Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

Folland / Hawker-Siddeley Gnat

Fighter / Trainer Aircraft

Folland / Hawker-Siddeley Gnat

Fighter / Trainer Aircraft


The Folland Gnat proved a handful with the Indian Air Force, taking advantage of the technologically superior Pakistani F-86 Sabres.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1959
MANUFACTURER(S): Folland Aircraft - UK / Hindustan Aircraft Ltd (HAL) - India
OPERATORS: Finland; India; United Kingdom; Yugoslavia

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Folland / Hawker-Siddeley Gnat F.Mk 1 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 29.72 feet (9.06 meters)
WIDTH: 22.15 feet (6.75 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.83 feet (2.69 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 4,850 pounds (2,200 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 8,885 pounds (4,030 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Bristol Orpheus 701 turbojet engine developing 4,520 lb of thrust.
SPEED (MAX): 715 miles-per-hour (1,150 kilometers-per-hour; 621 knots)
RANGE: 1,181 miles (1,900 kilometers; 1,026 nautical miles)
CEILING: 50,033 feet (15,250 meters; 9.48 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 20,000 feet-per-minute (6,096 meters-per-minute)

2 x 30mm ADEN cannons

2 x 500lb bombs
18 x 3" rockets
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Series Model Variants
• Fo.141 - Base Fighter Model Designation
• F.Mk 1 - Base Single Seat Fighter Design.
• HAL Gnat - Indian license-production of F.Mk 1 model.
• HAL Ajeet - Single-Seat Fighter; based on the F.1 model.
• HAL Ajeet (Trainer) - Two-Seat Trainer used by India; based on the HAL Ajeet.
• Fo.144 (Trainer) - Two-Seat Trainer Model Designation.
• T.Mk 1 - Fo.144 trainer in service with RAF.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Folland / Hawker-Siddeley Gnat Fighter / Trainer Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/26/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Folland Gnat was a swept-wing, jet-powered fighter of British origins appearing in the middle of the 1950's. Designed as a light-weight, cost-effective aircraft with impressive performance specifications, the diminutive Gnat proved a better success on the export market than it did as an indigenous creation for the United Kingdom. Design of the Gnat - derived from the Folland private venture Fo.139 "Midge" prototype of 1954 - was handled by aircraft engineer W.E.W. "Teddy" Petter with the Gnat prototype achieving first flight on July 18th, 1955. Advances in turbojet design technology was now reaching more advanced levels, providing for improved engine longevity and smaller size while still benefitting in the category of performance compared to previous offerings. Initial performance testing was promising and the Gnat project was forwarded by the Ministry of Supply to include six further test aircraft. Construction of the all-metal aircraft was such that it could be relatively easily produced by any interested operator. The fighter was declined by the Royal Air Force a modified two-seat trainer was accepted instead. The Gnat entered RAF service in 1959.

The Gnat featured all-swept wing surfaces and a clean fuselage design. Cockpit placement was forward of the fuselage design featuring a two piece glass canopy. Trainer versions featured an elongated cockpit position with two seats in tandem for student and instructor. Intakes were mounted to either fuselage side, feeding the single jet powerplant. Trainers varied in using a different powerplant, wings and empennage section. The empennage was dominated by a single vertical tail fin and conventional tailplanes. The undercarriage was of a tricycle arrangement featuring two main landing gears and a nose gear. Performance of the F.Mk 1 was impressive - considering it was all subsonic - provided for by the single Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus 701-01 series turbojet engine delivering some 4,705lbf. Maximum speed could top 695 miles per hour while a range of 500 miles was possible. A rate-of-climb of 20,000 feet per minute ended with a service ceiling of 48,000 feet. Standard armament for the base Gnat was modest, consisting of 2 x 30mm ADEN cannons. Lethality could be increased somewhat by the addition of 18 x rockets or 2 x 500lb bombs held underwing.

In practice, despite their low cost, proved to quite the needy aircraft with maintenance costs to boot. Its smallish size worked against it in terms of maintenance personnel needing to reach and repair various internal components. The aircraft suffered from limited range and limited armament potential, severely restricting its serious use as a front-line performer. These limitations ensured a limited production run spanning several decades of service though still delivering a memorable history. To drive home the point, the fighter version of the Gnat was not even utilized by the RAF - it found better success on the export market, particularly in operations under the India banner.

Gnats played a major combat role in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak conflicts serving with the Indian Air Force. The diminutive aircraft proved a handful for the larger, even superior, Canadair F-86 Sabres (license-production North American Sabre jets). Kills attributed to the Gnat were mostly Pakistani Sabres and eventually earned the Gnat the appropriate nickname of "Sabre Slayer". Its capabilities and relative small size no doubt played up to the advantage of the Indian pilots, able to out maneuver the Sabres and strategically set themselves up for a quick cannon burst. India claimed seven Pakistani air-to-air kills by Gnats in the 1965 conflict alone. By 1978, the Gnat in Indian service had reached her technological end and was removed from service in favor or newer warplanes. HAL of India produced at least 175 Gnats locally and received at least 40 more from Folland.

A single Gnat piloted by Indian Air Force Squadron Leader Brij Singh Sikand landed in a Pakistani airfield. Though the airfield was abandoned, the aircraft was still captured by Pakistan and eventually put on display at the Karachi-based Pakistan Air Force Museum.

The Gnat was produced in a handful of variants with total production running just 449 aircraft. Production was predominantly handled by Folland in the United Kingdom and by HAL (Hindustan Aircraft, Limited) of India. Variants included the original Fo.141 Gnat as a single-seat jet fighter. This served as the Gnat F.Mk 1 for Finland while becoming the HAL production Gnat in India (via license production). The Fo.144 Gnat became the base designation for the modified two-seat trainer, appearing in its Gnat T.Mk 1 designation (after Folland's acquisition by Hawker-Siddeley) when in service with the Royal Air Force. HAL went on to produce the HAL Ajeet (meaning "Invincible" or "Unconquerable") as an improved Gnat F.Mk 1. and complimented the type with the HAL Ajeet two-seat advanced trainer derived from the RAF Gnat T.Mk 1 but with extensive modifications.

The United Kingdom, India, Finland and Yugoslavia became the only operators of the Gnat. The United Kingdom operated the Gnat trainer model for the Royal Air Force and was selected to perform with the Red Arrows acrobatic team from 1964 through 1979. Finland operated 13 Gnat fighters - two were reconnaissance versions - beginning in July of 1958 through 1974 while Yugoslavia received just two Gnats for evaluation purposes. Finnish operation of Gnats were plagued with technical issues and accidents that forced the aircraft to be grounded for a time. Eventually, the aircraft were proving too costly to maintain and were given up in favor of the Swedish Saab 35 Drakens. Finnish Air Force Major Lauri Pekuri was credited as being the first Finn to break the speed of sound in a Gnat.

The United Kingdom retired her Gnats in 1979, replaced on the Red Arrows team by the British Aerospace Hawk T.1A aircraft. In addition to its "Sabre Slayer" monniker, the Gnat enjoyed the nickname of "Pocket Fighter" as well.


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 (715mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Folland / Hawker-Siddeley Gnat F.Mk 1'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 (449)
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.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Site Map Site content ©2003-, All Rights Reserved.

The "Military Factory" name and logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo