One of the best looking of the immediate post WWII Naval fighter aircraft was the Hawker Sea Hawk which had its genesis in a war time design but did not fly until 1947. The aircraft was one of the first British designed Jet powered naval fighters. The aircraft featured good range and armament and was very successful both in the UK and in other navies such as the German, Dutch and Indian fleet air arms with 550 approximately produced.
Australia considered updating to the Sea Hawk in the late 1950s but after trials nothing came of it and in any case the Sea Venom was chosen instead.
The Sea Hawk was used as a fighter bomber in the 1956 Suez campaign and by the Indian forces against the Pakistani targets in their conflict. The Indian Navy was the last service using the type up until 1983.
Warbirds Online was very fortunate to see Hawker Sea Hawk FGA.6 serial WV908 flying in the UK in 2004, as this aircraft has had a very difficult life as an airworthy warbird having suffered many serviceability issues over the years. The Sea Hawk has thus had only a limited number of displays over the years and has not flown since 2010 although there are hopes that she might fly again in the not too distant future.
At Duxford in 2004 the aircraft put on a very spirited display as a single ship and also in formation with the then resident T33 and F86A and although the weather wasn’t great it was a great experience to see the World’s only flying examples of F86A and Sea Hawk together. She is one of the nicest jet fighters to see in the air of any generation.
WV908 was constructed as an Mk4 by Hawkers at Bagington, Coventry in 1954, and then transported to Bitteswell where she was assembled and flown. The Sea Hawk was issued to RN 807 Squadron aboard HMS Ark Royal and then HMS Bulwark and then RNAS Brawdyin 1957 the aircraft was converted to FGA 6 specification and issued to 806 Squadron. In 1960 the Sea Hawk moved north to Scotland with 738 Sqn at RNAS Lossiemouth. In 1962 WV908 was retired and placed in storage in Belfast from where she travelled to RAF Halton for use as a systems trainer where she remained until 1976 when she was transferred to RNAS Culdrose for restoration to flying condition and she flew again on 23 May 1978 WV 908 was then moved after a couple of years to Yeovilton to join the Fleet Air Arms historic where she remained and has flown on and off ever since although as stated the old girl has spent much of her time inactive with serviceability issues mainly related to engine and jet pipe failures.
It was a privilege to witness the flight of this beautiful aircraft and we do hope to see her flying again at some stage.
© John Parker 2017