• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

How could the RAF have used the Hawker P1121?

overscan (PaulMM)

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
12,115
Reaction score
2,624
Warning on tone in this topic especially to Purpletrouble and Archibald. There is no need to be nasty, nor should you react in the same fashion to other's nastiness.

Play nicely or you'll end up on the naughty step.
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
It's not going to be anyone's Phantom either, at least until you give it SARH missiles and a radar to illuminate for them.
The Phantom first flew as the X/YF4-H1/F4A without radar or primitive radar. The game changing AN/APQ120 was introduced in the F4B. I guess there was nothing comparable coming out of U.K. industry but the P1121 could have installed this radar, after all several versions of Javelin used American radars.
Which makes the point that these products (P1121 especially) weren’t a complete weapons system. TSR2 was as a lesson of the 50s was that focussing on high performance aircraft and avionics separately wasn’t giving effective results given the time to then achieve that.

When you read about TSR2 what stands out to me is the attention given to the complete system, the R&D for the avionics was huge. I’m certainly not going to defend or insulate RAF/MoD/Politicians in this period but industry was no better. As I said before, the Hawker heritage of platform vs a complete system was ingrained and continued to recently. Lookijg at P1121, which of course was a fluidish concept with multiple alternatives, it feels as if “here is an awesome plane, lets find a role / add whatever equipment” approach, the obverse of what was needed in terms of a sensible requirement and a holistic solution - and this seems to have been a major issue at the time too. Of course the requirements were all over the place as a result of trying to combine tactical and strategic strike and the “no more fighters” that took nearly 30years to be completely reversed with the start of what became ACA/EFA etc.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
One of the things that seems to come out of reading BSP is that Brough office a.k.a Blackburn seems to get the Weapon Systems concept.
But being Brough and not Kingston and being part of HSA yet clearly viewed as less important than Hawkers they could produce study after study but get no traction.

One might surmise that those with recent experience of complex weapons system integration gained that appreciation. Such as Blackburn with the Buccaneer, and Supermarine after all the hard lessons of Swift and Scimitar. Fairey with Delta I and II and Fireflash, DH after the Sea Vixen and Firestreak.

While Hawkers had the Hunter......
Yet Hawkers had the lead.
And Vickers seems bogged down in the components too much.
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
I am not sure whether it was daft but the RAF ended up using 48 Vulcan B2s to deliver WE177s until 1982 instead of the 1950s technology TSR2s that were supposed to replace the Valiants and Canberras. It also uses 2 squadrons of Buccaneers in Germany to do the job originally planned for 2 sqns of P1154s (toting US supplied nukes).
Those Vulcans were unchanged however, as were the Buccaneers. The outcome was a result of the chaos and mess from the late 50s through 60s. That seems fairly daft when we know we had the ability to have put something much better in place much earlier. On one thread there is a comment, possibly by yourself (?) that in a hot NATO war RN surface ships would have had effectively busy and short existences. I suspect they’d have lasted longer than those Vulcans and Buccs!

Ultimately, I do love the P1121 for its potential as a machine but that is all it was, and I think a lot of the criticism at the time was valid.

Perhaps this takes it off topic, but what would need to happen, probably in lieu of Sandys/‘57, for the UK to enter the 60s with acheivable/realistic requirements and an industry able to deliver?
- TSR2 minus
- New Manned Fighter(Bomber) in lieu F155 and supplant Lightning?
- Less VSTOL obsession in response to threat to airfields (a weird one really, even by 1991 it was still hard to put an airfield out of commission despite decades and specialised kit to do it - arguably theass arrival of PGMs from then on does give that?)
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
One of the things that seems to come out of reading BSP is that Brough office a.k.a Blackburn seems to get the Weapon Systems concept.
But being Brough and not Kingston and being part of HSA yet clearly viewed as less important than Hawkers they could produce study after study but get no traction.

