A Jaguar with different spots: Hawker Hart T.2 (P.1173)

This is my build of the Hawker P.1173 – The Hawker Hart T.2 advanced transonic crew trainer that was selected as the winning design against AST.362.

Air Staff Target 362 was issued in June 1963 for an advanced transonic pilot trainer to replace the Gnat/Hunter sequence. The aircraft would be used in preliminary conversion and continuation training. A secondary operational (strike) role was intended for the resulting design. In service date was specified as 1975, but the AST went into holding pattern when it emerged that the French were looking at a similar concept (what eventually emerged as ECAT). The discussions which followed between the British and French Staffs/Politicians ultimately lead to the SEPECAT Jaguar, which became a rather different beast than what had been intended to meet AST 362.

Taking what is in Tony Buttler’s BSP:Bombers book, three designs were evolved in the UK to AST 362:

BAC Type 593 – Vickers Supermarine team proposal for a VG Strike Trainer
BAC P.45 – EE Warton team proposal for a VG Strike Trainer
Hawker P.1173 – Hawker Siddley Kingston team fixed wing Strike Trainer/Supersonic Hunter replacement.

Dimensions:

Span – 25 ft (8.7m)
Length – 45 ft (13.5m)
Wing Area – 210 sq ft
AUW – 20,250lb
Engine – 1 x 13,000lb Static Thrust RB-172 in reheat
Max Speed – M 1.4 @ sea level/M 2.4 @ 36,000 ft
Load – 2 x 30mm cannon/2 x 1000lb bombs or 2 x ASM’s

In 1965 Discussions with the French regarding collaboration came to naught and eventually the decision was made to go it alone with a wholy British design. Following detailed evaluation of the submitted design the Hawker P.1173 was selected as the most suitable design to meet the requirement. The two rival VG types were seen as too technically risky, though the Operational Requirments Board had originally stated a strong preference for twin engines, studies presented by Hawker Siddley showed that the improvement in safety in a twin engined type was only translated into a 15% lower peacetime attrition rate, which had to be set against the higher developmental cost and greater maintenance burden of a twin engined design.

With budgets tight following the decision to continue with the TSR-2 project, the Treasury lobbied very strongly for selecting a single engine type. The P.1173 was to be powered by a Rolls Royce RB.172 lightweight turbofan developing 13,000lb static sea-level thrust. Hawker was awarded a development contract in May 1966 for 5 “Development Batch” airframes and long lead items for the first 24 production aircraft. there were no “prototypes” as such. From the very beginning the Hawker design team (and Hawker Siddley senior management) had viewed the P.1173’s development as a transonic trainer to be a Trojan Horse way of achieving their long persued goal of developing a true successor to the immensely succesful Hawker Hunter.

To this end a single seat version had been studied from the very beginning, though this was for the moment kept a secret from both the MOD and the RAF. The priority remained a twin seat trainer with some air to ground capability (though this was meant to allow it’s use as a tactical weapons trainer rather than as a dedicated strike platform).

The first DB airframe was rolled out on the 13th of May 1968, following a variety of ground trials including low speed and high speed taxi tests test pilot Duncan Simpson made the first flight of the P.1173 on the 8th of August 1968. The following 19 month test program revealed only a few minor issues that required changes to be made to the airframe and it’s systems prior to the types acceptance into RAF service with deliveries to 226 OCU commencing in June 1970.

The test program had also revealed that the P.1173, soon to be named the Hawker Hart and designated the T.2 in RAF service, was a very high performance machine. Test Fights had reached Mach 2 even with the fixed geometry intakes and this re-ignited interest within the Hawker Siddley group of developing a single seat version as a cheap light-weight fighter for sale to export customers. A decision was made in December 1970 to privately fund the conversion of the 5th DB airframe as a single seat demonstrator. This rebuilt airframe flew for the first time in February 1973 by which time interest in a dedicated single seat strike model was growing in the Operational Requirments Board of the RAF.

