50 years of the Harrier

Mike Pryce

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Today it is 50 years since the first Hawker P.1127 hovered, on 21st of October 1960.

Despite the recent news that the UK is retiring its fleet the US Marine Corps, Spanish Navy, Italian Navy and Indian Navy continue to operate it, and it is likely that the Harrier will still be in service for many more years.

Anyone who knows about all the failed attempts at producing V/STOL jet aircraft over the years will know just how unique this 50 year anniversary is, and anyone who has ever read about or met the team of designers, engineers and technicians who built and support the Harrier, and the pilots who have flown it, will know that the success was no accident. It was due to the sustained application of many men and women, in many organisations, over many decades.

Of course, my moniker shows I am a fan, but today I reckon everyone should be a fan of what has been achieved over fifty years.

See: http://www.harrier.org.uk for more
 
I was a fan of the "jump jet" since I was a child (back in the fabulous '70s), and I was also immensely proud, as Italian, when Italian Navy choose the AV-8II Plus for its fleet of aircraft carriers.

So, life long and prosper to Harrier!!!
 
I'm proud to have met and interviewed Ralph Hooper. A modest man with great achievements. The Harrier is definitely a unique machine.
 
i like the Harrier very much

it survive Britians chaotic Aerospace politic of 1960s
look by NATO as a curiosity in 1970s
until US Marine Corps start to buy them
then its finest moment during Falklands War and later in Desert Storm

even with the recent news that the UK is retiring its fleet for F-35
i have the presentiment, that the Harrier gonna beat Canberra record with 57 years of service...
 
overscan said:
The Harrier is definitely a unique machine.

Absolutely, I first met Harrier (precisely a Sea Harrier FRS Mk1) in 1985 when the HMS Invicible come to Naples in visit.
At that times I was seventeen and I was really impressed by the machine, if I remember well I had the chance to talk with Nigel Ward....
 
I used to know Rod Rowe, whose team solved the P1154's 'before-burner' engine issues just weeks before the project was killed. His comments remain unprintable, even at this remove. Incidentally, the debacle broke his health...
 
Nik said:
I used to know Rod Rowe, whose team solved the P1154's 'before-burner' engine issues just weeks before the project was killed. His comments remain unprintable, even at this remove. Incidentally, the debacle broke his health...

Didn't Max Faget's professor consider a career choice of aerospace the equivalent of a hunger strike? That's not an excuse for the boom-bost cycle of programs and the arbitrary decisionmaking. Just stating the vulnerability.
 
The Harrier has long been my favourite aircraft and I've always been fascinated by the many fruitless projects to refine the basic design to improve it's capabilities.

I find it deeply embarassing that the UK appears to have completely failed to value the benefits of fast jet V/STOL operations.

Harrier test pilot John Farley sums up my feelings in this BBC article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11584481

He says the Harrier's demise says more about the UK than it does about the jet, which is still regarded very highly in other countries. He thinks the British may regret not having the flexibility it provides.

"I think we've blown it," he says. "I find it pathetic."
 
One last bow at Dunsfold:

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2082482_iconic_harrier_jets_final_farewell_at_dunsfold

19th November is the 50th anniversary of the first untethered hover there.
 
I do love the Harrier.

Still regret that neither the P1214 nor P1216 were brought to flight status...
 
I am torn between admiration for the engineering wizardry of the P1127 and a view that it was a solution looking for a problem on land. The Sea Harrier, however, met a very real need as did the US Marines version.
The RAF were not fans and this accounts for their choosing to sacrifice it in favour of Tornado and Typhoon.
 
I do love the Harrier.

Still regret that neither the P1214 nor P1216 were brought to flight status...
P.1216 would have been great but the PCB front nozzles would have been a challenge unless it could vertically land with dry thrust. Saying that land based STOL operations would go a long way to solve ground erosion.
Rolls-Royce came up with the RB.578 Mixed Flow Vectored Thrust Engine which worked like the Pegasus in vertical flight with four switch-in/out nozzles but the fan and core flows combined to exit out a single conventional afterburning nozzle in wing borne flight. I wonder if that was a better option for P.1216?
I am torn between admiration for the engineering wizardry of the P1127 and a view that it was a solution looking for a problem on land. The Sea Harrier, however, met a very real need as did the US Marines version.
The RAF were not fans and this accounts for their choosing to sacrifice it in favour of Tornado and Typhoon.
RAF Harrier pilots were fans! I’d argue that the Harrier GR1,3,5,7 and 9 force were a better investment than the Jaguar force (sorry Jaguar!). Basically they were all under funded and poorly equipped anyway.
In my ideal early 1990’s world we would have had two types - Harrier II plus for the FAA and RAF and a multi-role FGR4 Tornado all equipped with Blue Vixen radar, TIALD pods, AMRAAM, ASRAAM, ALARM and Golden/Sea Eagle :p

HMS Ocean would have been a first of class 30 knot capable Sea Control Ship ;)
 
P.1216 would have been great but the PCB front nozzles would have been a challenge unless it could vertically land with dry thrust. Saying that land based STOL operations would go a long way to solve ground erosion.
Rolls-Royce came up with the RB.578 Mixed Flow Vectored Thrust Engine which worked like the Pegasus in vertical flight with four switch-in/out nozzles but the fan and core flows combined to exit out a single conventional afterburning nozzle in wing borne flight. I wonder if that was a better option for P.1216?
I really think that 3 nozzles is better than 4 in that specific case. You lose a pretty significant amount of thrust by splitting the core exhaust.
 
I really think that 3 nozzles is better than 4 in that specific case. You lose a pretty significant amount of thrust by splitting the core exhaust.
I hazard to guess that the flight controls (at least at the time) might have been easier to handle/coordinate for four vs. three thrust columns.
 
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