One might surmise that those with recent experience of complex weapons system integration gained that appreciation. Such as Blackburn with the Buccaneer, and Supermarine after all the hard lessons of Swift and Scimitar. Fairey with Delta I and II and Fireflash, DH after the Sea Vixen and Firestreak.

While Hawkers had the Hunter......
Yet Hawkers had the lead.
And Vickers seems bogged down in the components too much.
Agreed, perhaps epitomising the phrase “beware success”, as failure/difficulty leads to a lot of learning and usually the impetus to get rid of culture/specific people. Hawkers with P1121, it seems like just a much more capable Hunter in a way.

Of course they then go VSTOL/1127/1154/Harrier which again is this incredible air vehicle but with not much more and took a long time to get systems equal to that of contemporary conventional aircraft. Even then it wasn’t an integrated/polished system and right to the end Harrier was a collection of stuff. Contrast that to the architecture of TSR2 / MRCA / EFA (even Jag) and the difference is stark. As I said though, that AV expertise was second to none.
 

Hood

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
1,712
Reaction score
934
Camm does seem to have been a reactionary fellow in several aspects, it hampered development of the Hurricane and the P.1121. It took him time to adjust to new developments, let's not forget he cut his teeth on biplanes.

Perhaps the harsh truth is that Camm was just too old and should have gracefully retired. There is a lot of danger with the cult of the designer, and the famous WW2 generation of designer heroes were elevated to a tall plinth - Mitchell, Camm, Chadwick, de Havilland (who outshone Bishop in terms of public exposure and awareness) were declared Gods of design. Mitchell and Chadwick alas soon met their end before their reputations were diminished - though the Tudor was hardly the best swansong for Chadwick. de Havilland's (and Bishop's) products took hard knocks (108 and 110 crashes, Comet fatigue). Camm's reputation revived with the P.1127, but its clear the old guard had had good successes in the past but that did not make them immortal geniuses as aviation continued to progress. 'Teddy' Petter is probably the sole post-war famous 'idol' of the industry, he never came to prominence until the Canberra and P.1, arguably two classics that earned him a place on the plinth but again he never really embraced the future - he got sucked into the light fighter as a return to a simpler age.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
Part of the problem for the UK is between "General War" with the Soviet Union which is unsurvivable and has to be detered by NATO as a nuclear alliance led by the US and the day to day work of the RN, RAF and Army.
The occasional, and sometimes bloody in the case of Korea, shooting war exposes the fragility and shortages in weapons expected to last a few days or hours in "General War".
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
Strictly P1154 was much more the new generation of staff, Camm sat back and just waved things along from P1127. His major contribution was to pass over the Sea Hawk jet pipe solution. It was Fozzard and others who worked on both Kestrel (P1127), Harrier (P1154) and Harrier (revised Kestrel).
Fozzard started on P1121.....so the potential to morph into a proper weapon system is there.....

Quoting Jaguar architecture is mad, P1154 is the origin of that architecture.
Even then it never got the AI set, or the digital INS.

But back to the plot...
Blackburn made a lot of mistakes prior to B.103 Buccaneer and the process of turning this into reality must have been an equally hard path to tread.
Result is a team with lots of real experience. Sadly never realised afterwards.
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
? Jaguar was BAC, 1154 presumably had a design team comprised like all others of some new, some old and some middle aged people in it?

