Hawker Nimrod prototype 1931
The private venture Hawker 'Norn', which became the prototype Nimrod.

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 aircraft was the radial engine Hawker Hoopoe which is described separately on this website. The Hawker 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 biplane, Camm persevered with development of a machine, powered by the much cleaner Rolls-Royce F.XIMS engine, later designated the Rolls-Royce Kestrel II MS.


Specification 16/30 was drawn up, based on Camm’s proposal for a Kestrel-powered naval fighter design. 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 then modified to the required production standard. At this time, it was issued with a serial number (S1577) and given the official name of Hawker Nimrod.


The aircraft was flown in this form on 14th October 1931.



Hawker Nimrod I S1621
A fine photograph of Hawker Nimrod I S1621.


All Hawker Nimrod aircraft were designed to accept an interchangeable wheeled or float undercarriage and three production batches were ordered for 11, 24 and 19 aircraft (54 in total). These aircraft were designated Hawker Nimrod I. One of the three aircraft (K2823) was fitted with arrester gear together with slightly swept, upper and lower wings, becoming in effect, the prototype Hawker Nimrod II.


The Hawker Nimrod II entered production in September 1933 with a total of 27 being ordered, three of which (K2909 to K2911) made use of a stainless steel structure.


The majority of Hawker Nimrod IIs were initially powered by the Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIS engine, with later aircraft receiving the 608hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel VFP engine, which was also retrofitted to the early machines.


Hawker Nimrod II K3661 Duxford
Hawker Nimrod II K3661 is one of two surviving Hawker Nimrods based at Duxford.


The Hawker Nimrod remained in frontline Fleet Air Arm service until May 1939, when it was replaced by the Gloster Sea Gladiator. A small number of Hawker Nimrods remained in use with Fleet Air Arm Training Units until early 1941.


A limited number of aircraft were exported, these comprising of two examples for Denmark (Serials 170 and 171) powered by the Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIIS engines, one to Japan where it was designated Hawker AXH and a single aircraft to Portugal. Ten aircraft were also manufactured under licence in Denmark as the 'Nimrodderne', built 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.
Hawker Nimrod II K3661 Duxford in flight
Hawker Nimrod II K3661 being displayed at Duxford.

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



  Landplane   Seaplane                          
  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



Nimrod I 
The Fighter Collection, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK
Nimrod II
Historic Aircraft Collection, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, UK

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