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.
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.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
SYNCHRONIZED / INTERRUPTOR GEAR
Automatic weapons are synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades via special mechanical gear arrangement.
Addition of more mainplanes to enhance inherent agility, providing a tactical edge in tight engagements.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Manual process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to exit in the event of an airborne emergency.
25.6 ft (7.80 m)
34.7 ft (10.57 m)
9.0 ft (2.75 m)
2,017 lb (915 kg)
2,976 lb (1,350 kg)
+959 lb (+435 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Hawker Woodcock Mk.II production variant)
biplane / over-under / straight
Design utilizes a dual-plane wing arrangement in which one mainplane member is seated above the other; biplanes enhance agility at the expense of added drag.
Dual mainplane configuration seating the members in an over-under fashion and poisitoned at different points along the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the Hawker Woodcock Mk.II production variant)
1 x Bristol Jupiter IV 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 425 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
2 x 0.303" Vickers Machine Guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings near the nose; synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
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.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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