Having (albeit briefly) worked Jag, it’s more representative of what became the Tornado approach than the Harrier of HS gestation. Of course it also reflects that it gained capability rather than having that as an original concept. But that core systems approach to the design is why Jag97 was doable and why its upgrades were generally easy. Harrier GR1/3 was a dead end and even with the B, the Harrier GR9 was primarily just the engine. Whilst for all the SHAR’s hype of Blue Vixen + AMRAAM, the lack of mission modifiable aspects and a sophisticated EW fit meant operationally it compared poorly. That went back to its original design for a simple ac but with the novelty of VSTOL and the focus being on getting that to work well (which is did!). The oft lamented P1216 (iirc) of the 80s is another telling illustration - all about the air vehicle with weapon system integration a distant thought. Again look at how F35 is more an integrated system than a superlative air vehicle - this is perhaps past the balance point arguably but Hawker’s and legacy really don’t ever seem to have grasped/accepted this.
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
Blackburn/Brough really seem to have been treated as the red headed ugly step child of HSA. Not a lot better within BAe. I’m tempted to say it was prejudice from the aviation heritage rich south and north west. I used to be in and out of Brough a lot, it had a sad feel to it (closure always on the cards and eventually happened) and compared to the concentrations of Warton/Filton it felt like a relic. The people were very good but again there wasn’t any drive - just a sense of waiting for the inevitable and ekeing the time out. It certainly had nothing of the scale of facilities to support modern aircraft design and even as far back as the Bucc it must have borrowed heavily for facilities and expertise within the parent group.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
The volatility of the period we are looking at, coupled with the rigidity and conservatism of UK institutions still looking back to the successes of World War 2 was a strange combination when seen from our more connected and fluid world.
It does perhaps explain the sort of planes that emerged. Brilliant designs but also many things that should never have been started or should have been killed off earlier.
That is also what keeps drawing some of us back to the sheer variety and colour of the projects, even with all their flaws.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,004
Reaction score
327
The volatility of the period we are looking at, coupled with the rigidity and conservatism of UK institutions still looking back to the successes of World War 2 was a strange combination when seen from our more connected and fluid world.
It does perhaps explain the sort of planes that emerged. Brilliant designs but also many things that should never have been started or should have been killed off earlier.
That is also what keeps drawing some of us back to the sheer variety and colour of the projects, even with all their flaws.
It’s a most fascinating period of time as within a short period and relatively few steps you went from what were essentially standard-ish WW2 day fighters but with jet engines (Sea Hawk etc.) to sophisticated all weather Mach 2 interceptors and strike aircraft (Lightenings, F-4s, etc.). Through developments in “rival” technology like SAMs and IRBM/ ICBMs and the picture is all the more complicated. All countries and many manufacturers had hard struggles through this period (many US and USSR fighter manufacturers didn’t hang in or did so in a greatly diminished fashion). And ultimately the UK did hang on as a capable player in military aviation as a joint partner with other friendly nations in Europe and with the US.
It’s this repeated yearning for and halo-ing of paper pure-British aircraft that would almost certainly been more expensive and/or inferior to the real-world US or multi-national aircraft that served the RAF and other nations so well during this period. Fascinating to read about but probably not actually good ideas in practice.
Specifically for the P.1121 there’s a pretty good chance it would have ended up as a bad F-105; as or more expensive, less range, smaller bomb load, inferior systems but equally unsuited to and bad at air combat.
This is the same F-105 that was never exported and which effectively lost out to the F-4.
In terms of potential customers how many where looking for an aircraft like that?
 

overscan (PaulMM)

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
12,115
Reaction score
2,624
- Less VSTOL obsession in response to threat to airfields (a weird one really, even by 1991 it was still hard to put an airfield out of commission despite decades and specialised kit to do it - arguably theass arrival of PGMs from then on does give that?)
It's not wierd. They were expecting a first strike on airfields by missiles armed with nuclear warheads. That will definitely put your airfield out of commission.
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
- Less VSTOL obsession in response to threat to airfields (a weird one really, even by 1991 it was still hard to put an airfield out of commission despite decades and specialised kit to do it - arguably theass arrival of PGMs from then on does give that?)
It's not wierd. They were expecting a first strike on airfields by missiles armed with nuclear warheads. That will definitely put your airfield out of commission.
If it goes nuclear then it puts you put of commission. Having some Harriers in the woods or wherever with massively complex logistics to (fail to) support them, is irrelevant at that point.

