On my recent tour of the UK I viewed Hawker Sea Fury T.20 VX281 of the Royal Navy Historic Flight based at Yeovilton, Somerset UK.
I was very lucky to see and hear this fantastic sleeve valve monster perform at no less than 4 airshows including Legends, The Shuttleworth Collection, Farnborough and at Yeovilton itself. Sadly upon my return to Australia I learnt the aircraft suffered a suspected engine issue and crash landed.
The Fury/Sea Fury was a wartime design which followed on from the Hurricane, Typhoon and Tempest series of aircraft and was the last of the British volume production piston fighters with around 864 aircraft produced.
Australia operated the type and it served on Carriers with the RAN in Korea even achieving a Kill against a MiG 15 jet fighter. Widely regarded as an excellent and stable aircraft the series had a very good reputation and many have survived to the present day even being raced at Reno in the yearly air races although usually powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major or the Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone radial engine.
Hawker Sea Fury T.20 history
It was constructed as a two seat T.20 in 1948 and then taken on charge with the Royal Navy with s/n VX281. Transferred to 736SQN, R N A S Culdrose and served there until in 1956 it was struck off charge from the Royal Navy. From 1957 to 1963 the aircraft was with Hawker Siddeley, Langley in storage. In 1963 the aircraft moved to Deutsche Luftfahrt Berantungsdienst with c/r D-CACO and operated as a target tug under contract to WGAF and WGN in an overall blood red scheme. Following its German service the aircraft returned to the UK under the ownership of Doug Arnold, Warbirds GB, Blackbushe with c/r G-BCOW from 8 October 1974 to February 1977, then passing on in February 1977 to Spencer Flack, Elstree UK. In 1980 it passed on to Dale Clarke, Gardena, CA USA with c/r N8476W and was used in air racing. In 1993 the aircraft passed on to Wally Fisk, Amjet Aircraft Corp, Minneapolis, MN. In 2000 the Sea Fury moved to Zager Aircraft Corp, Cupertino, CA, and then in 2007 the civil registration, N281L, cancelled. The aircraft was exported to United Kingdom. From 1 June 2007 to 23 February 2010 to Royal Navy Historic Flight with c/r G-RNHF then in 2010 to Naval Aviation Ltd, Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton, Yeovil.
The aircraft looked and sounded immaculate and was always beautifully displayed by its pilot Lieutenant Commander Christopher Götke. Sadly upon my return to Australia I learnt the very next display at RNAS Culdrose the aircraft suffered a suspected engine issue and was crash landed. Smoke was seen to be issuing from the exhausts of the aircraft and the pilot reported a loss of power and there was little time to respond in such a heavy aircraft with a windmilling propeller. With great skill and determination the pilot managed to land the aircraft, but due to the contingent loss of the hydraulic pressure the landing gear did not fully lock down and collapsed upon landing.
Thankfully the pilot walked away and the aircraft is repairable but badly damaged. The RNFAAHF have a single seat FB 11 about to fly so it will not be without a Sea Fury but two in the air together would have been even better.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery for this fantastic Warbird.
© John Parker 2014