The Hawker P.1052 was an experimental aircraft produced by Hawker Siddeley for research and development of swept back wing designs.
As preparations were being made in late 1945, to start work on construction of the Hawker P.1040 (prototype Sea Hawk) Hawker Siddeley proposed a 'swept-wing rocket-powered' version for high-speed aerodynamic research.
Air Ministry Specification E.38/46 was duly issued in March 1947, calling for two flying prototypes of a swept-wing version of the N.7/46 (a design which would evolve into the Hawker Sea Hawk naval jet fighter) and a third, static test airframe. The requirement for a 'rocket powerplant' was removed, although this was to be revisited later with the Hawker P.1072 Sea Hawk prototype.
The purpose of the Hawker P.1052, as it was designated, was to acquire 'further knowledge of (wing) sweepback and its associated control and stability problems'. To this end, an essentially standard N.7/46 airframe, minus armament but with the same Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine, was mated to a pair of wings swept back 35° at quarter-chord. The tailplane, however, remained unswept.
The first Hawker P.1052 (VX272) was built at Hawker’s Richmond Road factory in Kingston and it was then transported by road to The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down during November 1948.
After preliminary taxying trials, the aircraft made its maiden flight in the hands of Hawker test pilot Trevor 'Wimpey' Wade on the 19th November 1948. The same pilot was at the controls for the first flight of the second prototype (VX279) on 13th April 1949.
Exactly one month later, Wade set a new London to Paris Point-to-Point record in a Hawker P.1052 with the 220-mile flight taking just 21 minutes 28 seconds, an average speed of 618 mph.
In June 1949, the first prototype (VX272) went to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough. In September of that year, it suffered damage during a forced landing, as a result of a fuel pump failure. The aircraft was repaired and strengthened by reinforcement of the wing spars.
In the meantime, it had been decided to modify the second prototype (VX279) to incorporate a new rear fuselage with swept tail surfaces, as well as a straight-through jet pipe, to accommodate a Rolls-Royce Tay turbojet engine. With these modifications it became the sole Hawker P.1081.
The first prototype Hawker P.1052 suffered several more accidents during 1950 and 1951, before it was eventually fitted with an arrester hook and a Sea Hawk undercarriage. Successful deck-landing trials aboard HMS Eagle were subsequently completed in May 1952.
The aircraft then returned to the Royal Aircraft Establishment where it remained until its final forced landing in September 1953. Thereafter, it was used solely as a ground instructional airframe until 1964, when it became part of the nascent RAF Museum.
It was subsequently transferred in 1990, to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton on a 'permanent loan basis', where sadly it has been kept in storage ever since.
Two: VX272 and VX279 (later converted to Hawker P.1081).
|Powerplant||One 5,000lb-thrust Rolls-Royce Nene RN.2 turbojet|
|Maximum speed||682 mph at sea level; Mach 0·87 at 36,000ft|
VX272 is held in storage in the Cobham Hall, Yeovilton where public access is allowed each year to allow it and other reserve items to be viewed.