By the mid-1930s it was becomingly increasingly clear that the end of the biplane era was at hand and that a new generation of monoplane fighters capable of destroying fleets of enemy bombers was fast becoming a priority.
Accordingly, the Air Ministry raised a number of specifications including F.9/35 in May 1935, which called for a high-speed two-seat interceptor, preferably a monoplane, capable of keeping pace with the latest single-seat fighters in terms of speed and performance.
Although Hawker Aircraft had its hands full developing the Hawker Hurricane, a derivative of the Hawker Henley was put in hand to incorporate a semi-power-operated Boulton Paul turret which was mounted amidships, and equipped with four Browning .303 machine-guns.
To keep tooling requirements to a minimum and to speed development, Hawker Hurricane outer wing panels (minus armament) were used.
Like the Hawker Henley, the new bomber-destroyer was to be of all-metal construction with fabric-covered rear fuselage and control surfaces. As well as the turret, the aircraft was to be armed with a single forward-firing machine-gun, synchronised to fire through the propeller arc. Work began on the prototype Hawker Hotspur (as the type was named) at Hawker’s Canbury Park Road factory in Kingston during in 1937.
However, completion of the prototype (K8309) was delayed until the following year, by which time its chief rival the Boulton Paul’s Defiant, had already flown. With the selection of the Defiant for production, the original plans for A.V. Roe & Co (Avro) to build the Hawker Hotspur were set aside and the project was abandoned after the production of the sole prototype.
However, the aircraft flew on 14th June 1938, fitted with a wooden mock-up turret. Later it was revealed that it attained a higher maximum speed in trials than its more successful rival.
Variants & Numbers
Only a single example of the Hawker Hotspur was built, with RAF serial K8309.
|Powerplant||1 x 1,1025 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin II liquid-cooled piston engine|
|Capacity and armament||Two crew (pilot and gunner); Boulton Paul turret with four 0.303 Browning machine guns and one fixed forward-firing gun.|
|Maximum speed||315 m.p.h. at 15,800ft|
|Service ceiling||28,000ft (8,535m)|
The sole Hawker Hotspur was destroyed during 1941.