Hawker Sea Fury / Fury Carrierbased Fighter-Bomber
The Hawker Sea Fury was one of the fastest piston-engined fighters ever produced and the last prop-driven aircraft taken on by the British Royal Navy.
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The Hawker Sea Fury was developed out Hawker's Typhoon and Tempest aircraft designs utilized by Britain during World War 2. Though not without their limitations, the Typhoon and Tempest platforms had substantial inherent benefits that were utilized to good effect throughout the war. Despite the Sea Fury's development occurring at the tail-end of World War Two, it was delivered into service well after the conflict had resolved, thus missing action in the war altogether.
In the coming Cold War years, the Sea Fury held its own and served long enough to see combat action in the Korean War where it became one of the few piston-engined platforms to destroy a jet-powered aircraft. As the Sea Fury's legacy evolved, the aircraft was purchased by other several nations with some using the aircraft it in its originally-intended land-based Fury form. The Sea Fury became the final piston-engined fighter to serve with the British Royal Navy before the arrival of carrier-based jet planes.
In 1942, Hawker engineer Sydney Camm designed a replacement fighter for the company's Hawker Tempest, then in service with the Royal Air Force. This new design had origins in the Tempest herself, but evolved into its own aircraft design as a smaller and lighter version of the Tempest. The proposal for the new Hawker "Fury" fighter was presented to the British Air Ministry who then accepted it into their new Specification F.2/43 which allowed for six Fury prototypes to be constructed with differing engine types. First flight of the land-based Fury prototype was achieved on September 1st, 1944.
About this time, the Royal Navy had also released Specification N.7/43 requiring a similar interceptor design but for carrier-based operations. Camm set about to develop a revised version of F.2/43 to fit an up-rated Centaurus XII engine. Both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy specifications were then consolidated into Specification F.2/43 as the requirements were deemed essentially the same. Hawker was given the task of developing the RAF land-based Fury fighter while Boulton Paul was tagged to convert the similar Sea Fury for the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy Specification N.7/43 was then replaced by the revised N.22/43 specification. April 1944 saw contracts placed for 200 RAF Furies and 200 RN Fleet Air Arm Sea Furies (100 of these were to be constructed by Boulton Paul).
The first Sea Fury went airborne on February 21st, 1945 as prototype SR661 powered by a Centaurus XII engine mated to a four-bladed propeller system. This prototype featured an arrestor hook but non-folding wings. The second prototype - SR666 - followed with a Centaurus XV engine mated to a five-bladed propeller system with folding wings. The similar Boulton Paul-produced Sea Fury was based on the SR666 and designated as the VB857, achieving first flight on January 31st, 1946.
The end of the Second World War effectively put an end to any interest that the Royal Air Force had in its Fury endeavor, seeing greater benefits in the pursuit of jet-powered aircraft types for its future. However, the Royal Navy kept its interest alive in the navalized Fury concept.
The first SR666-based F.Mk 10 fighters first flew on September 7th, 1946 with four-bladed propellers. This propeller arrangement was later upped to five blades and became standard on future Sea Fury machines. The end of the war also sliced the original 200-strong Royal Navy production order contract in half and, as a result, dropped Boulton Paul as a potential manufacturer of the Sea Fury. Despite some early issues with consistently damaged arrestor hooks during trials from the HMS Victorious beginning in late 1946 (the arrestor hooks were therefore elongated on future production Sea Furies), the aircraft was modified and cleared for full carrier operations by early 1947 for principle use by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.
Design-wise, the Sea Fury sported a slim, streamlined monocoque-constructed fuselage. The engine was mounted at the extreme forward portion with a large spinner sitting in front of the radial-engine opening, controlling a five-bladed propeller system. Wings were low-mounted, semi-elliptical monoplanes with straight-edged wingtips while having the ability to fold just outboard of the main landing gears (a must for carrier-oriented operations). The pilots seating position was above and behind the wings and engine, some distance away from the nose of the aircraft but his view from the cockpit was reportedly quite good considering the cockpit was covered over in a tear-drop "bubble" canopy with framing allotted only to the forward windshield portion. The cockpit also sat high on the design, different in the design approach used in the Tempest. The empennage featured a conventional single vertical tail fin and appropriate horizontal planes, all with rounded edges. Being of World War 2 origin, the Sea Fury was fitted with a conventional "tail dragger" undercarriage arrangement consisting of two main forward landing gears and a single tail wheel. All three systems were fully retractable with the forward landing gears recessing inwards towards the centerline of the fuselage. In all respects and despite it being smaller than the Tempest, the Sea Fury was a very large and imposing fighter design even when viewed at rest on the ground.
As a fighter, the Sea Fury pilot was in good hands with the ability to bring 4 x 20mm Hispano Mk V series cannons to bear on his target. Two cannons were mounted to a wing with applicable ammunition stores for each system. In its fighter-bomber role, the Sea Fury could call upon the use of up to 2,000lbs of external mixed ordnance or up to 12 x 3" (76mm) high-velocity, high-explosive rockets mounted under the wings. Drop tanks were also an option for increased ranges.