The Hawker Duiker was designed by the newly-formed H.G. Hawker Engineering Co Ltd against Specification 7/22, which called for a plethora of capabilities including gunnery-spotting, unit liaison and 'terrain surveillance', all of which were covered under the collective heading of 'Corps Reconnaissance Duties'. A contract for three aircraft was issued to Hawker in February 1922.
Unusual for its time in being an all-wood parasol monoplane, the Duiker (named after a small sub-Saharan antelope) was conceived by the company’s new Chief Designer Captain B. Thomson as an all-wood two-seater, which could be fitted with either a Bristol Jupiter or an Armstrong-Siddeley Jaguar engine.
The Duiker’s monoplane wing was swept back and of rather thin section in the centre, while the trailing edge above the tandem cockpits was cut away to provide the pilot and his observer with a good view in all directions. The wings were braced by a pair of struts on each side and the undercarriage was another unusual feature, in that it was of very wide track and with no axle connecting the wheels.
The prototype, completed in the first half of 1923 and was then given an RAF serial (J6918). It was fitted with a 430 hp nine-cylinder air-cooled Bristol Jupiter IV radial engine and first flew at Brooklands in July of that year in the hands of renowned test pilot F.P. Raynham.
At the end of 1923, the sole Duiker was sent to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk for an evaluation of its military capabilities.
After comparatively little flying however, it was determined by the A&AEE pilots that the Duiker suffered from severe aileron flutter (dangerous vibrations within the wing control surfaces) and had substantial stability problems. It was also overweight, presented poor maintenance attributes and therefore was not tested at its design gross weight as it was deemed prudent to remove no less than 240 lb of military equipment before conducting trials.
Although a contract had been issued for three examples, this was cancelled after the prototype’s further evaluation at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough in 1924 where it had shown similar results to those at Martlesham Heath.
The two further examples were not built although work had been started on a second prototype, which was subsequently reported as 'buried in a corner of Brooklands'.
Having accrued barely 18 flying hours, the Duiker was withdrawn and scrapped. That said it still retains its honourable position as the first aircraft design to be completed and flown by the newly-formed HG Hawker Engineering Co Ltd.
Variants & Numbers
Single prototype only (J6918)
|Powerplant||One 430 hp nine-cylinder Bristol Jupiter IV radial engine|
|Maximum weight||4,940lb, but limited to 4,700 lb for trials|
|Capacity and armament||Pilot and observer; provisions for a fixed-forward firing Vickers gun and a defensive Lewis gun. Removed for trials due to restricted performance|
|Maximum speed||125 mph at sea level|
|Cruising speed||99 mph|
|Endurance||Up to 3.75 hr or 345 miles range at 95 mph|