Dedicated Night-Fighter Aircraft Proposal
The Hawker P.1056 was drawn up to a post-World War 2 night-fighter specification - it was not furthered.
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Towards the close of World War 2 in 1945, the turbojet engine was already establishing itself as the future of aerial warfare. This was the fruit of all of the major powers of the conflict investing, to varying degrees, in the development of an effective and reliable turbojet engine unit for which power a new-generation of combat warplane for wars still to come. One of the nations at the forefront of jet technology during the period was Britain and one of their notable achievements in the post-war world was the Rolls-Royce AJ.65 ("Axial Jet") engine - better remembered as the "Avon".
The AJ.65 became the world's first axial-flow turbojet, seeing production reach in excess of 11,000 units. This powerplant went on to drive a bevy of airplanes for the West during the Cold War-era: the English Electric Lightning, Hawker Hunter, and Saab Draken were just some of the classic designs. So when a new Specification (F.44/46) by the British Air Ministry came up in January of 1947 calling for a dedicated, jet-powered, radar-equipped night-fighter, the AJ.65 became the centerpiece of a design by Hawker Aircraft known as the "P.1056".
The P.1056's design lines were no doubt influenced by the competing, in-service Gloster Meteor twin-jet fighter-bomber, Britain's first operational jet fighter and the only jet-powered platform available to the Allies at the close of World War 2 (1939-1945). The fuselage was well-contoured for aerodynamic efficiency, fitting a rounded, short nosecone at front and tapering elegantly to the rear. The nose was hollowed out to house an Airborne Interception (AI) radar unit and, aft of this, was the cockpit placement intended to seat two crewmembers in tandem (under a lightly-framed, "teardrop-style" canopy). The straight-edged mainplanes, featuring only slight tapering at the leading and trailing edges, would be rounded at the tips and set low against the fuselage sides just ahead of midships. As in the Meteor, the P.1056 was to carry its twin-turbojet configuration (2 x Rolls-Royce AJ.65 of 6,500lb thrust each) in underwing nacelles, these housings formed as part of the mainplane members. The tail unit consisted of a single, rounded vertical tailfin with low-set horizontal planes. For ground-running, a retractable tricycle undercarriage would be used.
Proposed armament was strictly cannon-oriented: 4 x 30mm ADEN autocannons would be buried under the cockpit floor in the nose section of the fuselage. Set low and under the crewmen, muzzle flash would have had a minimal impact during night-time engagements.
The aircraft was projected by company engineers to have a maximum speed of 680 miles-per-hour and a rate-of-climb nearing 11,000 feet-per-minute. These proved two excellent values for a night-fighter to possess: straight-line speed in running down night-time marauders and the ability to get to altitude in short order.
However, despite the promising aspects of this "paper creation", all work on the project was ended in May of 1947. An offshoot design, though also short-lived, became "P.1057". This version followed some of the design traits of the P.1056 but incorporated a large-area, swept-back wing mainplane with wingroot-mounted turbojet installations. This design, too, went nowhere as the search for a viable Royal Air Force night-fighter wore on.