And it wasnt all nuclear as NATO with JP233 and Durandel showed. Equally hardening with HASs was expected, bar direct hits, to enable an airfield to operate after small nuclear weapons.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,678
Reaction score
1,226
The volatility of the period we are looking at, coupled with the rigidity and conservatism of UK institutions still looking back to the successes of World War 2 was a strange combination when seen from our more connected and fluid world.
It does perhaps explain the sort of planes that emerged. Brilliant designs but also many things that should never have been started or should have been killed off earlier.
That is also what keeps drawing some of us back to the sheer variety and colour of the projects, even with all their flaws.
It’s a most fascinating period of time as within a short period and relatively few steps you went from what were essentially standard-ish WW2 day fighters but with jet engines (Sea Hawk etc.) to sophisticated all weather Mach 2 interceptors and strike aircraft (Lightenings, F-4s, etc.). Through developments in “rival” technology like SAMs and IRBM/ ICBMs and the picture is all the more complicated. All countries and many manufacturers had hard struggles through this period (many US and USSR fighter manufacturers didn’t hang in or did so in a greatly diminished fashion). And ultimately the UK did hang on as a capable player in military aviation as a joint partner with other friendly nations in Europe and with the US.
It’s this repeated yearning for and halo-ing of paper pure-British aircraft that would almost certainly been more expensive and/or inferior to the real-world US or multi-national aircraft that served the RAF and other nations so well during this period. Fascinating to read about but probably not actually good ideas in practice.
Specifically for the P.1121 there’s a pretty good chance it would have ended up as a bad F-105; as or more expensive, less range, smaller bomb load, inferior systems but equally unsuited to and bad at air combat.
This is the same F-105 that was never exported and which effectively lost out to the F-4.
In terms of potential customers how many where looking for an aircraft like that?
Or it could have ended as a good F-106, and found a niche as either "look, a bigger Mirage III !" or "still less expensive than a Phantom". Something akin to a Draken or Viggen, except with the Swedish neutrality and foreign engines (= zero export orders) replaced by British engine and british entregent (hint, hunter successor).
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
The period when the 1121 design was produced was before the consolidation of the British Aircraft Industry.
As has been pointed out, BAC learns the hard way with TSR2 and Jaguar and MRCA Tornado were better weapons systems as a result.
Hawker Siddeley really only do the 1127 and the Hawk and never do produce a weapons system.
1154 is in a real mess at cancellation.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,678
Reaction score
1,226
fact is, there might have been a market for some kind of "British Mirage III" having some advantage over Dassault as a "Plan B for those who don't or can't buy FMS American"
For all the flaws in the British aircraft industry of the 50's, and I say that as a frenchman, one can't deny that British engines and avionics were better.

fundamentally, there is great frustration over the P.1121, Lighting and FD.2 (and some others) because there was a golden opportunity to take a good slice of the 1400 Mirage III, 700 F1 and 700 Mirage 2000 build and sold by the French over the 1960 - 2000 era. That's 2800 aircraft that are neither american nor soviets.

On top of that, that lineage of Mirages was not "linear" or "optimal" essentially because the Armée de l'Air RFP were completely out in the blue (if you think RAF / RN procurement system was dysfunctional, try looking for the string of Dassault prototypes 1949-1979).
for the record,
Mirage III happened by accident (as a side effect of LWF Mirage I and II fiasco, related to NATO LWF)
Mirage F1 happened by accident (side effect of the III-V, G F2 F3 debacle)
Mirage 2000 happened by accident (side effect of the AFVG / G4 / G8 / ACF / 4000 debacle)

And the three are only loosely related, plus they competed with each others at times - most spectacular example being the year 1983, with the Mirage III-NG, Mirage F1EQ, and Mirage 2000C.

