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Hawker Hart

The two-seat light day bomber that led to a large family of related types
Hawker Hart MkII (G-ABMR - J9941) Hawker Hart MkII (G-ABMR - J9941)

The Hawker Hart was designed by Sydney Camm (later Sir Sydney Camm) against Specification 12/26 which called for a high performance two seat light day biplane bomber.

Arguably, the requirement arose following Fairey’s development of the Private Venture Fairey Fox in 1925, exploiting the Curtiss D-12 engine and Curtiss-Reed propeller to achieve a day bomber that was some 50 mph faster than contemporary RAF fighters.

Specification 12/26 was demanding for its day and resulted, in the Hart, in a single bay biplane with all-metal primary structure married to a cleanly-cowled 12 cylinder Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine. The first prototype (J9052) was flown for the first time in June 1928.

Hawker Hart prototype 1928 Hawker Hart prototype 1928

Once selected following competition trials at Martlesham Heath on 8th September 1928 where it demonstrated both good speed and handling characteristics, production followed against Specification 9/29.

In the event, 1,042 Hart aircraft were built, of which Hawker constructed 246. Contract production was undertaken from 1931 by Gloster Aircraft Co Ltd (72), Sir WG Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd (456), Vickers (Aviation) Ltd (226), together with 42 aircraft under licence at Trollhäten, Sweden.

Hawker Hart (Upside down) over Brooklands Hawker Hart (Upside down) over Brooklands

The Hart was an outstanding design, which gave rise to many variants. Developments included the Demon, Audax, Osprey, Nimrod, Hind, Hardy, Hartbees, Hector and Fury. The Hart was also extensively used for engine testing, various examples being host to various versions of the Napier Dagger, Bristol Perseus, Mercury, Pegasus and Jupiter, and the Rolls-Royce PV12 and Merlin.

The RAF used the Hart in both its original light bomber role and as the Hart Trainer, fitted with dual control and with all armament deleted. The Hart Trainer also featured reduced sweep of the upper wing to compensate for changes in centre of gravity when the military equipment was removed.


Hawker Hart I
One 525hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel IB
37 ft 3 in
Maximum Weight
4,554 lb
Capacity & Armament
Pilot and gunner, one forward-firing Vickers machine gun plus one Lewis gun fired from rear cockpit; bomb load up to 520 lb
Maximum Speed
184 mph at 5,000ft
Endurance / Range
2hr 45min / 470 miles

Number built



Hart I Two-seat light bomber aircraft for the RAF. 525 hp Kestrel IB engine.
Hart SEDB Two-seat single-engined light bomber aircraft for the RAF.
Hart (India) Tropicalised version for the RAF, used by RAF in the North West Frontier of India.
Hart (C)
8 Built
Two-seat unarmed communications aircraft for the RAF.
Hart Trainer (Interim)
2 Built
Hart light bombers converted into training aircraft.
Hart Trainer Two-seat dual-control trainer aircraft, with reduced sweepback on top wings.
Hart Fighter
6 Built
Two-seat fighter version for the RAF with Kestrel IIS. Later redesignated as the Demon.
Hart (Special) Tropicalised version for the RAF, used in the Middle East.
Hart (Testbeds) Engine testbeds (Kestrel,  Napier Dagger I, II and III & RR Merlin C and E engines.
Estonian Hart
8 Built
Export version for Estonia, equipped with an interchangeable wheel or float undercarriage.
Swedish Hart
4 Built (Hawker)  / 42 under licence
Light bomber for Swedish Air Force.


Hart (G-ABMR / J9941)
Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London, UK
Hart Trainer K-4972
Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London, UK


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