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Hawker Sea Hawk

The British Seahawk jet aircraft, designated as a fighter ground attack carrier-borne aircraft, was manufactured by Messrs. Hawker Siddley. The first jet aircraft from the Hawker stable and worthy successor to the various WWII fighter designs such as the Hurricane, Tempest and Fury, the Sea Hawk was very nearly stillborn, but rescued by interest from the Royal Navy. The Sea Hawk design was rejected by the RAF but taken up by the Admiralty and the Sea Hawk became the first high-performance jet fighter to serve with the Fleet Air Arm, replacing the unconventional and unsatisfactory Supermarine Attacker.

The Hawker Sea Hawk, while not the first naval shipboard jet fighter, was an early example of its type that incorporated several ingenious engineering features and was an extremely clean design. The Hawker Sea Hawk is the missing-link, connecting the prop driven Hawker Sea Fury and the jet powered Hawker Hunter. Although the connection to the Hunter is more obvious, this design actually germinated from the idea of making a jet powered Sea Fury.

Remembered with fondness by those who flew them, this is in the words of one commentator 'a friendly little jet'. It provided excellent service as a first-line fighter in several air arms for over a decade. It entered operation in the Royal Navy in 1953 and was the cutting edge of the British naval task force during the 1956 Suez operations, when it operated six squadrons of this aircraft from carriers along with the French forces. Powered by a Rolls Royce Nene engine, the Seahawk had proved itself and was in operation with two other navies - the Dutch and the German.

With the imminent procurement of the INS-Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier in the late 50s, A decision to equip the carrier with the Hawker Sea Hawk FGA Mk6 jet fighter as the mainstay. In l959, an order was placed for 24 SeahawkFGA Mark VI aircraft to be mainly used as fighter-bombers. The first 24 of these Sea Hawks were delivered in the autumn of 1959, and the first aircraft was handed over to the Indian Navy on January 22, 1960. Soon three more Seahawks were received and a four-aircraft Seahawk Flight was established at the Royal Naval Air Station, Lossiemouth for training Indian pilots. And the first fighter squadron INAS 300 was commisioned on 7 July 1960. The Sea Hawk would serve just over two decades before being replaced by the Sea Harrier. During the course of its service, a total of 45 FGA 6s (IN-151 to IN-195) and 28 FGA Mk100s (IN-230 to IN-257) were procured. The Mk 100s were modified aircraft that originally saw service in the German Navy.

Since the Seahawks were not fitted with radar, they had to be homed on to a target. The basic problem was to pinpoint the target ship for the Seahawks to attack. The Seahawk was an obvious natural for any service wishing to establish an Air Arm. It had the performance required to do the job, it was small enough to be manageable and forgiving enough for the essential confidence to be built up rapidly.



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