What I mean is

- Take the Fairey FD-2 "small" proposal to F-155T (read my lips: ER-103C !)
- turn it into a tailed-delta, British Mig-21 look-alike
- (bonus: it can land on an upgraded Hermes carrier !)
- start in 1958 with a RB.146 Mk.1
- later a Mk.2 with Spey
- put a Lighting radar (Ferranti AI-23)
- with IR Red Top and SARH Blue Dolphin.
- Later add some A2G mode
-> all-weather (Mirage III-E style)
-> or clear weather (Mirage V with no or shitty basic radar).

As proven by the Mirage III or Phantom or F-5E, such an airframe could remain competitive up to the 90's and remain in service to this day.

Main issue was the air Ministry and RAF, obviously. By this point I wonder how did the P.1B managed to survive into the Lightning.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
I fear the old General had it right about the Brits always looking at the US rather than Europe. You see it in those ridiculous pre 1957 giant fighters (at least Sandys spared us them) which aped the Scorpions of USAF. Even P1121 is trying to be a sort of F105.
Faireys had no interest in a sensible Mirage style fighter when they could lumber the taxpayer with the huge Delta 2 and its massive Dean or Hebe missiles.
This is why the F4 (Sorry Mon General) is so loved by the RN and RAF. Its modern and it works. Even then, British Industry sabotaged it by giving us the most expensive slowest version.
No wonder General De Gaulle and Marcel Dassault shook their heads in bewilderment.
 

Nick Sumner

Live! From the Belly of the Beast!
Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2006
Messages
502
Reaction score
102
Even then, British Industry sabotaged it by giving us the most expensive slowest version.
My understanding is that the RN got that because we cancelled CVA01. The original F4 engines (J79s IIRC) couldn't manage slam reheat, so the Navy had to have Speys or the 'bolter case' (where a plane slips the arrestor wire and carries on rolling) was always going to result in the aircraft going into the water. Half the FAAs problems from WW2 onward were caused by having decks too small for the aircraft they were operating. Once the Navy's planes have Speys might as well make the RAF have the same. Got to preserve SOME jobs in UK industry while the government are gutting it.
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,352
Reaction score
648
Slowest at altitude, the Spey actually improved performance at low and medium altitudes, gave greater endurance and a shorter take-off run. All of which was arguably a plus for the RAF Germany tactical fighter role for which the F-4M was originally purchased.
 

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
Thanks chaps. I get carried away. Thats why this site is so good. We get lots of info.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
Fairey didn't lump the RAF, the RAF lumped themselves with F155.

Fairey had the military Delta II single Gyron as the quick path to get there developed our of the much smaller Delta II research machine, and was told "no we want the Delta III".
And no Fairey didn't lump them with the Vickers Red Dean or Red Hebe or Vickers Small Radar Missile.
They offered a perfectly sensible SARH AAM that built on their knowledge gained from Fireflash, and it looked a bit like....Sparrow.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
It was government that screwed the F4 by believing the ridiculous cost estimate as if fitting a similar sized engine hadn't already caused the likes of Australia all sorts of headaches over the Avon Sabre.
They had to get more poke out to operate at useful loads from Ark Royal and Eagle.
CVA-01 wouldn't need Spey F4....
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,352
Reaction score
648
Aware I made a series of posts at the beggining of this thread back in 2011 and 2012 I have now refined my thoughts on this scenario a bit. Looking back at the relevant timelines, with the P.1121 prototype under construction in mid-1956, the most obvious requirement for the P.1121 to be procured against may actually be the Venom FB.4 replacement, which in reality was the Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 after it beat the Folland Gnat and Jet Provost in a trial at Aden in mid-1958. The decision to replace the Venoms came in 1958 and the Hunter FGA.9 first flew in July 1959 followed by the FR.10 in November 1959 with 128 of the former and 33 of the latter being converted from existing Hunter F.Mk.6s. That gives a requirement for 160 aircraft for RAF use in those roles. Hawker got a long way through building the prototype P.1154 with its own money and the engine could have been a relatively off-the-shelf design. The avionics could have been a combination of the Ferranti Airpass II, which it had privately funded as a multirole version of the AI.23, and components taken from the same company's Integrated Strike and Interceptor System (ISIS) used on various light fighters and attack aircraft. Both systems appeared around 1960. As such, whilst being more expensive than converted Hunters such an aircraft would have still been relatively affordable and had considerable development potential and a longer operational life.

