The Hawker Hartebeeste (also known as Hartbee or Hartebees) was a version of the Hawker Audax air co-operation aircraft modified for use in South Africa. The first was flown on 1 June 1928, and four (s/n 801 to 804) were produced by Hawker in 1934-35, with another sixty five (s/n 805 to 869) built by Roberts Heights in Pretoria, South Africa from 1937. The main difference between the Hartebeeste and the Audax was a change of engine to the Rolls Royce Kestrel VFP, producing 608hp. The more powerful engine compensated for the addition of some armour around the cockpits.
The Hartebeeste had a short front line career with the South African Air Force. Introduced on 1 January, 1930, two squadrons were equipped with the Hartebeeste when the Italians entered the war on 10 June 1940. The next day the Hartebeeste’s undertook their biggest operation of the war, a large scale attack on Italian positions. Soon after that the Hartebeeste was withdrawn from the front line, and transferred to training and communications units, remaining in service for the rest of the war.
Engine: Rolls Royce Kestrel V FP, 600 hp / 453kW
Total Length: 29ft 7in / 9.020 m
Greatest height: 10 ft 5 in / 3.170 m
Wingspan: 37ft 3in / 11.350 m
Wing area: 348.000 sqft / 32.330 sq.m
Max take off weight: 4787.1 lbs / 2171.0 kg
Weight empty: 3150 lbs / 1429.0 kg
Max. speed: 153 kts / 283 km/h / 176 mph
Service ceiling: 22,000 ft / 6705 m
Wing load: 13.74 lbs/sq.ft / 67.00 kg/qm
Endurance: 3 h
Armament: 2 x .303 MG (7,7mm), one forward firing and one in aft cockpit plus light bombs or supply canisters under the wings.