Why this 1950s British Fighter was still serving in 2014

A huge success for the British aircraft industry

In the early 1950s, the RAF had a big problem. Having brought the first generation of jet fighters like the Gloster Meteor into service, they suddenly found them outclassed. Royal Australian Air Force Meteors were coming up short against North Korean Mig-15s in the skies over Korea and something had to be done. The RAF purchased the North American Sabre as a stop-gap. But for the long term, they decided to rush a brand new second-generation fighter into production. That aircraft would become the Hawker Hunter.

The Hunter initially had a number of problems. But once they were ironed out the aircraft became a huge success for the British aircraft industry – exported to over 20 nations worldwide. The Hunter flew in a range of conflicts with the RAF such as Suez and Aden, including in a ground attack role. It also became a favourite at air shows for display teams like the Blue Diamonds and Black Arrows. Finally, a Hunter F.6 just like the one at IWM Duxford was flown through Tower Bridge by pilot Alan Pollock, a story which has entered RAF legend.

In this episode of Duxford in Depth, Liam Shaw examines the Hawker Hunter’s innovative design, explaining how it changed through various iterations. He also looks at its role in conflicts like Aden and Suez, its use as a display aircraft for the Black Diamonds and in that very famous incident at Tower Bridge.
Credit to : Imperial War Museum