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Hawker
Cygnet

Sydney Camm’s first design for Hawker — and the company’s only light aircraft.
Hawker Cygnet G-EBJH Brooklands The first Hawker Cygnet G-EBJH at Brooklands powered by an ABC Scorpion engine..
 
In January 1924, the British Air Ministry announced that it was putting up £3,000 worth of prizes for a competition for an ultra-light, two-seat light aircraft with an engine of no more than 1,000cc.

 

Hawker proposed the Cygnet, the first design put forward for the company by their new Chief Designer Sydney Camm, who had joined the company from Martinsyde the previous year.  Camm who would go on to shape the design ethos of Hawker for decades to come and was intrumental in a number of iconic aircraft we know and love today.

 

Two Cygnets were built for the Lympne Trials held in September and October 1924, one with a 34 hp British Anzani engine, the other with a 30 hp ABC Scorpion I. Both were extremely lightweight, the all-wood fabric-covered airframe weighing in at a mere 270lb, the addition of the engine adding only another 100lb.

 

Cygnet G-EBMB Anzani engine Camm discusses Anzani-engine Cygnet with Jones Bulman
 
Both did well in the competition, held by the Royal Aero Club at Lympne, Kent, in September 1924, having made their first flights shortly before. The ultimate prize money was won by Maurice Piercey (Beardmore Wee Bee) with 2nd place going to Cyril Unwins (Bristol Brownie). The Anzani-engined Cygnet gained first place for best take-off performance and also won the short-landing competition although engine trouble, denied the type the Air Ministry prize.

 

Hawker Cygnet G-EBMB take off Hawker Cygnet G-EBMB demonstrates its spightly take off performance despite its low power.

 

Walter Longman flew the Cygnet 1 whilst Fred Raynham was at the controls of the Cygnet II and for their part the Cygnets claimed respectable third and fouth places.

 

In November 1924, both were sent to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath for evaluation by military pilots, the trials lasting until early the next year. The type was well-liked by those who flew it at Martlesham, although no military role for it was proposed.

 

Cygnet 4 RAE Aero Club 1926 Lympne meeting G-EBJH was sold to the RAE Aero Club abd wore No 4 at the 1926 Lympne competition.

 

The Anzani-engined Cygnet was given a civil registration (G-EBMB) in July 1925, by which time the Scorpion-powered example had also been civil registered (G-EBJH).

 

Both aircraft were then re-engined with 36 hp Bristol Cherub III's in 1926 and they subsequently took part in numerous events and competitions during 1926–27. These included taking first palce in the 100-mile Handicap Race with George Bulman at the controls whilst the Cygnet II claimed a magnificent 2nd place in the 50-mile version at the same meeting. Notably, these results were also replicated a year later by both aircraft and pilots.

 

Sadly, Cygnet II was to later crash at Lympne in August 1927 and was subsequently written off.

 

Hawker Cygnet G-EBMB Brooklands Cherub engine Fitted with a Bristol Cherub III engine, G-EBMB wore number “6” at the 1926 Daily Mail Lympne Lightplane Competition.

 

In 1929, the Cygnet 1 was put into storage by Hawker at Brooklands where it remained until it was painstakingly refurbished by the company in 1948, becoming a regular visitor at events and airshows throughout the 1950s.

 

By 1961, this sole surviving Cygnet had stopped flying again and although it continued to make regular static appearances at events, it was returned to storage in 1968.

 

During 1972, it was moved to the recently opened RAF Museum at Hendon and after extensive restoration in the mid-1980s, it was moved in 2001 to the RAF Museum at Cosford, where it remains on display today.

 

Hawker Cygnet G-CAMM Old Warden The modern Cygnet replica G-CAMM emphasises the clean lines of this elegant design.

 

In 1993, an airworthy replica Cygnet was built by Don Cashmore (G-CAMM) in honour of its designer. Powered by a Mosler flat-twin engine, the aircraft was based at Old Warden in Bedfordshire from 1996 until it was acquired by the Shuttleworth Collection in early 2009.

 

It remains airworthy and flies regularly at Shuttleworth shows and events.

Numbers built

Two only G-EBJH ‘4’ and G-EBMB ‘6’ - The numbers being their competiton numbers allocated for the 1926 Lympne Trials

Specification

Powerplant One 34 hp British Anzani V engine; or one 30 hp ABC Scorpion I horizontally opposed engine; or one 36 hp Bristol Cherub III horizontally opposed engine
Span 28ft 0in
Maximum weight 950lb (Cherub engine)
Capacity Pilot and passenger
Maximum speed 82 mph (132km/h) (Cherub III engine)

Survivors

G-EBMB (c/n 2) RAF Museum Cosford, Shropshire, UK www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/collections/hawker-cygnet/
G-CAMM (replica) Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, Bedfordshire, UK www.shuttleworth.org/collection/hawkercygnet
 

Other information