ?03 composite unit, Squadron under a reorganisation of FAA training
which did the initial carrier trials on the new HMS units, and returned to Sea Fury training at the shore
Eogle. By May 1953 the unit's duties included the base ol Lossiemouth.
testing and calibration ol catapult and arrester gears The major Anacker training unit was "736

after carrier refits, as well as testing equipment devel- Squadron, reformed at Culdrose on 26 August 1952,
oped by the Salety Equipment School and Medical Air replacing 702 Squadron. It was known rs an
School, both at Gosport. AII versions of the Attacker Advanced Jet Flying School and the comrnanding offi-
.-er \\"as LrCdr N. Perrett who transferred lrom 702 November 1953, where weather conditions were more
Squadron. In addition to the single-seat Attackers, as suitable fbr flying training. Attacker Fls and FB2s
no two-seat training variant existed, Meteor T7s were were used by 736 Squadron until replaced in August
:.rsed lor conversion training tbr jet techniques, partic- 1954 by Sea Hawks, the Meteors being replaced by
ularly the lower acceleration on rake-ofi and the Vampire T22s.
reduced drag on landing. As part of the Naval Air No 767 Squadron moved to RNAS Stretton on
Fighter School, the unit moved to Lossiemouth in 20 September 1952, where ii received Attackers in
February 1953. The duty of the squadron was to pro-
vide training for deck landing control officers, flying
continual circuits and landings. With the introduction
Attacker F9.2, WP282 of 787 Squadron - a trials unii of the Mirror Landing Aid, 767 became the Signal
based at West Raynham - with underwing carriers for Otflcers Training Squadron, but soon after the Anack-
practice bombs. M. P. Marsh ers depaned.

Above: 1835 and 1836 Squadrons who were all part of the
Attacker FB,2W2277 with 7o3 Squadron, FAA. Southern Air Division.
FAA Museum The flnal RNVR unit equipped with Attackers was
1833 Squadron, based at Brarncote as part of the Mid-
land Air Division. Seven Attacker FB2s arivcd in
October 1955, necessitating a move to RAF Honilcy
No 700 Squadron refbrmed at RNAS Ford on where hard l'unways were available. When 1833
l8 August 1955 as the Tlials and Requirements Unit, Squadron was disbanded in March it was the
leplacing 703 and 771 Squadrons. Attacker FB2s last flying unit at Honiley befbre closr.rre.
served li'om August 1955 until February 1956 as part Following thc disbandment of thc RNVR
o1'a wide collection of aircraft in current FAA servicc. Squadrons thc majority of the Attackers lefi in flying
With the of thc fiontlinc FAA condition were lerried to RNAS Abbotsinch. now
squadrons rvith Sea Hawks. a numbel ol Attackers Glasgow International Ailport. About 70 ailclali were
werc surplus and put into store. However. the re- leccived and scrapping continued with completion by
equipping of thc RNVR squadrons gave a new leasc o1 mid-1958. However. onc aircrali survived. WA437 as
lif'e to thesc relatively sholt-lil'cspan aircrali. No 718 a gate guardian at thc airficld. cventually finding its
Squadron was reformed at RNAS Stretton on 25 April way to the Flcct Air AIm Museunr at Yeovilton.
195-5 to convcrt the RNVR pilots o1' l83l Squadron Support units allocated somc of'thc surplus Attack-
Irom propellel ailcral't. Aircrali used rvere Attacker ers wel'c the Flect Rcquircnrcnts Unit (FRU) at Hurn.
FB2s rvith Vampirc T22s bcing used firr dual conver- which opened on I Septernber l9-52 and usecl Attack-
sion, and the commanding ofilcer was Lt-Cclr W. C. els ll'om Octobcr l9-55 until February 1957. and Air-
Cook. Thc squadron mo'n'ed to Honilcy in July 195-5 to rvork which lbrmed at Brawcly on 5 January 19.50 and
train the pilots o1' ltl33 Squadron. ciisbanding on operated Attackcrs at St Davids fl'clrr Decerrrbcr 1955
3l Deccrrbcr I955 when its task was complctc. to Januarl' I 957.
As alrcady mentioned. the RNVR units u,crc allo-
catcci Attackels. 183 I Squadlon at Strctton with seven
FB2s ancl Vampirc T22s in May 1955. The unit u,as
palt of the Nolthcln Air Division. having previouslv
opcratcd Sea Furies, bLrt disbandrnent camc lirr all the Tap right:
RI-VR Squadr'ons on l0 l\{arch 1957 in the clelencc No 1832 (RNvRl Squadron operated Attacker FB2,
WP2a9, at RAF Benson from August 1955.
J. D. R. Rawlings
No 1832 Scluadron reccivccl thcir' filst jct cquip-
n)cnt at RAF Bcnson in Juli' l9-55 u'ith thc f irst trvo Centre right:
Vanrpire T22s lbllorvcd the next month by the f irst ol' llo 1832 (R]{VRI Squadron was part of the Southern
eight Attackcr FB2s. By Novcr.nbcr thc Attackcrs had Air Division operating Attacker FB2s, including
nrovcd on and rverc leplaced by Sca Halvks thc next W2273, from RAF Benson. J. D. R. Rawlings
January. disbandnrent conring in Malch lcl-57. Thc Bottom right:
Attackels usecl RAF Bcnson due to thc unsuitability o1' Attacker FB2, WK32O, of 1833 (RNYR) Squadron
nearbl' I{NAS Culhanr lbl jet f i-uhter opcrations. ln which tormed part of the Midland Air Division at
cfl'cct thc aircrafi were opclatcd on a pooled basis rvith Honiley. M. P. Marsh



-^;. 4 *ifti:qsje "1':-

, 'r -'-'- " "'", --:J!"*t- :
"'- -


Ll, I
ffi* .l:,
. "



Top: Above:
Following the disbandment of the RNVR units in Attacker FB1, WA53l, which served with the Airwork
lllarch 1957, their aircraft, including the Attacker FB2 FRU at Brawdy and St Davids, ioined many other
WP3O2 of 1833 Squadron, were stored at RNAS Attackers in storage at Abbotsinch in 1958 before
Abbotsinch pending their ultimate fate as scrap. beinE scrapped. M. J. F. Bowyer
M. J. F. Bowyer

Above: Below:
Attacker FBl, WA533, seen here been broken up at The first of six Attacker FBls, WA529 was used for
Bramcote ln mid-l957, had served with 736 Squadron fire practice at RI{AS Ford in June 1958.
FA,/A, the advanced jet flying school at Lossiemouth. J. M. G. Gradidge
Above: major hazard. Tehran was the most easterly point on
The only expon sale of the Attacker was to Pakistan, the tour where demonstrations were made to the Shah
R4O3l passed through Luqa, Malta, on delivery in of Iran, who was almost tempted to fly the aircraft
January 1953. B. C. B. Ashwofth
On the return to Baghdad. one of the tuel tanks
In the early part of 1950 it was decided to send an sprung a leak and had to be sealed off on landing,
Attacker on a demonstration tour of the Middle East. reducing the range of the aircraft. Following anothel'
accompanied by a Vickers Valetta as a support air- transit at Damascus, Ankara was rcached lor demos to
craft. The air forces in question mostly operatcd obso- the Turkish Air Force, followed latel by a visit to
lete propeller-driven aircralt, but the jet aircraft was Athcns to show the aircrafi to the Greeks. A new fuel
limited in its appeal due to the high tirst cost, and sub- tank was littcd in Athens, and the retul'n continued via
sequent running costs. Rome where a short demo was flown in support of the
A customs departure was made irom Manston on Valetta. During the entirc six-wcek tour, over 7,000
19 May, the plan being to use as many as possible of nautical milcs rvere flown and the only snags were one
the regular RAF facilities en-route. Nice was the first hydraulic pump failurc and the leaking fuel tank. Not
stop and then thc route went via North Alrica to Tunis even a tyre was changed. Regrcttably, no sales
where the first impromptu demo was hcld. The next resulted lrom this tour.
destination was Cairo via Tripoli and EI Adem, the One export success was in 1949 when 36 Attackers
Egyptian Air Forcc being considered a possible cus- were ordercd by the Royal Pakistan Air Force as its
tomer. Beirut was the next port of call, reached by t'ly- initial jet equipmcnt in the early build up of the air
ing at a saf'e distance off the Israeli coasl, but at that fbrcc. All the jet aircraft were delivered fl'om South
time there were no jets or rnissiles to catch thc Marston mainly by Supermarine pilots. During these
unwary, especially at a cruising speed of Mach 0.8. dclivery flights, the aircrafi operated in pairs fbr safety
The tour then continued to Damascus and Baghdad as they over f'lew 85,348 miles of sea and 54,568 miles
where rising sand over the f'eatureless desert was a of desert. The routc chosen rvas to allow stage lcngths
of about 500 nautical miles, equivalent to about half
the still air range at best cruising height and with ven-
tral drop tank. Also. thc prcvailing weathet' conditions
and natu|e of thc tenain dictated a morc southerly
route. although a stop at Cyprus was preferred to
Cairo. The average timc fbr a delivery flight was one
week. althor-rgh it was achieved insidc thlee days by
thlee pairs of aircraft. In scrvice with Pakistan, thc
Attackcrs were used as fighter-bombcrs. being capable
of carrying up to two l,000lb bombs and eight rocket-
propelled projectiles undel the wings.

Royal Pakistan Air Force Attackers. RAF Museum






Supermorine Atfocke r F.7
fony Eornes 1992
Swept Wing Development
The Type 510 to the 545
From the results of German research during World in particular rvas that it was powered by a Russian
War 2 it was realised that by sweeping back the wings equivalent of the Rolls-Royce Nene engine donated by
and tail surfaces of jet-powered aircraft, drag rise at the British Government as a goodwill gesture after the
high subsonic speeds was delayed, allowing still end ol World War 2.
greater speeds. While this was realised quite quickly Eventually the British Government went for a low
in the USA, where the North American F-86 Sabre cost developmcnt programme, covering the adaptation
was produced - and also in the USSR with the of the two cuffent straight wing jet fighters to the
MiG-15 - Britain took a little longer to take advantage swept wing configurations: the Hawker P1040 was
of this major improvement. The irony o1'the MiG-15 one example and the Attacker the other. Supermarine
took a basic Attacker fuselage and fitted 40o swept
back wings and tail-surfaces, to SpecificationE.4l146.
The Supermarine 51O/517, Itlrl06, became 7175M in
January 1955 when it was grounded for technical T'he Supermarine aircrafi was designated the Type
training at Melksham and Halton. lt was preserued for 5 I 0, the purpose of the aircraft being to investigate the
a while at Cardington and is now part of the RAF flight characteristics of swept wings at high subsonic
Museum collection at Co$ford. J. M. G. Gradidge speed, with a maximum speed of 610kts.

TYPE 510


The contract covered the construction of the two
:rototypes, VVl06 and VVI19, both built at Hursley
P.rrk and each powered by a single Rolls-Royce
\r'ne 2 engine. The basic Attacker fuselage was
.japted to accept the new flying surfaces, which in the
:.i:e of the wings had to be mounted furlher forward to
::.iintain an acceptable centre of gravity. The original$heel undercarriage was retained. but no naval fea-
:..ics were included initially.
The first prototype, VVl06, was moved by road to
3'.,.combe Down and, afier reassembly, Mike Lithgow
:.rde the maiden flight on 28 December 1948, 21
:r.rnths after the developmcnt contract was placed.
It was immediately obvious that the high-speed
-:rracteristics ol the new layout were exceptional and
I J malter of only a f'ew weeks Mach numbers close
: 0.90 were being achieved. Thoughts turned to
-:in_cing this modest experimental aircraft into a
: :hter. The American equivalent was the North
.-:rerican F-86, as already mentioned, upon which the
-.S Government had invested large sums of money. In
: rtrast Supermarine had to modify the second proto-
,.:e u'ith a nosewheel undercarriage and gun installa-
. r at their own expense due to lack ol funding. The

: -^t.
9rpermarine 51O, Wl06, makes a high-speed flypast
.t Farnborough in September 7949. Vickers
official policy of not investing in high speed aircraft tailwheel undercaniage was criticised, the recommen-
research between 1946 and 1950 took a great deal of dation being that with a tricycle undercarriage and
effort and extrjnse from which to recover. improved elevator control, it fbrmed the basis of a
Despite the good high speed perlormance of the good fighter.
Type 510, there were handling problems at both low In July 1950 the Type 510 went to the RAE at
and high speeds which made it unsuitable as such for Farnborough where, although the aircraft was found to
squadron service. Tip stalling of the wing was experi- have a generally poor finish, it was appreciated that it
enced at low speed, causing pitch up. Provision had was only a quick conversion to assess the viability of
been made for leading-edge slats on the outboard sec- swept wings and tail surfaces. Comparative tests were
tion of the wing, but they r,vere found unnecessary and made between the Type 510, by this time known as
remained locked up. In July 1949 they were removed. the Swift, and the F-86 Sabre. As would be expected,
At high speeds, a very strong lateral trim change the Sabre proved to be overall superior in perfor-
required full right control column movement to keep mance, but at 25,000ft they were about equal in terms
the wings level. This was effective until Mach 0.93 of speed. The Sabre obviously gained due to better
when control was lost altogether, limiting Mach to this production finish and the greater thrust of the engine.
level. To try and improve controllability a servodyne Following these trials the Type 510 returned to
provided power assistance to the ailerons, but it was Supermarine to be modified for naval testing, as a pos-
obvious that for higher speeds, not only would there sible follow-on for the Attacker. An A-type alrester
have to be some aerodynamic improvements, but also hook was fitted under the fuselage and the normal
the full provision of power control. l3.5ft/sec main undercarriage oleos were replaced by
The Rolls-Royce Nene 2 engine which developed a l6ft/sec units to absorb the high landing rates on deck
static thrust of 5.0001b was also not trouble free. one operations. The all-up weight was increased to
engine failure causing a forced landing at Boscombe 12,7001b, additional take-offl boost being provided by
Down on 17 March 1949. There was severe engine the provision of four RATO units grouped above and
vibration when power was reduced below 6,000rpm. below the wing root trailing edges.
When taken down to 4,000rpm directional stability Mike Lithgow recommenced the flight trials in this
was affected, the aircraft yawing left and right approx- configuration on 14 September 1950 and it was then
imately 5o in a series of random darts. The cause was delivered to Farnborough for dummy deck landings in
found to be a function of both airspeed and engine preparation for the first deck landing by a swept wing
speed, and was found to originate from turbulent air- jet on 8 November by Lt Jock Elliot on HMS l11r.srri-
flow in the engine air intakes. The cure was to raise ols. A total of 12 landings and rocket assisted take-
and redesign the boundary layer bleeds above and offs were achieved in one day, three by Lt Elliot, and
below the intake lip and to fit a more robust Attacker- the remainder shared by Mike Lithgow and Lt-Cdr D.
type fi'ont engine mount. G. Parker ol Boscombe Down. later to reach the rank
At an engine speed of l2,300rpm a speed of630 to of Rear Admiral. Generally. there was a 50kt wind
635mph was reached at 10,000 to 15,000ft. The early speed along the deck, the carrier travelling at up to
flights were with a rounded nose cone, but speed 25kts, and the sea state was lairly stable for all land-
increased slightly when a pointed one was fitted. ings. Take-off with only two rockets fired resulted in
Another fault found during early trials was the loss of an acceptable run of 500ft, with a slight starboard
the cockpit hood in flight, after which the hood jetti- wing drop.
son mechanism was modified. Approach spceds were in the region of 124 to
The Supermarine 510 made its public debut at the l34kts indicated, resulting in good landings with
SBAC Display at Farnborough in September 1949 excellcnt oleo rebound characteristics. Dcck landing
during which the aircraft made six daily demonstra- proved straighttbrward with refuelling, rockct change
tions. Later the same month the aircralt went to and other turn round activitics allowing landings to be
Boscombe Down fol initial service evaluation where it made on avcruge erery 20min.
was generally well received. The lift was considerably Thc ncxt day thc trials continued with three further
improved at high speeds due to better high Mach num- landings. but a fuel pressure warning light required a
ber drag, despitc limitations to the maximum usablc return to the shore base. On this lalter take-ofi the
lift-coefficient in the transonic region. The sweepback rockcts failed to produce full thrust on onc side caus-
did, however, introduce longitudinal instability lead- ing an alarrning swing to the left. As a result the
ing up to thc stall, particularly at high altitude. At rvingtip hit the top of a gun turrct, but Lt-Cdr Parkcr
40,0001i the aircraft was practically conlined to rctained control and safely tlew the aircraft to its home
straight llight due to limited manocuvrability. The air- base.
crali did not suffer fiom the predicted problems of Following repairs. the aircraft rcturncd to the RAE
high wing sweepback. and was easy and pleasant to fbr more developmcnt flying bcfbrc removal of thc
11y. It had no tendency to snake or dutch-roll, and the naval cquiprnent. It then was flown at Farnborough on
ailerons gave a high rate of roll at low altitudcs. The high Mach nurnber trials during l9-5 I and I 952. but on


Supermarine 5lO, lfYl06, makes the first landing by a Supermarine 51or \rvl06r aboard HMS ttlustrious lot
swept-wing iet aircraft on a carrier, HMS n ustrioust deck trials on 17 November 195O' FAA Museum
l7 November 1950. RAF Museum
l4 December 1952 a wheels-up landing was made due eter; larger reshaped air intakes; provision fbr wing-
to failure of the main undercaniage to come down. mounted guns; stronger steel-fiamed cockpit canopy;
During this programme of high speed rescarch it and an improved fuel system. The wing area at the
became obvious that modifications would have to be centl'c section was increased by reducing the swcep-
made to improve controllability at high speeds. The back at the trailing edge root end. These drastic modi-
elevator spring tab was removed to reduce a possible fications to the prototype incrcased its length by 4ft
flutter source and a full power control was provided and the original tailwheel was retaincd in the event of
with an elevator of reduced chord. However. a more a tail-down landing.
practical solution was to hinge the whole rear fuselage With the new designation Type 535, the aircraft
and jet pipe just aft of the fin to give up to 4o of move- flew again from Boscombe Down on 23 August 1950.
ment. while keeping the tailplane fixed. Wolk on this the lirst use of reheat being a week later. This was the
started at Supermarine on l0 July 1953 and because of only reheat application for the Nene engine, but the
this relatively major change the new Type No 517 was earlier elevator buffet was climinated by the change in
allocated. This somewhat radical solution worked. but of the fuselage. The aircraft appeared at the
was initially too fast acting, and worked well when the SBAC display at Farnborough during September of
gearing was reduced. 1950, rnaking its public debut.
Following its wheels-up landing, thc aircraft was Aerodynamic testing ol the prototype continued
repaired and flown again by Dave Morgan, Superma- through the remainder of 1950 and into 1951, leading
rine test pilot, on 2 Scptembcr 1953, and the aircratt to measured speed checks of the aircraft in July. Level
continued its contribution to high subsonic speed flight speeds at various altitudes were recorded as
research until 14 January 1955 when it was allocated 622mph at 15,000ft, 609mph at 26,000f1 and 583mph
to RAF Melksham as a ground instructional airfiame. at 35,000ft. In October' 1951, Sqn Ldr Dave Morgan
It soon moved to RAF Halton. and when it had ceased took over the testing of VV1 19, having recently joined
to be of use to the trainee engineers there, it was saved the Supermarine team. The aircraft was used in the
from destruction and put on open display at RAF research for pilots' anti-gravity clothing from
Cardington, in company with its contemporary, the 30,000f1, and it became a stal under the name of
Hawker P1052. The Type 517 then moved to the RAF 'Prometheus' in the frlm Sound Barrier. much of
Colerne Museum but upon the closure of that fine col- which was made at the de Havilland airfield at Hat-
lection, this swept wing research aircraft joined the field and at Chilbolton.
RAF Cosford Museum. On January 1952 the aircraft was slightly damaged
The second prototype Swift, VV119, was exter- on landing, but was flying again by mid-March. Air-
nally similar to the first prototype, but due to internal brakes were tried on the upper sulfaces of the wings,
changes it was designated the Type 528. The aircraft but caused considerable buffet at high spceds, while
was built to the same specification. but one of the the existing flaps provided sufficient aerodynamic
major changes was provision fbr afterburning the braking. Selection was by a two-position switch.
Nene engine to increase the power. which rapidly selected 35o or 55o, allowing a reduc-
Meanwhile the design office had been busy look- tion fiom top speed to l60kts at low altitude in less
ing at operational versions of the Swift, the Type 520 than one minute. The aircraft could also descend frorn
having four wing-mounted 20mm cannon, and an 40,000ft at a rate of 25,000ft/min without exceeding
expoft version proposed for Australia had a longer Mach 0.79.
pointed nose and a more powerful Nene or Tay The wing-drop experienced on VVl06 at high
engine. A nosewheel undercarriage was being seen as speed was still apparent to a lesser extent on VVI19,
desirable, although official policy did not recognise but the power assisted manual controls had a limited
this need.
The prototype 528, VVl19, was first flown by
Mike Lithgow on 27 March 1950. The fuel capacity
was increased to 600gal, the hope being that there Top right:
would be sufficient endurance to attempt the fbur runs Vackers Supermarine E.41146 Type 535 prototype,
at reheat power on the absolute speed record. How- Iwf 19, after conversion to a nosewheel
undercarriage and powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene 3
ever, the need to consider the aircraft as a possible engine. MOS
fighter gained priority over the thought of a spced
record attempt and the aircraft went back to the draw- Centre right:
ing board on 6 May for major modifications. Supermarine Type 535, Wl 19, makes a flypast at the
The most obvious external change was to extend manufacturer's test airfield at Chilbolton, ylckers
the nose and fit a nosewheel undercarriage. Other Bottom right:
major changes included enlarging the rear fusclage to The Supermarine Type 535, Iwl19, was
accommodatc the reheatt a new tail cone to increase demonstrated at Farnborough in September f951.
the tapel of the fuselage to the smaller jet pipe diam- J. D. R. Rawlings

0 T

TYPE 535

effect at high transonic speeds. Missile trials were car- intake, larger span ailerons, a small dorsal fillet to the
ried out in 1955 by fitting dummy Fairey Fireflash fin, modified tail-cone and flared out wingtips. The
missiles under the wings to investigate the eff'ects on retractable tailwheel was retaincd, but with doors,
drag and handling. Two dummy weapons were canied and a variable incidence tailplane was titted giving
up to Mach 0.95 and four up to Mach 0.90. There was travel from -9 to +4o.
little change in overall handling apart from an increase Preparations were in hand fbr the public demon-
in loll inertia. strations at the SBAC display at Farnborough, but the
The flight-testing duties of the aircraft ccascd on new Avon engine was not entirely reliable. On 3
28 September 1955, when it was allocated to RAF August Mike Lithgow was tlying in fbrmation with a
Halton for ground instruction with the identity 7285M. Spitfire fbr publicity photos of the old and the new.
Unlike VVl06, the Type 535 was scrapped at Halton However when power was increased on completion of
ilt the end ol'its uselul life. the exercise. a massive uncontrollable vibration
The Supermarine Type 541 looked very similar to occurred, followed by thc cngine failing. The vibration
the Type 535, but was the next step towards a produc- continued until speed reduced by the use of the very
tion standard Swift fighter. The major improvement in effective airbrakes, and it was possible to glide the ten
this fighter prototype. WJ960, was the fitting of an miles to Chilbolton lor a sale landing. The vibration
axial flow Rolls-Royce Avon RA7 engine developing was found to be caused by aileron flutter, which was
7,5001bs of thrust, in place of the earlier Nene. To soon corected allowing Dave Morgan to continue the
conserve iuel and maintain a reasonable endurance no flying programme.
reheat was fitted to this engine, its powcr being 507c Unfbrtunately. on 8 September, two days before
better than the earlier aircraft. the aircraft was due to appear in the Farnborough
This interim fighter prototype first flew on show, Dave Morgan was on the final approach to land,
I August 1 of increased powel was
95 I , and the bcnefit when at 800ft the engine stopped without warning.
immediately shown with the improved take-ofT and Betrveen the aircrafi and the lunway was thc River
climb performance. However, duc to aerodynamic Test in a stcep-sided valley 400ft frorn the threshold.
limitations already experienced with the earlier proto- Thc only alternative was to select the undcrcaniage up
types, the aircraft was not capable of supersonic and turn downwind to a slightly less rough fbrcc land-
speeds. The external changes included improvcd air ing area. After skidding undcr high tension telegraph


TYPE 54I o
lines, the aircraft hit an apple tree with the starboard a reduced throttle setting to conserve fuel, an average
uing and a brick-built privy - fbrtunately unoccupied speed of 665.9mph was achieved over the 200.38
- rvith the other wing. miles in a time of lSmin/3.3sec. It was returned to
Despite this rough treatment, the airclaft proved its Supermarine from Boscombe Down on 14 August
toughness; it was repaired and flying again within 1953 for the installation of the variable incidence
ihree months. It suffered a further engine tailure on
8 April 1952, but the problem was cured by I I July, Below:
*hen Dave Morgan f'lew the aircraft to the Brussels The Rolls-Royce Avon-powered Supermarine Type
Exhibition. It was therefbre decided to attempt the 541, WJ96O, pictured at Chilbolton, the experimental
London to Brussels record, and by flying at 12,000ft at fliEht-test centre. MOS

i*-,w * "*&*
i1l irlil q. etir; -- - , i,

rlr,f iii:..,]}:!iriiil!:;t"l r.,!ri;.:o.rl*,".liio;ii1.t'


Top: which at long last allowed the aircraft to be flown

The second type 541 prototype, WJ965, which was supersonically in a dive without loss of control. This
very similar to the production Swift Mk 1. Vickers was achieved fbr the first time on 26 February 1953.
Above: Although very different, the ultimate single-
The Type 541 production prototype Swift, WJ965, engined jet fighter development used much of the
which first flew on 18 July 1952, is shown here at experience gained with thc Swift programme. This
Farnborough in September of the same year. was the Type 545 designed to specification F/105D2
J. D. R. Rawlings in competition with Hawker P. 1083, the contract being
placed in February 1952. This more advanced design
tailplane and geared aileron tabs, flying again in with its area ruled fuselage and compound sweep-back
February 1954. In 1955 trials were made with nose- on the wing leading edge promised a high perfbr-
wheel braking and in 19-56 the aircraft was moved to mance, the Supermarine project clearly outclassing the
RAE Bedford for amester barrier trials. Following a Hawker aircraft which was cancelled in July l9-53.
further accident. the aircraft was withdrawn from use Two prototypes of the Type 545 werc ordered with the
on 15 Septembcr 1959 and sold for scrap. first one, XAl8l. planned to fly in thc spring of 1954
The next prototype, WJ965, was much more l'cpre- followed by the second aircraft. XAI 86, in early 1955.
sentative of the production Swifi, which made its The aircraft was intended as a supersonic replace-
maidcn flight lrorn Boscombe Down in the hands of ment fbr the Swift, and thc crescent-shaped wing was
Dave Morgan on l8 July 1952. The major differences sharply swept back 50o on the thicker inboard section,
were a shorter nose and improved cockpit to give the which houscd the main undercat'riage, and thinner
pilot a better view, modified air intakes fbr a more with 30' sweep-back outer scction fbr good high alti-
efficient engine, a new fin and repositioned wing. Fuel tude performancc. Although the swept tail surtaces
capacity was increased significantly and provision were along similal lines to the Swifi, anothcr major
made for operational equipment. difference was the moving fbrward of thc engine air
During the early flight testing, wing and aileron intakes to lhc nose, the orifice split by a centre-body
flutter was experienced which was worse than befbre avoiding thc need for bypass bleed.
due to the weight saving reduction in wing skins. The The engine initially selectcd was the 9,5001b thrust
cure was found to be full power-operated ailerons Rolls-Royce RA l4 Avon, which could achieve


TYPE 545 o o
14.5001b thrust with reheat. This should have given was to be in mid- 1955. However. thc remainder of the
the aircraft a speed of Mach 1.3 in lcvcl flight, but as programme was canccllcd in eally 1955 when proto-
the delayed design programme progressed, it was type 545, XAl8l, was structurally complete, and all
realised that due to higher dlag estimates, this per- rvork on developed versions ceased. The partially
lbrmance would only be achievcd in a dive. A devel- completed aircraft was moved lo the College of Aero-
opment was offered using either the Rolls-Royce nautics at Cranfield for instructional purposes until it
Avon RA35R or thc RBl06 to power the second pro- was scrapped in the early I960s. The scrapping of this
totype, which was expected to provide sufficicnt aircraft was unusual since the majority of the other
power to achieve Mach 1.68. historic aircraft used by Cranfield fbr instructional
Around the latter part of 1954 the competing purposes fbund their way into museums, assuring their
English Electric Pl was proving its much higher per- preservation.
tormance and capability, resulting in the cancelling of
the second prototype 545 on 9 November, and the
scrapping of the work in progress. Construction of the
more complete first prototype continued, but as RAF
intercst waned in anticipation of the cventual entry
into service of the Mach 2 Lightning, work was cov-
ered by the research specification Ei /54. The intention
rvas to deliver the aircraft to Farnborough for experi-
mcntal flying fbllowing the initial manufacturer's
trials. All provision for armament was removed and,
powered by the RA28R Avon, the planned first flight

