H.G. Hawker Engineering proposed the Hawker Cygnet, the first design put forward on behalf of the company by their new Chief Designer Sydney Camm. Camm had joined the company from Brooklands based Martinsyde the previous year and he would go on to shape the design ethos of Hawker for decades to come. A design genius, he as instrumental in a number of the iconic aircraft we know and love today.
Two Hawker Cygnets were built for the Lympne Trials, held in September and October 1924. One was fitted with a 34 hp British Anzani engine, the other with a 30 hp ABC Scorpion I. Both aircraft were extremely lightweight, the all-wood fabric-covered airframe weighing in at a mere 270lb, the addition of the engine adding only another 100lb.
Walter Longman flew the Hawker Cygnet 1, whilst Fred Raynham was at the controls of the Cygnet II and for their part the Hawker Cygnets claimed respectable third and fourth places.
In November 1924, both were sent to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE), 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 was proposed.
The Anzani-engined Hawker Cygnet was given a civil registration (G-EBMB) in July 1925, by which time the ABC 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 place in the 100-mile Handicap Race with George Bulman at the controls. Meanwhile the Hawker 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, the Hawker Cygnet II crashed at Lympne in August 1927, and was subsequently written off.
In 1929, the Hawker Cygnet 1 was put into storage by H.G. Hawker engineering 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 Hawker Cygnet had stopped flying again and although it continued to make regular static appearances at events until it was returned to storage in 1968.
During 1972, it was moved to the recently opened RAF Museum at Hendon, where after extensive restoration in the mid-1980s, it was move to the RAF Museum at Cosford in 2001, where it remains on display today.
In 1993, an airworthy replica Hawker 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, Bedfordshire from 1996 where after it was acquired by the Shuttleworth Collection in early 2009. It remains airworthy and flies regularly at Shuttleworth shows and events.
|Two only||G-EBJH ‘4’ and G-EBMB ‘6’ - The numbers being their competiton numbers allocated for the 1926 Lympne Trials|
|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|
|Maximum weight||950lb (Cherub engine)|
|Capacity||Pilot and passenger|
|Maximum speed||82 mph (132km/h) (Cherub III engine)|
|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|