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Hawker Woodcock

Night-Fighter / Night Interceptor Aircraft

United Kingdom | 1924

"The Hawker Woodcock became the first fighter design to emerge from the storied British aero-concern of Hawker Engineering."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/14/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Hawker "Woodcock" was the first fighter design to emerge from the newly-formed aero-concern of "Hawker Engineering Company" in 1923. Hawker was formed from the remnants of Sopwith Aviation, makers of the war-winning Sopwith "Camel" biplane fighter of World War 1 (1914-1918) fame. The original company, founded by Thomas Sopwith himself during December of 1913, saw its heyday during the war years but went defunct as soon as 1920 with the war market having dried up; at its peak it employed some 5,000 total employees, such was its size. With the new decade, operations were reestablished under the new brand and included such names as Thomas Sopwith, Harry Hawker, and Sydney Camm.

In 1922, the British Air Ministry released the requirements of Specification 25/22 calling for an all-modern single-seat, single-engine fighter for the night interceptor role. Hawker seized the opportunity and went to work under the design leadership of one Captain B. Thomson.

The resultant design was largely conventional for its time, featuring a wood frame with fabric skinning. A traditional over-under biplane wing configuration was used with the fuselage housing the engine at the nose and the pilot just aft of the emplacement. The mainplanes were given twin bays and parallel strutworks for the needed lift, drag, and handling. The unit was conventional in its use of twin horizontal planes straddling a single vertical rudder fin.

In its initial prototype form, known as "J6987", the fighter carried an Armstrong Siddeley "Jaguar II" series engine outputting 358 horsepower to drive the two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. Proposed armament was 2 x 0.303" Vickers Machine Guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings and these would be synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

A first-flight of this airframe was had in March of 1923 and the design came to be known as the "Woodcock".

As flown, the aircraft proved unsatisfactory mainly due to stability and control issues, requiring modifications to the design with the work assigned to chief designer W.G. Carter. The wingspan was reworked with less surface area and the twin-bay arrangement given up in favor of a reduced-drag, reduced-complexity single-bay approach. More importantly, the original Jaguar II engine was given up in favor of the Bristol "Jupiter IV" type promising enhanced performance with its 380-425 horsepower output rating. In all, much of the original Woodcock's design was changed save for the basic structure.

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In this new guise, the aircraft reappeared as the "Woodcock Mk II" and its own first-flight was recorded in August of 1923. Additional testing resulted in some additional modifications being implemented but the Air Ministry liked what it saw and contracted for an initial batch of the new armed, night-capable fighters before the end of 1924. The service would eventually take on a stock of 62 of the fighters.

Dimensions included a length of 25.6 feet, a wingspan of 34.7 feet, and a height of 9 feet. Empty weight reached 2,015lb with a MTOW of 3,000lb. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 141 miles-per-hour, a cruising speed of 103 mph, arrange out to 280 miles, and a service ceiling of 22,500 feet.

Once inducted into service, the Woodcock II was assigned to Royal Air Force (RAF) No.3 Squadron in May of 1925 and first examples were delivered in March of the following year. The aircraft held an accident-prone existence early on - mainly due to structural issues - but modifications were made to help RAF pilots find favor in the design before the end.

The series was also used by No.17 Squadron of the RAF and taken into service by both the Danish Army and Navy air services. Three Danish aircraft carried the Jaguar IV engine and were armed with 2 x Madsen Machine Guns under the name of Hawker "Danecock". At least twelve airframes were constructed locally, under license, through the Danish Royal Naval Dockyard of Denmark and appeared with the designation of L.B. II "Dankok".

Total serial production of all types for all users ultimately reached 64 units and the type flew into 1936 even though the series had already been succeeded (officially) by the more modern Gloster "Gamecock" biplane as soon as 1928.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Hawker Woodcock Mk.II Night-Fighter / Night Interceptor Aircraft.
1 x Bristol Jupiter IV 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 425 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
143 mph
230 kph | 124 kts
Max Speed
103 mph
165 kph | 89 kts
Cruise Speed
22,638 ft
6,900 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
280 miles
450 km | 243 nm
Operational Range
1,205 ft/min
367 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Hawker Woodcock Mk.II Night-Fighter / Night Interceptor Aircraft.
25.6 ft
7.80 m
O/A Length
34.7 ft
(10.57 m)
O/A Width
9.0 ft
(2.75 m)
O/A Height
2,017 lb
(915 kg)
Empty Weight
2,976 lb
(1,350 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Hawker Woodcock Night-Fighter / Night Interceptor Aircraft .
2 x 0.303" Vickers Machine Guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings near the nose; synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
Notable series variants as part of the Hawker Woodcock family line.
Woodcock - Base Series Name.
Woodcock Mk I - Original aircraft of 1923; Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar II engine; twin-bay wing design.
Woodcock Mk II - Redesigned aircraft of 1924; reworked single-bay wing mainplanes, relocated armament mountings, and power from Bristol Jupiter IV 9-cylinder engine.
"Danecock" - Three airframes for Denmark with Jaguar IV engines.
L.B. II "Dankok" - Twelve license-produced fighters for Danish air and naval service.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Hawker Woodcock. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 64 Units

Contractor(s): Hawker Engineering Company - UK
National flag of Denmark National flag of the United Kingdom

[ Denmark; United Kingdom ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (143mph).

Graph Average of 113 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Hawker Woodcock
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Hawker Woodcock Night-Fighter / Night Interceptor Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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