The Supermarine 545 prototype, XAl8l, was never
completed, and was preserved for a while for
technical training at the College of Aeronautics at
Granfield. J. M. G. Gradidge
RAF Service With the Swift
In November 1950 an order was placed by the RAF but when it was decided to double this armament, the
for 100 production Swift day fighters, in addition to Fls were too far advanced to be modified.
the two pre-production prototypes. All were to be The Swift F2 therefore featured four 30mm Aden
powered by a single Rolls-Royce Avon axial flow jet cannon in the lower fuselage, with ammunition stored
engine developing 7,5001b thrust. in a forward extension of the inboard section of the
Of the development and trials batch of an initial 20 wing root leading edge. Production commenced with
aircraft, the first two, WKl94 and WKl95, were built WK214, and finished with WK246, a total of 16 being
in the experimental department at Hursley Park. Sub- completed. Many of these were not issued for opera-
sequent production was set up at the South Marston tional service. However, the modified wing root
factory. The Swift was reputedly the favoured aircraft resulted in a violent and uncontrollable pitch-up when
over the rival Hawker Hunter, partly because of the g was applied at Mach 0.85 and above, a highly unde-
better endurance of the Swift, made possible by the sirable characteristic in a combat aircraft. When the
additional room for fuel in the bulbous fuselage devel- pilot pulled back on the stick, the nose reared up and
oped around the larger diameter Nene engine. the aircraft flicked over on its back. This may be a
The first production aircraft WKl94, an Fl, first useful manoeuvre in defence, but it would certainly
flew on 25 August 1952 and was allocated to service not help in an attacking situation. The time taken for
trials at Boscombe Down, research flying at Farnbor- recovery also made the aircraft very vulnerable in
ough and company development. When its flying combat.
duties were completed it became an instructional air- In an attempt to overcome the problem a wing
frame at Kirkham in March 1956, being scrapped only fence was fitted on the top surface of the wing and the
six months later at No 33 MU Lyneham. The second leading edge was extended forward in a small step at
production aircraft from the experimental department about half-span. This did not prove to be a fully effec-
shared service trials at Boscombe with WKl94. It tive answer, the ideal cure being to move the centre of
became the F3 prototype and finally was used by
Rolls-Royce for Avon reheat development.
The first Swift off the South Marston production
The firct production Swift Fl, WKl94, flew on
line, WKl96, first flew in March 1953 fitted with full- 25 August I 952 and was used for development and
boosted flying controls. The Swift Fl was only armed trials at Ghilbolton, Boscombe Down and
with two 30mm Aden cannon underneath the cockpit, Famborough. J. M. G. Gradidge

The second production Swift Fl , WKl95, was used
for Rolls-Royce Avon reheat deyelopment and became
the F3 prototype. J. M. G. Gradidge

gravity forward. However, this could only be achieved

by fixing heavy ballast weights in the nose, which lim-
ited the high altitude performance.
Despite these major problems, the Swift became
the first swept-wing jet fighter to enter service with
the RAF. No 56 Squadron at RAF Waterbeach in
Cambridgeshire received its first Fl WK209 on
20 February 1954, followed by the first F2 on 30
August. A total of eight Fls had been delivered by

A rare photograph of six No 56 Squadron, RAF Swift
Fls in formation, the lead three in silver finish and
the other three camouflaged. M. J. F. Bowyer

No 56 Squadron Swift Fls start up at Waterbeach in
August 1954. M. J. F. Bowyer
ll'- G
SWIFT Fl o o
May, but WK209 was abandoned in a spin near West tion as ground instruction airflrames, pending the evcn-
Raynham on 7 May and WK208 crashed shortly alter tual re-equipping of No 56 Squadron with Hawkcr
take-off on l3 May killing the pilot, Flg Off Thornton, Hunters.
who was on his second flight in the type. This latter None of the 25 production Swift F3s entered ser-
crash caused the grounding of the Swifts pending vice. The second one, WK248, was used fbr Con-
modification of the aileron control system and the rec- troller Aircraft (CA) release handling trials at
tification of a number of other more minor problems. Boscombe Down in November 1954 and January
The first modified aircraft was test-flown by a 1955; WK253 was on service trials at Boscombe
Supermarine pilot on 23 July 1954. But inherent prob- Down from February 1955 until Ocrober 1956. All the
lems still existed with the Fls, when the last produc- remainder went straight from the production line to
tion aircraft WK2l3 - the only serviceable aircraft on ground instluction at various RAF technical training
the squadron - had undercarriage problems on schools.
25 August. Unable to lower his nosewheel, Flg Off
Hobbs abandoned the aircralt successfully, landing
near Newmarket. All the other Swifts with the Top right:
squadron were formally grounded. Swift F2, WK24O, which was delivered to No 56
Meanwhile the F2s were ready to enter service and Squadron on 30 August 1 954, became Z3OOM in
WK22l and WK240 were delivered to No 56 February I 956 for technical training at Halton.
Squadron on 30 August, with enough arriving by J. M. G. Gradidge
13 September to allow five to be part of the Battle of
Centre right:
Britain flypast over London. By November, service- First production Swift F3, WK247, seen here at
ability was still very poor, and flying training had to Farnborough in September 1954, was not issued for
be maintained using Gloster Meteors. There were still sen ice, being used for technical training.
hopes that the Swift would make a useful ground J. M. G. Gradidge
attack and reconnaissance aircraft, but on 15 March
Bottom right:
1955 the order came to withdraw them from service
Swift F3, WK24A, was delivered to Cranfield in
pending disposal. By early May the surviving aircraft December f957 for technical training,
had been flown to No 33 MU at Lyneham for prepara- J. M. G. Gradidge

The F3 was similar to rhe F2, but the Avon engine 105'F would be available around mid-afternoon,
was fitted with a reheat. The first example, WK247, putting the speed of sound at 790mph. In these condi-
was demonstrated at the Farnborough Air Show in tions it was estimated that the Swift with reheat could
September 1953, showing a very lively take-off per- reach around 743mph. But Supermarine was not to go
formance. Pitch up was still a problem, but it had been unchallenged. Neville Duke, the chief test pilot of
reduced by fitting vorlex generators on upper and Hawker flew the specially prepared red-painted
lower surfaces of the tailplane. Hunter F3 prototype off the south coast of England to
Amongst the normal trials tasks of the early devel- a speed of 729mph, still leaving an adequate margin
opment Fls, WKl98 was converted to the F4 proto- for the Swift. In the USA plans were also being made
type, making its first flight on 27 May 1953. Mike for the Douglas Skyray and North American F-100
Lithgow f'lew this prototype to the Paris Show on Super Sabre, both considerably laster than the Swift,
5 July 1953 at an average speed of 669.3mph, cover- to make their attempts on the Absolute World Speed
ing the 212.5 miles in 19min 5.6secs. Record.
The F4 was produced under the Type No 546 and The Supermarine team left for North Alrica on
was similar to the F3 but featured a variable incidence 22 September, a linle later than ideal, but still with a
tailplane to overcome the pitch-up characteristics. The good chance of breaking the record before the Ameri-
aircraft appeared to be capable of winning back the cans put it totally out of reach. Despitc maintaining a
Absolute World Speed Record from the USA, and low profile during the initial surveys in Libya,
plans were put in hand for the attempt in the lattel part advanced news leaked out at the Farnborough show,
of 1953. The ideal climate was located over the deserts largely confirmed by the request for the one and only
of Libya, to enable the aircraft to reach the highest set of special timing apparatus. The hope had been to
possible speed. The warmer climate gave an increased find a suitable straight line along the coastline in the
speed of sound at low level, delaying compressibility vicinity of Tripoli, but the temperature records showed
and avoiding increased drag. Not only was Libya ideal a clear 1OoF cooler than just south of Tripoli, and even
from the temperature point of view, but there was a higher temperatures could be found further inland.
well equipped airfield to land at and it was accessible Eventually an ideal course was located by the survey
fbr both the Swift and its support aircraft. party some 50 miles southwest of Tripoli. It was a
However, belore the attempt could be made there dead straight main road running for over l0 miles
was some high priority development flying required, across the Azizia Plain. The only undesirable aspect
and it was desirable to participate in the SBAC display was the 100 miles from the base airfield, making a
during the second week in September. This left the return difficult if engine trouble occurred. A forced
record attempt timing towards the end of September, landing on the l5ft 9in wide road would have been a
when the temperatures were lowering a little from very challenging operation on the l5ti wide main
their summertime peaks. It was still hoped that up to undercarriage track of the Swift.
The survey of the course was undertaken by the
Ordnance Survey ol Great Britain and considerable
help was given by the RAE Farnborough, which sec-
onded Sqn Ldr John Harvey. The Ordnance Survey
The fifth production Swift, WKl98, became the
prototype F4, the ultimate Swift faghter variant. lt was team guaranteed the 3km course to an accuracy of
displayed at Farnborough in September 1953. 3mm. and a further kilometre was marked out at each
J. D. R. Rawlings end over which the aircraft needed to be in level flight.
A Handley Page Hastings was used to support the faults in the timing equipment caused this flight to be
record attempt, carrying the timing equipment, the void, and spare parts had to be sent out from Britain.
Royal Aero Club observers and the servicing team. The problem then was to decide to submit the cur-
The Swift flown by Mike Lithgow, was accompanied rent less than best time as an official record, as if a
by Les Colquhoun in an Attacker, and although the claim is not made within 48hrs it becomes invalid.
jets arrived in good time, the Hastings was delayed in Any further attempt, even flown by the same aircraft
Marseilles for a day with engine trouble. once claimed, must exceed the previous record by one
The team then began to set up the timing equip- percent, which would mean exceeding 745mph. If a
ment. which had to be mounted on concrete blocks claim was not made. the lowering temperature in the
l.000yds from the side of the road across very difficult desert might mean losing the chance ofeven achieving
terrain. The timing equipment consisted of two pairs the figure reached so far. It was therefore decided to
of cameras, a pair set up at each end of the course, submit the claim, but make further runs to improve the
connected to an electronic timing device. The rules of previous figures, even though they would not be valid
the record attempt were that the aircraft had to make fbr the record. On one of these attempts 743mph was
tbur runs over the measured course, two in each direc- averaged on the first two runs, but when the reheat
tion, within a total elapsed time of 30min, during failed to ignite on the third run, the sortie was aborted.
s hich a landing could be made. At no time fiom take- Soon after, a desert wind blew up making visibility too
off until completion of the fourth run was the aircraft bad to continue flying. and while waiting fbr this to
to exceed 1,640ft (500m) altitude, and while over the die down. the Skyray pushed the record to over
course the height must not exceed 100m. To help 753mph, well out of reach of the Swift.
maintain these heights a Gloster Meteor was used to The Supermarine team then returned home having
observe one end of the course and an Avro Anson the achieved the Absolute World Speed Record, fbr only a
other end. The Meteor was also used to monitor the short period, in a production standard aircraft operat-
take-off and flight to the course of the Swift. The ing in tropical conditions, demonstrating high perfbr-
.\ttacker flying at 5,0001t provided the vital radio mance and long endurance in the most demanding
con-rmunications link. conditions.
The first attempt was made on 25 September, but In the event only nine Swift F4s were built, of
uhen the fuel gauges ceased to work. Mike Lithgow which five were converted to FR5 standard leading to
rcduced the reheat time to conserve fuel fiom an eight- production of 89 of this fighter reconnaissance version
ntile approach to the course, to four miles, thus not of the Swift. A furthel I I FR5s were cancelled.
achieving the full acceleration. The start and finish Having had its earliel operational problems cor-
sas indicated by smoke markers on the road. and the rected. the Swift was not adopted as a fighter due to
rurns were made over the desert at about 600mph, the lessening of international tension tbllowin-e the
climbing to around 1,000ft before making each re-run. end of the Korean conf'lict. The Hunter was in full pro-
Within four hours of this attempt, the speed was duction and in widespread squadron scrvicc, and there
recorded at 737.3mph, later conected to 735mph due
lo a camera shutter tault. This speed was f'elt to be
good fbr a first try, especially taking account of the
iuel gauge problem, and the bumpy air turbulence at Swift F4 prototype, WKl98, ls prepared for its
ihc time which could reduce thc speed by up to attempt on the World Absolute Speed Record at E!
l5mph. The next day a second attempt was made, but Adem, RAF Museum


The Swift F4 prototype, WKt98, achieved the World

Absolute Speed Record over l{orth Africa, flown by
Mike Lithgow. Vicke rs-Armstrong
/ffin \
Above: undertook service trials at Boscombe Down in July
Swlft F4, WK275, was used for engine noase trials at 1953. This aircraft was finally scrapped at Bicester
Hatfield in the mld-l96Os, and as now presewed at three years later. The first production FR5, XD903,
Upperhil!, P. J. Birtles
made its maiden flight in the hands of Les Colquhoun
on 27 May 1955, the next two aircraft having
just rvas not the need fbr yet another day fighter. even improved clear view canopies and 220gal drop tanks
though the Swift had a higher speed and a greater taking fuel capacity to 998gal. The previous F4s
endurance. Service entry of the Hunter had not been WK28l, WK287 to 315, and WNl24, were all con-
without problems, particularly in respect ol the Avon verted to FR5s before issue to the RAF. Swift FR5
engine which surged when the guns were fired. This production went from XD903 to XD930, and XD948
was overcome in the short term by fitting the Arm- to XD977. The final batch from XD978 to XD988
strong Siddeley Sapphire engine to some versions. were cancelled. The Type 550 unarmed Swift PR6
The Swift, however, was still capable of making a was proposed to replace the Meteor PRl0s, but
valuable contribution in the fighter reconnaissance although XD943 was the first airframe allocated to
role, to replace thc outdated Meteor FR9s. As the this task, development was abandoned and the aircraft
Typc 549. the FR5 was basically a F4 with a lcngth- was not completed.
ened nose housing three cameras. Onc was mounted in
the extreme nose, and the other two werc uscd fbr
oblique photography and mounted on eithcr side ofthe Below:
nose, a short distance in front of thc air intake. Swift F4, WK273, is pictured at Farnborough in
One of the surviving development Swift Mk ls, September 1954 with eight rocket proiectiles under
WK200, was converted to the prototype FR5 and the port wang. M. J. F. Bowyer



' s'.;::
, r*i
I . i,
'*- St- -, !i'
E,& &Sits \ ".ltl
". -dt
Top left: The Swilt FR5 was the first aircratt in RAF service
Camera installation in prototype Swift FR5 at to be equipped with reheat, when in January 1956
Chilbolton. Gameras were located in the extreme
nose and just forward of the engine air bleed intake,
No 2 Squadron of the 2nd Tactical Air Force (2TAF)
Supermarine in Germany began to take deliveries at its
Geilenkirchen base. In October 1957 a move was
Centre left: made to Jever and the Swifts were gradually replaced
Swift FR5, WK296, at Farnborough in September by Hunter FR10s from April 1961. No 79 Squadron
1956. M. P. Marsh
commenced receiving Swift RF5s at Gutersloh in
Bottom left: 1956. also as part ol the 2TAF, and continued fighter
Swift FR5, XD969, at Aldergrove Battle of Britain reconnaissance duties alongside No 2 Squadron. No
show in September 7957. Tom Crossett 79 Squadron was disbanded on I January 1961 when
it was absorbed into No 4 Squadron to be equipped
Below: with Hunter FR10s. While re-equipping with Hunters,
Swift FR5, XDgl6, which was delivered to ilo 2 No 4 Squadron continucd to operate briefly Swift
Squadron, RAF Germany, in February 1956. Air Ministry FR5s, some of the aircraft canying the markings of
Bottom: both thc old and thc ne\ unit.
Swift FRS, XD962:J of No 2 Squadron, RAF, visited Two Swilis of No 79 Squadron had gained first
Biggin Hill for the Battle of Britain display in and second places in the NATO Annual Reconnais-
September 1960. J. M. G- Gradidge sance Competition, 'Royal Flush', held at Laarbruch,
Top: Below:
Swift FRS, WK295:G of llo 2 Squadron, at West Visiting Tangmere in September 1957 was Swift FRS,
ilalling in October 1959, J. D. R. Rawlings XDgl2:C of l{o 2 Squadron, J. D. R. Rawlings

