The Super Hunters, FGA.13 and PR.15 (Airfix Hunter FGA.9 1:72)

Started by Pellson, June 15, 2021, 03:12:13 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


The Super Hunter (FGA.13 and PR.15)

During the 1950's the Hawker Hunter was the mainstay day fighter of the RAF as well as several other air arms in Western Europe. However, as the decade drew to its close, newer, smarter and above all faster aircraft were being developed, soon to enter service, and while the Hawker design team worked on several modernisation projects, none really seemed to even come close to W.E.W. Petters Lightning, and to make matters worse, the Lightning even was to have an all weather capability due to a small radar set fitted in a fairing in the centre of the annular jet engine intake.
Among these aborted interceptor variants were the P.0183, a supersonic Hunter with new, thinner wings of greater sweep, the delta wing P.1090 and a further refined P.1083, the P.1091. However, these all strayed quite far from the original Hunter, so in an effort not to lose too much commonality with its ancestry, the P.1100 was designed, basically keeping the original Hunter fuselage but mated to a thinner and stronger wing but with the original plan form, featuring booster rockets in the rear wing roots and an afterburning Avon. In the elongated and refined nose, an Airpass radar from the Lightning was installed. The standard windshield was replaced by a two piece design, much like the one found on the American Convair F-102, however, the canopy was left as standard. Finally, wing tip tanks were suggested to provide increased fuel capacity for the thirstier afterburning engine.
Performance would have been in the range of Mach 1,5, but as the Lightning was promising well over Mach 2, nothing came out of the P.1100, despite it being designed to be built by modifying existing Hunter airframes.

While Hawker thus having no success in the interceptor business, in the meantime, RAF had realised that the DH Venoms it was using for close air support was increasingly getting obsolescent, so Hawker took some of the bits lying around from the different interceptor prototypes they had worked on and created the FGA.9, a beefed up F.6 to cope with higher warloads and rougher fields. The scope was pretty straightforward – a reinforced standard wing, bigger drop tanks and a bigger braking parachute to allow for landing "heavy". Also the Avon 207 was substituted, giving more oomph on takeoff. Finally some cockpit modifications, including better air conditioning, a radio compass and more oxygen for the pilot was added. RAF enthusiastically bit on the idea and rapidly, 128 airframes were converted.
Simultaneously, a photo reconnaissance version, the FR.10 was designed, basically just substituting the gun ranging radar nose of the FGA.9 with a camera nose, having stations for a forward looking and two oblique cameras, one pointing to each side.
However, even as the first FGA.9's were delivered in 1960, Sir Sydney Camm felt that this was somewhat of a lost opportunity, and in a heated Hawker board meeting, he managed to push through the redesign of the P.1100 and the construction of a single private venture prototype to fly within a year., aiming to offer RAF a much improved all weather close support Hunter, with a secondary fighter capability, and all to a bargain price. Somewhat reluctantly, the decision was taken and so, on the 28th of November, in an as bleak as rare late autumn sun, the P.1100-02 took to the air, piloted by Hawkers Test pilot Duncan Simpson.

The new aircraft was built from an F.6 and featured the P.1100 wings, but further reinforced to cope with ground attack loads. The wings were ingeniously designed, using every space available for fuel, thus doing away with the tip tanks. However, flaps and control surfaces were the same as on the standard Hunter as were the landing gears and associated systems. Provisions for three pylons under each wing was catered for, the two outer being rated to 1000 lbs each and the inner to 3000 lbs. This last pylon was "wet", and in service almost always occupied by an entirely new and strengthened drop tank whith reinforced mountings, doing away with the bracing from the old tanks and allowing for supersonic flight without needing to eject the tanks.  The four-gun ADEN cannon pack of the earlier Hunters were substituted with a smaller and shallower two-gun pack, and the fuselage was extended with 1,5 ft just behind the cockpit, providing space for additional tankage and electronics. Going forward, the cockpit section was kept but the nose was entirely new ahead of the windshield, being much longer and quite pointy, providing for a radar set. In the extreme nose, the new pitot tube was found, having been relocated from the right wing.
The air intakes were slightly enlarged, but so marginally that the average person couldn't see any difference. Still they provided for almost 11% increased air flow for the new engine, an Avon Mk 211, stolen directly from the Lightning production line. The afterburner required redesign of the brake parachute stowage, resulting in a slightly widened fin base at the rear. Compensating the even higher landing weight and thus also speed, the chute was bigger, facilitating an even shorter landing run, matching the improvement in takeoff performance from the afterburning engine.

Simpson reported that the original carefree Hunter handling basically remained unaltered, and even buffeting, going through the sound barrier, trialled on the third flight, was undramatic, if noticeable. In following tests and mock combat simulations, the powerful P.1100-02 proved able to outmanouver not only it's older Hunter siblings, but also the Lightning F2 at all altitudes, however obviously not being able to match the Lightning's speed and acceleration. Offering the aircraft to the RAF just before Christmas 1960, Hawker made the reconstruction available at about 2 times the cost of the FGA.9 conversion.
Despite this, the RAF didn't initially want any upgraded Hunters, being content with the FGA.9's it just had received.

