The Hawker Fury and Sea Fury are a monoplane biplane designed and built by Hawker Aircraft in the 1940s which should not be confused with the Hawker Fury biplane design of the 1930s.
In late 1942, Hawker designer Sydney Camm proposed a lighter version of the Tempest fighter, for which Specification F.2/43 was issued in May 1943.
Around the same time, Specification N.7/43 was also issued for a naval interceptor and Camm realised that the same basic design, could fulfil both requirements. Eventually, the two Specifications were brought together under F.2/43.
By the end of 1943, five flying prototypes with alternative powerplants (including variants of the Rolls-Royce Griffon and the Bristol Centaurus) had been ordered.
Confidence in the new design was high and in April 1944 orders were placed for 200 examples of F.2/43 fighters, destined for the RAF together with 200 'navalised' examples built to Specification N.22/43 for the Fleet Air Arm (FAA).
The first F.2/43 prototype (NX798) made its first flight on September 1st, 1944 at Langley, fitted with a Centaurus XII engine and four-bladed propeller. The following month, a second prototype (LA610) fitted with a Griffon 85 and six-bladed contra-rotating propeller, made its maiden flight.
It was announced that the RAF version would be named the Fury I and the naval version the Sea Fury F.X.
although after the completion of two more Fury prototypes (NX802 and VP207), fitted with Centaurus and Napier Sabre engines respectively, the entire RAF Fury order was cancelled.
With the end of the second World War in sight, the RAF found themselves with an abundance of idle, late-mark Spitfires and Hurricanes. Additionally, the Sea Fury order was also halved in January 1945.
was later fitted with a Napier Sabre VII engine and reached a blistering 485 mph, making it the fastest Hawker piston-engined fighter ever built.
Meanwhile, Sea Fury development continued and the first semi-navalised example (SR661) with a short arrester hook and non-folding wings, made its first flight on 21st February 1945.
The second Sea Fury prototype (SR666) was fully-navalised and fitted with the production standard five-bladed propeller and it made its first flight on 12th October 1945. Later, 50 production Sea Fury F.Xs were built with the first (TF895) flying on 7th September 1946.
After extensive trials with the second prototype (SR666) it was decided that the Sea Fury would make an excellent ground-attack aircraft and so all subsequent 615 examples would be built as fighter-bombers, designated Sea Fury FB.11s.
The Sea Fury F.X entered FAA service in September 1947 with the FB.11 joining it in May 1947.
By the time the Korean conflict broke out in June 1950, the Sea Fury was the Royal Navy’s leading single-seat fighter. The type served throughout the conflict with distinction in both FAA and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) service, the latter having acquired ex-Royal Navy examples during 1949–50, as had the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).
In Korea, the Sea Fury saw its share of air combat against Soviet-built jet fighters with the Hawker fighter accounting for the loss of one jet in August 1952. This would prove ironic as the Sea Fury was eventually replaced in front-line service by the Hawker Sea Hawk jet fighter from 1953.
In late 1946 and as part of a deal with the Iraqi government for the supply of 30 non-navalised 'Baghdad Furies', a two-seat trainer version had been conceived. The prototype (known as the IDT1 - Iraq Dual Trainer 1) incorporated separate windscreens and canopies over tandem cockpits. The latter arrangement was found prone to collapse at high speeds however and after the Royal Navy had also shown interest in a two-seater, a revised more effective canopy was introduced with a perspex tunnel inter-linking the two cockpits.
Specification N.19/47 was raised and a prototype (VX818) made its first flight in January 1948. This two-seater for the Royal Navy was designated Sea Fury T.20 and 60 (including the prototype) were built for the FAA.
Iraq and Pakistan also received five two-seaters each as the Fury Trainer and Fury T.61 respectively. That said, the first foreign operator to acquire the Sea Fury was The Netherlands who ordered 10 Sea Fury Mk.Xs in 1946 (designated F.50s in Royal Netherlands Navy service). These were also followed by 12 FB.11s, also designated as FB.50 in Netherlands service.
Dutch manufacturer Fokker acquired a licence to build 25 further FB.50 aircraft and the Dutch Navy operated the Sea Fury until its replacement by Sea Hawks in 1959.
Iraq placed an order for 30 single-seat Fury 1's (Baghdad Furies) and 4 two-seat Fury Trainers in December 1946. These non-navalised single-seaters were delivered during 1947–48 with another 25 taken on strength during 1951–53. The Iraqis acquired a total of 55 single-seaters and five two-seaters.
The RCN received a pair of Sea Fury X's in 1947 for service trials, followed by 35 FB.11's during 1948–51. The type was eventually replaced in RCN service by American McDonnell Banshees from 1955.
The largest foreign operator of the Sea Fury was Pakistan, which acquired Fury second prototype (NX802) in March 1949. An order was then placed for 50 non-navalised FB.60's in 1950, followed by orders for another 37 during 1951–52, plus five T.61 two-seat trainers during 1953–54.
The type remained in service in various roles with Pakistan until 1963.