Swift FR5, Wlrll24:S of1{o 2 Squadron, at Below right:
Bassingbourn in September I 958, crashed just under The other m4or operator of the Swift FRs was 1{o 79
a year fater on 27 August 1959. J- D. R. Rawlings Squadron, also in RAF Germany. MOD
tselow: Below centre:
Swift FR5, XD949:D of No 2 Squadron rvas stored at RAF Aldergrove was the last resting place of many
RAF Aldergrove in December 1959. Tom Crosseft retired Swift FRss, one being XD959:V of ilo 2
Squadron, in December 1959.Tom Crossett
Wcs{ Germanl'. in Nlaf i957. Thc rnission rvas iou' Abo,/e:
lcVe I rcconnais:itncr $ itlr photographic re col'iiillll
Swift FRs XE953:F of l{o 79 Squadrono from RAF
Germany. MOD
be lorr, 5001t cove rirlg 2(r[) nar-rticl] tttrle s. Tire col]ll)e ti
tion rruin1,l, consisictl ol RF-8-il:'l'hLtndc|jets tlpclatcd Tap righi:
b1 tiro ,4llieci ait' lirlcc:. 'i'u'o ycars latei- tirc Swiit; Swlft FRS, \{tK315:F of 79 Squadron ' J. D. R. Rawltng:
lepcatcd thcii sttcccs'. Cenire righi:
-lhc fighiei rcconttltissltttce Ssilis
llioilcclcd higil Swift FR5, WK3Og:S of No 79 Squadron, was stored at
sl.lccrl ioq'lcvei opclitliolts Lrntlet thc Ilortilc racilu' Aldergrove in lrecember { 959 after retirement from
scrccrjs. Tirc lobusi constttrciiort ol th: Su ilt stood ltp seruice. Io[) Cros.39ll
*'el1 to thc purtisitilg conditions. and tne lcl'r'tlitl tbi
Iou'ing tecirniclucs ticvcloped b1' tirc R,\E Iirl ltrtLrlc Boltam right:
For a brief period after No 79 Squadron finished
coinbat iiircraii rrctc t'cf incti usiltg tlrc Srr itis in tirt
operating Swift FR5s, No 4 Squadron flew them for a
nrLilti-high g envir-onrttcnt. Not onlr' \\'as ti)J Sri'il't ilr:t month in January 1961 at Gutersloh. FR5' WK293.
and u'itlr thc ciesilcd long cntluiancc. blli cluc t() tilc features No 79 Squadron markings on the rear
higlr intcgritY o1'tltc liriianlc titctc ucrc llo strl-tcttlral fuselage and No 4 Squadron markings on the nose.
f aih-rre s in tiris hosttlc colntrltt rcgirno. Eric Tayior

:',j' ,:, ,:'..3 -:::;-:i

lit;lr iriliii jrl,ir,i:t !r:il;


-ffi..l:*rr;'r* ;rr*S

.-f:q' , j,..%..,:;r
The trnal version of the Switt was the F7 first pro- Right:
posed in August 1952 as a design study tbr the ailcrall Sryift FR7, XFI 13, the first production aircraft is seen
to be able to carry four Bluc Sky air'-to-air missiles at Farnborough in September t956, carrying
undet ing-mounted Fairey Fireflash missiles.
under the wings with radar guidance. These rvere in J. M. G. GradiCge
addition to the standard fit ol four t-ixed Aden cannon.
The radar was accommodated in a lengtl-rened nose
and the wingspan was increased to 36.08fi from the to be equipped rvith guided nrissiles in service. The
original 32.,33tt ol the earlier marks. Power caure fi'om Blue Sky rnissile was renamed the Fairel, Firellash,
a Rolls-Royce Avon [16 engine uprated to 7,5501b and was in fact a radar beam-riding unpowered dart
thrust and F4 WK279 was modified as an iierody- with a high explosive impact warhead. Thc rnissiles
namic prototype. It was fitted with detachablc launch- werc accelerated to Mach 2 after launch by a pair oi
ers for the n"rissiles and successtully lired thlee in .jettisonable booster mok)rs. Although these rnissiles
October l9-55. never entered lull operalional sen'ice, 300 wele issued
The first pre-production F7s were XF774. i'irst to No I GWDS tbr operational developrnent lirings ar
flown in April 1956, followed by XF778 in June, both targets over Cardigan Bay. When thcse trials r.r'ere
used fbr developrnent flying. The iirst lull production completed the aircrai't werc rctired and scrapped.
aircraft of a total of 12. XFll3, f'lew in'August 1956, The remaining tu,o ailcraft did not participate in
and these three aircraft, plus the developmcnt proto- the weapons trials. XFI l3 being f'lolvn by tlie
type were delivered to Boscornbe Down lbr handling Handling Squadron at Boscombe Down in 1956. and
and perlbrmance trials. With missiles carried undel the then becon.ring part of the Empile: 'Iest Pilots' School
wings maximum speed was restricted to 580kts or (ETPS) lleet at Farnborough until retiremeni in carlv
Mach 0.92 up to 20,00011. The two pre-production 1962. The other aircrait, XFI 14, r.r'as used by Bristol
prototypes then went to RAF Valley fbl firing trials, Siddeley Engines at Filton and then rvith the main
XF778 being fitted with cameras in the nose to record undercaniage doors t'emcved ra'as used fol wet rllnway
firings from the radar equipped XF774. Ten oi' the trials at Filton, Heathrow, Upper Heyford anii Clan-
production batch, XFI l5 to XFl24 were allocated to tield in mid-1962 to check the aquaplaning character-
No 1 Guided Weapons Development Squadron istics of r,arious run$,ay surlaces. During this time it
(GWDS) at RAF Valley to be the first British tighters was painted overall black and afier retil'ement was



iclirerecl by road to Fiint Technical College on it unjustified. However. it achieved a number of firsts,
l-.1 April 1967 fbr technical training. still without its pafticujarly in its later versions, and became a popular
;i'rlrin unclerciirriage cloor-s. It survii,ed for manv years and cii'cctive aircrait.
.,nrl \\ils rccovcred in exccllent condition in carlv 1989
rr .Tct Iieritage at Fiurn Airport. Currentlr'. it is being Beiow:
:;bLriit to 1'lvins condition. naliing this the last flf in-e
Swift FR7, XFI 19, pictured here whilst in service with
-',rrnpic of an1- of the Supermaline jet fl-ghters. the Guided Weapons Missile Development Squadron
Tlie S*'ifi ciime in fbr more than it,s fair-share of at Yalley, carryinE underwing Fairey Fireflash beam.
.:iticism ciuring its dgvslopllent and service. some of riding air-to-air missileE,

Twin-Engine Developments
In the early days ofjet engine development, the lower on the approach and dive flaps assisted recovery from
power of the engines encouraged the designers to high Mach numbers. A lightweight fixed tricycle
rcducc drag and unnecessary weight wherever poss- undercarriage was to be fitted during the initial testing
ible. One aspect looked at by both Britain and France of fl ight characteristics.
was the operation of aircraft without an undercarriage. When the Admilalty abandoned the undercarriage-
The French line of development was the Sud- less schemes in 1947, Supermarine adapted its design
Barouder, a singlc-cngined lightweight fighter which to the Type 508 fitted with a conventional tricycle
uscd a trolley lbr take-off and skids for landing, the retractable undercarriage, and increased the thickness
aim being an independence from airfields and long of the wing to nine percent to accommodate it in the
runways. In Britain, however, the approach was to use stowed position. All-round dimensions were increased
a flexible deck, dispensing with the weight and com- to reduce landing speed, the thicker wing also benefit-
plexity of the normal undercan'iage, and the problems ing low level performance and landing characteristics.
of stowage in thin wings, and land the aircraft on its Wing area was increased from 270 to 3 lOsq ft.
belly on a rubber carpet. With this all-round increase in size, the Superma-
Initial trials of the flexible deck were undertaken rine 508, by now designed to Specification N.9/47,
by Capt Eric Blown using specially adapted Vampire had become the heaviest and most powerful aircraft
fighters, starting at Farnborough where the first ever built for the Royal Navy.
attempt caused considerable damage, but eventually Three prototypes were ordered, the iirst and third
proving the concept as practical in a series of 40 land- to be fully instrumented for experimental flying and
ings. Not only was the plan to use the flexible deck on the second aircraft allocated to service trials, fitted
aircraft caniers, but also site it on land to provide with the new 30mm cannons under the forward fuse-
quick landing strips close to the battle zone. The major lage and radar-ranging mounted in the extreme nose.
weakness was of coursc the lack of mobility on the In addition to a camera gun in a fairing under the nose
ground. and the probability of damage to the underside cone, two vertical and one oblique camera were fitted
of the ailclaft. for fighter reconnaissance duties. The first two proto-
It was for this task that the Supermarine twin-jet types were powered by two Rolls-Royce RA3 Avon
development was originally planned with a heavy twin engines, each delivering 6,5001b thrust.
Avon-engined Type 505. Once landed on the carpet, The first prototype Type 508, VXi33, was trans-
the take-off for the next sortie would be catapult ported by road to Boscombe Down, from where Mike
assisted. The side-by-side engine installation ensured a Lithgow made the maiden flight on 3l August 1951.
flat cross-section underside for grcater stability on The aircraft logged l0 flying hours in time to qualify
landing, and the absence of a main undercarriage for an appearance at that year's Farnborough Air
allowed a seven percent thickness chord ratio straight Show. where its display was restrained so as not to
wing giving performance improvements in speed and risk a new unknown type. As latel experience was to
climb rate. show, it was perhaps fortunate that the manoeuvres
The Type 505 was being designed in 1945 when were modest.
little was known about swept wings, so a straight wing
with a symmetrical section constant over the whole
Top right:
span was provided to avoid tip stalling. The leading
The Supermarine Type 5O8, VXi 13, which first flew
edge radius was as large as possible to prevent early
on 3l August 1951, was demonstrated at
airflow breakaway. Farnborough one month later. J. D. R. Rawlings
To reduce high speed interf-erence effects and drag,
a butterfly V-tail was chosen to achieve the required Centre right:
strength for its relatively thin surfaces, and to clear the The prototype Type 5O8, VX133, during its
jet efflux. Pitch control was effected by an all-flying deyelopment test programme at Chilbolton. Vickers
tail, the clevators giving additional control, and rudder Bottom right:
movements was replaced by dilftrential movement ol The Type 5O8, VXl33, flies past the control tower at
the elevators. Lift spoilers were fitted to increase drag Chilbolton. Yickers


wPE 508
To provide additional lift for deck landings, the Top:
leading edges of the wings automatically drooped The Supermarine Type 529' yxl36' was fitted with
s hen a certain degree of flap was selected. At the dorsal strakes ahead of the butterfly tail' MOS

' time the ailerons also dropped to form a good Above:

lorv-speed section. Controls were still operated aero- The Supermarine Type 529' VX136' was
d1'namically rather than fully powered. rvhich resulte d demonstrated at Farnborough in September 1952. lt
rn some undesirable incidents with the Type 508. was intended to equip the aircraft with gun-ranging
The first was when Mike Lithgow was flying the radar in the nose and a radar warning device :n the
.rircraft on 5 December 195 l. at low altitude and a |ail. J. D. R. RawlinEs

rpeed well below the maximum. For no apparent rea-

\on the aircraft began to vibrate violently rvith no indi-
crtion of the cause. A very strong uncontrollable nose- It was assumed duling the subsequent investigation
rp pitch developed, and to attempt to regairt control that for some reason, the undercaniage had come
lhe pilot disengaged the elevator power. This however dorvn in flight. The aircraft was repaired and rhe
nade things a lot worse and Mike Lithgorv blacked undercamiage modified to avoid an inadvertent lower-
rrut due to the high g forces, regaining consciousness ing before it leturned to its flight development tasks. A
rn an upward verlical role at 11,0001t. Control rvas f-ew flights later the same thing happened, but at least
::gained and the accelerometer showed a maximum of the undercaniage stayed up. Also, the incident was
i lg which had caused some minor structural damage viewed from the ground and it was established that
:ncluding loss of both wingtip pitot heads, resulting in aileron flutier caused the problem. The use of power
:o airspeed indication. The return to Chilbolton was controls overcame this problem, and the Type 508 was
nlde very carefully to avoid any furthel strain on the otherwise a trouble free aircraft, achieving all its
.rr erloaded airframe. design targets.
On completion of its flight trials the aircraft, with
its outer fblding wing panels removed, was used by
the School of Aircraft Handling at RNAS Culdrose to
The Type 5O8, VXl33' seen during deck trials on HtlS teach deck handling techniques. It was then relegated
Eagle,28 ilay 1952. FAAMuseum to fire practice and was burnt beyond repair before it

was realised it might have been worthy of preserva- repaired and contmenccd catapult acceleration trials in
tion. mid-June. The Bedford trials were completcd in
The second prototype, VX136, was sulliciently dii- Novembcr, when the aircraft returned to Supermarine
ferent in detail and armament liorn the first, 1cl bc ailo- at Chilbolton lor further development flying, but it
cated the new Type 529. It lnade its tirst flight alnxrst was damagcd again on 19 December 1953 during an
a year after the first on 29 August 1952, with four emel'gency landing.
30mm cannon fitted in pairs below the engine intakes. The aircraft was stored pending a decision on its
It was planned to instail smail radomes in the nose fbr f'utule, but lepair was consideled uneconomic with the
radar ranging, and the tail for tail warning radar, but more representative Type 525 becoming availablc.
neither were fitted due to development delays. Thc The Type 529 was thcrefbre struck olf chargc on
Mk 5 gyro gunsight was also withdrawn, so that the 27 Octobcr. 1954 and the major cornponents finaliy
aircraft was never used for its planned service trials, were delivered to the Prool and Explosivcs Establish-
although it was not planned to put the aircrafi into pro- ncnt on 29 June 1956 to be used ibr damage assess-
duction. Both the fir'st and second ailcraft wcre ment of guntire on aircraft sll'ucture s.
deployed on carrier trials where their takc-off and Ihe third prototype of the trio of research air-craft,
climb performance was found to be exccllent. VXl38, dil'f'cred considerably fiom the earlier two and
During flight trials both aircraft were found to be was designated thc Type 525. The major difi'erence
prone to flutter which put limitations on their use, but betwecn this and eariicr aircraft v/as that the wings
they did provide useful data in operating largc and and tail surf'aces wele all swept back, the fin and
powerful aircraft on carricr decks in preparation for tailplane being of more conventional crucilorm
what was due to emcrge in the future. design. It bore an overall simiiarity to thc evcntual
The Type 529 was delivered to rhe RN test production aircrafi, which in effect was ;r ccmplete
squadron at RAE Bedfbrd on 15 April 1953 fbr rail- redesign. Despite the major dif]'erences, this aircrali
down landing trials, culminating in slight damage in a was still included in the original specification and
forced landing on 5 May. The airclaft was soon higher power came flom a pair of Rolls-Royce RA7
Avon engines with a thrust of 7,5001b. Provision was
Below: made to lit a reheat RA7R, but this never took place.
The Type 529, VXl36, with folding wings on HMS Follor.ving constl'uction by Supermarine, the air-
Eagle, S November t953, tor deck trials, FAA Museum crafi was dismantled and taken by road to Boscombe
The swept-wing Supermarine Type 525, YXl38, was
fitted with generous flaps on the wings and under the
fuselage. M. J. F. Bowyer

