Dedicated Night-Fighter Aircraft Proposal
The Hawker swept-wing P.1057 was proposed alongside the straight-winged P.1056 to satisfy a RAF night-fighter requirement of the late-1940s.
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On the road to finding a dedicated, jet-powered night-fighter in the post-World War 2 world, British aero-engineers devised many traditional, as well as unique, fighter concepts. The turbojet was here to stay as the powerplant-of-choice and with the enhanced performance being offered there was a requirement for airframes to meet the challenges of high-speed, high-altitude flight. The Hawker Aircraft "P.1057" existed during this period as a proposed twin-seat, twin-engine, jet-powered fighter project offered alongside the similar, though straight-winged, P.1056 form (detailed elsewhere on this site).
In any event, neither project was selected by the Royal Air Force (RAF) for the dedicated night-fighter role.
The night-fighter was born during the aerial fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) but these basic machines were little more than daytime performers thrust into the night time hunting role against marauding Zeppelin airships, Gotha bombers and the like. They stood as the ultimate (and in some cases last) line of defense for Britain and their importance grew to new 'heights' with the arrival of World War 2 (1939-1945) as enemy bombers grew evermore capable. During the subsequent World War, the RAF utilized all manner of fighting forms to meet the threat of Nazi warplanes over the British mainland. In time, onboard Airborne Interception (A.I.) radar had made it possible to intercept enemy warplanes in the dead of night, the British night-fighters engaging targets with machine gun and cannon fire.
The de Havilland DH.98 "Mosquito" became the ultimate incarnation of the night-fighter in the World War 2 period for the RAF, this two-crew, twin-engined medium-weight mating the performance of a fighter with the firepower of a light bomber. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Americans developed the first purpose-built night-fighter, the Northrop P-61 "Black Widow" (detailed elsewhere on this site).
As the story rolled on, and the war itself drew to a close in 1945, the need remained for a new, all-modern, jet-powered design to overtake the aging prop-driven platforms in the night-fighter role. This led to a slew of designs for consideration of which many fell to aviation history as simple footnotes, doomed to the back of a company's filing cabinet: unfortunately the promising P.1057 became just that.
While the similar P.1056 proposal seemed to follow the design lines established by the classic Gloster "Meteor" jet-powered fighter of the late-World War 2 period, with its straight-lined wings and underslung turbojet nacelles, the P.1057 went a completely different route with swept-back wing mainplanes and integrated engine housings. An elegant shape was chosen for the fuselage in which the short nosecone could house the A.I. radar unit and the two-seat cockpit aft. The tail would be capped by a traditional single-finned unit with low-mounting horizontal planes. The engines would straddle the fuselage proper and their housings would be well-contoured to the general shape of the fuselage and wing (blended). Aspiration was to happen through semi-circular openings (intakes) located at either side of the cockpit walls with aspiration of each unit through individual circular ports along the aft-sides of the fuselage (well-head of the tail unit). The wing mainplanes were emerge from the sides of the wing-root engine areas and be mid-mounted. Sweepback was apparent at both the leading and trailing edges with the latter being given the usual moving control surfaces. For ground-running, a short-legged tricycle arrangement was to be featured that was fully retractable.
By any measure, the P.1057 was essentially a swept-winged form of the P.1056 - albeit more advanced in this way.
As drawn up, the P.1057 was to have a running length of 53.4 feet and an overall wingspan of 48 feet, the aircraft being longer than wider and its Center-of-Gravity (CoG) being concentrated well-ahead of midships. Gross weight was estimated at 10,885lb and power was to come from 2 x Rolls-Royce AJ.65 (to become the "Avon") turbojet engines developing 6,500lb of thrust each (at this time in aviation history, the required power, in turn, required the mating of two or more engines). Proposed maximum speed became 720 miles-per-hour with a rate-of-climb reaching 10,000 feet-per-minute. The aircraft would be able to reach altitudes of at least 45,000 feet requiring a pressurized cockpit and ejection seats for crew survival.
Because the ultimate threat-of-the-day was the Soviet nuclear-capable bomber, it was hugely important for this interceptor to have an inherently quick rate-of-climb and fast travel speed. From there, the aircraft would rely on its sheer power, competence of the two crewmembers, and the radar fit to locate and engage the threat. Proposed armament was all-cannon in nature, coming in the form of 4 x 30mm ADEN autocannons seated in pairs to either side of the lower nose section. This would have given the aircraft an appropriate offensive "punch" against anything the Soviet Air Force was offering at the time.
At any event, both the P.1056 and P.1057 night-fighter projects appear to have been abandoned in short order - conceived of in 1947 and given up as soon as May-June of that year. This was a fate that befell many-a-British aviation project in the post-World War 2 world, such was the environment created by changing requirements, advancing technologies, and reduced defense spending.