However, in 1962, the RAF reconnaissance community started to realise that while nice to fly, the Hunter FR.10 was somewhat lacking in the camera department as well as in performance. The USAF was then fielding the RF-101C Voodoo, and it seemed as no one could catch it as the American pilots lit the afterburners after target passage, leaving the area quicker than pay on a Friday. And they got away with bigger and better photos. Responding to this, Hawker quickly replaced the radar nose of the P.1100-02 with a camera nose, this time allowing for four bigger cameras, one forward, one vertical and two oblique. Also, the remaining guns were removed, being substituted with even more fuel. Omitting the "Sabrina" link collectors, however, had an unforeseen effect in that buffeting problems increased. This was very quickly solved by just reinstalling dummy "tits" and the prototype was handed over to the RAF in early June 1962.  Tested extensively during the summer by the FR.10-equipped RAF no 4 Sqn, their CO, Sqn Ldr R.J. Bannard, was enthusiastic despite the Super Hunter still not being able to fully match the power of the Voodoo, and within six months, Hawker had bagged the order to again rebuild all the FR.10's, this time to the new, supersonic FR.13.

In the meantime, Rolls Royce has continued development of the Avon for the Lightning, and now could make the even more powerful Mk 301 available also for the Hunter. While not giving a significant speed advantage over the previous Mk 211, the takeoff roll in hot and high conditions carrying full load was significantly improved, as was general fuel economy. Hence, a late change order from the RAF meant that all FR.13's were delivered with the later engine.

As no 4 Sqn became the first squadron the field the FR.13 in 1963, they quickly proved that their mount was significantly quicker and more agile than the previous marks, and when the FR.13 replaced the FR.10 in the Aden based reconnaissance flight of no 8 Sqn in early 1964, the differences became outright painful as the other flights of the sqn  flew the FGA.9.
At this time, Ferranti also had developed the AI23 Airpass radar to the Blue Parrot nav/strike radar for the Buccaneer, and when interviewed, Ferranti stated that they could make a special multimode version available to fit in the P.1100-02 radar nose, providing all weather capability in both ground attack and air to air modes.

Being presented with all this, the RAF finally saw reason and ordered all remaining Hunter F.6 and FGA.9 rebuilt, amounting to just below 150 airframes, on condition that price could be trimmed to less than 1,7 times of the cost they had paid for the FGA.9. Haggling a bit, Hawker managed to reach a deal in early 1965, and the first of the fighter bomber FGA.15's (Mk 14 was reserved for drone rebuilds of earlier, small bore marks) were delivered to no 1 Sqn at RAF West Raynham in October the same year. The other close support squadrons soon followed.

In service, the Super Hunter became an instant success, being a true multi role fighter. Having fired its rockets at the enemy ground forces, it was able to successfully fight its way home against most modern interceptors within visual range, in particular when provided with Sidewinder missiles on the outermost pylons in 1967.
As the simplicity of the design and low stance on ground meant trouble-free maintenance and good availability, also in the austere conditions of the Middle and Far East, the Super Hunters stayed on even as the Phantoms and Harriers entered service in the European theatre. While only one close support wing in Europe kept its Hunters, no's 2 and 4 Sqns still flew tactical reconnaissance over Germany while two CAS sqns in the Far East (no's 20 and 28 Sqn's), one CAS and one CAS/recce sqn in Aden (no's 208 and 8 Sqn, respectively) were active all the way up to 1976. By then the Hunters had gained another Sidewinder specific pylon in front of the main landing gear bay, freeing up the outer pylons for other loads. Also, several new weapons were integrated such as the BL755 cluster bomb dispenser, and other electronic updates, such as RWR in fin fairings, a modern nav-attack system and the ability to carry ECM and chaff/flare pods also had been rolled out fleetwide. The FR.13's had taken this a step further, integrating big flare dispensers in even bigger "Sabrinas", giving reason for some not really approved nicknames, none of which permanently stuck during the short time left in service.

From 1976, the new Jaguar started to replace the reconnaissance Super Hunters, but the close support variant stayed on, defending its continued existence by being immensely easier and cheaper to deploy quickly for various show-of-flag or policing duties worldwide than its intended replacement, the Harrier. In particular, the good dogfighting abilities was most appreciated when small contingents were detached and sent to various hot spots such as Belize, where no 1417 Flt maintained a flight of four FGA.15's for most of the 1980's and early 1990's.
By then, however, despite continued weapon integrations of for instance Maverick air-to-ground missiles and IBL755 dispensers as well as all aspect AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, the Super Hunter was definitely beginning to show its age. It wasn't deployed when fighting erupted in the Gulf in 1991, but saw some limited action over the Balkans two years later before finally being withdrawn in 1995 when the two final squadrons, no's 45 and 79, disbanded. It was sorely missed by aviation enthusiast and RAF personnel alike, being the last properly beautiful war plane, as well as being very, very easy to keep in the air, where it behaved very well even when loaded.