Down where Mike Lithgow made the first flight on

27 April i954. The aircraft was fitted with a sting-type
arrester hook in the tail cone, and the fin leading edge
area was increased early in thc flight trials to improve
directional stability.
Supermarine experienced the same basic aerody-
namic prcblerns fbund in the USA with the second
jet aircraft. Despite the swept surfaces and
more powerful engines, there was clnly a very modest
increase in speed, as the area rule r.vas not applied.
This allowed for a smooth curve if the overall cross
section was plotted. but if thc wings gave a sharp
increase in the cross-sectional area, the spced would
be limited. The familiar waisted or 'Coke bottle' elfect
overcame this problem. Therelore although it was then
probably the most powerful swept wing aircraft in the
*orld, it cor-rld only jr.rst exceed the speed of sound in
a dive. This basic shortcoming was corected in the were essential for approach and landing. The Type
dcsign of the Type 544, destined to become the pro- 525 had NACA double-sloned flaps on the wing trail-
duction Scimitar. ing edge, joined by cxtensions under the fuselage, and
The Type -525 was fittecl wirh a taller undercarriage tapered leading edge slots fiom wing root to tip. In
positioned furthel out on the wings and the overall addition. lift spoilers, Attacker-type air brakes and
iength was 52fi due to the swept back tail surfaces. To dive recovery flaps were provided as part of the com-
,rllow practical carrier operations. high lift devices plex controi systems.


wPE 525

Top: trailing edge, just ahead of the flap hinge. This jet of
The swept-wing and tail Type 525, VXt38, ted to the
development of the Scamitar. Vickers
air tended to follow the contour of the flap when it
was deflected, avoiding the turbulence caused by the
Above: boundary layer separation and rapid rise of drag. As a
Type 525, VXl38, seen at Farnborough on result the approach speed was reduced by some l8mph
8 September 1954.
and the smaller angle of attack gave an improved view
J. D. R. Rawlings
for the pilot on the approach. Control and stability was
significantly improved at lower speeds because of a
A swept butterfly tail had been originally proposed, smoother wake and more stable airflow over the trail_
with variable incidence through a hingecl tail cone, but ing edges.
structural considerations resulted in the more conven_ A denavalised version of the Type 525, designated
tional design. the Type 526, was oflered to RAF Specification
As a lurther part of the programme to improve F.3/48 but was not adopted. A tandem seat trainer ver-
handling on the approach to landing, Supermarine sion was considered, still with a swept butterfly
deveioped its experience of laminar flow. The sutplus tailplane. as the Type 539.
of air available from the compressors of the more The Type 525, painted in a gloss cream overall
powerful jet engines coming into service would allow colour scheme, participated in the September 1954
the boundary layer turbulence to be overcome by SBAC display at Farnborough, bur on 5 July 1955 it
sucking or blowing throu-eh perforations in the aero_ was totally destroyed in a latal crash following an
foil surfaces. Supermarine developed a flap blowing uncontrolled spin, ending the era of twin-jet experi-
system for the Type 525, which projected a thin jet of mental design, which paved rhe way for an eff'ective
hish pressure air through a narrow slot along the wing production programme.

The Scimttar
As.a logical developmenr of the Type 525, the Type therefore was of robust construction to withstand the
544 was produced, known initially ajthe N113, beiore
heavy flight loads and gusrs ar high speed and low alti_
becoming the Scimitar for the FAA. This was to be the
tude, especially when pulling high g
last in a long line of Supermarine aircraft, the name With the high subsonic speeds at which the Scimi_
being absorbed fully into Vickers when that company
tar would be expected to operate, elfective control was
became part of the British Aircraft Corporation.
a major problem to overcome. This generation of high
The first protorype Nl13, WTg54, made irs initial speed aircraft was experiencing a pitch-up in longitu_
flight with Mike Lithgow from Boscombe Down on dinal control apparenr at high altitude and high Mach
19 January 1956, followed by two more prototypes,
numbers. This unwelcome characteristic was caused
WT895 and WWl34 in the same year. The thirdiro-
by the sonic shock wave-induced separation ol the air
totype was the first aircraft to be fitted with blown flow over the wing, leading to a high speed tip stall,
flaps. Deck trials were flown with the first prototvDe aggravated by the increased downwash over the all-
in April 1956 from HMS Arft Royal, with funner OecX
flying tailplane, without its own elevators. The solu-
trials flown in January 1957 using the more represen_ tion to the problem was to introduce saw tooth notches
tative third prototype. in the wing leading edge together with boundary layer
Changing operational requirements caused the fences and Kuchemann-shaped flared out wingtips.
Scimitar to shift its designated role from single_seat This worked fbr many of the contemporary swept
fighter to a low Ievel strike aircraft capable oi using wing jet fighters of the time, but the N1 l3 benefited as
the below radar coverage Low Altitude-Bombing Sys_
much as anything from converting the tailplane from a
tem (LABS) attack method. In addition, the iirciaft ten degree dihedral to a ten degree anhedral.
ri'ould be capable of launching a tactical nuclear
device, all with a single pilot as crew and modest radar
for.weapon sighting. The overall design had complied
n,ith the area rule, giving the Nl13 a iupersonic capa_ Below:
bility in a shallow dive, rhe high speedbeing helpiul The strop drops away as one of the lfl t3 D
prototypes climbs away from HMS lrk Foyat at deck
in departing from a hostile environment. Thelirframe trials in 1957. Vickers
Above: Below:
Supermarine lilt f 3, WT854, with the original dihedral Supermarine Nl'E 3, WTg54, prototyFe for the
tailplane on arrester trials at RAE Bedford. ylckers Scinnitar, seen at Farnborough in September 1956
after the anhedral tailplane had been fitted.
J. M. G. GradiCge
The rate of roll was very high at moderate Mach Above:
:rumbers. and thc ailcrons tendcd Io bc overscnsitii,e. Supermarine N113 second prototype' WT859' still
Thc Nl l3 was the flrst British naval aircrafl to r.rse with the dihedral tailplane. Vicker.s
tluplicated power controls. the lequircd accuracy being
.ichieved by addin-u snpplemcntary hydraulic jacks to
ihc original Fairey power contlols, and introducing heavy long firselage. The conrputcr studics conlirrncd
clilterential gearine to prodr.rcc thc llncr dcgree of that the strength contingcncy allou'ancc ploviiicd by
.lccuracy rcqr-rired. the advanccd cngineerirrg rvoulcl cope with anv plotr-
A concern of the Supermarine design tcam was thc lcrrs o1'this nature.
:nertia fbrces gencratcd during rapid roll-s. particularly To \\,ithstand the high ioads on thc structulc. hi,'h
Juring roll pull-outs. which could induce exccssive tensilc stccl rvas used lirr- thc main u'inr spars. and fbr
i.rn,. This could cause structural damaqe to an aircralt arcas of rrajor strcss in thc u'ing anci tail. 'Iitaniurn
,rl the N I l3 layout rvith short lighnvcight u'in,g: and a sas uscd in lou'cr strc-\s arcas u'here heat l'csistancc
rlas r-ecluircd. To lcoustic dlmage b1' thc
cnginc.jct el'llur on rcar llsclagc pane ls. thickcl skins
Selow left: uere mountcd on steel libs. bondccl *'ith a synthctiu
The somewhat battered Nl l3 Scimitar prototype, rcsin backcd b;' a lbanr f illing. The nraioritl, o1' the
WTa54, in use at RNAS Guldrose in l97O for training lcnrrinder of thc airlianrc u'as conventional light alloy
ground handlers. J. D. R. Rawlings
structurc rvith the skins chcnrically rnillcd to rcducc
ricight *,herc appropliate. An overall latiguc lil'c ol'
Third prototype Nl13, WWl34, with blown flaps 1.000hrs rvas achicved. an averagc lbr high pcrlirr-
aboard HMS lrk Royal ,o? deck trials in early 1957, rnancc militarl, ailcratt, bui hardly acccptable in com-
with tC'Squadron at Boscombe Down. Supermanne mcrcial aircrali.
XD212 was the first production Scimitar F1. Vickers

Scimitar F1512!FO of 7OO{XI Squadron, FllAr during
deck service trials. F,zlA Museum

T'he Scirriitar was the large:st, heaviesr and most

pon'elful single-scat .jet figlrter to sgrve r'",ith rhe Fiect
Air Arm and \\'as conlplcntentar), ro thc t\\'o-seai dc
Havilland Sea Vixen all-weather Iighter.
As mentioned earlier. the prototvpc WT8-5.1 rnaclc
the initial deck landing trials on !'lMS Ar* Rrrr,a1, iol-
lowing a sclics ol'simulated dcck landingr on an
arrestcr gcar'-equipped run\\,ay at RAE ileCtirrd. By
Novcrnber l9-57 a totai of i4li deck landings ancl cata-
pult take-olfs had bccn achieied. gir.inl an idcal
approach specd of i2-lkt at a lanCing ivcight o1-
18.0001b. l-o acltieve this, 1'lap blovn,ing v.,as used gir-
ing a steeocr attitude on the approach. ancl implovina
the pilot's vier.r' ovcr the nose. Thg maxinrut.n perinis-
sible $,eiqht fbl a stcarn catapr-rlt launch was -14.0(X)lb.
tirst production Scimiter. XD2l2, rnadt its
maidcn 11ight on I I January l9-i7 and sharcd clcvclolr-
ment with a nurrbcr o1'thc ear:ly batch of'aircret't. This
included Builpup nrissile trials, acccpranud tlirls at
Boscombe Down and F{MS AlL Aolrrl, and ihe iirnn,
ing of 700X Fli-eht iirr opcrational trials. Inirill ilcck
training was can'ied ou! at Bosconrbc l)ou'n, and thc
fbrmation ol 700X Fliglrt u'as an innovation lbl rhc
introductiorr ol' a complcx wea])ons systeln. to dcrcr-
milc thc best wa1's to oporati the neu' ailcrali in :t
rcali stic scrvicc environr.nent.

The Scimitar was introduced to FAA service with 7OO
Squadron at RNAS Ford from August 1957 to June
1958. XD22O:5il of 7oO Squadron is prepared for
flight in June 1958. J. D. R. Rawlings
ao3 Squadron Scimitars, XD242:152N, and
XD23O:151/V, ready tor catapult departure from HMS
Yictorious. FAA h'f useu m

Below left:
Scimitar Fl, XD264:154/v of ao3 Squadron' aboard
the HMS Victorious. RAF Museum/Cyril Peckham

700X Flight lbrmed at RNAS Forci on 27 August

1957 commanded by Ctlr T. G. Innes, receiving its
first Scimitar in May 1958. It continued rvith the oper-
ational development task until February 1959. Mean-
rvhile. BO3 FAA Squadron commenced operational
training at Lossiemouth on 3 June 1958, as the first
frontline squaclron under the command of Cdr J. D.
Russell. The cight Scimitar Fls embarked on HMS
Victoriou,s in September, wolking up in home waters
belbre spencling a few 'uveeks in the Mediterranean Sea
towards the end of 1959.
Nluch of the lbilorving year was spent ashcre based
aI Lossiemouth. re-ernbarkin-e on FiMS Victorious tn
October lbr a further peliod in the Mediterranean.
including l0 da1,s on shr,.re at Hal Far in Nlalta. A
return was made to l-ossiemouth on 19 I)ecember to
prepare tbl Far Eastern service fbr a duration of 10
months. The departure was rnade on HMS \lictorious
inJanr.rarl, 1961. r'eaching 1'engah in Singapore two
months later. While afloat. a visit wirs nrade to Butter-

--I i


: _2;

fr "*


No 8O3 Squadron, FAA, Scimitars aboard HMS
Victorious, with Sea virens and Gannets. FAA Museum
Scimitar Fl: 15O/V of 8O3 Squadron: the barrier
arrest on HMS yictorioars has caused some damage to
the wing leading edges and fuselage. FAAMuseum

Below right:
ilo AO3 Squadron Scimitar, XD269, rolls over the side
of HMS Victorious lO July 196'1, brake failure having
caused it to miss the arrester wires and barrier. The
wings are partially folded. FAA Museum

worth in Malaya lbr a month in the summer. testing

the operation of the Scimitar in the lull range of hot
weather climates. The squadron departed ihe area on
5 October 196i, aniving back at Lossiemouth via
Yeovilton on 9 December.
On 25 May 1962, 803 Squadron transfen'ed to
HMS Herme,s, returning to the Mediterranean until
October when a month was spent in preparation for a
further tour of the Far East on HMS Hermes, which
was to become the 803 Squadron floating base for a
couple of years. During this tour from November 1962
until October i963, further shore detachments were
made at'l'engah. In February 1964 the strength of the
squadron was doubled to l6 aircraft when 803


{!j, .&.


, E"tr


Aocva leit: Tcp'

Scimitar Fl, XD2iiEr 156/V 403 Squadroil, FAA, is Scimitar F{, XD267, of 8OS Siquadron at Lossiemouth
about to take off from the Farnborougn runway. in April 1964. J. D. R. Rawlings
:.: J .F:. bcwyer
Scimitar Fl af 8O3 Squa<lron is about to leave the
Scimitar F1, XO23l;152/V of 8O3 Squadron, from deck of HllllS Arft Royal with the assistance of the
HMS Victorious at RI{AS Ford in June '1958. steam cataparlt.
,,' J ;: Eowyer

absorbed the disbanded 800 Squadron. No 803 Above:
Squadron spent much of the year at its Lossiemouth ilo 8O3 Squadron Scimitar Fl, fitted with underwing
base, with detachments south to Yeovilton. Eight air- 'buddyt refuellang pod, is ready for catapult take-off
from HMS lrk Foyar.
craft from 803 Squadron participated in the service
contribution to the Farnborough Air Show in Septem- Below:
ber 1964, sharing the FAA limelight with Sea Vixens ln May 1964, the FAA celebrated its 6oth annivercary
and Wessex. In December its allocated ship became with a review at Yeovilton. Scimitar XD235:149/R of
HMS Ark Royal. After work-up on this carrier in Jan- 8O3 Squadron was part of the line-up of
uary, 803 departed in June, once more lor the Far East, representative serving aircraft. P. J. Birtles
where Changi in Singapore and Butterworth were the
land bases. Amongst the operational duties were two Scimitar F7, XD276, of 8O3 Squadron at the point of
spells on the Beira patrol before returning to touchdown on HMSArkFoyar, in May 1965,
Lossiemouth and disbanding on I October 1966. J. D. R. Rawlings
Scimitar F1,XD?25, of 8O3 Squadron picks up the
arrester wire on HMS Ark Royal an May 1965.
J. D. R. Rawiings

The moment of truth! Scinritar Fl XD333:'f 5O/R of
8O3 Squadron prepares to leave the deck ot HMS^Ar*
Royal in May 1965. J. D. R. Rawlings

After serviee with AO3 Squadron, Scimitar XD276
served on ground instruction duties at RNAS l-ee-on-
Solent where at was put in the static display for a
Navy Day in June 196a. P. J. Birtles


Top: The Scimitar operational training task was under-
A Bullpup air-to-air missile is fared from a Scimitar Fl, taken by 736 Squadron based at Lossiemouth from
FAA Museum
June 1959 until March 1965, when it took over Bucca-
Above: neer training. The duty of the squadron was to train
Scimitar Fl of 736 Squadron, FAA, lands on a runway pilots to frontline standard, providing them with expe-
at Yeovilton in July 1963. M. J. F. Bowyer rience in photo reconnaissance and ground-attack
usin,s bombs, rockets, guns and Bullpup missiles,
Sidervinder air-to-air interceptions, low level naviga-
tion and army cooperation. Five Scimitars from the
736 Squadron aerobatic team performed at the Farn-
As well as being able to fire Bullpup missiles in the borough Air Show in September 1962, often flying
air-to-ground role, the Scimitar could also carry the close to the now banned Mach I and doing a forma-
Sidewinder air-to-air missile, unguided rocket pro.jec- tion quartet 'twinkle' roll, now more famous with the
tiles. four l,000lb bombs or four 200gal drop tanks. Red Anows. Following its disbandment as a Scimitar
Fixed armament was four 30mm Aden cannon and thc training unit, this task was taken over by 764 (B)
aircraft could cany a flight refuelling 'buddy' pack to Squadron fbr a couple of months, before Hawker
\upport other Scimitars. Hunter TSs took on Air Warfare Instructor training.

