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Hawker


Sopwith started World War 1 building aircraft in a shed at Brooklands in Kingston and ended with an output of 90 ships a week at Kingston alone. Overnight it ended, so the busi-ness had to liquidate and the Sopwith Company ended. Sopwith wanted to stay in aviation and couldn't start a company with the same name. So he called the new company the Hawker Company, with a capital of 20,000 pounds.

In 1921 former Sopwith test pilot Harry Hawker took over the premises of the former Sopwith Aviation Company. Although he died that same year in a crash, the reestablished company began building a series of military aircraft, beginning with a single Duiker monoplane, followed by the Woodcock fighter. Under the design leadership of Sydney Camm (later Sir), produced such aircraft as the Tomtit trainer biplane and the Horsley bomber/torpedo- bomber, Mk 1 versions of which were the last allwooden aircraft built by the company. Best known of all H. G. Hawker products were the Hart/Demon/Audax/Osprey two-seaters and the Fury single-seat fighter; all had entered production before the company reorganized and the name was changed to Hawker Aircraft Ltd. in 1933.


Following 1933, the concentrated on fighters, and the first production Hurricane, a monoplane development of the Fury, first entered service in late 1937. The Typhoon, initially none too successful, proved effective as a fighter-bomber and saw the peak of its development in the Tempest, Fury and Sea Fury which served with RAF and Fleet Air Arm during late 1940s and early 1950s, and with foreign air arms well into the 1960s. In early postwar period Hawker developed the Sea Hawk shipboard fighter, progressing to the Hunter, the single Mk 3 version of which, produced by modification of the original prototype, gained the world speed record at 1,170.96km/h in 1953. Such was the success of the Hunter that refurbished aircraft were later exported. Hawker's greatest innovation was in the field of VTOL fighters, first with the experimental P.1127 Kestrel, which led to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier.

Scottish Aviation, British Aircraft Corp, and Hawker Siddeley Aviation joined British Aerospace in 1978.

 


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