The Hawker Nimrod was a British carrier-based single engine fighter which was built in the 1930s by Hawker Aircraft Limited before their transition to Hawker Siddeley Aircraft in 1935. Originally designed as a private venture, a pair of naval aircraft were created.
These Sydney Camm designed prototypes included the Rolls-Royce Kestrel-powered aircraft unofficially known as the Hawker Norn and it was this design that was later to become the prototype Hawker Nimrod.
The second was the radial engine Hawker Hoopoe which is described separately on this website. The Hoopoe complied with the Navy’s preference for a radial-powered aircraft and performed well when tested in 1928.
Encouraged by the success of the Hawker Fury, Camm persevered with development of a machine powered by the much cleaner Rolls-Royce F.XIMS engine, later designated the Kestrel II MS.
Specification 16/30 was drawn up, based on Camm’s proposal for this Kestrel-powered naval fighter design and two airframes were built, one test flown and one reserved for ground tests. Because these were private venture machines they did not carry RAF serials and the flight aircraft was given the company registration HN1.
After testing at Martlesham Heath, a contract was raised to purchase the prototype, which was modified to the required production standard. At this time, it was issued with the serial number S1577 and given the official name of Nimrod.
S1577 was flown in this form on 14th October 1931.
All Nimrod aircraft were designed to accept an interchangeable wheeled or float undercarriage.
Three production batches were ordered for 11, 24 and 19 aircraft (54 in total), these being designated Hawker Nimrod I. One aircraft (K2823) was fitted with arrester gear and slightly swept upper and lower wings, becoming, in effect, the prototype Nimrod II.
The Nimrod II entered production in September 1933, a total of 27 being ordered, three of which (K2909 to K2911) made use of a stainless steel structure.
The majority of Nimrod IIs were initially powered by the Kestrel IIS engine with later aircraft receiving the 608hp Kestrel VFP engine, which were also retrofitted to the early machines.
The Nimrod remained in front line Fleet Air Arm service until May 1939, when it was replaced by the Sea Gladiator. A small number of Nimrods remained in use with Fleet Air Arm Training Units until early 1941.
A limited number of aircraft were exported, these comprising two examples for Denmark (Serials 170 and 171) powered by the Kestrel IIIS engines, one aircraft to Japan where it was designated AXH and a single aircraft to Portugal.
Ten aircraft were manufactured under licence in Denmark as the 'Nimrodderne' at the Orlogsvaerftet Naval Dockyards.
Full Nimrod production comprised of the prototype, 54 Nimrod Is, 27 Nimrod IIs, 4 export aircraft and 10 licence-built aircraft in Denmark, making a grand total of 106 aircraft.
Variants & Numbers
|Prototype||One aircraft, initially HL1 ‘Norn’, later S1577 Nimrod|
|Nimrod I||54 aircraft for Fleet Air Arm with Kestrel IIS|
|Nimrod II||27 aircraft for Fleet Air Arm initially Kestrel IIS, later Kestrel VFP. Fitted with swept upper and lower wings.|
|Danish Nimrod||Two pattern aircraft (170, 171) with Kestrel IIIS|
|Nimrodderne||Ten aircraft manufactured as the Nimrodderne at the Orlogsvaerftet naval dockyards.|
|Nimrod (Portugal)||One aircraft|
|Nimrod (Japan)||One aircraft exported to Japan and known locally as the AXH.|
|Grand total||92 for FAA, four exported, ten built in Denmark; total 106 aircraft|
|Kestrel IIS||Kestrel VFP||Kestrel IIS||Kestrel VFP|
|Powerplants||477hp R-R Kestrel IIS||608hp R-R Kestrel VFP||477 hp R-R Kestrel IIS||608hp R-R Kestrel VFP|
|Span||33 ft 6.75 in|
|Maximum Weight||3,867 lb Nimrod I 4,059 lb Nimrod II||4,250 lb|
|Capacity and armament||Pilot, two forward firing Vickers MkIII machine guns, provision for four 20 lb bombs.|
|Maximum Speed||196 mph 12,000ft||193 mph 14,000 ft||148.5 mph 8,800 ft||146 mph 9,000 ft|
The Fighter Collection, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK
Historic Aircraft Collection, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK