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Hawker's Early Jets (Hardback)

Dawn of the Hunter

Aviation > Post-WWII Aviation Aviation > Royal Air Force Photographic Books

By Christopher Budgen
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 312
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526792174
Published: 14th January 2022


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On 2 September 1947, Hawker Aircraft Ltd figuratively and literally took to the air with their first jet design, the P.1040. Conceived in the latter days of the Second World War, and developed in the straitened times of post-war austerity, the aircraft allowed Hawker to explore the new technology before moving on to more ambitious programmes. Rejected by the Royal Air Force, subsequent development of the aircraft allowed the Royal Navy to find in it a useful role at sea.

As this project slowly wound its way through the government bureaucracy against a background of national insolvency, Hawker continued their research into more potent forms of jet travel with their first swept wing aircraft, the P.1052, their first rocket powered example, the P.1072, and, finally, the sleek, all swept P.1081. These essentially research aircraft gave the company the experience and expertise it required to produce a powerful, transonic fighter with which to equip the RAF for the defence of the UK and other friendly nations at a time when the Cold War threatened to engulf the world in a truly global nuclear conflict.

That aircraft, the P.1067 Hunter first flew in 1951 and was, at the time, the fastest fighter in the world as evinced by gaining the World Airspeed Record in 1953 prior to entry into RAF service; at a stroke revolutionising the potential of the UK’s air arm.

Such was the haste with which this occurred that many teething problems remained to be resolved, as detailed here, but eventually the aircraft would become the day fighter of choice for many of the world’s air forces and remain in service for decades to come.

Aimed squarely at the aviation enthusiast, the book provides a clear look at the British post war aviation industry from Hawker’s prospective with one hundred black and white photographs and drawings to illustrate it. If you have ever looked at a Project-X vacformed kit, or similar such product, you’ll find this book utterly fascinating and absorbing, and it might just inspire a passion for those heady days. Certainly as a person with a fondness for the Hunter and such things I can highly recommend it.

Scale Aircraft Modelling

This excellent and very readable book will be a great resource for all those fans of Rapier rocket motors, Jetex and TSP their modern equivalents, not to mention those of you building EDF and even
turbine models.

It is a detailed and well written account of the Hawker company's evolving thinking on jet aircraft design from the 1940's onwards.

In addition to the copious illustrations (both photographs and drawings) the book included a detailed table briefly describing each test flight made by the prototype aircraft up to and including the Hunter.

Aeromodeller December 2022

"In conclusion, I thoroughly recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in Britain’s early jet fighter development, although if local historians are looking for details of Dunsfold’s history it is not for you.

The good news is that the Christopher Budgen has already written a history of post-war Dunsfold – Hawker’s Secret Cold War Airfield."

Paul Robinson, Guildford Dragon March 2022

Featured in

RAF News - Friday, July 1 2022

In this incisive and beautifully illustrated book, author Christopher Budgen charts the fascinating rise of one of Britain's greatest post-war aviation creations: the Hawker Hunter.
An eminently readable account, the book embraces everything from the origins of jet power to the entry of the Hunter into service. It is a rather affecting story, given the quirks of British aeronautica and the fact that it was Britain that briefly appeared to lead the world in aviation technology.
The book looks at Hawker's first jet, the inarguably pretty P.1040, the straight winged design of which clearly influenced the Sea Hawk. The next stage was to introduce swept wings, evident on the P.1052 and the subsequent p.1081, which was beginning to acquire more of the Hunter's classic profile. The book concludes with the Hunter's entry into service and reflects on other projects that never came to fruition. This title is a great addition to the collection of anyone interested in British Cold War aviation.

Flypast, June 2022

Review as featured in



"A most worthwhile book on a once-great British company."

Aeroplane - May 2022

Having worked for Hawker Siddeley in the late 1960s, I found this account of their early work on jet aircraft extremely interesting and a superb testimonial to the extraordinary engineers who worked on the early jet aircraft of this iconic British company.

Books Monthly

"Anyone interested in post-war aviation will find this book of great interest and for Hawker enthusiasts it will be a source of information and enjoyment."

The Hawker Association Newsletter - Spring 2022

"A superb book which anybody with a desire to add to their knowledge of how the acceleration of fighter design injected by World War 2 and underpinned by the tensions of the Cold War found form in the new jet age."

Philip Styles - The Shackleton Assc

An interesting book on the development of the first jets in Britain. The book does a great job of providing details and specifications of the jets as well as the personal stories and political insights. A good read for the aviation enthusiast.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

About Christopher Budgen

CHRISTOPHER BUDGEN, growing up in the shadow of Hawker’s Flight Test Centre at Dunsfold in Surrey, entered employment there in the 1970s, shortly after the nationalisation of the aircraft industry and the company’s amalgamation into state-owned British Aerospace. During 21 years with BAe, as well as working on many Hawk, Harrier and Sea Harrier projects, he was also fortunate to be involved with Hawker’s superlative Hunter in the guise of a modified T.8M used in the development of the Sea Harrier for aircrew training. Chris’s previous book detailing Hawker history – Hawker’s Secret Cold War Airfield – is now followed by this work. As an archivist for some years engaged at Brooklands Museum and specializing in Hawker Aircraft Ltd and successor companies, Chris is well-placed to bring to light the previously unrecorded detail of Hawker’s fascinating history.

Perfect Partner

The Men Who Flew the Hawker Hunter (Hardback)

If ever there was a real pilot's aeroplane it was the Hunter, an outstanding multi-purpose aircraft which excelled in the roles of interceptor fighter, ground attack, reconnaissance, research vehicle and two-seater trainer, not to mention its dramatic displays in formation aerobatic performances. The Hawker Hunter is one of the world's greatest aircraft. For decades pilots have enthused about it, extolling the virtues of its smooth, aerodynamic lines, 4 x 30mm cannon, Rolls-Royce Avon engine, and its outstandingly honest handling characteristics combined with a lively performance. Who can ever…

By Martin W Bowman

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