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Hawker P.1129

Jet-Powered Strike Bomber Proposal

The Hawker P.1129 was proposed as a light-class supersonic bomber for the Royal Air Force to succeed the English Electric Canberra line.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 5/1/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1958
Status: Cancelled
Manufacturer(s): Hawker Aircraft - UK
Production: 0
Capabilities: Ground Attack; X-Plane;
Crew: 2
Length: 72.67 ft (22.15 m)
Width: 48.72 ft (14.85 m)
Weight (Empty): 52,911 lb (24,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 79,366 lb (36,000 kg)
Power: 2 x Rolls-Royce RB.142R "Medway" low-bypass turbofan afterburning engines developing 13,800 under dry thrust and up to 22,500lb of thrust with reheat.
Speed: 1,771 mph (2,850 kph; 1,539 kts)
Ceiling: 60,039 feet (18,300 m; 11.37 miles)
Range: 1,864 miles (3,000 km; 1,620 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 15,000 ft/min (4,572 m/min)
Operators: United Kingdom (abandoned)
In its quest to find a direct successor to the classic English Electric "Canberra" jet-powered bomber, British industry responded with a slew of possible candidates falling under "Operational Requirement 339" (O.R.339). Among these was the "P.1129" proposal from Hawker Aircraft, a sleek, aerodynamic entry seating two crewmen and being powered by twin turbofan engines. Interestingly O.R.339 was allowed to continue even after the "Defence White Paper" defense review of 1957 put an end to many such types (namely manned aircraft in favor of missiles). The end-product was a classy-looking aircraft of the late-1950s period with characteristics taken from both the successful Hawker "Hunter" fighter of 1954 as well as the ultimately-cancelled British Aerospace Corporation (BAC) "TSR.2" of 1964.

The P.1129 was not advanced beyond drawings and models.

The English Electric Canberra was an important Cold War (1947-1991) performer, fulfilling the bomber role as well as reconnaissance for the West. It was a rather basic twin-engine design featuring a crew of three with straight wing mainplanes and went on to see production reach nearly 1,000 between factories in the United Kingdom and Australia. The United States, operating the airplane under the B-57 designation, added another 403 through the Martin Aircraft brand label. The B-57 retained the British "Canberra" name for its time in the air.

The series went on to see service with a slew of global operators, from Argentina and Chile to Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Its importance was such that it stocked over six operational squadrons for the Royal Air force - which took on a stock of 782 aircraft. Even so, the evolution of Soviet jet-powered fighters and interceptors meant that the Canberra's future was in doubt - it was a 1950s design born in the 1940s after all.

On paper, the proposed Hawker aircraft was given a long, narrow fuselage with a short, pointed nosecone assembly at front and twin exhaust ports at rear. The nose was to house an Airborne Interception (A.I.) radar fit with forward and side-facing capability as well as pertinent mission-related reconnaissance gear. The two crewmen were to sit in tandem in individual cockpits positioned just aft of the nose assembly, their placement near the extreme front of the aircraft for rather exceptional views. The twin, side-by-side engine configuration was aspirated by semi-circular intakes completed with "shock cones" useful in high-speed, supersonic flying envelopes. The intakes were set ahead of midships but aft of the cockpits. The engines themselves were buried within the fuselage in the usual way. A conventional tricycle undercarriage was proposed featuring two single-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled nose leg, all set to retract into the fuselage.

The wing mainplanes were positioned near, or just slightly aft, of midships and were low-to-mid-mounted along the sides of the fuselage. Sweepback was given to both the leading and trailing edges while the tips exhibited slight rounding. The tail unit was configured in a traditional fashion with a single vertical fin paired with two low-set horizontal planes. The horizontal pieces were all-moving for excellent, responsive control. All of the tail surfaces incorporated sweepback to keep the design as aerodynamically functional as possible.

The engine featured in the P.1129's design were 2 x Rolls-Royce R.142R "Medway", a low-bypass turbofan engine developed in the 1950s (first un in 1959). The ultimately-cancelled engine was an experimental type and was never applied in any major system - just nine were eventually built. Regardless, these turbofans would have supplied up to 22,500lb of thrust each unit for exceptional acceleration and straightline performance. Alternatively, the Rolls-Royce Olympus 15R series axial-flow turbojet engines would be considered - this engine series also went on to power both the Avro "Vulcan" nuclear-capable bomber and the BAC TSR.2 project bomber.

As completed, P.1129 was to have a running length of 72.8 feet and a wingspan of 48.7 feet. Gross weight was to reach around 80,000lb under full loads. Indicated performance provided a maximum speed of over Mach 2 when flying at over 36,000 feet altitude and the absolute altitude would have reached near 60,000 feet.

Proposed armament encompassed a single "Red Beard" nuclear drop bomb, Britain's first tactical nuclear weapon. The bomb was to sit, semi-recessed under the belly in a ventral "tray" - attempting to keep the aerodynamics of the aircraft complete. Additionally, engineers proposed an internal system housing up to 4 x 1,000lb conventional or nuclear bombs with rotating doors providing access for when dropping. Beyond this, the aircraft could substitute its war load with special-mission reconnaissance equipment for dedicated scouting runs. External support for ground-attack rockets and jettisonable fuel stores was also detailed to an extent as well as special-mission fuel tanks to be used for extremely-long sorties as needed.

Hawker drew up plans for three distinct prototypes to be fabricated, each to resolve one portion of the aircraft's development phase. The first was to cover structural and engine development. The second was to further engine work and the third was to mimic a production-quality form as closely as possible for formal testing and review. These airframes were scheduled to be available between 1960 and 1961. At any rate, none were completed.

Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an air launched nuclear weapon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank


1 x "Red Beard" nuclear missile in semi-recessed ventral line section of the fuselage.
4 x 1,000lb conventional or nuclear drop bombs in internal bomb bay (Martin rotating doors proposed).

External fuel tanks for extended operational ranges. Support for aerial rockets also considered.

Variants / Models

• P.1129 - Base Project Designation.
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