rcp left: Top:
Scimitar Fl XD239:613 of 736 Squadron visited the Scimitar Fl, XD332:6'12 of 736 Squadron at
Wethersfield air show in illay 1962 carrying Lossiemouth, the home of the Scimitar units, in
Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on undetving pylons. August 1966. J. D. R. Rawlings
'.1. J. F. Bcwyer
aentre left:
No 736 Squadron Scimitar F1,XD224, at Lossiemouth
Early production Scimitar Fl XD2i5:61f of ?36 in I 960 before the tail markings were adopted.
Squadron appeared at the Biggin Hil| Air Fair in May R. C. B. Ashworth
1965, carrying dummy 25olb bombs and fuel drop
tanks under the wings. J. M. G. Gradidge
3cttam left:
At Farnborough Air Show in September 1962, ?36
Squadron participated with its Scimita6 within the
Royal Navy set piece. XD219 is seen on the point of
landing alongside another Scimitar. M. J. F. Bowyer

Above: LABS bombing technique, a high speed target snatch
The 8o7 Squadron, FA[, Scimitar aerobatic team by a hook from the runway, and when the two single-
practises near lnvergerdon whilst operating from ton Scimitars landed in one direction on the Farnbor-
Lossiemouth, FAA Museum
ough runway, they folded their wings to let through
another Scimitar landing in the opposite direction.
The second Scimitar frontline unit was 807 which Their tail markings featured a scimitar.
recommissioned on l October 1958 at RNAS During its tour of duty in the Mediterranean, the
Lossiemouth with eight aircraft. It remained on shore aircraft were shore-based at Hal Far and Gibraltar. In
working up to operational status until March 1960 April 1961 a transfer was made to HMS Centaur, and
when it embarked on HMS Ark Royal for a tour in the after a further spell in the Mediterranean, the ship
Mediterranean. During the work-up period the sailed to the Persian Gulf where 807 Squadron helped
squadron introduced the Scimitar to the public at the
SBAC Farnborough Air Show in September 1959.
Their demonstration was the finale of the show with Below:
four in a box formation and two solos led by Lt-Cdr No 80? squadron, FAA's, Scimitat XD267 is pictured
Leppard. No 807 Squadron's display featured a solo at Farnborough in September 1959. M. J. F' Bowyer

Scimitar Fl, XD249:196/R of aOZ Squadron, on the
approach at Farnborough in September 1959.

No 8O7 Sguadron took part in the Royal Nayy
presentation at Farnborough in September 1959;
XD268:194/R Iands on conclusion of its display.
J. M. G. Gradidge

No 8O7 Squadron Scimitar, XD248:195/R, with an
additional message hook attached to the norma!
arrester hook at Farnborough in 1959.
J. M. G. Gradidge
An 8oo Squadron FAA Scimitar
Fl is armed at RNAS
Lossiemouth in August 1961.
M. J. F. Bowyer

Below & bottom:

An aOO Squadron Scimitar,
XD28O, made an emergency
landing on HMS Ark lloyal with a
fire in the port engine.
via A. Fisher

to keep the peace in an earlier Gulf crisis when Iraq

was threatening Kuwait. In August, the Scimitars
returned to Lossiemouth via Malta to prepare for a Far
East tour on HMS Centour commencing in October
1961. On the return home from this tour, some time
was spcnt at Nlalta, befbre finaily flying to
Lossiemouth and disbanding on l-5 May 1962.
No 800 Squadron received its first of eight Scimi-
tars on I July 19-59 at Lossicmouth under the cont-
mand of Lt-Cdr Norman. After working up at its home
base the squadron cmbarked on FIMS Art Rorzrl, pass-
ing through the: Mediterranean with detachmcnts at
Hal Far, cn route to the Far East. Herc it spent a num-
ber o1 detachments at Tengah befbre returning to
Lossiemouth to be absorbed into 803 Squadron on
25 Fcbruary 1964. During one of its home base
deployments, 800 Squadron combined rvith the Scimi-
tars ol 804 Squadron at the SBAC Irarnborough Air
Show in September 1961. No 8(X) Squadron was rep-
resented by six Scimitars led by Lt-Cdr Danny Nor-
man, supportecl by three fornrations frorn HMS Her-
nes including a fbrmation of live Scimitars ancl onc

Top right:
Scimitar Fl, XD268:1 l2lE of 8OO(BI Squadron, FAA,
being made ready for take-off with the steam
catapult. FAA Museum

Centre right:
Scimitar Fl, XD276:loo/R of 8oo Squadron,
participated in the Paras Air Show in June 1961.
J. M. G. Gradidge

Bottom right:
Scimitar Fl, XD279 tO3/R of 8OO Squadron, is seen
on the Lossiemouth flight line in August 1961.
J. D. R. Rawlings

#, ",,.

Above: untii Scltemher 1961 . The squadro!1 for"mcrl at
Scimitar F'f , XDz?7 'lo't/R of 8oo Squadron' Loss:emoulh rvith sir Scimitllt's on 1 lliarch 1960 lrnci
participated at the Farnborough Air Show in enrbari<ed on FlliS I!anne.r' on (r .lul. l'rrr a ri'oti<-un.
September1961.J. D'; I;aw; nas stationeci il: tl:c Frr Elist rvith its
iiilor to bc:ng
basc at eni:ah. Singapore. A lcturlt r'^.lts Itt:tcic to
Lcs-siernrilrth in Aprii i!t(: l. and l()iio\f iltg lttoir' work
s()lo aircnrli liorn 80'i Squadron. Tlre soio aircralt r"'ith HlriS llanrtc.s in liottte the stlLiltdtcit * li'
fionr ii04 Sctuarilrn shared a Li\liS Centonstralion di:banciccl on i5 Scptcrnbcr'.
with u Sca Vrxcn fionr 890 Srirrrtilon.
Thc iin;ri lnrntline Scinritar unit u lr 80-{ Scluaciron. Beiow:
aircaiv mentionc(i riue tt rts l)ait in the Scpicinirct Nine Scimitars of 8OO Squadron w€re pari oi rhe
SB,\C Frurbox;ugi: Aii Sitorv. T hrs sa'.iaclrtrn oni,' Royal Naw contribution to the Farnborough Alr Show
opcraicd the Scirnitlil lor lE rnonths. irorir llarch l9(d) in September 1961. J. M. G. Cradidge

The Scimitar was withdrawn trom fiontline servic: Above:
at its home base at Lossiemouth when 803 Squadron Following its serryice with AOO (Bl Squadron, Scimitar
disbanded in October 1966, in preparation to receive F1 XD243 was issued to RllAS Lee-on-Solent for
the replacement two-seat radar-equipped Buccaneers. technical training where it was used in the air dalr
static park in June 196a. P. J. Bifties
A total of 76 productiorr Scimitars had been built at
South Marston, the last bcing delivered in Septernbcr
196C. A further batch ol 24 aircraft had been can-
Rarely photographed Scimitars of 8O4 Squadron, FA[,
Following the retiremcnt of the Scimitar from ser- tor erample XD325!163/H from HHS Herrnes.
vice, a number of the aircraft were put into storage at FM Museunl

Brawdy pending their release to Airwork FRU at Hurn when the aircraft were finally withdrawn from flying
Airport. Others were allocated to ground trials or duties.
training work, consisting of aquaplaning research at The Scimitar was, therefore, the last in a long and
Farnborough with XD219 with the outer wings illustrious line of Supermarine single-seat high perfor-
removed, carrier deck handling training, and gunfire mance aircraft, from the world-beating Schneider Tro-
damage assessment at Foulness. phy racers, to the war-winning Spitfire and the pio-
Airwork operated the Scimitar on Fleet Require- neering jet fighters. A truly proud heritage for such a
ments duties from December 1965 to December 1970 modest company.

Above: Below:
During the latter days of its service, RI{AS Brawdy The ultimate user of the Scimitar on flying duties was
was used as a holding unit, where Scimitar Fl, the Airwork FRU at Hurn, of which XD236 was an
XD32l, was stored an September 19!57. P. J. Birtles example. J. M. G. Gradidge

Flying the Supermarine Jets
Test Flying Impressions bY
David Morgan
David Morgan, recently retired from British duction aircraft were heavier. An elevator with flat
Aerospace, was a development test pilot with Super- sides brought about some improvement. The ailerons
marine through the majority of the test programmes on were also improved by fitting lighter springs to the
the jet fighters and the associated experimental air- tabs, reducing forces in the roll.
craft. Production aircraft never flew as well as TS409,
Dave had served initially in the RAF and then probably due to tolerances affecting aerodynamic bal-
joined the RNVR in 1944 flying Seafires with the ancing, although the first production aircraft, WA469,
FAA. At the end of World War 2 he joined a feny fly- was quite close to the earlier standards' The wings of
ing unit before being posted to the Central Flying RN aircraft folded across the mid-span of the ailerons
School at Little Rissington to become a Qualified Fly- and the RPAF aircraft which did not have this feature
ing Instructor. From here he was posted to RNAS Lee- were generally more pleasant to fly'
on-Solent to retrain pilots following ground tours, fly- A problem which emerged quite late in the devel-
ing Harvards, Seafires and Fireflies. Following his opment programme was stalling of the fin when recov-
attendance at No 7 Course at the Empire Test Pilots' ering from a flat turn or straight sideslip Full rudder
School, Dave returned to Lee-on-Solent with the Car- could be reached in both cases, without any sign of fin
rier Trials Unit. A feature of the FAA at that time was stali or rudder overbalance, and normal flight regained
that appointments tended to be short and it was only by progressively centring the controls' However, a

six months before a move was made to take over the complete release of the controls resulted in the aircraft
Naval section of the Handling Squadron at RAF rearing up and doing one - and sometimes two - vio-
Manby, tasked with the compilation of the pilot's lent flick rolls before control was regained. A dorsal
notes for the new aircraft then entering service. tin provided a complete cure.
On 2 June 1950 David Morgan joined Supermarine Dave's first flight in an Attacker was some months
at Chilbolton as a test pilot on the Attacker pro- before.joining Supermarine when he took the opportu-
gramme. The design office and experimental hangar nity to feny TS409 from Boscombe Down to
were at Hursley Park and the prototypes built there Chilbolton. His immediate impression was how much
were taken by road to Boscombe Down for the maiden faster it was than a Vampire and how much less
flights. A1l experimental and development test flying 'tense' than a Meteor 8 at 500kts low down. The lift
was from Chilbolton, while production and the associ- spoilers, designed to facilitate carrier landing were
ated routine test flying was from the South Marston also a great help landing an unfamiliar aircraft on a
works near Swindon. shortish runway, but manoeuvring at low speeds on
When Dave joined Supermarine there were three the ground was not easy due to the twin tailwheel.
Attackers on test, the aircraft being basically a Spitef'ul In August 1950, Dave was tasked with taking the
wing fitted to a jet fuselage. With the loss of the sec- prototype Attacker to Pakistan for the Independence
ond prototype, TS4l3, the original prototype was Day celebrations. He experienced an electrical fault in
adapted for naval work, as there was no RAF interest Cyprus which necessitated a complete electrical panel
in the type. One prototype had larger air intakes and being flown out by a civil airline. The panel was then
the wing position changed to significantly improve fitted by the RAF squadron's electrician at Nicosia.
longitudinal control, but the urgency of production The next leg to Baghdad ended in a landing with one
called fbr the original configuration. main undercaniage leg up. Much of the load was
The prototype, TS409, was very heavy on the con- taken by the belly tank which was replaced with one
trols fore and aft, particularly at low speeds and pro- brought out by the rescue team who flew straight

the first swept-wing jet aircraft to land on the deck of
an aircraft carrier. It was fitted with an arrester hook
and rocket assisted take-off gear (RATOG). The trials
were flown on HMS lllustrious by Mike Lithgow,
Chief Test Pilot of Supermarine, LrCdr (Later Rear
Admiral) Doug Parker from Boscombe Down and Lt
Jock Elliot from Aero Flight Farnborough. The trial
revealed no great problems in landing and the only
major incident was during a take-off when RATOG on
the port side failed to light and the ensuing swing and
wing drop brought the wingtip into contact with the
ship's forward gun turret. The powerful ailerons
enabled the subsequent out-of-trim forces to be held
quite easily and the aircraft was flown to Chilbolton
and landed safely.
The second Type 510, VV119, had guns built into
the wings; it was soon given a nosewheel undercar'-
riage in a lengthened nose, and became the Type 535.
It was still powered by the Rolls-Royce Nene engine,
initially with reheat, but this was not successful. It was
a beautiful looking aeroplane and was first seen pub-
Above: licly at the 1950 SBAC Farnborough Air Show, flown
Jeffrey Quill, wartime Spitfire test pilot (leftl with by Mike Lithgow.
David Morgan, preparing to deliver a brace of
Attackers to Pakastan. Su permari ne
The second Type 535, WJ960, was the first to be
powered by the Avon RA7 engine, which became the
Type 541. Dave Morgan was due to demonstrate this
new aircraft at Farnborough in September'195 l, while
through from Weybridge in a Valetta and had the Mike Lithgow flew the larger twin-engined Type 508.
Attacker serviceable in five days. He anived in time On the Saturday just before the show, Dave was
for the Commander-in-Chief, Air Vice-Marshal tasked with a high altitude test, followed by a Farnbor-
Atcherley, to lead the flypast in TS409 painred in the ough practice in WJ960. On completion of the sortie,
colours of the, then, Royal Pakistan Air Force. preparation was made for the landing at Chilbolton,
For production test flights a calibrated sensitive approaching over the valley in which flowed the River
altimeter was fitted to check the functioning of the Test. As full flap was selected on final approach,
cockpit pressurisation system. When climbing through engine power was increased to overcome the extra
40,000f1 on a normal test flight, Les Colquhoun had drag. The RA7 engine suffered a kind of'flat spot' at
the canopy seal explode causing a rapid depressurisa- this parl of the rpm range due to the operation of
tion and the calibrated altimeter settled at 42,000ft. Ir intake swirl vanes and compressor bleed valves, so
was checked and found to be accurate. It was con- one was used to somewhat uneven response to throttle
cluded that the suction generated around the canopy movement. On this occasion, however, there was a
caused the increase in cabin altitude and it made one loud bang, a vapoul'cloud around the intakes and an
|ealise how close one had been to anoxia flying almost complete loss of power.
unpressurised aircralt like TS409, not to mention The Swift was not a very efficient glider under
Meteor 7s to heights of 45,000ft breathing oxygen these conditions so the undercarriage was selected
without pressure assistance. 'up'and the flaps set to'max lifi'. Even so, the rapid
The Supermarine 510 was an Attacker with swept initial height loss made clear that there was no chance
back wings and tail surfaces. It was lookcd upon as the of clearing the ridge which confronted the aircraft,
No I sharp aircraft in 1950 and was splendid when much less gaining the airfield, and a turn to the right
flown by Mike Lithgow at the RAF Display at Farn- was made towards what was more open country. The
borough that year. Thc Hawker P1052 was in a similar descent continued and no response to throttle
class to the Type 510. but the American F-86 Sabre occurred. The intended flight path was now con-
was fastcr at low altitude due to lower drag and a strained by the ridge on the left and a line of high ten-
much morc efficient intake/engine combination. Thc sion cables converging from the right. There existed
Sabre had also exceeded the speed ol sound because some doubt as to the possibility ol clearing thc cables
ol its virtually fully-powcrcd ailerons and variable and the aircrati was pushed down to fly undelncath
incidence tailplanc with a boosted elevator. ther.n. There was then little height left and only mini-
Afier some development work mainly concerned mum flying speed and a touch down was expected on
with the power assisted controls, the Type 510 became the crest of a grass covered slope. When the crcst was

