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Supermarine Attacker Fighter Aircraft (1951)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/10/2010

The Supermarine Attacker was the first jet-powered fighter used by the British Royal Navy carrier groups.

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The Supermarine Attacker was a solid, if unspectacular, aircraft that failed to make much of a splash as a jet fighter in the post-World War 2 days. Its primary user became the British Royal Navy though several examples (at least 36) were delivered to Pakistan - the latter using them as land-based interceptors despite the Attacker's carrier pedigree. The system was initially designed for the Royal Air Force to take advantage of an already-existing piston engine fighter airframe (in the form of the Spiteful) and married to the successful Rolls-Royce Nene 3 series turbojet powerplant.

After an unusually long development time (development began as early as 1946 but the system was not fielded until 1951), the RAF version was accepted into operational service with average results. The Royal Navy, however, took an interest in the Supermarine product and began arming their Fleet Air Arm (FAA) with the new Attacker as a carrier-based jet fighter. The Attacker would become the first jet-powered aircraft to be brought aboard British naval carriers.

Once on the ships, the Attacker performed solidly though without much fame. The system would provide the British Royal Navy with a stepping stone to more advanced turbojet-powered alternatives in years to come for the Attacker was eventually weeded out from frontline carrier service as soon as 1954.

The Supermarine Attacker was a single engine jet fighter of ordinary design. The base model of the Spiteful piston aircraft shown through in its design as the aircraft sat with a noticeable "nose-up" appearance when at rest - a throwback to the days of the World War 2 "tail draggers" - this despite the use of a tricycle undercarriage. This nose-up attitude forced the aircraft to rest on a forth, albeit smaller, landing gear system at rear. The pilot sat high and forward on the fuselage with intakes to either side of the cockpit. The twin intakes aspirated the single turbojet engine buried deep within the fuselage center. A single vertical tail fin was mounted atop the empennage ahead of the engine exhaust ring. Wings were straight-wing assemblies and generally consistent with other early turbojet fighters. The Attacker was adequately armed with a battery of 4 x 20mm Hispano cannons, each mounted in the wing leading edge in pairs (noted in photographs by the extending muzzles).

In all, just 182 examples were produced as well as three prototypes. Ultimately, the Attacker was replaced in British service by the Hawker Sea Hawk and de Havilland Sea Venom.

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Specifications for the
Supermarine Attacker
Fighter Aircraft


Focus Model: Supermarine Attacker
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Supermarine - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1951
Production: 96


Crew: 1


Length: 37.47ft (11.42m)
Width: 36.91ft (11.25m)
Height: 9.91ft (3.02m)
Weight (Empty): 8,435lbs (3,826kg)
Weight (MTOW): 12,211lbs (5,539kg)


Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Nene 3 turbojet engine generating 5,000lbs of thrust.


Maximum Speed: 590mph (950kmh; 513kts)
Maximum Range: 590miles (950km)
Service Ceiling: 44,997ft (13,715m; 8.5miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 6,350 feet per minute (1,935m/min)


Hardpoints: 2
Armament Suite:
Fighter Variant:
4 x 20mm Hispano No.3 Mark 5 cannons

Fighter-Bomber Variant:
4 x 20mm Hispano No.3 Mark 5 cannons in wing leading edges.
2 x conventional drop bombs underwing
Air-to-surface, unguided rockets underwing


Variants:
Type 392 - Prototype Land-Based Fighter for Royal Air Force; single example produced.


Type 398 - Initial Naval Prototype Model

Type 513 - Second Naval Prototype Model

Attacker F.Mk 1 - Fighter Variant

Attacker FB.Mk 1 - Fighter-Bomber Variant developed from dedicated fighter; provisions for rocket and bomb armament.

Attacker FB.Mk 2 - Modernized Fighter-Bomber Variant; fitted with Nene 102 series engine; 84 examples produced.

Type 538 Attacker - Pakistani Export Model; land-based version of the Nene 4-powered Attacker; 36 examples delivered beginning in 1953.


Operators:
United Kingdom; Pakistan