The Vickers Supermarine Scimitar traces its development back to the experimental Vickers Supermarine Type 508 and 529Type 508 and 529 prototypes (described separately) which were large twin-engine fighters that had unusually thin unswept wings and V-tails. Initially conceived for 'undercarraige-less belly landings' on aircraft carriers, the concept was soon abandoned as unworkable and further developments returned to the conventional arrangement.
A third experimental aircraft was ordered as the Vickers Supermarine Type 525, being significantly modified with swept wings and more conventional tail surfaces. The Vickers Supermarine Type 525 (VX138) was flown for the first time on 24th April 1954.
The Vickers Supermarine Type 525 was designed against Specification N.113D whilst the production aircraft (later to be named the Vickers Supermarine Type 544 Scimitar) included the adoption of a powered boundary layer control system to reduce landing speeds for carrier operation.
The first Vickers Supermarine Scimitar pre-production prototype (WT854) was flown on 24th January 1956 with the following aircraft evolving through a number of changes such as a stronger airframe and improved aerodynamics.
The final production designs featured a dog tooth leading edge and an anhedral tailplane to improve transonic handling and manoeuvre characteristics. The first true production Scimitar flew on 11th January 1957 and production numbers comprised the single Type 525, three pre-production Scimitar and 76 production Scimitar F.1.
During its operation aboard naval carriers, the aircraft was found to be quite large and a number of onboard accidents occurred during its fairly short period of service (over 50% of the aircraft were lost).
That said however, a number of important lessons were learnt from the Vickers Supermarine Scimitar including the importance of its true multi-role capability. With the introduction of the Blackburn Buccaneer, the Vickers Supermarine Scimitar was reduced to the role of a mid-air refuelling tanker, allowing the Blackburn Buccaneer to take off with an heavy bomb-load, offset by a lower initial fuel load.
The Vickers Supermarine Scimitar eventually retired in 1969, after a brief spell in a training role with the Fleet Requirement Unit at Hurn, Dorset.
|Powerplant||Two 10,000 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Avon RA.24 or RA.28|
|Span||37 ft 2 in|
|Maximum Weight||34,200 lb|
|Capacity and armament||Single pilot, four 30 mm cannon and four 1,000 lb bombs or four Bullpup missiles. Alternative loads could include Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and up to four 200 gallon drop tanks.|
|Maximum Speed||737 mph (630 kt) at sea level|
|Range||1,422 miles at 35,000 ft|
|Type 525||1 aircraft VX138|
|Scimitar pre-production||3 aircraft|
|Type 544 Scimitar F.1||76 production aircraft|