reached there was a house right on the nose. It was just Above:
possible to tum enough to go between the house and Swift F?, XFI14, is seen here at CEnfield in June
1966, with the main undercarriage doots removed'
the barn but the gap was narrower than the wingspan
configured for braking trials on wet runways. lt was
and some three feet off the port wing were left on their this aircraft which so nearllr was bulldozed off the
outside privy, built strongly in brick and fortunately runway at Upper Heyford. Following pneservation at
unoccupied! On inspecting the approach afterwards, Flintshire College' it is now being restored to flying
Dave found that the tail pipe had actually dragged on condition at Hurn. P. J. Birtles
the ground for some 20yds before impact.
The aircraft came to a halt in a stubble field, with Joe Smith, the Chief Designer. He was still running-in
the engine still running, which Dave stopped with the his new Humber Super Snipe, the cross country driv-
low pressure cock (the HP cock linkage having been ing not being the best way to treat the new car. The
broken), and rapidly jumped out of the aircraft. He next day Dave took VV I 1 9 to Farnborough and flew it
looked into the air intake and saw the starter motor in the SBAC Show. WJ960 was flying again within
fairing lying in the compressor inlet. three months.
The first person to arrive on the scene was a It was decided to exhibit the Swift prototype at the
woman running from the farm, whose comment on NATO display in Brussels in June 1952, alongside the
arrival at the aircraft was 'Oh dear, we have been Hawker Hunter and the North American F-86 Sabre.
expecting something like this to happen. They have To take full advantage it was also planned to break
been coming over very low recently.' All Dave could the London to Brussels speed record. To achieve the
suggest was that people should keep away from the maximum speed, one needed to arrive with minimum
scene as there was an explosive ejection seat fitted. fuel. Since there was no knowledge of the ultimate
They walked back to Charity Down Farm along the range of the aircraft, closed circuit flights were made
landing path and Dave was surprised to find a group of to determine the endurance. The gallons used were
four or five elderly men sitting down to tea, but measured against time in the closed circuit at altitudes
nobody looked up when Dave entered and apologised of 10,000ft, 5,000ft and on the deck. It was established
for the disturbance. They did, however, come to life that for the record attempt all the fuel would be used at
when he produced his cigarettes. Each man took one low level, but that 60gal would remain in the tanks if
and laid it carefully by his plate, with one chap saying the aircraft was flown at 10,000ft; for safety the latter
'Thank you, I will have just one!'. was chosen. The start was planned from London-
Air Traffic at Chilbolton had told Chunky Horne, Heathrow airport and a visibility of at least l0 miles
who was airborne in an Attacker from South Marston, was required to pin-point the destination, especially as
that they had seen the Swift disappear into the Test the approach to Brussels lacked landmarks. Visibility
Valley on the approach to runway 12 and it was not was too bad on the first day, but marginal enough on
long before Dave heard him fly over, after which he the second to make an attempt worthwhile. Before
left the tea party. Chunky had spotted the Swift and departure, however, the BBC reporter recorded both
called the Tower to give directions for the fire truck. the departure and arrival interview from Dave in antic-
Soon other people appeared on the scene, including ipation of success.

Departure was by flying down runway 10 left at opinion suspected aileron 'buzz' which was a high
the required height of l00m and a gentle climb starled Mach number oscillation.
to 10,000ft, reaching the coast at North Foreland in WJ965 was fitted with instrumentation to trace
just six minutes. It was planned to start descending, aileron, elevator and tab operation, with a camera
maintaining speed, about the town of Ghent but a large recording control surface movement, starting towards
cumulus cloud caused this to be delayed for about the end of 1952. As speed built up, the control column
30sec (5 miles). All other traffic was being held clear was banged to excite the aircraft, at high and low alti-
of Melsbroek so Dave only had to look for their air- tudes. At high altitude, the vibration could be stopped
port; this came up on the nose at about five miles. The by pulling g, and indicated the need to replace the
time was just over l8min, an average speed of spring tabs with geared tabs.
666mph. There was just under 100gal of fuel remain- At low altitude, the vibration was found to be very
ing which, in theory, meant that the flight could have serious; it had not occurred on WJ960, although the
been made at a lower altitude and in a faster time. The wing was claimed to be identical. As speed was
record was recognised by the FAI and still stands. increased from 530kts the vibration built up, the
The next progression in the development pro- aileron oscillating, but on looking along the wing lead-
gramme was the first Swift F1 prototype, WJ965. This ing edge, Dave could see the whole wingtip flexing at
aircraft had a roomy cockpit, 500gal of internal fuel, a an estimated 8 cycles/sec. He drew on his knee-pad
new wing position, and new Fairey power controls the position of where the wing was bending.
which were very smooth in operation. Dave made the Alan Clifton, the Deputy Chief Designer, took this
maiden flight lrom Boscombe Down of this aircraft, sketch back to Hursley Park to check the drawings and
which he found quieter than the previous aircraft. The the resonance testing results. What he found was that
production Mk I aircraft were armed with two 20mm for ease of production and lightness, the outer wing
cannons mounted in the fuselage with ammunition in skins had been made thinner, giving a change of stiff-
the wing roots. The flaps, as developed on the Type ness and causing a different flutter characteristic. By
535, were used as airbrakes and were most effective; stiff'ening up the wing structure this was avoided, and
however, the change in wing position had introduced a the 'knee-pad' report by Dave turned out to be a very
trim change which was not acceptable and early work accurate assessment of one part of the problem.
was aimed at curing this. It was eliminated by 'clip- The other was finally solved by replacing the
ping' the outer end of the flaps and adding to the spring tabs by geared tabs, and although the aircraft
inboard end; the previous impeccable qualities were was less pleasant to fly, flutter was avoided. Dave
then restored. flew this aircralt in trials to exceed the speed of sound,
During the flight-testing programme on WJ965, a increasing the angle of each dive progressively to see
viblation started at 520kts which stopped when the what happened. The aircraft had power boosted con-
engine was throttled back. As the handling programme trols and a fixed tailplane, but at high Mach numbers
progressed the vibration built up rapidly at 560kts,
bluning thc instrument panel. leading to a suspicion Below:
that the elevators may be a problem. Left to right: David Morgan, Alan Clifton, Mike
However, Dave felt that the problem was more Lithgow, Jeffrey Quill and Alan Greenwood at Wisley
associated with aileron flutter, although other expert in July 1957, Yicker.s
close to Mach 1.0, there was no longitudinal or lateral beyond the capability of the threat at the time - but it
control. Pulling the stick back had no effect, but nei- was not put into production.
ther did pushing forward. Eventually, having set the Two Swift F7s (WK275 and WK308) were fitted
aircraft into the required angle of dive, Mach 1.0 was with slab all-flying tails, non-linear gearing and datum
exceeded with hands off the controls, recovery being shift trimming. This allowed the aircraft to pull up to
by throttling back and pulling out at lower altitude 59 supersonically and contributed to the Scimitar lon-
where the Mach number and speed dropped due to the gitudinal control design, reducing significant develop-
denser air. ment problems and providing outstanding longitudinal
At about this time the feature f/.m Sound Barrier control for that aircraft.
was being made. This film featured VVl l9 which had One of Dave Morgan's last tasks on the Swift was
been flown by Dave. A certain degree of artistic with F7 XF1 14 on wet runway braking trials at RAF
licence was invoked to depict recovery of control at Upper Heyford. This major Strategic Air Command
speeds around Mach I by reversing the control move- (SAC) base was at constant readiness and able to
ments, but in all other respects the film was a faithful scramble B-47s at a l5min notice. As a result, if any-
portrayal of events at the time. thing blocked the runway when an alert sounded, even
The Swift and Hunter were both put into super pri- a practice, any obstruction including an aircraft would
ority production, potentially supplying up to 50 air- be cleared off by a bulldozer. During these braking
craft a month to the RAF. With the end of the Korean trials, the inevitable happened, and a tyre burst during
War, the need was no longer there and the aircraft to a braking run down the wetted runway. The rescue
suffer from the greatest cuts was the Swift. The air- services appeared in ever increasing numbers headed
craft became a political football and when the first by the Supermarine ground support truck, which in its
Swifts were delivered to No 56 Squadron at Water- headlong rush had violated a security boundary. The
beach, they had limitations of 25,000ft altitude and top punctured wheel was removed and replaced by a slave
speed of Mach 0.9. The reason for this was that wheel in l5min and the Swift towed safely away
Boscombe had not at that time finished the CA clear- before the next alert. This particular aircraft survived
ance, and the limitations were imposed pending com- to be restored to flying condition at Bournemouth Air-
pletion. However, the pilots at the CFE criticised these port where it is still in the workshops at the time of
limitations and Boscombe Down did not provide any writing.
support. Dave Morgan had little to do with the Supermarine
The Wing Leader at Waterbeach made his fint 508 and 529. He says that the full flight envelope was
flight in the aircraft and after landing was very enthu- soon achieved up to 50,000ft, but it had a low critical
siastic, saying it was an absolutely marvellous aircraft Mach number, and snaked during flight. Following the
and congratulated Supermarine. However, after two incident when the undercarriage doors came down in
weeks with the criticism and lack of support from the flight, and control was lost, flutter of the ailerons was
Central Fighter Establishment (CFE) and Boscombe confirmed visually during an air display at Lee-on-
Down, no one had a good word for the Swift. The Solent.
poor serviceability of the aircraft at squadron level did The Type 525 was flown occasionally by Dave
little to encourage support either. Morgan, but it was not a very satisfying aircraft,
The Swift FR5, however, was closer to the ultimate although Mike Lithgow was able to present it well at
success with excellent handling and endurance at low Farnborough. The aircraft only had a short life, being
level for tactical fighter reconnaissance at high speed. lost in a spin and the pilot ejected too late to survive.
The Swift F7 with greater wingspan and armed When the Scimitar was ready for flighrtesting, the
with the early Fairey Fireflash missiles, was a very development centre was moved from Chilbolton to the
potent aircraft capable of providing a confirmed kill Vickers Flight Test Centre at Wisley in Surrey. Pro-
for every sortie. A trials squadron of 12 aircraft was duction aircraft continued to be built at South
formed at RAF Valley in North Wales. The overall Marston. Direct real time telemetry was used for the
larger aircraft was powered by a 100 Series Avon first time, especially during spinning trials, with a pilot
engine with larger diameter reheat giving an excellent monitoring the result on the ground.
performance. Reliability was also high and the aircraft The Scimitar was a large aircraft with a maximum
was popular with the pilots, for its good manoeuvra- take-off weight of around 4 1 ,0001b. It could carry four
bility. The commanding officer of the trials squadron I,0001b bombs, or a 2,0001b bomb under one wing and
insisted on having squadron fighter pilots, not test a large fuel tank under the other and still pull 69. The
pilots, in his unit in order (he said) to get the best aircraft could release a 2,0001b bomb in a toss bomb-
results from the aircraft and not to find fault. Thanks ing LABS manoeuvre and still remain in accurate con-
to this approach, the Swift F7 proved to be a good trol with the tank remaining under the other wing. In
missile platform up to its maximum level speed of the LABS manoeuvre the aircraft would pull up at 4g
about Mach 0.93, and was deemed capable of making at 600kts, the pitch angle at which the bomb would
interceptions of Mach 0.85 targets at 47,000ft - well release, being automatically preset.