This could be used as a cheaper adjunct to the very expensive TSR-2 Eagles, to be used against low value targets that the Eagles could not be risked against due to their high cost and high value as deep penetration assetts. A formal go ahead for a RAF specific single seater was received in May 1974 as the Hart FGR.1. This type was eventually used by 2, 6, 14, 20 & 41 squadrons in the close support/battlefield interdiction role from 1976 onwards. Initially they were armed with BL.755 cluster bombs, SNEB rocket pods and freefall bombs and were equipped with a simple nav/attack system and had only a small ranging radar for their two 30mm Aden guns. In 1984 the type received a Mid-Life Upgrade that added guided weapons capability, a new INS navigation system, redesigned cockpit with moving map display and a new light weight Pulse Doppler radar developed by Ferranti, the Blue Parakeet to be be redesignated as Hart FGR.3’s. This now added a very useful air-to-air capability to these aircraft.

The type was used by the RAF until withdrawn due to defence cuts in 2007 (ironically only 3 years after the last had been upgraded to FGR.5 standard with glass cockpit and improved avionics). They were used by the RAF in both the First and Second Gulf  War’s, the NATO operations against Serbo-Yugolsavia and the US-UK invasion and subsequent counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan.

The twin seat trainer was used for advanced tactical weapons training by 19, 100 & 208 squadrons with the aircraft having a secondary war time role as CAS/BI aircraft. The FGR equiped sqaudrons also had two twin seaters each. The Hart trainer version remained in service with the RAF even after the Hart FGR.5’s were withdrawn from service in 2007. Fitted with new digital cockpits and processed through a structural refurbishment program they were redesignated as Hart T.5’s in 2006.

Hawker also launched a determined drive to win export sales for their single and twin seat versions, and were rewarded with a substantial number of sales to countries who either could not afford or justify the need for one of the US “Teen Series” jets, or could not get the US to supply these aircraft for various political reasons.

The initial export success, perhaps not suprisingly, was with India which selected the type as it’s replacement for the Folland Gnat and the improved Ajeet in 1975. Hindustan Aviation Limited eventually went on to build 180 single seaters under licence, and 90 two seaters as trainers for the Indian Air Force.

Eventually sales were made of the Mk.50 single seater and Mk.55 twin seater to Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Indonesia and Singapore.

My build represents a Hart T.2 of 41 Squadron RAF in 1978. The aircraft is depicted with a training load of drop tanks and SNEB rocket pods.

The kit was made by cutting up a Hasegawa X-29 for the aft fuselage. The forebody is from a Kopro L-39 Albatross, wings and horizontal stabs are from MPM F-100 suitably cut up and sanded to the correct shape and aerofoil profile. The vertical stab is a suitably butchered Kitech F-18 stab and the exhaust is a cut down Italeri Gripen nozzle. The canopy is a cut up and modified Kitech F-18B canopy. It’s not a perfect match for the actual canopy on the 1173 so I cut the canopy up so I could pose the two canopies open to disguise this fact.

The weapons and drop tanks are from an Airfix Hunter, the undercart is also from modified Airfix Hunter parts. I made the bay doors from plasticard using Italeri Hawk parts as guides. The whole build consumed what seemed like tonnes of putty, strip plasticard and yet more putty. The dorsal spine is made from laminated plasticard filed and sanded to the correct shape.

Decals are straight from an Italeri Jaguar T.2, the kit is airbrushed in the standard RAF wrap-round scheme of Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey using Xtracolour Acrylics.

The following pictures are of the single seat P.1173 as built by Geoff Baker (Thorvic) as a shadow build to help validate the approach I would be using in this build. This build depicts a Hart Mk.50 in service with the Omani Air Force.

My thanks goes to Geoff for his help in validating the scratchbuilding method to be used for this build, sourcing the kits for the build,providing constant advice and assistance whilst I was putting this together and above all for frequent kicks to my back bumper to keep me going forwards on this build, without those I don’t think I would have persevered with it.

Thanks for looking.

Duncan

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