It is difficult to see how the Harrier could have come about in such a scenario, there would have been no need to replace the P.1121 until at least the late 1970s so there would have been no major programme for the P.1154 to be designed against, but it may have increased the chances of a joint RN and RAF VG programme in the mid-1960s to produce a twin-engine/two seat Sea Vixen and Lightning successor to enter service in the early 1970s. In terms of sequencing it may have helped balance the load on British industry and funds with the P.1121 programme entering production before the big TSR-2 effort got underway, rather than running parallel with it as the P.1154 tried too, the joint Sea Vixen/Lightning replacement could follow TSR-2.

Such a multirole single-engine, single-seat aircraft would surely have been able to poach some Mirage customers and may have been a more appropriate alternative to the Lightnings sold to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the mid-1960s.
 
Last edited:

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
Very fine work as ever JFC.
The Hunters need to be taken out of the picture somehow. If you remove the Sandys "No more planes" rule but still kill off 730 and the other big stuff but NATO insists on the Hunter force being replaced as well as the Venoms you get the basis for the 1121 Harrier FGR1.
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
Presumably however the Hunter upgrades were done because they were relatively cheap (modifying existing low life airframes), vs a completely new and expensive project? TSR2 underway at this point?

Speculating but given the VSTOL research, were the Hunters seen as interim until something came from the R&D, ie gestation of 1154?

In a way the reason I like 1122 is the chin intake - the UK building a Super F16 twenty years earlier!
 

overscan (PaulMM)

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
12,115
Reaction score
2,624
If it goes nuclear then it puts you put of commission. Having some Harriers in the woods or wherever with massively complex logistics to (fail to) support them, is irrelevant at that point.

And it wasnt all nuclear as NATO with JP233 and Durandel showed. Equally hardening with HASs was expected, bar direct hits, to enable an airfield to operate after small nuclear weapons.
JP233 and Durandal started development 20 years later, hardly relevant to mid 1950s planning.

You go with the hand you are dealt and you can't predict the future. RAF envisioned VTOL airlifters too. Physical proximity to the USSR certainly increased concerns about airfields compared to, say, the US.

"It's OK guys, we don't need to figure out how to survive a nuclear strike on our airfields because luckily the Cold War isn't going to go hot any time soon. Also in 20 years time we'll have to deal with runway denial and precision guided weapons too".
 

Purpletrouble

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
292
Reaction score
205
??? So JP233 development started out of the blue then, no thoughts about anti runway/airfield attack earlier. Which is curious given the conventional airfield attacks in WW2, Suez and say the Falklands.

So mid 50s the UK moves to recognise nuclear war would be short and completely readjusts it’s forces accordingly (‘54 Radical Review onwards), but in your world then develops VSTOL to survive nuclear attacks on airfields and keep operating. Riiight.

Truth is VSTOL was a bit of an accident, that if it hadn’t been for the decimation of other projects from ‘57, probably would never have happened. Throw in some valid concerns dating back to WW2 about concentration of forces and the dependence of jet ac on long runways which could be interdicted. But this is conventionally since a nuclear attack on a 50/60s airbase was endgame, until hardening of 70s and 80s, not to mention there weren’t enough Soviet nukes to put these against airbases for some time anyway hence only in the nuclear plenty of 70s and the change to fleixbile respnse was defence/ongoing ops considered.

The RAF’s lack of real interest in VSTOL is well evidenced, so there is no drive to “save the guys”.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
12,115
Reaction score
2,624
V/STOL was expected to be the 'next big thing' in the late 50s through the mid 1960s by all major air powers including the UK, Soviet Union, USA, Germany and France. It remained a major consideration in Germany until the late 1960s (AVS, A400M, etc) due to particular vulnerability of their bases to attack.