Dave was responsible for the weapons and engi- spin; in these circumstances, the roll continues to be rn
neering development of the Scimitar, an aircraft which the same direction but the yaw, following the rudder,
he found a delight to fly, particularly with its full pow- develops in the opposite direction. In either case the
ered controls; as Allan Clifton, then Chief Designer application of aileron into the direction of roll will
said,'270 men on each aileron and 540 on the tail.' stop the spin, hence the value of the roll lights.
The first prototype was fitted with slotted flaps, but The occurrence was induced by the 'classical'
the second had blown flaps as planned for the produc- recovery action and Dave found it could be repeated
tion aircraft. With blown flaps, extra lift was generated almost at will. But to make life simple for the cus-
and the loss of thrust due to bleed required, increased tomer he established that the best way to begin
the engine rpm giving excellent control on the a spin recovery was to let go of everything; if the spin
approach. To assist on landing, an angle of attack sys- was not fully developed it would stop. If it did not,
tem was fitted, and it was sufficient to follow this and one just took a moment to establish the direction from
ignore the speed. A simple head-up display indicated the turn needle of the turn and slip indicator and
by a circle and two arrows whether the angle was applied opposite rudder.
high, low or correct. In addition, an audio signal in the The Scimitar was a good strong aircraft which in
earphones gave a constant tone if a correct approach service had no limitation; it could provide all the g and
was being flown. rate of roll a pilot wanted. It was designed for Mach
For spinning trials, eight channels oftelemetry giv- 1.1 at sea level which is 760kts IAS, although only
ing altitude, airspeed, control angles, yaw, roll and 700kts was ever achieved. A steep dive was required
pitch together, with a two-way R/T link were provided as the maximum level speed on the deck was about
for a pilot/test observer on the ground. This informa- 630kts, so it was unbreakable. From the operational
tion was all recorded which dispensed with the need point of view the pilot had a reasonable workload and
for a chase aircraft. Because of the possibility of pilot was helped in navigation by a basic doppler system.
disorientation and the critical effect of aileron on spin The aircraft could act as a tanker so a buddy in-flight
recovery, roll direction lights were fitted at eye level refuelling operation gave it a good radius of action.
in the cockpit. With four l,000lb bombs fitteC it was cleared to 69
The recommended recovery action was the well- and full aileron operation, so with multiple bomb
known one of full opposite rudder followed by stick racks it could easily have carried 10,0001b for airfield
forward and centred until all rotation ceased, as the operations but this, together with the two-seater and
result of Swift spinning and model tests at RAE. After thin-wing supersonic versions, were never produced.
the first spin this was effective but on the second, after There were other aircraft to do those jobs eventually,
stopping momentarily, rotation started again appar- but Dave doubts whether they were ever as nice to fly.
ently against full opposite rudder. Within less than a
further tum the rate had increased so all controls were
released and aileron applied in the direction of the roll
indicated by the light, and the spin stopped at once. Left to right: Jeffrey Quill' Mike Lithgow' AVil Sir
Analysis of the records and discussions with RAE Richald Atcherley and David torgan are pictured
at Bedford confirmed that on recovery from the erect between a pair of deyelopment Scimitars at Wisley,
spin the aircraft had begun to transfer into an inverted Vickers
Future Projects
It was the advanced weapons system work undertaken aircraft from take-off to touchdown, including mid-
by the Supermarine design office which not only con- course guidance and air interception. Armament was
tributed strongly to the TSR-2, but also gave Vickers to be the infra-red heat seeking de Havilland Fire-
at Weybridge a reasonable share with English Electric streak or Vickers Red Dean semi-active homing mis-
at Preston in the overall programme. siles. All this development was in the infancy of
The two main projects to be studied at Hursley micro-electronics, digital control and fly-by-wire, and
Park, before the design office was closed in 1958, was therefore in an area of very high technological
were the Types 559 and 571. These programmes were ri sk.
conceived as fully integrated weapons system fighters. The Type 559 appeared to stand a good chance of
The Type 559 was designed to satisfy Operational being selected for development for the Fl55T require-
Requirement 329 in competition with the Saunders ment, but all contestants lost out when the infamous
Roe Pl77 mixed powerplant jet/rocket fighter and the Defence White Paper was published in 1957, can-
Avro 720. celling all future development of manned fighters, in
Specification Fl55T issued in January 1955 favour of ground-to-air missile systems, which at that
required an aircraft capable of destroying targets fly- time were not even defined. The English Electric
ing up to Mach 2 at altitudes of 60,000ft, and by using Lightning survived as an interceptor, and one other
a booster rocket to fly at Mach 2.3 at up to 92,000ft. requirement for what was basically a Canberra
The perceived threat was high-flying nuclear bombers replacement was still needed. This was for an
and the requirement called for a two-seat radar- advanced tactical-strike-reconnaissance low level air-
equipped fighter armed with four air-to-air missiles. craft. the opposite to Type 559 requirement.
Because of the demanding performance, a pair of This specification was covered by General Opera-
de Havilland Gyron PS26/1 turbojets mounted one tional Requirement GOR339. the main parameters
above the other were the conventional powerplants. being as lollows: a low level tactical-strike aircraft; a
boosted by reheat and two de Havilland Spectre rocket medium level bomber: and an all-weather round-the-
motors with a fuel duration of 45secs. clock reconnaissance aircraft with a full photographic
The aircraft had a deep fuselage with the air intake capability. This requirement was eventually to lead to
under the cockpit and a long nose housing the radar. the TSR-2 produced jointly by Vickers-Armstrong
Canard all-moving foreplanes were proposed giving Aircrati and the English Electric Company. These two
an improved lift co-efficient. To avoid any vorrices companies soon became part of the British Aircraft
which may have been caused by the foreplane, the tra- Corporation, together with other organisations, later to
ditional fuselage-mounted fin and rudder were be nationalised as part of British Aerospace.
replaced by wingtip-mounted vertical end plates. The The Supermarine design team made two submis-
foreplanes were delta-shaped with clipped wingtips. sions to GOR339 covered by the Type 571, one a
while the main wing had a modest sweepback. Integral single-engined 40,0001b all-up weight, and thc other a
fuel tanks in the wings contained up to 960gal, giving twin-engined 8l,0001b all-up weight aircraft.
an endurance of about 32min. The high operating Although the requirement called for a twin-engined
speeds and altitudes brought problems both in kinetic aircraft, the Supermarine design team favoured the
heating of the skin and solar heating through the lower weight single-engined project. Their reasoning
canopy which had to be overcome by air conditioning. was that powerplant unreliability was more likely to
To cope with the extremes of the flight envelope a be caused by ancillaries rather than the basic engine,
fully automatic control and guidance system would be and therefore by providing duplication of the engine
required, but due to the time it would take to develop systems. a great deal could be saved in terms of the
such a system, provision was allowed for from the cost of developing and operating the aircraft. The
beginning of the programme with a gradual integration engines specified were either one or two Rolls-Royce
of the new systems as the flight development pro- RBl42 turbojets with reheat. The largerType 571 was
gressed. This would at least avoid delaying the pro- very similar in overall layout to the eventual TSR-2.
gramme unduly and allow the aerodynamic testing to The aircraft was recognised as being part of an
continue. The automatic systems were to control the overall integrated weapons system, capable of ultra-

TYPE 559 o ----oo-
TYPE 571 l4O,OOOlbl

TYPE 57r (8l,OOOlbl

low level clearance operations over hostile territory. equipment. These design principles proved to be of
Navigation and target identification would include direct benefit to the later development of the TSR-2.
inertial guidance, Doppler distance with moving map, Although the simpler and smaller Type 571 would
sideways and forward looking radar and automatic have followed well the Scimitar down the South
weapons delivery. The early development of digital Marston production lines, it was the more complex
avionics and computing, as compared with the earlier and expensive twin-engined version which formed the
more bulky and less reliable analogue systems, basis of the highly political and costly TSR-2, which
allowed for a drastic reduction in the overall weight was abandoned by the British Government just as it
and size of the new miniaturised and more reliable was beginning to prove its worth.

10 ,<



SPITEFUL/SEAFANG (1944).Developed from the Spitf ire MkXIV
with o new lominor flow wing. Rolls-Royce Griffon engine.
Eto/aa arrrcxER (1946).Rotts-Royce Nene powered fighter
with modified Seofong wing.
TYPE 510/517 (19/.8).Reseorch oircroft using Attocker fusetoge
with swept wings ond toil surfoces.
TYPE 535 ('1950). Tvoe 510 with nosewheeI in lonqer nose ond
modified wings . Stdiof the f itm'The Sound Borrie-r.'
TYPE 508/529 ( 1951 ). Proiotype for novol fighter with two
Rotts-Royie Avon.
). Simitor to Type 535, but with
TYPE 5/+'l PROTOTYPE (1951
Rotts Royce Avon ond Kuchemonn wing tips.
7 TYPE 525 ( 1954). Devetopment of Type 508 with swept wing
onci conveniionot toit surfoces.
F.l ( 1953 ) First of o series of f ighter ond
reconnoissonce otrcroft for the Royot Air Force.
TYPE544 SCIMITAR (1956). Novol f ighier ond strike oircroft
with iwo Rolts-Royce Avon.
TYPE545 ( 1957) Rotts-Royce Avon-powered fighter. Proioiype
buitt but not f lown before project concetled.
, -r4tr

Appendix I
Attacker Specific ations,
Production and Service
Specification Units
Single-seat, carrier-borne naval fighter of all-metal 702 Sqn Fls arrived at Culdrose 3152.Became
stressed-skin construction, manufactured by the Super- Squadron 26108152
marine Division of Vickers-Armstrong Ltd, South 703 Sqn Fls at Ford 07-08/51, FBI 144152,F82
Marston, Swindon, Wilts. 04-{8i55, later holding units for 827
Powerplant 718 Sqn Reformed Stretton 25104155 to train l83l
One 5,1001b thrust Rolls-Royce Nene 3 Sqn then Honiley 07/55 to train 1833
Sqn, disbanded 3I I l2l 55
Dimensions Reformed at Ford 18/08/55 for trials,
700 Sqn
Wingspan: 36ft 1 lin replacing 7 03, 7 7 I and 7 87
Length: 37ft 6in Squadrons from 0l/56
Height: 9ft llin 736 Sqn Reformed at Culdrose 26108/52 as
Wing area: 226sqft Advanced Jet Flying School, moving
Weights to Lossiemouth l1/53 and Attackers
Empty: 8,4341b replaced 08/54
Loaded: I 1,5001b 767 Sqn Equipped with Attackers at Stretton
02153 for Deck Landing Control Offi-
Performance: cer training, disbanded 31103155
Maximum Speed: 590mph at sea level 787 Sqn Trials unit at West Raynham using
538mph at 30,000ft Attackers from 01/5 1-09/54
Climb: 6,350ft/min at sea level 800 Sqn Reformed at Ford 21108/51 with 8 x Fls,
6.6min to 30,000ft increasing to 12 x FB2s 12/52 when
ServiceCeiling: 45,000f1 890 Sqn disbanded. 800 Sqn
Range: 590 miles or 1,190 miles with disbanded at Ford 01/06/54
ventral tank 803 Sqn Reformed atFord26lll/52 with 8 x Fls,
aboard HMS Eagle, increased to 12 x
FB2s 12/52, replaced by Sea Hawks
Four 20mm cannons mounted in the wings
FB1 also capable ofcarrying 8 x 60lb/RP or
890 Sqn Reformed at Ford 30/01/52 and commis-
2 x l.000lb bombs under the wings
sioned with 8 x Fls, 22/04/52 to
provide pilots for 800 and 803 Sqns.
Production Disbanded 03/12/52
Prototypes: TS409, TS413, and TS4l6 3 1831 Sqn RNVR Re-equipped at Stretton 05/55
Fl: WA505-528
W4469-498, 54 with 7 x FB2s and disbanded
FBI: W4529-534 6 10/03/57 in defence cuts
FB2: WK319-342,WP275-304, WT851, 1 832 Sqn RNVR Re-equipped at Benson 08/55
w2273-302 85 with 8 x FB2s. Attackers gone by end
1956 and disbanded 10103/57
1833 Sqn RNVR Re-equipped at Bramcote 10/55
with 7 x FB2s, but moved jet
operations to Honiley. Disbanded
Airwork Based at St Davids with Attackers
FRU Hurn Used Attackers 101 55-021 57

Appendix II
Swift Specifications, Production
and Service
Specification Powerplant
Single-seat interceptor day-fighter or fighter-recon- One 7,5001b thrust Rolls-Royce Avon RA7 (Fl and
naissance of all-metal stressed-skin construction, man- F2)
ufactured by the Supermarine Division of Vickers- One 7,5001b thrust Rolls-Royce Avon RATR (F3 and
Armstrong Ltd, South Marston, Swindon, Wilts. F4)
One 7,1751b thrust Rolls-Royce Avon I 14 (F5)
9,4501b with reheat
One 9,9501b thrust Rolls-Royce Avon 116 (F7)

FI F2 FR5 F7

Wingspan: 32ft 4.0in 32ft 4.0in 32ft 4in 35ft
Length: 4lft 5.5in 41ft 5.5in 42ft3in 43ft9in
Height: l3ft 6.0in 13fr 6.0in l3ft 6in l3ft 6in
Wing Area: 306sq ft 32lsq ft 328sq ft 348sq ft

Empty: l I,8921b 13,1361b 13,4351b 13,7351b
Loaded: 15,8001b t9,7641b 21,673tb 21,4001b

Max Speed at Sea Level:
660mph 709mph 7l3mph 700mph
Initial Climb: 12,300ft/min 14,540ft/min 14,660ft/min
Service Ceiling: 45,500ft 39,000ft 45,800ft 41,600ft
Range: 730 miles 493 miles 630 miles 864 miles

2 x20mm cannon 4 x 20mm cannon 2 x Fireflash

Production Units
Prototypes: Type 510 VV106, Type 535 VVI19, 56 Sqn Fls 02154-05/55 at Waterbeach and F2s
Type 541 WJ960, WJ965 4 1954 - 05/59
Fl WK194-213 20 2 Sqn FR5s 03/56-04/61 at Geilenkirchen and
F2 WK2I4-221,WK239-246 16 Jever
F3 WK247-271 25 79 Sqn FR5 1956-01/01/61 at Gutersltih
F4 WK272-280 (many converted to FR5) 9 4 Sqn FR5 0l/61 at Guterslcih
FR5 WK28l, WK287-315, WNl24 XE 903- I GWDS F7 0415'7-11/58 at Valley
930, XD 948-977 89
(XD 978-988 cancelled)
Fi XFll3-124 (XFl25-258 with gaps,
cancelled) 12
w XF774,XF778 2

Appendix III
cim ttar S pecific ation,

Production and Service

Specification Production
Single-seat, carrier-borne medium to high level inter- Prototypes: Type 508 VXl33, Type 529 VX136,
ceptor, fighter-reconnaissance or low-level nuclear Type 525 VXl38 3
strike aircraft, of all-metal stressed-skin construction. Nl13 wT854, WT8s9, WW134 3
manufactured by the Supermarine Division of Vick- FI: xD2 t 2-250, XD264-282, XD3 I 6-3 3 3
ers-Armstrong Ltd, South Marston, Swindon, Wilts. (XD334-357 cancelled) 76

Powerplant Units
Two 11,2501b thrust Rolls-Royce Avon202 700X Sqn 08/57-06/58 at Ford
736 Sqn 06159-26103/65 at Lossiemouth for
operational training
Wingspan: 37ft2in
764 Sqn 1959 at Lossiemouth for Air Weapons
Length: 55ft 4in
Height: l5ft 3in
800 Sqn 0l/07/59 at Lossiemouth and Ark Royal
Wing Area: 484.9sq ft until25/02/64 into 803 Sqn
Weights 803 Sqn 03/06/58 at Lossiemouth and, Victorious,
Empty: 23,9621b Hermes and Ark Royal until
Loaded: 34,2001b disbandment 01110166
804 Sqn 01/03/60 at Lossiemouth and, Hermes,
Performance disbanded 15109161
MaxSpeed: 7l0mph at 10,000 ft 807 Sqn 0 1/1 0/58 at Lossiemouth , Ark Royal and
Climb: 12,000ft/min C e ntaur, disbanded I 5 I 05 I 62
ServiceCeiling: 46.000|t FRU 12/65-12/70 at Hurn
Range: 1,422 miles at 35,000ft

Four 30mm cannon and 4 x 1,0001b bombs, or 4
Bullpup air-to-ground missiles, or 4 Sidewinder air-to-
air missiles

Appendix IV
Surviving Supermarine Jet
Attacker Fl xD2 I 5, XD2l9, XD235, XD244, XD267, XD322
WA473 ex-736, 702 and 800 Sqns FAA Museum, fuselage only PEE Foulness
- XD228 and XD23- I Calvert's Scrapyard, Thirsk
XD24l and XD243 - PEE Pendine
Supermarine 517
XD220 Intrepid Air-Sea-Space Museum, New York,
VV 106 RAF Museum, Cosfbrd USA
Supermarine 535
VV I 19 cockpit section only - Lincs Aviation Society,
East Kirkby
Swift Attacker Fl, WA473, was the only one of the type to
F4 WKl98 fuselage only NE Aircraft Museum, escape scrapping at Abbotsinch. lt is now the sole
- suryivor, presen ed at the FAA Museum at Yeovilton.
M. J. F. Bowyer
F4 WK275 Lion Motors, Upper Hill
FR5 WK277- ex- 2 Sqn Newark Air Museum Top right:
FR5 WK28l ex*79 Sqn
- RAF Museum, Hendon Swift FRs, WK277:l{ of No 2 Squadron, RAF is
F7 XF1l3 nose only
Bath presen ed at the Newark Air Museum and seen here
F7 XFI l4 under restoration to fly Jet Heritage, in April 1976. P. J. Biftles
Centre right:
Swift FRs, WK281:S of t{o 79 Squadron, RAF, was
Supermarine 544 displayed at the Royal Review of the RAF at Abingdon
WT859 fuselage in poor condition PEE Foulness in June f968, having been presen ed at Finningley,
- and can now be seen at the RAF Museum, Hendon.
P. J. Biftles
XD317 ex-FRU, RAE. 800, '736,807 Sqns- FAA Bottom right:
Museum, Yeovilton (store) Scamitar Fl, XD317:112lR of 8OO Squadron, FAA, is
XD332 ex-7648,736,807,804 Sqns Flambards preseryed by the FAA iluseum, Yeovilton, and is seen
Museum. Helston
- here in September 197O. P. J. Biftles

ln series with:

4: Avro Vulcan
A. Brookes Ref: 5481

6: Handley Page Victor

A. Brookes Ref:8030

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