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Hawker P.1052

High-Speed, Swept-Wing Research Aircraft


Experiments by the British in swept-wing aircraft forms during the Cold War period resulted in designs such as the Hawker P.1052.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Hawker P.1052 High-Speed, Swept-Wing Research Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/8/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
In September of 1947, some years after the close of World War 2 (1939-1945) when piston-powered fighters ruled the air war, British aero-industry flew, for the first time, what would become the Hawker "Sea Hawk" naval fighter. This single-seat, single-engine platform would see a total of 542 units produced before the end and this product would fly into the early 1980s with foreign navies. The same successful design would go on to form the basis for another Hawker product, the "P.1052" - a design for the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) used as a dedicated testbed for high-speed, swept-back wing research during the early Cold War period.

As far back as 1945, engineers at Hawker were drawing up plans for an experimental high-speed, swept-back test form but it was not until early-1946, with World War 2 all but over now, that the program gained steam through a contract awarded by the British Air Ministry to cover two prototypes satisfying Specification E.38/46. The contract was granted in May of 1947 and in-depth work ensued to bring the aircraft about - it was a direct offshoot of the P.1040 design work which went on to become the aforementioned Sea Hawk.

The finalized test form utilized metal construction and a rounded, streamlined fuselage design. Over the nose was fitted the single-seat cockpit under a large-area, lightly-framed two-piece canopy. The wings were mid-mounted along the fuselage sides and given 35-degree sweepback. At the wing roots were located triangular air intakes to aspirate the single engine installation buried within the fuselage and exhaustion was through wing root pipes. The tail unit incorporated a single, rounded vertical fin with horizontal planes mounted midway up the structure. A wholly-retractable tricycle undercarriage was used for ground-running.

Power was from a single Rolls-Royce R.N.2 "Nene" turbojet engine developing 5,000lb of thrust.

The initial prototype was designated "VX272" and made ready in 1948, completing its first-flight on November 19th of that year. The second contracted prototype, "VX279", followed into the air on April 13th, 1949. A third static airframe was eventually added to the stable to handle other controlled tests on the ground.

VX279 was reworked with a single jet exhaust arrangement (as opposed to the dual jet pipe form), a revised tail section (now with swept surfaces), and a "variable-incidence" tailplane to better handle higher speed flying envelopes. Changes to this prototype were substantial enough to send this entry down its own developmental path as the "P.1081" detailed elsewhere on this site.

Meanwhile, VX272 continued to fly in a research-minded way - eventually incorporating qualities such as a reinforced fuselage and wing mainplane members, the proven undercarriage taken from the production Sea Hawk fighter, subtle aerodynamic refinements to satisfy emerging high-speed issues, and the original tail section of the early-form VX279 prototype complete with arrestor hook for carrier deck landings. In this guise, VX272 successfully completed take-offs and landings from the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in May of 1952. The variable-incidence tailplane component was finally integrated to this prototype that June to complete the aircraft's new look - which flew into September of 1953 before given up in favor of work on the "P.1067" - this particular entry set to become the classic Hawker Hunter production fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site).

As completed, the P.1052 had an overall length of 39.6 feet, a wingspan measuring 31.5 feet, and a height of 10.5 feet. Empty weight reached 9,450lb to a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 13,500lb. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 682.5 miles-per-hour, a service ceiling of 45,500 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 3,864 feet-per-minute.


YEAR: 1948
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Hawker Aircraft Ltd - UK
LENGTH: 39.60 ft (12.07 m)
WIDTH: 31.50 ft (9.6 m)
HEIGHT: 10.50 ft (3.2 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 9,480 lb (4,300 kg)
MTOW: 13,481 lb (6,115 kg)
POWER: 1 x Rolls-Royce R.N.2 "Nene" turbojet engine developing 5,000lb of thrust.
SPEED: 684 mph (1,100 kph; 594 kts)
CEILING: 45,932 feet (14,000 m; 8.7 miles)
RANGE: 342 miles (550 km; 297 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 3,900 ft/min (1,189 m/min)
OPERATORS: United Kingdom (retired)

Variants / Models

• P.1052 - Base Project Designation
• VX272 - First prototype of 1948.
• VX279 - Second prototype of 1949.

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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (684mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Hawker P.1052'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 (2)
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
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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