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Hawker Hotspur

United Kingdom (1938)
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Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1938
Type: Twin-Seat, Single-Engine Turret Fighter Prototype Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Hawker Aircraft - UK
Production: 1

The Hawker Hotspur turret fighter program produced just one flyable prototype for its time in the late 1930s.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Hawker Hotspur Twin-Seat, Single-Engine Turret Fighter Prototype Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 9/11/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©

Prior to World War 2 (1939-1945), the British Air Ministry developed Specification F.9/35 in 1935 to seek out a new, all-modern "turret fighter" with a machine-gun-armed traversing turret as its primary armament. The type would succeed the obsolete line of Hawker "Demon" biplane aircraft then in service and led the storied concern of Hawker, and its legendary designer Sidney Camm, to develop the "Hotspur" around this requirement. However, the aircraft was not a success by any measure and just one flyable prototype was completed before work on the project ended. The contract instead fell to competitor Bolton Paul and their "Defiant" (detailed elsewhere on this site).

The Hotspur appeared at the same time that Hawker was developing its classic Hawker "Hurricane" single-seat, single-engine monoplane fighter. The turret fighter form also took on one engine as its primary propulsion system but sat a crew of two in tandem, the rear gunner in a separate turret enclosure over the aft dorsal spine of the aircraft. The turret was manufactured by Boulton Paul who also incorporated it into their equally-classic Defiant. The Hotspur took on some of the appearance of the Hurricane and sported relative clean lines and a conventional arrangement but was a direct offshoot of the Hawker "Henley", another of the company's flying products which only advanced its career as a target tug through 202 delivered examples.
The Boulton Paul Defiant was developed to the same specification and would find much greater success (over 1,000 units produced) than the Hotspur (single prototype), which labored through a lengthy and unspectacular development process. Work was underway as soon as 1936 and a first-flight, in prototype form, was recorded on June 14th, 1938 (a second contracted-for prototype was eventually cancelled). In comparison, the Defiant recorded its first-flight back on August 11th, 1937 giving the competing design quite the head start.

The Hawker Hotspur was completed with an overall length of 32.9 feet, a wingspan of 40.5 feet and a height of 31.9 feet. Empty weight was 5,800lb against an MTOW of 7,650lb and power was from a single Rolls-Royce Merlin II V-12 inline piston engine of 1,030 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose. Maximum speed, as tested, reached 316 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 28,000 feet was possible.

In terms of proposed armament, the intended powered turret carried 4 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns which were operated by the rear gunner. The pilot managed a sole 7.7mm Vickers machine gun firing from a nose mounting but this weapon was fixed to fire forward only. There was no bomb-carrying capability built into the Hotspur.

The Hotspur became nothing more than an incomplete combat warplane prototype and even company interest waned as Hawker was fully committed to the much-needed Hurricane fighter for the war effort (and the subsequent Battle of Britain campaign). During what would become the Hotspur's final flight, a gliding test, the engine failed to restart and the pilot successfully crash-landed his aircraft. Though repairable, the Hotspur was not salvaged and was scrapped instead. Before its end, the Hotspur saw its Bolton Paul turret completely removed and the rear position reworked for a more traditional look to better serve testing other components. In this form it was used in evaluating various diving brakes and flaps into 1942 over Farnborough.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (317mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Hawker Hotspur's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
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  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Global Operators:
United Kingdom (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Hawker Hotspur model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.




32.81 ft

10 m


40.52 ft

12.35 m


13.85 ft

4.22 m


5,798 lb

2,630 kg


7,650 lb

3,470 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Rolls-Royce Merlin II V12 inline piston engine developing 1,030 horsepower and driving three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.


317 mph

510 kph

275 kts


889 mi

1,430 km

Nautical Miles
772 nm


27,887 ft

8,500 m

5.28 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

1 x 0.303 caliber (7.7mm) Vickers machine gun in nose.
4 x 0.303 caliber (7.7mm) Browning machine guns in dorsal rear turret (Boulton Paul turret).
Variants: Series Model Variants
• "Hotspur" - Base Project Designation; single flyable prototype completed; written off after crash.