The Supermarine Attacker was the first jet fighter to enter squadron service with the Royal Navy.
The design was developed against Specification E.1/44, later modified to E.10/44, for a jet fighter with a laminar flow wing and a single jet engine. Supermarine married what was essentially the wing of the Spiteful to a new fuselage with bifurcated intakes feeding a Rolls-Royce Nene engine.
Although initially developed to an RAF requirement, the new design was ultimately developed for carrier service. To modern eyes, the type is unusual both for its unswept wing and tailwheel undercarriage (with twin tailwheels).
The first of three prototypes, Type392 TS409, was flown on 27 July1946. Production aircraft, to Specification E.1/45 featured a range of modifications, including revised fin and tailplane and increased internal fuel capacity and were designated the Type 398 Attacker F.1. A large external ventral fuel tank was introduced, along with an extended dorsal fin and folding wing tips.
The first production aircraft WA469 was not flown until 5 May 1950. The type entered service with 800 Sqn at Ford in August 1951. The type had a relatively brief service life, being progressively replaced by the Hawker Sea Hawk from 1954 onward.
50 Attacker F.1 were followed by a ground attack variant, the FB.1 (11 built) and FB.2 (85 built), giving a total of three prototypes and 146 production aircraft for the Royal Navy.
36 additional Type 538 land-based aircraft were built for the Pakistan Air Force. These latter aircraft remained in service until 1964.
|Powerplant||One 5,000 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Nene 3 (FB.2 Nene 101)|
|Span||36 ft 11 in|
|Maximum Weight||12,211 lb|
|Capacity and armament||Pilot only, 4 20 mm Hispano cannon, provision (FB Marks) for underwing carriage of four 300 lb rockets or two 1,000 lb bombs|
|Maximum Speed||590 mph at sea level|
|Range||1,190 miles at 355 mph with overload tank|
|Attacker F.1||50 aircraft with revised fin and tailplane, folding wings and increased fuel capacity|
|Attacker FB.1||11 built; ground attack variant|
|Attacker FB.2||85 built; improved ground attack variant with Nene 102 engine|
|Type 538||36 built; land-based Attacker variant for Pakistan|
Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK