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Hawker Hart

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The Hart bomber would be one of the most important inter-war aircraft for the Royal Air Force as its superiority over fighters of the time would lead to more modern monoplane aircraft. Seeing limited service during the Second World War in the Middle East the Hawker Hart would also be used as an engine test bed.

Quick Facts
Sorry, no image available
First flight
June 1928
Entered service
February 1930
Total built

Front view
Hart front view photo
Side view
Hart side view photo
Rear view
Sorry, no view photo available

With the Air Ministry looking for a new day bomber Specification 12/26 was issued in May 1926 which called for a two-seater aircraft with a top speed of 160 mph, unheard of at the time. Sydney Camm would take up the challenge of designing Hawker's aircraft, with three other aircraft also being considered. The Avro Antelope, de Havilland Hound and a new version of the Fairey Fox IIM. Powered by the Rolls-Royce F.XIB, which was to become known as the Kestrel, Hawker submitted their design in December 1926.

When in June 1928 the Hart prototype made its maiden flight it comfortably beat the performance requirement of 160 mph as it had a top speed of 185 mph. This would pose the Royal Air Force with a problem, although the Hart was faster than other bombers, upto 50 mph in some cases, it was also faster than the Gloster Gamecock fighter with a top speed of 155 mph and it newest fighter, still in development, the Bristol Bulldog which had a top speed of 174 mph. During 1931 further proof of the Hart's superiority over other RAF aircraft was shown during yearly air exercises when the type was able to carry out attacks with hardly any interference from other aircraft. It was only when No. 23 Squadron operating Hart fighters arrived was an adequate defence put up.

The sub plot to the Hart's entry into service in February 1930, when No. 33 Squadron received the first examples, was that it made the Royal Air Force speed up development of the Hawker Fury fighter in the short term, but also think about the next generation of aircraft. This would lead to aircraft of monoplane design, most notably the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, which would provide the RAF with the modern fighters it desperately needed when war broke out in September 1939.

By the time the Second World War (1939 - 1945) started Hart bombers had already been out of front line service in the UK since the previous year. However they would see action in the Middle East until newer aircraft like the Bristol Blenheim slowly phased them out of service. The Hart would still be used as they served as communication aircraft until 1943.

One of the most successful inter-war years aircraft the Hart provided the basis for at least another six Hawker aircraft including the Demon and Hind. The aircraft would also prove useful as an engine test bed with the 21st February 1935 seeing a Hart fitted with the Rolls-Royce PV.12 make the engines first flight, this would become the Merlin. The Bristol Mercury and Napier Dagger engines would also be tested in the Hart.

When production of the aircraft ceased 1,004 had been built including 42 examples which were built in Sweden and used by the Swedish Air Force.

Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Hart Mk I 185 mph 470 miles 21,350 ft one 0.303-in machine-gun
one 0.303-in Lewis gun
500lb of bombs
Hart Trainer (Mk II) 168 mph 430 miles 22,800 ft none


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Hart Mk II Hart Trainer

See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Hart Mk II Royal Air Force Museum, London
Hart Trainer

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