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BAC 145 Hunting Percival Jet Provost

BAC 145 Hunting Percival Jet ProvostThe Jet Provost aircraft, which was used as a jet trainer for RAF aircrew throughout the 1950s, 60s and beyond, was an aeroplane design which was derived from the Provost piston engine aircraft and which subsequently was modified to take a jet engine. AS far as possible, the Hunting Percival Jet Provost was just what its name implies: a standard piston-engined Provost redesigned for jet power. As such, it was something of a compromise; yet the whole design was most carefully formulated and deliberately executed in order to provide, quickly and cheaply, what seemed to be close to the optimum military ab initio training aircraft.

By 1957 evaluation trials had shown that ab initio flying training on jet aircraft had definite advantages, and it was therefore decided to establish this form of training on a larger scale. After World War II there were questions as to whether pilots should be taught from the beginning to fly jets, as opposed to, the present system of flying piston-engined aircraft first and then going on to jets. In 1950 and 1951 Parliament raised with the Secretary of State for Air the need for an intermediate jet trainer. The RAF did not get an intermediate jet trainer but it got a compromise in the form of the dual Vampire the Vampire T 11. It was not really the right answer, but it was very much better than nothing, because it narrowed the gap between the piston-engined trainer and the operational aircraft in the squadrons.

The Minister of Supply sanctioned a contract in 1954 for ten new Mark I jet Provost trainers for the Royal Air Force to be built by Hunting-Percival Aircraft. These aircraft were ordered because the quickest method of obtaining the primary jet trainers required by the Air Ministry for evaluation was by adaptation of the Provost trainer already in service. There was no standard method of control operation specified for Royal Air Force aircraft. The first nine jet Provosts had pneumatic controls, as had the piston engined Provost. The tenth was fitted with hydraulic controls.

An experimental all-jet training program commenced in August 1955 at No. 2 Flying Training School, Hullavington using the Jet Provost trainer. Elementary Flying Training on the Chipmunk was followed by Basic Flying Training on the Jet Provost.In the mid-1970s the Bulldog, a significantly more modern and capable aircraft than the Chipmunk, was introduced proving to be a challenge to the air squadron members and a useful lead in for those who subsequently went on to fly the Jet Provost aircraft during pilot training.

The Central Flying School had a long and proud tradition of conducting formation aerobatics. During the annual Hendon Air Days of the 1920s, Central Flying School pilots would thrill the crowds with their spectacular formation displays. The School continued this tradition after the Second World War fielding display teams such as the Meteorites with their four Meteor T7 aircraft and the Red Pelicans with their six Jet Provost T Mk4s.

The 1950s and 1960s were the heyday of Royal Air Force jet aerobatic display teams. By the mid-60s almost every Flying Training School, and several operational squadrons, had their own teams. So much time, effort and money was being expended on these non-established tasks that the Royal Air Force eventually decided to disband them all and form a single, full-time professional team. Thus, in 1964, the Red Pelicans flying six Jet Provost T Mk 4s became the first team to represent the Royal Air Force as a whole. The Red Arrows took delivery of the British Aerospace Hawk trainer in the autumn of 1979.

A number of new features were introduced for the first time into a basic trainer, including Martin-Baker Mk 4 lightweight ejection seats for instructor and pupil, oxygen equipment, UHF instead of VHF radio, and Rebecca Mk 8 DME. Trie Jet Provost has a gross weight of 7,2001b, maximum speed of 326 m.p.h. and a ceiling of 33,000ft, and can be used to train pilots from ab initio stage to the point at which they convert to Vampire Trainers. The armed version carried two 0.303in machine guns in the intake fairings and four underwing pylons to accommodate a variety of bombs and rockets.

Following delivery of Mk 1 aircraft in 1957, the new basic trainer for the RAF, the Jet Provost T.3, entered production. The T.3 was the first (and most numerous) Jet Provost. It was equipped with the Bristol Siddeley Viper ASV.8 engine giving 1,7501b thrust, unpressurized, had small tip tanks and a low canopy which moved straight back. The T.4 was a higher performance version with the bigger RR Viper ASV.ll giving 2,5001b thrust but the same airframe. The T.5 was a navigational/bomber trainer which used the RR 201 engine in a redesigned airframe which was pressurized, had a large upwards-sliding canopy, larger tip tanks and updated avionics. When the T.4's fatigued out, they were replaced with the T-5A which was like the T-5 but added modifications to improve aerobatic performance.

In 1965 British Aircraft Corporation was awarded a contract to develop for the Royal Air Force a pressurised jet trainer, the BAC 145, to be known in the RAF as the Jet Provost T Mk 5. Design of the BAC 145 was backed by the experience already gained in over 300,000 Jet Provost flying hours and in producing already more than 450 Jet Provosts for the RAF and five overseas Air Forces. Jet Provost flight experience, supplemented by exhaustive fatigue research carried out during actual flying training programs, enabled an airframe life of 15 years, assuming normal utilisation, to be confidently forecast for the BAC 145. Versatile, and as reliabte as the Jet Provost, it retains the well-proven Bristol Siddeley Viper engine and, with its pressurised cockpit will allow protracted training exercises to be carried out at high altitude in safety and comfort thus widening still more the scope of the syllabus that can be undertaken by a single aircraft type.

In December 1965 the Government of Saudi Arabia announced that a consortium of British firms has secured the major part of the order for their new complete Air Defence System. The value of the British components in the order, including Lightning and Jet Provost aircraft, radar and data-handling equipment, was over 100 million, from which over 75 million accrued to the UK as export earnings.

The RAF training sequence was ab initio training on the Chipmunk, basic training on the Jet Provost, and advanced training on Hunters and Gnats. An improved version of the Jet Provost the pressurised Mk 5 entered service in 196970 and the Anglo-French Jaguar superseded the Hunters and Gnats from 197273.

Having entered RAF service in 1989 when it began to replace the Jet Provost, the Tucano was an ideal training aircraft. Despite it being propeller-driven the Tucano had all the characteristics of a jet and bridged the gap between the basic trainer, the Tutor, and the Hawk advanced trainer. The Tucano took over the role as fast jet trainer from the Jet Provost, which Prince Charles flew as a student pilot in 1971.

Surplus Type 3A, type 4 and type 5A Jet Provost aircraft were sold off, with a total of 62 Jet Provosts sold in the financial year 1994. Since April 1990, 115 Jet Provost aircraft had been sold to over 20 different customers, by competitive tender, public auction and private treaty arrangements. Receipts have totalled some 600,000. Jet Provost aircraft are not lifed in hours but by a fatigue index factor which is based upon the operational conditions under which the aircraft are flown; and these will determine further flying life.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2014 18:46:53 ZULU