In April 1948, Hawker Test Pilot Bill Humble took Fury prototype (NX798/G-AKRY) to Egypt during a Sales Tour. Things got a little strange when the Egyptians became so impressed with the aircraft that they commandeered it and refused to return it. Once an amicable solution was established, the Egyptians subsequently placed an order for 12 non-navalised single-seaters which were operated throughout the 1950s.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) used the Sea Fury to equip three front-line squadrons, two of which (Nos 805 and 808 Sqns RAN) saw service in the Korean conflict. The type was finally withdrawn from front-line RAN service in 1954 although it continued to serve in a Training Support role until 1962.
In 1957, Hawker bought back a large number of Sea Furies that were surplus to FAA requirements, with a view to refurbishing them for onward sales.
A total of 18 FB.11s and 3 T.20s were acquired by the Union of Burma Air Force in 1958.
Two of the single-seaters were fitted with target-towing hooks, as were all of the two-seaters. These aircraft were used for counter-insurgency duties before being retired in 1968.
Another customer for Hawker’s 'ex-FAA Sea Furies' was found in Cuba and the Batista Government. They purchased a total of 17 aircraft, comprising 15 FB.11s and 2 T.20s which were delivered by sea in 1958.
Initially used by the Fuerza Aérea Cubana against Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries, the aircraft were later transferred to the Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria after Batista’s overthrow. They also later took part in counter-revolutionary fighting at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
Although the Sea Fury was being withdrawn from FAA service by the late 1950s, in June 1958 the company negotiated a deal with Deutsche Luftfahrt Beratungsdienst (German Aviation Advisory Service) who operated a single-seater and 16 'de-navalised' two-seat aircraft as target-tugs until the mid-1970s.
Painted a vivid scarlet overall, some five of the aircraft were lost during operations whilst survivors found their way into various museums and private buyers.
With its excellent aerodynamics and an ability to accept other powerful radial engines, the Sea Fury has been a popular competitor in Unlimited Air Racing in the USA and as of October 2018, some 24 Sea Furies were listed on the US civil aircraft register (although not necessarily active). There are another five listed on the UK civil register.
Variants & Numbers
|F.2/43 & N.7/43 (Fury) prototypes||NX798 (Centaurus XII); LA610 (Griffon 85, later Napier Sabre VII); NX802 (Centaurus); VP207 (Sabre)|
|Sea Fury prototypes||SR661 (semi-navalised); SR666 (fully navalised)|
|Fury I||1944 order for 200 RAF examples; cancelled|
|Sea Fury F.X||Single-seat interceptor fighter for Royal Navy; 50 built|
|Sea Fury FB.11||Single-seat fighter-bomber for Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy; 615 built. Also 12 built and sold to Egyptian Air Force|
|Sea Fury T.20||Two-seat trainer for Royal Navy; 60 built|
|Sea Fury F/FB.50||Single-seat fighter-bomber for Dutch Navy; 47 built, 25 under licence by Fokker|
|Fury FB.60||Non-navalised single-seat fighter-bomber for Royal Pakistan Air Force; 93 built|
|Fury T.61||Non-navalised two-seat trainer for Pakistan; 5 built|
|Fury aka “Baghdad Fury”||Non-navalised single-seat fighter-bomber for Iraqi Air Force; 55 built|
|Fury Trainer||Non-navalised two-seat trainer for Iraq; 5 built|
|Total built||Six prototypes, 60 Fury (Iraq), 882 Sea Fury, including T.20 and T.61two-seaters, as listed above.|
Specification (Sea Fury FB.XI)
|Powerplant||One 2,480 hp 18-cylinder Bristol Centaurus 18 sleeve-valve radial piston engine|
|Span||38ft 41¾in; 16ft 1in folded|
|Capacity & Armament||Single pilot; Four 20mm Hispano cannon and carriage of up to 16 three-inch 60lb rockets, or two 1,000 lb bombs, or drop tanks underwing|
|Maximum speed||460 mph at 18,000 ft|
A number of aircraft remain airworthy in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. A selection of examples held in Museums are listed below.
|TG119 RCN Sea Fury FB.11||Canadian Aviation & Space Museum, Ottawa Canada www.ingeniumcanada.org/aviation/index.php|
|WG565 RCN Sea Fury FB.11||Naval Museum of Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada www.themilitarymuseums.ca/visit/tmm-galleries/navy|
|VW232 RAN Sea Fury FB.11||Painted as VX730; Australian National War Memorial, Canberra ACT www.awm.gov.au|
|VW623 RAN Sea Fury FB.11||Painted as WG630; Australian Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra, NSW http://www.navy.gov.au/history/museums/fleet-air-arm-museum|
|N57JB Sea Fury F.X||Painted as ‘253/K’, RAN, ex-VH-HFA, Ex-Iraqi non-navalised Fury. War Eagles Air Museum, Santa Teresa, New Mexico, USA http://www.war-eagles-air-museum.com/exhibit.php?id=16|
|6-43 Netherlands Sea Fury FB.50||Nationaal Militair Museum, Soesterberg, The Netherlands www.nmm.nl/en/|
|VR930 FAA Sea Fury FB.11||Royal Navy Historic Flight, Yeoviltion, UK www.navywings.org.uk/aircraft/all-aircraft/sea-fury-fb-11/|
|G-RNHF VX281 FAA Sea Fury T.20||Royal Navy Historic Flight, Yeovilton. UK www.navywings.org.uk/aircraft/all-aircraft/sea-fury-t-20-2|
|WJ231 FAA Sea Fury FB.11||Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton. UK www.fleetairarm.com|