The P.1072 was an experimental aircraft which acted as a test bed for the development of rocket assisted take-off technology.
The idea to fit a rocket motor to Hawker’s P.1040 (which would become the Sea Hawk naval jet fighter) was raised as early as October 1945, despite there being no such suitable powerplant nor a physical prototype of the P.1040 in existence.
By 1947 however, British engine manufacturer Armstrong Siddeley had begun work on a rocket motor using a mixture of liquid-oxygen and water-methanol as its propellant although its first test runs was not until the end of March 1950.
The idea of a mixed-power Hawker P.1040 was revived using the prototype (VP401) which had completed its development work to the N.7/46 Specification for a high speed naval jet fighter.
The redundant prototype was therefore returned to the Hawker factory at Kingston for modification, to become the sole P.1072.
The P.1040’s original single Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet installation would remain largely the same albeit with air intakes in stub wings exhausting through bifurcated ducts, aft of the wing trailing edge.
The rocket motor, named 'Snarler', was installed in the extreme tail of the fuselage, directly beneath the rudder. The fuel system for both powerplants was revised and modified with a spherical 75 gallon liquid-oxygen tank in the forward fuselage and a 120 gallon water-methanol tank in the rear fuselage. Fuel for the Nene was carried in forward fuselage, the fuselage saddle and rear fuselage tanks.
By June 1950, the Snarler was ready to be fitted in the revised fuselage and it was transported to Kingston.
The aircraft flew to Armstrong Whitworth’s airfield at Bitteswell, under Nene power only, on 16th November 1950 and on the 20th November the Snarler was tested in flight, in combination with the Nene.
Six further test flights were made with the P.1072, including the final one during which an explosion in the Snarler caused minor damage.
However, by early 1951 the Air Ministry had turned its attention to reheated turbojets instead and the P.1072 never flew again.
Variants & Numbers
One only (VP401) modified from P.1040 prototype.
|Powerplant||One 5,000lb-thrust Rolls-Royce Nene RN.2 turbojet engine plus one 2,000lb-thrust Armstrong Siddeley Snarler liquid-fuel rocket motor|
|Maximum speed||581 mph at sea level; Mach 0·82 at altitude in level flight|
|Endurance||45min for test sortie; rocket power 2min 45sec|
The P.1072 no longer exists.