Most of you will remember these two flashing by on my blog pages, but now, they're finally ready to earn a project thread of their own.

Both Super Hunters are built from the venerable Airfix FGA.9 kit. The modern Revell one is better in all ways, but the plastic is harder and more difficult to work with – and a poor man can get three Airfix Hunters for less than he has to pay for half a Revell one. Most importantly, the Airfix Hunters were already in my stash.

The recce bird is an old build, originally being built OOB many moons ago. Some years ago, I for no other reason than fun cut it in half behind the cockpit and inserted some plasticard spacers to get a longer, more balanced nose. At that time, I experimented a bit with filing and painting to make a FR.10 nose, but having a Heller SF37 Viggen reconnaissance nose left over, suddenly that was grafted on and the hunter looked much faster! An afterburner later (made from some spare fuel tank, I think), it was up-engined to match the new nose.

From there on it sat on the shelf of doom until last summer when it suddenly caught my eye again. I had just seen a drawing of the P.1100 and noticed the many similarities, so out came sand paper and the old Hunter to thin out the wings somewhat. Simultaneously, I decided to try to build a fighterbomber variant to go with the photo bird, having an extra Airfix Hunter in the stash. Those wings, however, I thinned by sanding on the mating surfaces before gluing them together. Much better result, but then again – you are supposed to learn from mistakes, aren't you?
Having found the Viggen nose to fit reasonably well, the easy solution for the radar nose was obviously to use two upper halves from the SF37, glued together. This also ensured the close relationship between the versions I wanted.

The new drop tanks comes from the Chinese Xian J-7 bomber and stores mostly from my spares. However, I had to scratch both the Phimat dispensers and one of the AN/ALQ-101's due to lack of resources. But they came out alright, methinks.

I like both my Super Hunters, but particularly the FGA.15. It looks very, very right to my eye, and beautiful aircraft are said to fly well, as you know..

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!


I think critical eye of Sir Sydney would be pleased with those. Well imagined and executed.

Old Wombat

Very nice looking aircraft, Pellson! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Whether they're nicer looking than the original is debatable. ;)
Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est


How to reduce carbon emissions - Tip #1 - Walk to the Bar for drinks.


Oh yes, those look very nice!  :thumbsup:

The Central Fighter Establishment actually suggested a stretched Hunter with two guns, more fuel and Sidewinders.

Suggestion if I may: why not edit your post to make the pics bigger? 800 pixels is a good width for forum posts. :thumbsup:
"We thank you, but this diversion is not true. Things never happened thus."

"Oh, but it IS true. Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are
the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."

- Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Neil Gaiman


I really like the Viggen nose on the Hunter.  :thumbsup:

This looks great - earmarked for the upcoming Recce GB, because I have a Revell Hunter (sans idea yet) AND a  surplus Viggen camera nose, donated from a friend, that might be usefully mated...  :lol:


Very nice indeed, great backstory and beautiful finished products .... and your Mark number's are noted  ;D between us we should be able to get up to the Mk.20  ;D
Oh to be whiffing again :-(


"Sticks and stones may break some bones but a 3.57's gonna blow your damn head off!!"


High class modelling and a very well constructed, detailed backstory.   BRAVO!!!
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you....."
It  means that you read  the instruction sheet


Hmm, with that pointed nose the Hunter reminds me LOT of the (much bigger) Yak-28 interceptor...? In NMF, with some Red Stars...?  :o


Very, VERY good.  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Both models and the wonderful backstory.  ;D
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



Quote from: Dizzyfugu on June 15, 2021, 11:14:31 PM
I really like the Viggen nose on the Hunter.  :thumbsup:

This looks great - earmarked for the upcoming Recce GB, because I have a Revell Hunter (sans idea yet) AND a  surplus Viggen camera nose, donated from a friend, that might be usefully mated...  :lol:

I'd love to see your take on it!  :wub:

Note that the Viggen nose will be somewhat wide, but that's easily fixed with some judicious sanding.  :thumbsup:
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!


Quote from: Old Wombat on June 15, 2021, 06:49:13 PM
Very nice looking aircraft, Pellson! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Whether they're nicer looking than the original is debatable. ;)

I believe this I a somewhat religious matter..  ;)
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!


Quote from: Pellson on June 16, 2021, 03:10:27 AM
Note that the Viggen nose will be somewhat wide, but that's easily fixed with some judicious sanding.  :thumbsup:

Thanks for the confirmation/warning - I had expected that the Viggen nose would need to be shortened to fit in diameter. But it suits the Hunter very well.  :thumbsup:


Quote from: Dizzyfugu on June 16, 2021, 02:56:55 AM
Hmm, with that pointed nose the Hunter reminds me LOT of the (much bigger) Yak-28 interceptor...? In NMF, with some Red Stars...?  :o

Reminds me a bit of one of the P.1121 versions with the tanks/fairings through the wings when viewed from some angles.

My Ability to Imagine is only exceeded by my Imagined Abilities

Gondor's Modelling Rule Number Three: Everything will fit perfectly untill you apply glue...

I know it's in a book I have around here somewhere....