Ralph Hooper was very glad that the P.1121 failed, as without it his P.1127 would have probably not happened, and like it or not, the Harrier and VTOL was a unique capability the British and BAE were able to leverage for 40 years. P.1121 had no unique capabilities, and would have led nowhere.
 

Zootycoon

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
284
Reaction score
268
A group the size of Hawker Siddeley Aviation should have easily been able to offer the P1121 In the sixties while developing the 1127 for the seventies. The late 50’s was the golden period when technology and capability came together giving birth to most of the key fighters that came to dominate the next 25 years. In the late fifties HSA had nothing to offer.

Consider that in April 56, guys working for Sir Roy Dobson somewhere in HSA were cutting metal on four new designs of fighter aircraft, and just 18 -20 months later there’s none.

Timing is everything.......but there again so is hindsight.

The P1127 was “a backs against the wall, make it work or we’re out of business project“. Desperation is great for driving innovation.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: zen

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
Think I'll agree with Zootycoon and overscan here.

VTOL was driven by the ever increasing fixedness of bases, with older senior figures remembering that prop aircraft flew from a flat field and delivered close air support as the front moved.
Nukes meant big fixed airfields are.....targets. Only German shift in attack to cities relieved RAF airfields.

As for Hawkers, they had a product from 1103 to 1123. And if there's a sadness there it's that other parts of HSA where left in the backseat on fighters. Why else is Camm pushing this forward? Because he can see the writing on the wall and needs something that will sell.

Irony, Avro had 707 proof of tailless delta research machine......
Major irony DH had 116 and plugged 110 as "we got this most of the way".....except they didn't and it was almost a decade late.
While 116 had reheat and could be developed further.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 27, 2005
Messages
12,115
Reaction score
2,624
A group the size of Hawker Siddeley Aviation should have easily been able to offer the P1121 In the sixties while developing the 1127 for the seventies.
Except HSA was just a collection of individual companies with many strong individuals in charge, and the HSA management repeatedly failed to coordinate them. Hawker Aicraft Limited (Kingston) was a pretty small operation.
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
A group the size of Hawker Siddeley Aviation should have easily been able to offer the P1121 In the sixties while developing the 1127 for the seventies.
Except HSA was just a collection of individual companies with many strong individuals in charge, and the HSA management repeatedly failed to coordinate them. Hawker Aicraft Limited (Kingston) was a pretty small operation.
Which is if anything part and parcel of the problem I think.
Had they pooled things together, it might have been different.

Tempted to suggest Avro after all with the funds from the V-bomber effort, they had to have the staff and the facilities surely?
(Even if to check the main gear they had to strap a cameraman to the locked down nosegear)
 

starviking

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
1,018
Reaction score
97
Even then, British Industry sabotaged it by giving us the most expensive slowest version.
My understanding is that the RN got that because we cancelled CVA01. The original F4 engines (J79s IIRC) couldn't manage slam reheat, so the Navy had to have Speys or the 'bolter case' (where a plane slips the arrestor wire and carries on rolling) was always going to result in the aircraft going into the water. Half the FAAs problems from WW2 onward were caused by having decks too small for the aircraft they were operating. Once the Navy's planes have Speys might as well make the RAF have the same. Got to preserve SOME jobs in UK industry while the government are gutting it.
I don’t think that is the case: the Spey Phantoms were ordered in 1964 when the CVA-01 was still a going concern. It did however have an in-service date of 1973, so the Phantoms would have had to operate from some of the RN’s refitted legacy carriers.
 

Zootycoon

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
284
Reaction score
268
Sure, HSA’s Dobson made a real mess, he never quite had the imagination, corporate ambition, stature and respect of Sopwith. He’s rarely mentioned in regards to the failures in this period, most commentators go after Sandy. Reading between the lines from the likes of Edwards etc they seem to have a grudging respect for Sandy ie he offer some direction/leadership most others couldn’t or were too timid.
 
