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De Havilland DH 103 Hornet


Sea Hornet F.Mk.20


The de Havilland Hornet was a private-venture new design as a response to the need for a long-range single-seat escort fighter for service in the Pacific to Specification F.12/43. Development began in 1942, the prototype making its maiden flight on 28 July 1944, but the Hornet suffered heavily through post VJ-Day cancellations.

It entered production at the end of 1944 and deliveries were made to the RAF from February 1945. Four versions were produced for the RAF as: the Hornet F.1 medium-range single-seat fighter with four 20mm cannon and provision for carrying two 450kg bombs or two 455 litre drop tanks; Hornet PR.2 long-range unarmed photographic reconnaissance aircraft; Hornet F.3 long-range single-seat fighter with the increased fuel tankage of the PR.2; and Hornet FR.4 with a vertically mounted camera. More than 200 were built.

The Hornet entered service as a front line fighter in August 1946 until April 1951. The Hornet was the fastest twin piston-engined operational combat aircraft in the world while in service. Operated in Malaya in the early 1950s, the type was finally withdrawn from service in 1955.


DH 103 Sea Hornet


Hornets equipped four UK Air Defence Squadrons, 19, 41, 64 and 65. Flying training was carried out by 226 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) and by the Hornet Conversion Flight, the latter being based at Linton-on-Ouse.
Consideration of the possibility of acquiring a carrier-based variant resulted in the testing of three Hornet FMk 1 aircraft in 1944-5, the third of these being fully navalized. It was fitted with folding wings and had provision for deck arrester and RATO gear. Air-draulic shock-absorber legs replaced the rubber-in-compression legs to eliminate bounce in carrier landings. Such was the success of these trials that a production order for 79 Sea Hornet F.Mk 20 fighters soon followed, deliveries getting under way to No. 801 Squadron in June 1947 and joined HMS Implacable in 1949. A carrier-based medium-range single-seat fighter/reconnaissance/strike aircraft, capable of carrying eight 27kg rockets, bombs, mines and drop-tanks. Armament was basically similar to that of the RAF Hornet, and this model remained in service until 1951 in a front-line capacity. The next version was the Sea Hornet NF.Mk 21 night-fighter, whose development began in 1946 although it was not until January 1949 that this attained operational status with the Fleet Air Arm fitted with an A.I. radar scanner in a thimble radome in the nose, equipping No. 809 Squadron at Culdrose until 1954, when it finally gave way to jet-powered equipment in the shape of the de Havilland Sea Venom. Subsequently, the Sea Hornet NF. Mk 21 was reassigned to the training of night-fighter radar operators, a task it performed until 1956 when the handful of remaining aircraft were scrapped. Production of the Sea Hornet was completed with the Sea Hornet PR.Mk 22 for photographic reconnaissance, about two dozen examples being completed, all of which employed a pair of F52 cameras for use by day and a single K19B camera for night work. In order to undertake the reconnaissance mission, the cannon armament was deleted, its place being filled by cameras.



In all, a total of 391 aircraft were produced of which 180 were for the Royal Navy and the production run comprised: two prototypes, sixty F.Mk 1, five PRMk 2, 132 Mk 3, twelve FMk 4, 79 FMk 20 (RN), 78 NMk 21 (RN) and 23 PRMk 22 (RN).



DH Hornet 64 Sqn RAF




DH 103 Sea Hornet
Engines: 2 x RR Merlin 133/134, 2030 hp
Wingspan: 45 ft / 13.71 m
Length: 37 ft / 11.28 m
Max speed: 462 mph / 744 kph
Crew: 1-2
Armament: 2 x 20 mm cannon


Hornet F. Mk 3
Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Merlin 130/131, 1544kW
Take-off weight: 9480 kg / 20900 lb
Empty weight: 5840 kg / 12875 lb
Wingspan: 13.72 m / 45 ft 0 in
Length: 11.18 m / 36 ft 8 in
Height: 4.32 m / 14 ft 2 in
Wing area: 33.54 sq.m / 361.02 sq ft
Max. speed: 760 km/h / 472 mph
Ceiling: 10670 m / 35000 ft
Range: 4820 km / 2995 miles
Armament: 4 x 20mm cannons, 900kg of weapons
Crew: 1

Sea Hornet F.Mk 20

Engines: two 2,030-hp (15 14-kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 133/134 inline piston.
Maximum speed 748 km/h (465 mph) at 6705 m (22,000 ft)
Service ceiling 10,670 m (35,000 ft)
Range 2414 km (1,500 miles) with auxiliary fuel.
Empty weight 6033 kg (13,300 lb)
Maximum take-off 8405 kg (18,530 lb)
Wingspan 13.72 m (45 ft 0 in)
Wing area: 361.025 sq.ft / 33.54 sq.m
Length 11.18 m(36 ft 8 in)
Height 4.32 m (14 ft 2 in)
Wing area 33.54 sq.m (361 sq ft).
Armament: four 20-mm cannon, eight 27-kg (60-lb) rockets or two 454-kg (1,000-lb) bombs.

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