Last edited:

uk 75

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
2,317
Reaction score
954
P1121 as the amount of material here and in books does show our bias in favour of "looks". It looks cool. This is the reason for a lot of my biases, I have to admit
 

zen

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
550
Even then, British Industry sabotaged it by giving us the most expensive slowest version.
My understanding is that the RN got that because we cancelled CVA01. The original F4 engines (J79s IIRC) couldn't manage slam reheat, so the Navy had to have Speys or the 'bolter case' (where a plane slips the arrestor wire and carries on rolling) was always going to result in the aircraft going into the water. Half the FAAs problems from WW2 onward were caused by having decks too small for the aircraft they were operating. Once the Navy's planes have Speys might as well make the RAF have the same. Got to preserve SOME jobs in UK industry while the government are gutting it.
I don’t think that is the case: the Spey Phantoms were ordered in 1964 when the CVA-01 was still a going concern. It did however have an in-service date of 1973, so the Phantoms would have had to operate from some of the RN’s refitted legacy carriers.
Exactly and Spey F4 was also sold as superlative compared to J79 F4. Lots of nice numbers in shint brochure. McDD also thought Spey F4 had more sales potential.
ISD expected '69 completion, Ark and Eagle to mid to late 70's. CVA-01 might suffer delays from '73, and likely stretch out to '75 or worse. Victorious cast a long shadow.
Reality deliveries started that year....
 

Hood

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
1,712
Reaction score
934
Aware I made a series of posts at the beggining of this thread back in 2011 and 2012 I have now refined my thoughts on this scenario a bit. Looking back at the relevant timelines, with the P.1121 prototype under construction in mid-1956, the most obvious requirement for the P.1121 to be procured against may actually be the Venom FB.4 replacement, which in reality was the Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 after it beat the Folland Gnat and Jet Provost in a trial at Aden in mid-1958. The decision to replace the Venoms came in 1958 and the Hunter FGA.9 first flew in July 1959 followed by the FR.10 in November 1959 with 128 of the former and 33 of the latter being converted from existing Hunter F.Mk.6s. That gives a requirement for 160 aircraft for RAF use in those roles. Hawker got a long way through building the prototype P.1154 with its own money and the engine could have been a relatively off-the-shelf design. The avionics could have been a combination of the Ferranti Airpass II, which it had privately funded as a multirole version of the AI.23, and components taken from the same company's Integrated Strike and Interceptor System (ISIS) used on various light fighters and attack aircraft. Both systems appeared around 1960. As such, whilst being more expensive than converted Hunters such an aircraft would have still been relatively affordable and had considerable development potential and a longer operational life.
It probably was the only likely opening for the P.1121.
But the concern with cost was real, the existence of the Gnat and Jet Provost show how the RAF were looking at anything cheap that could lob a couple of 3in rockets into caves and the odd 1,000lb bomb onto a wadi. The P.1121 is rather advanced for that, but if the RAF marry up the dots between the Aden need and the requirements that led to P.1154 then it should have been 'bingo'!

That brings up a tasty scenario of HSA offering a P.1121 and BAC hitting back with a single-engine VG-wing design like Type 583.
 

pathology_doc

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2008
Messages
948
Reaction score
170
Faireys had no interest in a sensible Mirage style fighter when they could lumber the taxpayer with the huge Delta 2 and its massive Dean or Hebe missiles.
Fairey had no choice. Their monster was driven by F.155T specifications, and Red Dean was driven by RAF insistence on fire-and-forget radar homing. In retrospect the British should have taken the Avro-Canada Arrow and toned down the F.155T spec to allow it, but the best was continuously the enemy of good enough. That was what ultimately doomed TSR.2 as well, plus govt. meddling. Vickers should simply have been ordered to help English Electric build their airplane, and BAC should have been permitted to use their engine of choice.
 
Top